Dan Coker's Match Preview

West Ham's Danish Connections: Part Two

NOTE FROM IAIN: The Predictor League for Spurs on Sunday is ready to enter HERE . The deadline for entries is 1pm on Sunday lunchtime.

With England playing Denmark in the Nations League tomorrow, Part Two of my look at West Ham’s Danish Connections focuses on a former Hammers centre-back.

Marc Rieper was born in Rodovre on 5th June 1968 and began his professional career with AGF, making his debut for the Danish national team in the 1990/91 season. After 85 league appearances for AGF, the central defender moved to Brondby in 1992. While at Brøndby, Rieper secured a place in the national team starting line-up and played 38 matches in a row from October 1992 to August 1996. He also won the Danish Cup with the club in 1994.

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Rieper joined Harry Redknapp’s West Ham United on loan in December 1994, with the 26-year-old making his debut in a 2-2 draw with Leeds at Elland Road on 10th December 1994. Rieper’s first goal in claret and blue arrived on the 30th April 1995, a header from a John Moncur corner in a 2-0 win over eventual champions Blackburn. His performances over his 21 appearances helped the Hammers to a 14th-placed finish in 1994/95 and Redknapp made the move permanent for a fee of just over £1m.

Rieper would experience particular highs in matches against Coventry during his time at West Ham, scoring against the Sky Blues on three occasions. Both of his goals in 1995/96 came against the Midlands outfit, the first in a 3-2 win at the Boleyn Ground on 31st January 1996 and the second in a 2-2 draw at Highfield Road on 2nd March that year – both were fierce, thunderous strikes. By this time Rieper had been joined by new signing Super Slaven Bilic in defence – the Great Dane made 42 appearances as the Irons finished tenth. Rieper would also play every minute of Denmark’s Euro ’96 campaign, where they exited at the group stage – the Danes opened with a 1-1 draw with Hugo Porfirio’s Portugal before crucially losing 3-0 to a Croatian side which included Bilic and future Hammers Igor Stimac and Davor Suker. A 3-0 win over Turkey in their final group game was not enough to see Denmark reach the last eight.

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The 6’3 Rieper scored West Ham’s first goal of the 1996/97 season, smashing in another strike against Coventry on 21st August 1996, a match that would be drawn 1-1 at Upton Park. Exactly one month later, ‘Rieps’ would be sent off at Nottingham Forest but the Hammers would still clinch a 2-0 victory at the City Ground. The club became embroiled in a winter relegation scrap and were dumped out of the League Cup by lowly Stockport and experienced further cup embarrassment at the hands of Wrexham in the third round of the FA Cup. The signings of John Hartson, Paul Kitson and Steve Lomas ensured the Hammers’ Premier League survival. Rieper scored his first international goal at the end of that season, in a 2-0 win over Bosnia in Copenhagen on 8th June 1997.

Rieper scored his last goal for West Ham in his final match for the club, a flicked header from Eyal Berkovic’s free-kick in a 3-1 home win over Wimbledon on 30th August 1997. With David Unsworth already signed and Ian Pearce soon to follow, Rieper was allowed to move to Scottish giants Celtic for £1.5m – he won the title with the club at the end of the 1997/98 season. Rieper had made 101 appearances for West Ham United, scoring five goals – all five of these goals can be viewed in my video below.

Rieper would represent his country at the 1998 World Cup in France, playing every minute of Denmark’s five games. He scored in a 1-0 win against Saudi Arabia in the Danes’ opening match in Lens before a 3-2 quarter-final defeat to eventual runners-up Brazil. Rieper made 61 appearances for his country between 1990 and 1998, scoring two goals. His final game for the Danish national side was a 1-1 draw in Switzerland on 14th October 1998. A toe injury suffered that month eventually led to Rieper’s retirement in the summer of 2000.

Rieper has since been assistant coach at his first club AGF, joining in 2001 but leaving the following year. Now 52, he owns and runs a hotel in the town of Aarhus, is a member of the board of directors at AGF and is the owner of women’s online fashion store BA10.dk.

The HamburgHammer Column

Saïd and done ? Is Benrahma West Ham-bound ?

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What the heck! I hadn’t planned on writing anything for today, due to the international weekend (boring!), no West Ham game (humdrum) and not much else to report about West Ham, other than rumours about our new boy Coufal maybe having tested positive for Covid-19 – or then again not.

