The Mike Ireson Column

Give me meat and bones

There has been much talk recently of finding the elusive 20 league goals a season striker.

Someone to lead the charge by scoring frequently, and setting us on the road to success.

But are we kidding ourselves and placing too much emphasis on finding this Roy of the Rovers figure?

Looking back at what has been achieved most definitively points towards this goal machine being someone we just haven’t had, and maybe don’t need.

The last player to score 20 league goals in a top flight season was Tony Cottee thirty years ago (Teddy Sheringham and Trevor Morley have achieved it at Championship level)

Looking at this century we find that in most seasons the top 2 leading scorers don’t bag 20 league goals between them let alone having 1 all singing, all dancing scoring machine.

In the present run of 4 seasons in the Premier League the most anyone has managed is 10 (Sakho and Nolan)

In the 6 season spell between 2005 and 2011 Marlon Harewood in 05/06 topped the charts with 14. The average of the top scorer in that time was 10.

Paolo Di Canio in 99/00 notched 16 goals making him the top goal grabber this century.

In the 14 completed Premier League seasons this century the average tally of our top scorer is ……….10.

So is 10 league goals a respectable figure for our leading scorer to achieve?

Last season was a record breaking one in the league for us but our joint top scorers, Carroll and Payet only reached a total of 9.

So does this just mean we don’t play traditionally with the strikers expected to put the ball in the back of the net? A more all round attacking style of play from the full backs through the midfield means more players within the team are capable of scoring.

The 64 goals in the league last year were spread amongst 15 players, averaging a shade over 4 each.

Only Leicester (3), Tottenham (4) and Manchester City (+6) scored more goals than us.

On the flip side we conceded 51 goals. Greater than any team finishing above us in the table. And not just by a little bit. All 6 teams conceded at least 10 goals fewer.

Leicester won the league scoring just 3 more goals than us but conceding 15 less.

So surely our emphasis should be searching not for an elusive goal grabber but a quality goal stopper(s).

We have a rounded team of players capable of scoring and creating a goal, but not one of keeping the ball out of our own net.

So come the next transfer window let’s not get bogged down in dreaming of Roy of the Rovers, lets pray for no nonsense, unglamorous, meat and bones players who can help keep the ball out of our net.

Then let’s see how it pans out.


Click here to view the leaderboard

Talking Point

Your feedback is required to help resolve Stadium Safety issues

Football Supporters Federation (FSF) Case worker, Amanda Jacks will meet with the chair of the London Stadium Safety Advisory Board (LS-SAG) Sheila Roberts together with Westfield Shopping Centre management and London Stadium 185 Safety Officer, Steve Riley next Monday 19th September to discuss stadium safety issues and she is asking West Ham supporters for their feedback together with suggestions/solutions for resolving the current issues experienced in the London Stadium in the opening five games.

Amanda said: “In the short term at least, there won’t be a better opportunity for supporter voices to be heard by ‘key stakeholders’. Rest assured I will do my very best to represent supporter interests and do what I can to ensure that they are taken seriously. If nothing else, I want to leave that meeting assured that the causes of all the issues are being properly addressed and that supporter safety is paramount”

Please share your feedback in the comments section below or contact Amanda in confidence directly via email at

If you don’t know who Amanda is or her credentials, she recently blogged for the FSF about a meeting she had with the Met Police over the incidents preceding the last match at the Boleyn Ground and is also a West Ham fan.

Click here to view the leaderboard

Talking Point

In The Aftermath of The Perfect Storm

Guest Post by Russ

After what seemed like years of being stuck in the doldrums footballing wise in the Summer of 2015 it seemed like the dark gloomy clouds had finally lifted. Allardyce didn’t have his contract renewed and after seemingly every available manager turning us down Slaven Bilic was appointed to the delight of most fans. The transfer business as always appeared to be a complete mish mash but we finally ended up a few new faces to look forward too. Did anyone know much about Lanzini, I doubt it and whilst most had heard about Dimi Payet it was a gamble that could go either way and at the very last minute we signed a winger from Forest that could be explosive but would he make the step up to the Premier League.

