David Hautzig's Match Report

Tottenham 0, West Ham 1. Early Bird Special.

Because of where I am from, the many traditions associated with English football don’t mean as much to me as those of you who grew up with it. Saturday 3pm kickoffs, for example, don’t hold any weight for me. But today I would have given up a lot for it. I was shockingly jet lagged from my return on Thursday, and my eyes opened minutes before the start of the match. With one point from our previous matches away from home, sleep might have been the better choice. Not today it turned out.

West Ham started brightly, with Anderson making a good run down the left before the ball eventually made its way to Rice near the top of the Spurs eighteen yard box. His shot was quick but over the bar. The Hammers continued to press, playing the type of football we have rarely seen in the opening moments of a match.

Fabianski will be Hammer Of The Year. Of that I have no doubt. He has made more saves than any keeper in the league. Which is awful news. We clearly still have issues at the back, and if it weren’t for our new keepers heroics we would be a typical West Ham team with a goal differential of -87 or something. The 11th minute gave us yet another example of why the Polish international has been so important when Son was sent in by Alli with a terrific through ball, but Fabianski was up to the task. Minutes later Diop blocked what would have been a dangerous shot from Alli in the box.

Marko Arnautovic has clearly not been himself since January when the China affair dominated Hammer fans everywhere. But some have argued, Nigel Kahn included, that Marko has not gotten any service. That argument was indisputable in the 19th minute when Anderson broke down the left. Had he been a botanist the run would have been impressive because he stared at nothing but the grass the whole time. Had he looked up, he would have seen Arnautovic all alone at the penalty spot. Instead he rolled a useless low shot right at Lloris. Marko was livid, and rightly so.

As the first half progressed, the tone became clear. Spurs would press, West Ham would hold on and hope for a chance to hit them on the break. Strategically it made sense. Practically it was nerve wracking.

Fabianski was again called to the rescue in the 36th minute when a deflected clearance off the foot of Antonio came back to Eriksen right in front of the West Ham keeper. Masuaku had assumed the ball was on its way down the pitch and thus played the Spurs straggler onside. Fabianski went down and smothered the shot.

The first half could have ended on a high note for West Ham when Anderson let loose with a hard shot from 25 yards out. It took a deflection off the derrière of Davies and Lloris had to adjust. Maybe if it had hit the other cheek it would have gone in. We will never know.

Halftime
Tottenham 0
West Ham 0

The Hammers started the second half well, winning two corners in quick succession after good balls into Arnautovic. Unfortunately neither delivery did much to trouble the home side, but it was a good sign to start the second forty five in their half. Minutes later, Arnautovic showed great skill in harnessing a long ball from Fabianski and then getting off a low shot that Lloris handled rather easily. But it showed that if he can get his Austrian head screwed back on straight he might get back to where we know he can be.

Spurs were awarded a free kick from 25 yards out in the 59th minute, and with Eriksen stepping over the ball it was not inappropriate for West Ham hearts to pause. The wall did its job, and West Ham were able to break. Antonio did what he always does, ran like a freight train with no breaks. The ball went to Anderson, pretty much by chance, but his shot was deflected out for a corner. Spurs cleared the set piece, but with half an hour left we were still in it.

A lot was made before the match that Spurs had not conceded a single goal at their new stadium. West Ham made that fact a piece of history when Rice fed Arnautovic on the right side. Antonio began a run into the box, and Marko looped a pass over the Spurs defense to Antonio in the box. Antonio did very well to chest the ball down and set himself for a hard shot that flew last Lloris and into the back of the net.

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Tottenham 0
West Ham 1

Spurs had a great chance to level the score in the 73rd minute when Alli sent a through ball into the box that Davies ran onto, but Fredericks made an excellent tackle to break up the run and allow Fabianski to smother the ball.

After a decent spell on the ball, West Ham gave themselves a chance to double their lead when Arnautovic tried a curling shot from the left side of the Spurs eighteen yard box. Lloris had to dive to his left to make the stop. Moments later a long diagonal ball from Diop found Antonio on the run. He used his speed to break in alone on Lloris and force the save.