But then yesterday two things happened: My beloved Cordi team won a breathtaking away game 4:2 (more of that further down) and I saw more and more Twitter messages popping up on my dog and bone about Saïd Benrahma being on the verge of signing for West Ham. Or the club having agreed terms with the player. Or Brentford having agreed a fee with West Ham.

So, I thought “Hold my paper cup of coffee for a second, this at the very least does seem to have some legs! Maybe this one is happening.“
Which meant that I did see some merit to type out a paragraph or two on the Algerian wing wizard anyway. In case you didn’t know, Saïd is an Arabic name which means “The Happy One“. You’re welcome. ;-)

Now, Benrahma of course is very much a hot ticket these days. One of the most talked about players in the Championship. When you go and watch some of the goals he scored or assisted (and there is a fair bit of choice in that regard) you can easily understand why. He looks a very exciting player. He was in fact voted this summer by fans/readers of football monthly FourFourTwo as the Top 3 choice out of all the Football League players in England. Impressive.

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The Algeria international has acclimatised well in Blighty and it didn’t take him long to find his feet on the pitch as well. And when you watch him play, ball at feet, there are indeed not many things he can’t do when he’s running at the opposition’s goal.

And he does it in quite mesmerising fashion too: Dribbling, key passes, shooting, taking set-pieces, finishing, crossing the ball for others, you name it, he does it. One thing which isn’t really his forte, we have to admit it, is his defensive contribution, but that is probably something that could be worked on by Moyes. Or even neglected if he counterbalances that one weakness with his attacking prowess.

If he were to sign for West Ham and help us to score 3 goals per game on a more regular basis I might be more inclined to ignore his not tracking back as much as Fornals probably would. Having a front four of Antonio, Bowen, Benrahma and Fornals running at you sounds like the stuff nightmares of PL defenders are made of.

It’d be somewhat weird of course if we did indeed sold Diangana only to buy Benrahma in the same window, especially as Diangana despite his younger years still has more PL minutes under his belt than Benrahma.
It all defies logic or strategic planning unless you bring a certain football agent into the equation.

We obviously need to make a few more signings this week anyway to bolster what looks like a very wafer -thin squad as of now.

I am aware that the winter transfer window is not too far away, but we certainly need to cater for injuries and players missing out due to being tested positive for Covid.

As much as we would all be hoping for the same starting XI to play eight games in a row it’s simply not realistic to count on it. So you need to prepare and fill up the ranks before closing them for the upcoming games.

Josh King was/is still in the mix apparently (as an alternative option in case the Benrahma deal goes Pete Tong), same as defensive reinforcements in the form of Watford CB Craig Dawson. We could certainly do with another defender. Although I would probably prefer a slightly younger version of Dawson to be honest.

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As I alluded to before in my more recent comments I am actually growing more confident by the day that we will have new owners later this season, probably even before January. There is quite a lot of smoke drifting in from social media and blogs. And while there is always a good chance that some of those musings need to be taken with a generous tablespoon of salt at the very least, I have in recent days seen too many hints from too many people to think that there is no spark, flame or fire there whatsoever.

I can’t put my finger on one particular piece of evidence here, it’s more a combination of several factors, including our very thrifty approach to the transfer window so far, that makes me think that our board are just getting busy brushing up our finances to make a presentable case for any parties interested in a takeover. And I reckon there are currently more than just one. The stars could be aligning.

Once we get to the stage where those parties will be providing actual proof of funds (showing GSB the money basically), then things could get very interesting fairly sharpish. Fingers and toes crossed!

If we do indeed sign Benrahma and Dawson, well, both are Salthouse clients, so no big surprise there. There were rumours that Benrahma just recently has switched allegiance to a new agent, but this still very much looks like Will Salthouse has been involved heavily here, earning him a decent (and maybe final) cut from the deal. Sullivan’s and Salthouse’s last hoorah enjoyed together at PL level.

Consider it as a grateful gesture by Sullivan of compensating Salthouse one last time in case a takeover really happens. One final pay-day for the agent before West Ham will begin, hopefully under new ownership, to rely on club scouts rather than agents when picking and choosing players.

We’ll see. COYI!!!

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Hamburg football update: Both Hamburg SV and St.Pauli were idle due to the international break. So were the Cordi girls. Sunday was still busy, with the U23s drawing 2:2 at home against St.Pauli’s fourth string, with one Cordi player unfortunately receiving a red card for violent conduct in the process, after kicking out at his opponent after the ball was long gone in retaliation. Silly boy!