So that was the backdrop to the beginning of our last season at the Boleyn, everybody desperate and hopeful that it would be a fitting closure to our home and most people worried that it could end in tears and disaster with relegation.

What a season it turned out to be. Many more highs than lows, a return to a style of football that was both easy on the eye and reflected our traditions and history, scintillating moments and touches of genius that at times made you shake your head in disbelief. What a time to be a hammer.

Payet was a class of player not seen since the days of Di Canio, and worthy of his song that echoed around the stands again and again, Lanzini lit the place up with his wonderful touch and vision, Antonio was as raw as they come but his mazy dribbles, enthusiasm and fantastic finishing made him an instant hero. Other stalwarts of the Allardyce era rose to greater heights with Noble having the season of his life, Ginger Pele defending like a man possessed, Carroll finally showing what an exceptional player he can be when fit and pretty much everyone else coming to the party.

Off the pitch things were just as good with Slaven finally bringing back our respectability and pride. We were in heaven, battling for a top 4 spot in the league with victory after victory against the top teams that for so many years had made our lives a misery, fabulous results against our bitter London rivals (and the odd blip when we didn’t expect it), ah well we are West Ham. The final game at the Boleyn will forever stay in the memory of all that were there, truly the stuff of legends. So finally the curtain came down, the season ended and we all went away for the summer, in many ways having witnessed the `Perfect Storm`. From that moment onwards we had a new set of expectations, dreams recalibrated and a hunger for this season to begin. More adrenalin rushes, heart stopping moments, thrills and spills in our new home.

And now we are in the aftermath, was it ever realistic to expect to go to the next level or even repeat what we achieved last year? The whole emotion of the last season for the fans was there to see, the players were aware of the importance and in my opinion most of them played beyond what I thought they were capable of, every one of us fans, players, manager, coaching team and owners were swept along in a wave of excitement and emotion that grew through the season. Now home doesn’t feel like home, the atmosphere at the ground is flat as a pancake, lots of the players have been injured so we have had a poor start to the season. So I say lets just try and show a little patience, most of the same players that gave everything last season are still with us and they haven’t become bad players overnight, lets give everyone a little bit of time to settle into their new surroundings get back to full fitness integrate the new players and see where we can go. We have excellent players throughout the team, going forward they will create and score goals and excite us so lets just get off everyone’s back and give them a chance. Last year most people would have been happy with a mid table finish, some entertaining football and some memorable moments, we got that in bucket loads. This season may not reach the same heights but lets just give it a chance before writing it off, its still early days.

Click here to view the leaderboard

Talking Point

To Stand or Not to Stand – Now that is a question!

Guest Post by Paul Christopher

The standing situation at the Olympic Stadium (OS) has now become a massive issue for West Ham United. Further clashes among West Ham fans on Saturday as well as with the opposition fans from Watford has led to a crisis of huge proportions and media interest. Sky Sports have reported today that the company in charge of match day security, LS185, think fighting between West Ham fans must be addressed with the club at fault for seating new season-ticket holders alongside existing blocks of fans from the Boleyn Ground (BG). They are absolutely right since that problem they face has been created for them by the club during the migration process!! In condoning standing at the BG and cementing this at the reservation centre they gave out mixed messages to a many people during the migration process.

While this process ha seen a number of people, accustomed to standing, placed in areas which are comparable to where they were in the BG (and so they have stood at the OS) it has also seen a number of people, expecting to sit down, placed in areas where standing was condoned at BG.

This is how the OS looks when compared to the BG.