When Diop began his run in the 86th minute, you kept waiting for him to pass. He didn’t. His shot came off the side of his foot and dribbled towards Lloris. He could have let it roll wide, but he made sure and pushed it out for a corner. Masuaku had his own break on the left but his ball into the center of the box found nobody in Claret & Blue.

Antonio had yet another chance to put the game away in the 89th minute when he drove in on goal, but one too many touches gave Sanchez the chance to catch him and clear the ball from danger.

Spurs pressed for an equalizer, and in the 94th minute it looked like they had it. And you know, in other years it would have happened. But for reasons I almost cannot fathom, Balbuena was there to clear that shot off the line.

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Final Score
Tottenham 0
West Ham 1

At the end of the match, so many questions went through my mind. Would The Avengers use time travel to defeat Thanos? And if they did, would everyone come back? Will Captain Marvel be a good member of the team? Will she date Thor? Oh. Yeah. I’m on my way to see Endgame now. West Ham’s Endgame is yet to be deciphered.

But today was awesome just the same.


Match Thread

Match Thread: Spurs v West Ham

Spurs v West Ham
FA Premier League
White Hart Lane
KO 12.30pm
TV: Sky Sports
Radio: BBC 5 Live

Please use this thread to comment on the match as it progresses.


Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: Tottenham v West Ham

Blast from the past

Today’s focus sees us travel back nearly 36 years, to the 3rd September 1983 – UB40 were number one with ‘Red Red Wine’, Blue Thunder topped the UK box office and, two days later, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe made its debut on British television. Meanwhile, West Ham United secured a 2-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur in front of 38,042 at White Hart Lane.

The Hammers went into this match with a 100% record from their opening two matches of 1983/84 having beaten Birmingham 4-0 on the opening day at the Boleyn Ground before winning 1-0 at Everton. Top of the fledgling First Division table, the Irons made it three wins from three games with Steve Whitton opening the scoring, flashing in a shot on the turn after Alvin Martin had nodded down an Alan Devonshire corner from the left. It was Whitton’s first goal for the club after joining from Coventry – he would score eight goals in 46 appearances for the club before moving to Birmingham in 1986.

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27-year-old centre-forward Dave Swindlehurst (pictured above) bagged the second after a flowing move involving Geoff Pike and Ray Stewart ended in Tony Cottee holding off Gary Stevens before digging out a cross which Swindlehurst fired home low beyond Ray Clemence. Both left-backs on display in this game represented both clubs in their careers – 24-year-old Chris Hughton went on to play for West Ham, while 25-year-old Steve Walford had started his career at Tottenham. The goals from this game can be viewed in my video below.

The Hammers remained top of the league until mid-October, winning six of their opening eight matches. The Irons held a top four place until the end of March 1984 but only one win from the final 12 games resulted in a ninth-placed finish. Tottenham finished one place and one point above the Hammers in eighth position and also won the UEFA Cup. Cottee would end the season as the club’s top scorer with 19 goals from 47 appearances and was voted runner-up to Trevor Brooking as Hammer of the Year. Liverpool won the league and Everton won the FA Cup.

Tottenham Hotspur: Ray Clemence, Danny Thomas, Graham Roberts, Gary Stevens, Chris Hughton, Glenn Hoddle (Paul Miller), Gary Mabbutt, Steve Perryman, Tony Galvin, Garth Crooks, Mark Falco.

West Ham United: Phil Parkes, Ray Stewart, Alvin Martin, Billy Bonds, Steve Walford, Steve Whitton, Geoff Pike, Trevor Brooking, Alan Devonshire, Tony Cottee, Dave Swindlehurst.

Club Connections

A large group of players have turned out for Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United. Divided here by position, they include:

Goalkeepers: Bill Kaine, Charlie Ambler, Tony Parks, Fred Griffiths.