And the Cordi first team won a cracker of a game 4:2 away to Union Tornesch (30 mile drive each way). We nearly missed the start of the game as my Cordi mate (who was driving on this occasion) thought it a clever ploy to take a detour in order to avoid traffic on the Autobahn, so we ended up on the western outskirts of town in a place called Wedel which was full of roadworks and diversions, so we couldn’t actually use the glorious short cut as planned. We made it onto the premises in the end just in time as the ref was blowing his whistle to start the game.

The Cordi boys ran into a pleasant 3:0 halftime lead. Hattrick by midfielder Onur Saglam. One scored directly from a corner kick. One scored with a direct free kick. One penalty chipped into the net cool as a cucumber.
Then our striker got sent off after 60 minutes which was unfortunate. His knee ended up in the opposition player’s back when both were jumping for the ball. The ref thought it was deliberate when it was probably more clumsy than nasty on the Cordi lad’s part. The home side quickly pulled two goals back and the Cordi fans were in for more than 30 minutes of squeaky bum time.

One of the substitutes, a young lad, only 19 years old, who just got promoted to the first team this summer from the U18s, scored the fourth in injury time to settle this hugely entertaining contest. 6€ well spent for a ticket. Plus 2.50€ for a chicken sausage roll with mustard and ketchup. Yummo!
I love my football! ;-))

Guest Post

Shooting from the Hip

Guest Post by Jimmy Cooney

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I am honored to be writing a guest article, it’s been a long time, I believe one or two, I have done in the past, definitely made me admire and respect those who do this every week or in some cases, more than one.

Therefore, when I saw that Nigel was happy that his point had been made, I figured, “why not”.

I’d like to kind of just shoot from the hip, as they say, and free form a bit on the current state of football, and the world, and where focusing on the negative is unavoidable , one cannot let it run their lives…. not that we should bury our heads in the sand, but being mindful of positive changes, realizing that we are living in trying times, but and as I said yesterday, personally, it could be a lot worse, and in spite of the “precarious” situation our current squad, which has excelled in my estimation, has already taken 6 pts from both Leicester and Wolves.

Who would have said a month ago that Jimmy would be writing a guest post, and we were in 10th place cos we’ve managed to average well over a point a match, and so far, we’ve had Newcastle, who we always war with, Arsenal, (someday we will unlock this curse they still hold over us) Wolverhampton Wolves, and Leicester. With the potential fact that Newcastle was a hiccup, and Arsenal was another case of the authorities being kind to the big club, after that, I’ve been nothing but impressed with the level of work rate, solid ball control, and, defensive shape!!! (two clean sheets, against bloody Leicester and Wolves!)

I said after the “the midsummers night miracle at London Stadium” (when we beat Chelsea, 3-2 last July) which I believe shaped our form for the rest of the restart, and, aside from the flip flops perhaps still being on with the Toon in town, it’s been solid performance from a lot of players brought in the last year, and since Moyes arrived, that have impressed me greatly.

1. Pablo Fornals- “Nails” has really turned into a top flight level player, no? I know many had their doubts, and I had mine, but he seemed so thrilled and honored to be at West Ham, and being young, I knew a bit of patience was going to be needed, but he’s developed into the ultimate team player, he’s just as happy to set up a corner or make an assist as he is scoring goals, he is box to box, and he is one who I’d believe if he patted the Crest, but with his class, he knows his graft is enough.

2.Jarrod Bowen-The perfect example of when you go to the Championship, and get that next reliable work horse, who, once he gets the defender on the outside and his left foot with the ball on the inside? Forget about it. I don’t think its possible for him to miss from that distance with his left foot. Jarrod is also a team guy, he’s just as happy to help as he is to go for the glory. He’s also box to box and reminds me of a cross between Mark Noble, and Joe Cole.

That’s a Bold statement, I know, but if, in 2 years, he’s still with West Ham, and we finish 10th this season, 8th the next, whatever he, and the club is doing, should be kept. (I’m imagining some change in ownership,or they just get it right by accident like the summer of ’15) ;))

Tomas Soucek-The Flying Czech, the enforcer, the Phantom, (who can mark him during a corner?!?!) He can score, and tackle ya to the floor! He and Rice paired up unfortunately has left Noble to have to play another role, but Nobes, still has some sand left, he’ll do anything, and can still pull it off, but not every week. Tomas has youth and more natural ability, for Noble is more of a “heart and soul” player very reminiscent of Kevin Nolan, who I personally though made Mark the Captain and class player he became. Ill put Kevin Nolan on the short list of who has impressed me, cos twice, he’s come along and turned around a team headed for the precipice.

