Predictor Game 2014/15

Now that we are less than three weeks away from the new campaign, I thought it about time to start up the predictor game thread for the coming season.

Last season, the prize was taken by Victor Anichebes Sweaty Anus, so I’d like someone else to step up and take his crown so I no longer have to conjure the imagery of the West Brom striker post workout. shudder

The rules remain the same as last year, but for those of you who didn’t play last year, here’s what you need to do:

Predict your final table – 1st to 20th (that may seem obvious but some people didn’t manage that last year), the PL top scorer, West Ham’s top scorer, Hammer of the Year, FA Cup winner, Carling Cup winner, Champions League winner, and the number of managerial changes in made in the PL (as of today (28/07/2014, so if someone doesn’t make the start of the season for whatever reason, that will count as one).

You score 5 points for getting a team in the correct position, and 2 points for being one place out (i.e. if I predict West Ham to finish 10th and they finish 9th or 11th, I get 2 points). You get a further 5 points for getting the correct result for any of the other categories, meaning the maximum points total is 135, but you’d have to be some kind of tea-leaf reading freak to manage that – Victor Anichebes Sweaty Anus managed 35 out of 135 to win it last year, so the bar is pretty low.

I will be on holiday from Friday until pretty much when the season kicks off, so I won’t be here to plug the game as often as I did last year. It would be great if some of the more regular visitors among you could share the link to this in the discussions of some of the other threads over the next couple of weeks, just so we get as much interest as possible – there were 65 of us last year, which was pretty decent.

Please post your predictions on this thread, and I’ll collate all the information. Anything predicted post kick off for the first game of the season will not be counted.

Good luck


PS: Here’s a little template for your comments to make life easier for me:


top scorer (pl)
top scorer (wh)
hammer of the year

fa cup winner
carling cup winner
champions league winner

  1. managerial changes (PL)

Guest Post

Big Sam - Time to see how good he really is

Guest Post by Bourne_Iron

Every so often, life throws you a curve ball and you have to face up to it and make hard decisions – how you carry out those required decisions determines how good you are at management – whether that be work, personal life, money, football. Those having the nerve to make tough decisions and difficult calls normally are the best managers – and carry out the changes in a ruthless, focused and determined way leading to success (via initial turmoil and criticism)

Big Sam has to be realistic – there is a very real potential that Andy Carroll will not play again. As hard as that is to accept. With every month out and with every new injury to already delicate feet, the % chances of him returning as a top class footballer are reduced. This is an unacceptable risk if not mitigated. When you don’t mitigate obvious risks ventures fail and you exhibit poor management.

Once you accept that conclusion and start to mitigate that risk, you come to the following realizations very quickly. Without Carroll (or a Carroll clone) there is no point in playing Nolan (no knock-downs / no “dream” partnership) and no point employing wingers to float in crosses as there is no target man.

So, you either go and get a Carroll clone (weak management choice as he is unique in my opinion) or make the harder choice (which is what brave and good managers do) and carry out the following:-

  • Accept that the current formation is now pointless and change it.
  • Drop the wide wingers playing crosses and long ball to target man mentality
  • Sell Nolan and make another player captain.
  • Sell Jarvis or Downing as two wingers in the new formation are no longer required.
  • Look at new acquisitions and plan around them (otherwise no point in getting them)
  • When working through it, you are left with a formation mindset of:-

Back four with:-

  • Keepers – covered
  • Solid defensive core – covered.
  • Attacking Full backs – covered at left back (cresswell / potts) but attacking right back is an obvious shortfall.

Midfield of:-

  • 2 defensive midfielders – covered here (Poyet, Noble, cheeky youth like moncur)
  • 3 Attacking flair players – covered here – Morrison, Whitehead, Zarate, downing (not in winger mode), RVT, Fanimo, Turgott, Lletget

1 Fast counter attacking, running onto a ball striker – Valencia, Lee, Gordon.

With the removal of Maiga, Jarvis, Nolan and Diame you would have funds (hopefully) for a quality attacking right back.

The brave choice for Sam is to move to a 4-2-3-1 and fully utilize the youth players with a quality signing at right back and one more striker- in this type of fluid, counter attacking team someone like Agbonlahor or of a similar type would be ideal.

In the coming weeks – a brave, risk aware manager would set the team up for life without Carroll and carry out changes to personnel and players similar to above – in my opinion, a weak manager would go and try and find a Carroll clone. We are about to see how good Sam really is – if I was a director / chairman I would act quickly and ruthlessly if Sam came to me for funds for Crouch / Traore or similar as this is the ultimate sign of weakness.

Talking Point

Well, the NZ tour certainly did West Ham's global brand ambitions a power of good!!

West Ham are quite rightly concerned with propagating the West Ham United brand on a global basis. Not least because merchandise/commercial income streams are unrestricted and allow the club to circumvent FFFP constraints and thus boost their transfer/salary budges. So, maximising overseas income could eventually help transform the financial position of the club. In English football, the pre-dominant club internationally is undoubtedly Manchester Utd, with an instantly recognisable brand, world-wide shirt sales, lucrative overseas tours and income streams to match. While Chelsea, for instance, are very visible in Africa and their coaching and charitable schemes are particularly strong in West African countries such as Ghana.