Defenders: Calum Davenport, Paul Konchesky, Mark Bowen, Mauricio Tarrico, Steve Walford, Chris Hughton, Percy Mapley, Fred Milnes, Mitchell Thomas, Neil Ruddock.

Midfielders: Paul Allen, Scott Parker, Michael Carrick, Jimmy Neighbour, Matthew Etherington, Ilie Dumitrescu, Mark Robson, David Bentley, Charlie Whitchurch, Chris Carrick, Martin Peters, John Smith, John Moncur.

Strikers: Mido, Frederic Kanoute, Almer Hall, Bobby Zamora, Peter Kyle, Sergei Rebrov, Kenny McKay, George Foreman, Dave Dunmore, Teddy Sheringham, Les Bennett, Jermain Defoe, Bill Joyce, Robbie Keane, Fred Massey, Jimmy Reid, Clive Allen, Les Ferdinand, Jimmy Greaves, Harry Bradshaw.

Jack Tresadern played for West Ham and managed Tottenham, while Trevor Hartley also played for the Hammers and managed Spurs on a caretaker basis. Alan Pardew played for Tottenham and managed the Hammers, while Harry Redknapp played for the Hammers and managed both clubs.

Today’s focus is on a current Hammer who started his career at Tottenham Hotspur. Ryan Fredericks was born in Hammersmith on 10th October 1992. He came through Tottenham’s Academy and was named on the bench for the senior side’s 3-1 FA Cup fourth round replay victory over Leeds at Elland Road in February 2010. Injury would keep him out for almost a year but he would make a senior debut for Tottenham under Harry Redknapp in their goalless draw with Hearts in the UEFA Europa League Play-Offs in August 2011, before featuring twice in the Group Stage. He played nine minutes of a 0-0 draw at PAOK Salonika and the full match away to Rubin Kazan which ended in a 1-0 defeat. Fredericks also made one appearance for England Under-19s but found his path blocked by Nathaniel Clyne and Andre Wisdom at Under-21 level. He is eligible to represent Guyana.

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Andre Villas-Boas did not give Fredericks any game time in 2012/13, opting to loan him to Brentford instead. Fredericks turned 20 while with the League One side and made his Football League debut for the Griffin Park club, playing three minutes of a goalless draw at Bury in August 2012. Fredericks was finally handed a start back at Tottenham by Villas-Boas in a Europa League Group Stage match against Anzhi Makhachkala in December 2013, but it would prove to be the Portuguese manager’s penultimate match in charge of Spurs and Fredericks’ fourth and final appearance for the club – he won a penalty in the 4-1 victory at White Hart Lane. Tim Sherwood loaned Fredericks to Millwall and the right-back scored his first senior goal on his debut for the Lions in a 1-0 win over Ipswich at The Den.

New Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino sent Fredericks on a season-long loan to Middlesbrough for the 2014/15 campaign. Pochettino allowed Fredericks to leave the club permanently in the summer of 2015, with the 22-year-old signing for Steve Cotterill’s Bristol City. He made five appearances for his new club before requesting a move for personal reasons. He returned to London just 26 days after signing for Bristol City, joining fellow Championship side Fulham – he made 114 goalless appearances for Fulham, registering 15 assists and 29 yellow cards.

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Fredericks signed for Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham on a free transfer in June of last year. He made his Hammers debut in a 4-0 defeat at Liverpool on 12th August 2018. Now 26, he has made 15 appearances to date for West Ham, scoring one goal in the 8-0 League Cup third round win over Macclesfield on 26th September 2018. He has been booked five times, collecting a yellow card every three games on average.