Vladimir Coufal-One performance does not make a career, however believe it or not, as soon as the rumors started and that Tomas was vouching for him, I did some research and though "yessss…… he’s perfect for a 3-5-2, at can morph into a 5-4-1 when necessary. I look forward to his inclusion, and hope the “19” rumors are just that, and apparently, I saw that Masu is ok? A lesson that John Coker reminded me of, don’t get wound up behind a rumor.

Well, there are many more playing well, Antonio is in form, and please God if he stays fit, he can keep the CF roll, however, here are a few players I’d like to see step it up, cos I know they have top flight quality in them, but sometimes fall a bit short.

1.Manuel Lanzini-I saw someone say, maybe The Original Russ that he hoped that Lanzini would become a version of Dimitri Payet, and no sh#t Russ, I was hoping that as well. Then, what happens, he goes off to play for Argentina……right around this time I think, cos he was off to a decent start, if my memory serves me, (see, I wanted to do some research, but I figured a new article would help. :)

Anyways, it was whilst playing for Argentina, he suffered that knee injury, and he’s not been the same since. I was hoping when he scored his last goal, it would “break the seal” so to speak, however, in all fairness, he needs to work his way back into the team, which he will, we can’t play the same team every week, perhaps the ‘03/’04 Gunners could or any of the 1990’s Manchester United teams could, but guys need breaks, and good clubs run counter intelligence in figuring out their opponents tactics.

2.Sebastien Haller-Now, in all fairness, I don’t have anything to complain about regarding his playing cos he’s not had much a chance, but when he has, he’s getting the ball in the goal, but we have a starting formula that works right now, c’mon Seb, stop sulking, be a team player, and when Antonio at worst, hopefully needs a few weeks in the dead of winter, you and Bowen can start up top together, and you shine on, you crazy diamond! :)) seriously though, he will be needed, I wish strikers weren’t SO impatient….. I get it, they are competitors, but how many matches do you think Sakho WAS gonna start, but when they got a load of his pram tossing skills, they said, “ya know what????”

Well I don’t know about that, and I’m in danger of way too far off the ranch here, but, in spite of the “higher ups” cutting the club down to “pretty lean”, those who do remain are all useful, and in light of the performances from Chelsea in July to Leicester last week, (with the exception of the Newcastle hiccup, and the League cup loss to potential top 4, and Cup final contender, Everton), is my “complaint list” is actually pretty short, cos I’ve long thought that David Moyes was a top notch manager, maybe not the “flashiest” or has a cool Spanish or Italian name, he’s a hard Scot, who knows the game well, and when I see the squad he is trying to build in his own image, I can’t help but fantasize about him properly being backed, and in 5 years, WE are the ones who are threatening the “natural order” of things.

Well, I wind it up now, and maybe, you can discuss any domestic transfer news (especially if we sign Benrahma, he seems the best, and most realistic target, just get him, Moyes will find use for him.

Hopefully we get some looks at the youth as well, cos Moyes was sincere (I think) when he was sort of justifying the cutting loose of so many without any new blood in yet, he pointed to the youth system and how it will give them more of a chance.

I thank you all for checking this out, I love ya all! Be excellent to each other, for our love for West Ham United needs to be a binding force in such trying times.


Nigel Kahn’s Column

Who Wants This View?

Thursday 1st October
It is interesting to see comments at times from those who think I’ve mellowed with time, not as angry as in the past about the owners or the stadium. Today is 10 years since I printed out this leaflet, it was the start of my push to try to get fans to come together in opposition to the move. I started by creating two Facebook groups one in favour, one against. Reason for that was I didn’t have a way of gauging where the fans were in this regard.

Early indication by the growth of each group was that for every 1 fan in favour 8 were against, so this spurred me on to try conveying to fans why the move was wrong. 10 years is a long time to be constantly angry at the owners of the club and to be truthful, I think that that now is too late to be protesting and constantly complaining. For me no matter who the owner is, we will still be in Stratford, we will still be in that stadium with the long walks, the stop-go boards, the overpriced slop for food. Unable to buy a scarf unless it’s a half n half from a dodgy street seller or its overpriced from the club shop.