Bobby Moore Lower Sections 145-148 and 152-155 all rows / all seats = Old BML
East Stand Block 142 All row / all seats = Old West Stand corner enclosure next to old BML.
East Stand Block 141 All rows / all seats to the right of the gangway when looking from the stand towards the pitch = Old West Stand corner enclosure next to old BML.
East Stand Block 130 All rows / seats = Chav Corner / Old STBL
East Stand Block 131 All rows / all seats to the left of the gangway when looking from the stand towards the pitch = Chav Corner.
West Stand Block 114 All rows / all seats = Old East Stand upper and lower tiers next to away fans.

I refer you to the club website where you buy tickets for the Accrington Stanley match (if you want to…) and you will be able to see the layout of the OS block by block, row by row, seat by seat.

It is into the sections listed above that LS185 are suggesting West Ham have sold season tickets to people including families who were expecting to sit down to watch their football. The result is the absolute mayhem with the clashes we have seen. However this is not a return to the dark days of football hooliganism as some media outlets are suggesting. Quite simply the migration process has thrown together sitters and standers who were looking forward to polar opposite spectating experiences. Each party has got upset with the other thus causing a stand off / trouble. The club, who must have been aware this may happen, have seemingly discharged themselves of the fundamental responsibility towards their own fans of safety and violence has been the result. Their solution has been to send in the heavy mob and tar all standers with the same brush stating they are spoiling everyone else’s enjoyment. This is an utter disgrace and does an immense dis-service to the thousands that stood safely at the BG for years with no problems and who helped create the great atmosphere our club is well known for.

People standing in the above mentioned blocks will not block any persons view from an upper tier seat if the domino effect occurs as there are discernible gaps between the lower and upper tiers. The comparable areas in the BG have already been shown to be safe when standing occurs so they should be left to stand helping to create the atmosphere to get the whole OS behind the team. We saw how good the atmosphere can be on Saturday especially after our 2nd goal – it was the business. A review of Match of the Day on Saturday night also showed that it was blatantly obvious that thousands of people were standing at every premiership ground featured except for Bournemouth as far as I could make out. It is not surprising West Ham fans feel unhappy at being singled out for not complying to Premier League regulations on standing when it occurs weekly at the majority of stadia in the English Premier League. Furthermore I do not know of an away section at any major football ground that sits down. There was no attempt to get Watford fans to sit down on Saturday so is it only us the home fans that have to sit down at upcoming OS matches…?

However we as fans are not blameless in the worrying scenes from our first few home matches. Unfortunately a number of people from the BG and new season ticket holders have decided they want to stand in areas where standing did NOT occur at the BG apart from ‘exciting’ moments. Any person standing in any other seat in the East Stand lower tier apart from those outlined above and in any seat in the East Stand Upper Tier will be standing in areas where seating was NOT the norm at the BG. If they stand they will start the domino effect of causing people to stand behind them in order to see. This is where a lot of the issues / clashes are occurring. Standing must NOT occur here. The club must see to this immediately and offer people affected in such areas a different position.

Likewise fans finding themselves in the above mentioned ‘unofficial’ standing areas who want to sit down to watch their football should be aware that these areas have been standing areas for people in the like for like positions at the BG for a number of years. The club should offer these people the chance to swap positions with those that find themselves in what should be expected seating sections in the ground but who do not wish to be seated. This should go a long way to settling the current issues.
The club should lead this but due to their intricate service agreements with a number of 3rd parties (washing their hands of hassle and saving money in other words) have got themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place. Heavy handed security interventions when we were 2-0 up at the time and enjoying ourselves are expressly not the answer. Nor is sending in the Metropolitan Police. As usual it has been left to the fans to set up a seat exchange guidance to which I draw your attention.

With the Hillsborough tragedy now shown to be not the fault of those poor fans who died but a stadium management disaster by the authorities we have to approach standing at football matches in a different way. The board of West Ham should lobby the Premier League for safe / rail standing and be THE leader in this country after Celtic in Scotland. That is something worth trying for and we will be seen in in a much better and pro-active way by fellow fans and the media.