Referee

The referee on Saturday will be Anthony Taylor – his most recent Irons appointment was for our 4-2 FA Cup fourth round defeat at Wimbledon in January. He also refereed our 3-2 home win over Crystal Palace in December and our 4-0 opening-day defeat at Liverpool. The Hammers were only allocated the 40-year-old once last season, for our 1-0 home win over Chelsea in December 2017. In 2016/17, Taylor took charge of our 2-0 defeat at Everton in October 2016 and our 2-1 opening-day defeat at Chelsea in August 2016, awarding the home side a penalty and later controversially failing to issue a second yellow card to Diego Costa for an awful lunge at Adrian – Costa remained on the pitch to score the 89th-minute winner. He also refereed our 1-0 defeat at Leicester on New Year’s Eve 2016 and our 1-0 win over Tottenham in May 2017. Taylor officiated the Irons on five occasions in 2015/16 as he took charge of our 4-1 defeat at Tottenham, as well as our home win over Newcastle which came just three games after he had controversially sent off Adrian against Leicester. He was also the man in the middle for our FA Cup third round win over Wolves and our 3-2 win at Everton in March 2016.

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Controversy and incident are never far away when the Cheshire-based official is the referee for a West Ham United match. Taylor was in charge when the Hammers took on Liverpool at Upton Park in April 2014, awarding a controversial and ultimately match-winning penalty to the Reds. There was also controversy surrounding Guy Demel’s equaliser for West Ham in that game. Taylor is also the referee who had not one, but two red cards rescinded from the same game after he had sent off Carlton Cole and Darron Gibson in the Hammers’ 2-1 home defeat to Everton in December 2012. He sent off the home side’s Kevin Mirallas against the Hammers at Goodison Park in March 2016 and awarded the Toffees a penalty which Romelu Lukaku saw saved by Adrian.

Possible line-ups

West Ham are bidding to become the first side to score and claim points at Tottenham’s new stadium. Serge Aurier, Moussa Sissoko, Erik Lamela and Harry Kane are out for the hosts while Harry Winks is a major doubt.

West Ham United will be without Winston Reid, Andriy Yarmolenko and Andy Carroll while Aaron Cresswell, Manuel Lanzini and Samir Nasri are doubts. Carlos Sanchez could make the bench and Chicharito could be available. There is, as yet, no news regarding Robert Snodgrass’ pending suspension. Pedro Obiang and Lucas Perez could earn starts after impressing from the bench last weekend. The Hammers have won only once in their last 16 Premier League games away to Tottenham, drawing six and losing nine.

Possible Tottenham Hotspur XI: Lloris; Trippier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose; Wanyama, Alli, Eriksen; Lucas Moura, Llorente, Son.

Possible West Ham United XI: Fabianski; Fredericks, Balbuena, Ogbonna, Masuaku; Rice, Noble, Obiang; Antonio, Perez, Anderson.

Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!


Nigel Kahn’s Column

Shame on us all.

Just when you think you know what you’re going to write for your weekly column, something comes up unexpectedly and makes you rip that up and start again.
I had no plans to cover this again, so soon but after reading the Paul Walker article on KUMB on WHUISA & the OSB meetings taking place Saturday and then some of the inaccuracies being put out there as if they are the fact I feel I’m left with no choice.

I get nothing here for lying so what I’m putting down here is how things panned out from mine, & Sean’s point of view in regards our membership of the WHUISA committee last year.

Firstly, at the moment this is difficult to prove as the 2018 committee election results were never publicly published. I was told after the election that I had polled more votes than any other candidate, second was Sean & together our votes were more than the other members received combined.

Now to me, that is a huge mandate from WHUISA members and the direction it should take, as both Sean or I could not be classed as Lefties as WHUISA had been (unfairly in my view) tainted.

WHUISA committee generally communicates via Whatsapp groups or email and it didn’t take long for Sean & I to notice that things were happening that we didn’t seem to know about in advance. We believed, and rightly so, we were being excluded from decisions by a section of the committee who didn’t trust SW and by association, me, from being part of the decision making process. Some love to point out that WHUISA is the only democratically elected fan group out there, yet here we are being actively excluded, the two people who got more votes in that democratic election. Time & time again we found out what WHUISA was doing via the KUMB forum not via the official committee channels.

Allied to that, WHUISA was asked about joining the OSB as a group, a very short email exchange happened where the decision was taken by some on the committee to reject joining the clubs board.