I was angry about all above years ago, I’m tired of being angry. That is why it may seem I’ve mellowed on the ownership and the stadium. I’ll leave it to those who were nowhere to be seen when it actually could have achieved something to do the shouting and GSBOUT hashtags.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still in the ‘board out’ camp but I just don’t need to constantly reinforce it to get people to listen to the podcast or watch a youtube channel or follow me on twitter.

10 and a half years ago I just loved going football with my mates. Sometimes I wish it could have stayed that way.

Friday 2nd October
Vlad the defender is finally announced as the Hammers sign Soucek’s Czech mate. Luckily on here with Toddy and Czech Hammer we get pointers to the type of player he is. £6 million for a 28-year-old is not a big fee so even if we get just a couple of seasons out of him it seems a good deal.

One thing I have long complained about is the transfer dealings of West Ham and the short-termism of many of the players we have signed under the Daves ownership. Coufal is another player that can only be viewed as a short term signing. The type of signing that across the past 10 years and more have taken West Ham FC, the owners and the fans to the relationship it has now.

At some point the model has to change. Moyes said himself he wants to go down the sign young players model. I know finances are tight but personally, I’d rather have spent all the money we had on signing Rhian Brewster from Liverpool than what we are doing now.

Even with Coufal, our defence will still be the week link, so I would rather we went out to get extra goalscoring options to try to counteract the fact we will concede goals. Brewster has a great future and the £25 million Sheffield United spent may be doubled if Brewster continues the goalscoring feats that he has achieved through his young career. Yes it’s a gamble but for a player his age, 20, it’s a gamble worth taking. Brewster was brought up in Chadwell Heath as well so it would have given him the option of coming home, a move I’m sure he would have taken.

Sunday 4th October
The club breathes a sigh of relief as the defeat of Leicester City in such a convincing manner it may take some of the heat away from the off-field theatrics, well for a day at least. Tomorrow is Transfer deadline day and let us hope the club can pull some rabbits out the hat to strengthen. The defeat of Leicester shows that when we are the underdog we can “punch above our weight” to coin a phrase. West Ham at the moment remind me of my golf game. I’ve parred or birdied every hole on my local course, the problem is never in the same round.

Monday 5th October
Oh, well my thoughts yesterday about the club pulling some rabbits out the hat didn’t quite come off. The thinning out of the squad starts off the conspiracy theorists about the owners preparing to sell the club. Lots of chatter up until the 11 pm deadline of possible incomings but the usual excuse, we tried and failed is the order of the night. I spent 2 hours podcasting then 3 hours on Irons United transfer show on Youtube. 5 hours of absolutely nothing, but I had fun doing it. What else you going to do on Monday night.

Tuesday 6th October
Tip for you all. If you’re going to go on Talksport and call the owners liars make sure you have the facts to hand to back it up. Calling people liars on there is different to ranting on Twitter, Facebook or even on here in the comments section. West Ham superfan Barry Cox, (Jim White’s description not mine) was on to try to get across to Jim Whitewash and Simon Jordan just why the fans are angry and why the owners should go.

I listened to the 15 minutes and you have to be armed with the facts and figures to back up what you are saying. Whitewash and Simon Jordan together are professionals in the media, and they will be able to take your argument apart. Barry at one point claimed that Gold and Sully were good at making money, I did chuckle because the club’s a financial mess at the moment due to their ownership, I wouldn’t call that good at making money.

Barry brought up the often-used claim by the Daves that the owners hadn’t taken a penny out of the club, he then pointed out the 20 million that had been paid to them in interest and loan repayments. He’s not wrong but it ignores that they put in 30 million in the summer to run the cash flow, so by putting that 30 million back in they have technically nullified the 20 taken out.

Barry praised the owners for the signings of Anderson and Haller. He said he thought that was positive, showed ambition, which it did. So in the space of a year what has changed Baz into the flag bearer of the board out. Is it the money they haven’t spent? But White and Jordan just got him to praise the owners for spending in the last 2 years. Is it lack of ambition? Haller was signed just over a year ago. He praised that as showing ambition.

See what happened? They tied him up in his own knots.