In my opinion it should be possible in the 21st Century for people who wish to stand do so in a safe and happy environment while those that wish to sit should also have the same privilege. The OS is big enough to accommodate such groups and poor management of the migration process by the club is the one and only reason for the debacle we have at present – not the fans !!!!!

Click here to view the leaderboard

Match Report

Can we stop at minute 35?

Saturday’s game against Watford was probably the strangest West Ham game I’ve ever been to. I have never felt so disconnected with the club that I love, the anger wasn’t so raw and the disappointment not so heavy, I just accepted it and moved straight on. That’s not really what it is to be a football fan. Maybe it’s sitting so far away or the new surroundings or just the fact that the moments of completely incompetent defending has now stretched from the Swansea game near the end of last season all the way through to now. All I can say is that I hope things change soon.

I must say that up until minute 35 some of the football we played was simply magnificent. The link-up between Payet, Lanzini, Zaza and Antonio was beautiful to watch and at times they looked like an unstoppable force. Zaza started quickly and wanted to be involved in all of our attacks, his movement being important for the second and he was the player that won the corner for the first. Payet showed moments of pure class; we’ve done extremely well to keep hold of him. Lanzini wasn’t at his storming best but him and Payet have a brilliant understanding and that helps with every move we put together and Antonio was the only player who you can say was brilliant for 90 minutes. In scoring, running his socks off and apologising for the shambolic defending afterwards, he is proving himself to be a wonderful football player and person.

So at minute 35 after recovering from the shock of seeing a West Ham player do a rabona cross and watch another West Ham player nod it in at the back post, I sat back in my seat, stretched my legs out in these new spacious seats and relaxed. I think everyone did, we were absolutely cruising. There had been some nervous moments at the back but if we continued playing like we were then we surely could even outscore Watford if we had to. Well, I hadn’t included in that simple understanding of the situation that 10 of our players would relax just as much as me… But within 6 minutes at the end of the first half, I had certainly woken up to it. I was shocked to see the complete lack of effort that surrounded the two goals as our team cruised around the pitch, looking like the game was already done and to be honest, it’s to Watford’s credit that they used that to their advantage by pressing onto us and scoring two quick goals.

I could put the statistical league table here and talk about how the stats back up some tactical analysis and do what I do every other week but this week there is honestly no point in that. The stats are meaningless, we were so bad from those moments onwards that even the top performances in the statistical categories that I use in my algorithm are shoddy at best. Collins, who was absolutely awful in the game managed to pick up three of those additional top performance points but the algorithm does somewhat do the job correctly by penalising him for his mistakes and reducing his total game score to 1. Anyway, it shows the fragility of statistics as a method of analysis and how they can only be used where appropriate to back up proper football analysis.

So my statistical analysis for the week is this: Antonio scored 2 goals and thus gained 8 points in the player table, he was our main threat for the entire game and when we were chasing the game at 4-2, Bilic made a decision that I just cannot understand. He took Byram off and brought on Tore, who has been poor at best. Who filled in at right back? None other than our main goal threat and joint Premier League top scorer Michail Antonio. Explain that one please…

Here’s the cumulative table after the Man City and Watford game points have been added:

Antonio: 21.5
Collins: 16.5
Adrian: 16
Masuaku: 13
Kouyate: 10
Noble: 10
Reid: 8.5
Tore: 6.5
Byram: 6.5
Payet: 6
Nordtveit: 5
Valencia: 4
Ogbonna: 2
Calleri: 2
Lanzini: 1.5
Carroll: 1.5
Obiang: 1.5
Fletcher: 1
Ayew: 1
Zaza: 0

For those of you asking why Zaza got 0: Statistically, I can’t award him points for his movement and hold up play early on. He started (?1) but picked up a yellow card for lack of discipline (?1) =0.

Click here to view the leaderboard

Copyright © 2016 Iain Dale Limited. Terms and conditions. Cookies.
Website by Russell Brown.