Now I admit I thought WHUISA should have joined, after all, when you’re a fan representative group if don’t talk to those with the real power you’re just wasting your time. Yet I also believed that should have been a members decision, not the committees to make.

I get that committees are elected to run the show but some things are so important, especially this issue being the biggest WHUISA had to make, it should have gone to the members to decide.

The press statement that WHUISA then put out, stunned me for its rudeness. I’m no board lover, but, again, if you are a fan representative organization trying to make fans’ lives better, you have to hold your nose, & tongue at times, and step inside their tent. Standing outside waving a placard or a flag may give you satisfaction, but really, what does it achieve?

Add to that that the first time I read the statement was after it was released officially, it hadn’t been circulated in advance and only highlighted the fact some in the committee didn’t want any input from two of the elected committee members

Both Sean & I spoke about resigning as it was obvious what was going on. Sean resigned first & with WHUISA in a panic I was spoken to by a let us say, more sympathetic member of the committee who asked me not go, to stick with them and help make the changes for the better. I thought about it and agreed to not go, to see if Sean’s resignation would help. A small aside to this, half an hour after Sean resigned it was announced on the WHUISA twitter feed, and an article appeared on KUMB.

Over half of the elected committee from 2018 has resigned, Sean, Mark Sandell, George Mann, me & Sue Watson. Paul Turner who was co-opted onto the committee but not announced has since, I’m told, resigned as well. Only one resignation was announced the same day.

The truth about Mark Sandall leaving has never been explained. He just basically disappeared off the scene. He’s a busy man, but no explanation from him that I saw or anyone else. It wasn’t announced straight away. One rule for one it seems but not for the rest.

The Foodbank campaign was a mistaken – ot one I supported, as it is for individual fans to make that contribution, not an official group. It played into the hands of those that saw WHUISA as a playground of the left wing. It did go to members to vote, but only at a public meeting attended by around 25 fans. Considering WHUISA membership is worldwide, and it has invested in survey technology to ask fans easily questions to be debated, to allow just a vote of less than 1% make policy was wrong. At the meeting I spoke out against the foodbank campaign as best I could but the vote was carried.

The final straw for me was walking into a game just before kick off the chairman, who was not at this game, wanted to discuss something with the group before going public with it. I can’t remember what it was but, it was rare for him not to be at the game, by the end of the game on WHUISA’s twitter feed a statement was put out. Done & dusted by the chairman during the game, while the rest of us were watching the game. How can you make policy during a game and then announce it without allowing the committee to comment?

Enough was enough. I walked out then and there.

All of the above embarrasses WHUISA,. It also does me no credit, to be honest, and frankly, it is shameful in that fans trusted people to do the right thing but sadly like the ownership the fan group has failed the fans.

WHUISA though can be changed, as with elections if the right people can be found then with a new broom it can all be swept away and cleaned up.

I believe wholeheartedly in the concept of WHUISA and why it was set up, just somewhere along the way it floundered & frankly, played into the hands of those that unfairly tainted it.

My hope for the future is that WHUISA can with a new committee remember that’s its there to represent fans in trying to make their matchday better, yes to call the club to book when it is wrong but to do it in a way that means they work with you to change not against you.

Hammers United should also be a port of call, sit down with them to find common ground as when the fanbase is UNITED then and only then can proper meaningful change happen.


Talking Point

Two Cup Finals And A Triple Call For VAR

West Ham have ended a bad run of three defeats with a 2-2 draw against Leicester – that‘s what will be on record when someone looks up the last third of Manuel Pellegrini‘s first season at West Ham Stats in years to come. It’s just a pity though that there won’t be a footnote to this result stating that West Ham would have won the game if the assistant ref hadn’t got it wrong with Lucas Perez’s second goal! But never mind, now I’ve got an other trip to London and two cup finals to look forward to, and also VAR is just around the corner!