Jordan put it to him that it all boils down to the stadium move. “No, to a degree yes”, was his reply. He brought up Leicester’s and Villa’s transfer dealings during COVID. Jordan pointed out that had been funded by Leicester’s ability to sell players for a profit – abig profit. Sold Mahrez for £60 million, bought Maddison for £28 million. Baz missed out on pointing out there is West Ham’s problem and why we are in the current mess is due to the money wasted on transfers and wages on players who are at the top of the age range rather than young enough to have resale value if we want to move them on. This is our undoing. He should have put that at the door of the Daves, then White and Jordan would have had to concede.

Baz’s parting shot mystified me. He said he hadn’t been to a game since walking out the stadium when Spurs scored their 3rd goal and wouldn’t go back until the owners had gone.

Spurs scored their 3rd goal on the 49th minute.

Now people are free to make their own decisions on how they support the club. We all have our thresholds when at a game on what we are prepared to watch, but it seems it’s
back the team, not the regime, unless we are 3 down to Spurs.

When I listen to fans like that, it’s when I find myself at odds with the GSB out brigade I am GSB out because of they destroyed a way of life I had going to football while claiming they were going to deliver a team of World beaters, which if you took the time to research you would find it was a pipe dream, unachievable using their own financial projections, not because on the pitch the team they buy is unpredictable, because that has been the West Ham way of playing for the 40 odd years I’ve been watching them.

Wednesday 7th October
The clubs email me to offer me 10% interest on my Season Ticket refund if I allow them to convert it to club cash, a pretty decent offer to be honest. I would be happy just converting the refund to CC without the interest so it just goes to show you…….How the worm has turned.

Off the field, the club has treated match attending fans as an annoyance at best and used as we are there to be milked of cash and if we didn’t like then there’s a 50,000 queue to take my place.

The club seems now need my money so much they are offering me an interest rate better than the Daves get.

I just hope the club will still recognise us the same way when the old normal is back and the new normal is a memory, I doubt it though but we live in hope.


Match Report

One Extraordinary Performance, One Extraordinary Day

Sunday had to be one of the most extraordinary days ever in football league history. Man U lose by six and Liverpool by seven, but I thought the Hammer put in the performance of the day, especially as Spurs were playing against 10 men for most of the match and the Liverpool game resembled pinball.

In my last article, I wrote that I seemed to be with Alice Through The Looking Glass after the performance of the Hammers against Wolves. . So, the performance against Leicester sent me to seventh heaven (that’s the one where God and the Angels dwell). Seven goals scored in two premier league matches and none conceded !

We have to analyse what has brought about this startling transformation. We don’t have to look far. We have a formation that should have been adopted as the standard years ago. Even an old geezer like me has been saying this for a very long time. Having three at the back allows our full backs to get forward and deliver crosses. Cresswell has captured his old form.

It allows Masuaku, who I have always rated as a player, to go to midfield and using his talent on the ball, without the threat that if he lost the ball it would result in a goal. He too can move forward more often.

And just beyond the back three , there is the brilliant Rice. We can see the final compliment to his game will be to see him moving forward more often and have a go at goal. I thought the move he made to provide the pass which resulted in the Bowen goal was outstanding.

After some extraordinary mistakes in the transfer market, we have Soucek and Bowen. They have given 100% in every game they have played. We can see the threat Soucek is in the air to defenders and Bowen is impressive and will improve.

And now with three at the back and a solid midfield, Antonio can be given the support he deserves. I was very critical of Fournals and never thought he was up to the job. But now he is a revelation.

And we may hope that this new sparkle in the Hammer’s game can inspire some of the players who have not fulfilled their potential, such as Haller and Johnson

Yes, we are in extraordinary times. Without crowds, the top sides seem to unable to maintain any consistency. It doesn’t seem to matter whether a side plays at home or away. That suits us very well, since our concrete bowl will never produce the atmosphere that was generated at The Boleyn.

We know now we have enough players to compete with teams at the highest level. Beringing more players in could disrupt our new found brilliance. Coufal should be congratulated for an outstanding debut. He does look solid. I do object to the fact that the commentators don’t seem to look up the Czech pronunciation of his name. It took me ten seconds to find out a Czech ‘C’ is pronounced ‘TS’. It seems strange they can tell me Billy Wright scored a penalty against West Ham in 1959, but they can’t pronounce a name correctly.

Another mystery to me is how Gary Lineker can be paid a fortune, but doesn’t turn up on a Sunday. Is he related to the Pope?

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