With only minutes to go and West Ham 2-1 up against the Foxes, courtesy to goals by Michail Antonio and Lucas Perez, the latter one had latched on Pedro Obiang‘s pass and rounded Leicester’s keeper Kasper Schmeichel to kill the game off with what seemed to be the 3-1 for West Ham – only to be wrongly flagged offside by the linesman. And after that incorrect decision, fortune was hiding again from the Irons when Leicester substitute Barnes put his team level in injury time!

New carpet, old mistakes

Therefore that draw tasted like defeat to the West Ham faithful on a bright sunny Holy Saturday which had brought us a new claret carpet around the pitch of the London Stadium; a carpet which had got caressed by goal scorer Michail Antonio who put West Ham up with a brilliant header in the first half. But in the end the carpet didn’t play a main part and wasn’t so supportive to West Ham’s squad as we had thought it would be, following Slaven Bilic’s remarks about the difficulties the players had with assessing the size of the pitch with the former green carpet under his tenure at London Stadium.

Nevertheless I am already curious about what the ground will look like with its new dress when we are going to be back to London Stadium in two weeks time for the last game of the season against Southampton! And we’re also looking forward to the unveiling of the 2019 Hammer of the Year, who in my opinion will be Declan Rice quite certainly.

But much more certain is that last year’s HOTY will not play any role in this season’s contest: Marko Arnautovic hasn’t scored since his “China saga” in January, and he and the team have been inconsistent (to put it mildly) since Arnie’s premature waving good-bye when he was substituted throughout the second half in West Ham’s win over Arsenal. That was the last game I have watched in the London Stadium so far, and I think I haven’t missed very much during my absence before coming back to Stratford at the beginning of May. Apart from the Liverpool draw, a game which the Hammers would have won if a blatant offside goal for Liverpool had not counted, West Ham have more or less underachieved in most of the games since that famous 1-0 victory over the Gunners with Declan Rice’s first goal for West Ham just two days before his twentieth birthday.

Back in January we had thought that a good cup run was on the cards and that Manuel Pellegrini’s pledge to fight for 7th place in the Premiership could be successful. But a lot has gone wrong since, with West Ham tumbling out of the FA Cup against much lower opposition, and they never regained the winning mentality Manuel Pellegrini had seemed to have instilled into the squad back in autumn and December. Well, one of the reasons quite certainly were the usual series of injuries that have plagued the Hammers all season (short and long term), but maybe it was also the club’s handling of Arnie’s transfer request which had a detrimental effect on the squad. And we haven’t got an in-form natural born striker in the team with Andy Carroll injured (again), Chicharito inconsistent or injured too, and Arnie … well, he’s far from being our talisman, as he was last season when his goals kept us up, the “China saga” has turned his head, and no turnaround is in sight so far. West Ham thoroughly miss a forward to score the goals you need to win a game!

Can’t wait for VAR now

Having already spoken about the offside incorrectly given in last weekend’s game and the wrongly ignored offside in Liverpool’s opening goal in the aforementioned draw with the Reds, that leads us to the recently much repeated call for VAR. Being a traditionalist I wasn’t so sure if I was happy with the implementation of the video assistant in the Premier League next season, with all the interruptions of the game and the wait before we will know if a goal is going to stand or not. But in recent weeks, with Manuel Pellegrini rightly saying Manchester United’s penalties in West Ham’s 1-2 loss at Old Trafford a week ago would have been overturned with VAR, and having watched that blatant misjudgment this weekend on TV, also for me VAR now cannot come quick enough. It’s obvious that the referees need assistance and our beautiful game will become more fair with VAR. I think with VAR already implemented in the Champions League and in Germany and other countries, it‘s overdue in the Premier League now!

So this season will not only be remembered for the beginning of a new area for West Ham United, dubbed the ”Pellegrini Revolution“ by me in a former post (maybe a little too early taking into consideration the bumpy ride that followed towards the end of this season!). It will also be the last season without VAR. Well, I now hope and expect that the video assistant having the last word in tricky decisions will help the referees to get right what they have got wrong much too often this season.

An inconsistent campaign

And what went wrong with West Ham and the “Pellegrini Revolution”, as we will in all likelihood not achieve the target of finishing in the top ten of the Premier League? I know many say that we should be happy with mid table security and the fact that despite a really bad start (with 4 games lost in a row) West Ham never was in danger to be dragged into the fight against relegation. But with quite a lot of money spent last summer and a high calibre manager at the helm the Irons should have done better and been much more consistent throughout this campaign! Now I think the gap that has opened between 10th place and the Hammers’ points tally will be too big to be bridged with just three games to play!

I think that MP will have to be more open to developing a “plan B“ in some matches if his “plan A“ of possession football and ball on the floor is not working. We will need more steel in midfield next season as Declan Rice and Mark Noble haven’t got enough support in the middle of the park, and we will have to buy a proper striker in summer. Throughout the season I had hoped that the trio of Felipe Anderson, Arnie & Nasri could develop a real threat to our opponents, but due to various facts that never materialised. And also the defence needs improvement as opposition goals have gone in much too easy, not only in recent games! I like Zabaleta and Masuaku going forward and beating their opponents in wing positions, but their crosses frequently lead to nothing and they are beaten themselves much too often in counter attacks. And unfortunately Cresswell and Fredericks haven’t delivered much better either imo. Issa Diop has played very well as a central defender especially in the partnership with “General” Balbuena, but he’s still young and seems to be “overplayed” and out of form recently. I hope MP will get a decent transfer kitty, our long term injuries will come back in the summer, and West Ham will be able to offload some of the fringe players and to buy wisely; then a new season and a fresh attempt to become a real force in our big claret carpet stadium can start!

Two Cup Finals and a conference ahead

As regards football here in Austria my favourite club Rapid Vienna has done much better in the domestic cup than West Ham have, and reached the Austrian Cup Final! Oh I’m sorry, I almost forgot that this criticism of West Ham only applies to their men‘s team! The West Ham Ladies have sensationally reached the Women’s FA Cup Final v Manchester City in Wembley – only to be played the same afternoon as the men’s game for which I already have got our tickets! It’s annoying that it has not been possible to shift one of the games to the Sunday in order to allow to watch both of these games. But that this isn’t a possibility is much to my wife’s pleasure though, she now can avoid a “football overkill” on our trip!

But back to the mighty SK Rapid of Vienna whose club chaplain Christoph Pelczar I have been able to meet recently (pic with midfielder Dejan Ljubicic): After a very disappointing Bundesliga campaign in which Rapid have not reached the “champions play-off” of the best six clubs in Austria’s new league format, they won a thrilling penalty shoot-out against LASK Linz in the Cup semis, and now we’ve really got two cup finals ahead with West Ham and Rapid Vienna! Unbelievable!

Fortunately there won’t be conflicting schedules as regards the Austrian cup final and my trip to London: The final in the Austrian Cup will be played three days before we fly to London to watch West Ham and participate in the LC19 leadership conference in Royal Albert Hall after the weekend!

Rapid Vienna take on Red Bull Salzburg on the 1st of May in Austria’s most beautiful ground in Klagenfurt, hoping to win their first silverware since 2008! Two years ago Rapid have lost the final against the same opponents at the same venue – now this is an other chance to beat the odds and defeat RBS, the club that have dominated Austrian football for years now. As Rapid is the only club which already has beaten Salzburg in Austria this season, why not do that in the Cup final again?

So I do hope to come to London in high spirits at the beginning of May, and then we’re going to cheer on the West Ham and help them finish the season in good mood, too! I’m sure the LC19 conference will inspire and motivate us then anyway, regardless of the outcome of the football games. I have some doubts though about how it will feel to know that this visit to the UK now will be the last one before Brexit comes into effect. Albeit we’ve already thought that of our last stay, back in January, too!

Well, you never know with West Ham, and with Great Britain either nowadays …

Come on you Irons!


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