They are two leading examples, but of course, most of the PL clubs will have their own international strategies. For West Ham’s part, they have an existing tie-up with the second tier of US football and, in the past, have had partnership arrangements in Australia. This has served to raise the profile of the Hammers in those countries and also supplied football talent such as Stan Lazardis, Richard Garcia, the Tombides brothers and Sebastian Lletget. Those existing international links need to be radically expanded. And, of course, there are enormous potential financial rewards to be had in the emerging markets of China, the far east and the Indian Sub-Continent. Within this context, the club, and its charitable Trust, need to continue not only to connect with the sizeable Asian communities in local boroughs like Newham and Tower Hamlets, but also explore the possibility of overseas charitable/coaching activity in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. There is a powerful symmetry in pursuing a dual strategy of combining engagement work with the Asian communities in East London (as part of delivering the 2012 sporting legacy) and coaching/charitable activity, further a field, in their countries of origin. With each strategy reinforcing the other to produce some very positive long-term outcomes in one of the key regions that the club should prioritise.

The English PL is an amazingly powerful product, eagerly consumed world-wide. It gives English clubs a great deal of positive exposure to a huge international audience. The clubs seek to build upon that with pre-season tours to their target continents/countries. This was obviously the thinking behind the current tour to New Zealand. And judging by the sizeable Hammers support at both matches it is clear that there is a strong foundation to build upon. Unfortunately, those Kiwi and Aussie fans, and the travelling UK contingent, were badly let down. Furthermore, it has to be said that the ineptitude of our performances on the pitch probably undermined the core commercial objectives of the tour. It is all well and good ‘winning friends and influencing people’ off the pitch, but those gains must be accompanied by positive performances on it. To be outplayed and defeated by two local teams (equivalent in standard to English League 2) does nothing to advance the club’s popularity in New Zealand and Australia. Quite the opposite, it holds us up to ridicule and probably affords the likes of Man Utd, Man City, Arsenal and Chelsea even more of an advantage in the region than they already possess.

The club’s board have made real efforts to improve the squad this summer and give the Manager the pre-requisite tools to play a more expansive game. The key question was always going to be whether the manager was capable of responding to the challenge? As I asked recently, can a leopard change his spots? Now, apparently, we are being told that the transition from one style of play to another takes time and it is the attempt to be more attacking/expansive that is making us vulnerable defensively! Funny that we were at our most attacking/expansive against Spurs, in the final match of last season, and yet still retained our defensive solidarity. Yet we (apparently) try the same approach in New Zealand and it causes a defensive shambles against far weaker opposition! The truth is that in the two matches in New Zealand there was no discernible new approach, it looked very much like the same abject tactics that we suffered for the majority of last season.

There are presently clear tensions within the club. Not only with respect to playing style, but also last season’s transfer strategy, the decision (allegedly) to buy Zarate and the issue of whether to try to retain the services of Ravel Morrison. The compromise reached, at the end of last season, was clearly designed to paper over board room differences on the wisdom of continuing with the present management. However, there was always the probability that this would flounder as a result of old inclinations/propensities re-asserting themselves. And we have arguably started to see that occur, albeit it more quickly than one might have anticipated. The obvious example being the managerial declaration (presumably without prior consultation?) that Ravel Morrison was not part of the club’s first team plans this season. It was interesting to see David Sullivan respond so swiftly to confirm that the board do actually see Morrison as an part of their plans and the manager’s subsequent public climb down.

Can board and manager (to one degree or another) continue with the uneasy compromise reached in May? Or will the tensions lead to managerial change sooner rather than later? In my opinion the board must hold their line on playing style, getting Morrison signed to a new contract and ensuring Zarate is not marginalised. If that results in a parting of the ways with the manager then so be it. West Ham cannot afford to continue with last season’s one-dimensional football, as they gear up for the move to the OS. That will not fill 60,000 seats on a regular basis nor win new international support/commercial income. To help change their style they need to deploy the vision, skill and technique of a player like Zarate. His goal in the first match in NZ was excellent and an obvious example of the type of flair, skill and lethal finishing we have been lacking. They also need to persevere with a talent of Morrison’s magnitude. The idea of him leaving and fans having to endure the spectacle of him realising his potential with another club is horrendous to contemplate. Morrison’s PL career may ultimately fall short of expectations, but there is also a very good chance that he could mature and realise his potential. The club should definitely make every effort to sign him to a new contract. It would be a great pity to lose a major young English talent on the assessment of a manager who is almost certainly in his final season with the club.

It is a myth that we have to play like last season to survive in the PL. We are at a stage now where we not only need to survive, but move forward and prosper. The signing of Enner Valencia (subject to a work permit) is a very good move. David Sullivan, from his reported comments, obviously sees the signing of one or two extra strikers (adding extra height) as a priority following Carroll’s injury. And that is probably the correct call, but I would be fascinated to see how Zarate/Valencia/Downing can combine, as a front three, with Morrison playing just behind them. However, for that strike force to work, we need to pass the ball and employ an approach a bit more sophisticated than launching aimless high balls in to the opposition box. Which neatly brings us back, full-circle, to the question of playing style and whether the current management can deliver on the board’s ambitions? And if not, when it will finally be decided that enough is enough?

SJ. Chandos.

Transfer Gossip

Should West Ham sign Samuel Eto or are there better options?

The football pages of today’s Sunday Mirror are reporting that West Ham may be about to to compete with QPR for the signature of striker Samuel Eto on a Bosman deal. Eto’s name has has been touted as a possible replacement for Andy Carroll, who is due to be absent for four months with an injured ankle. Experienced Cameroon international, Eto, was released by Chelsea at the end of last season.

It is also reported that other possible options could include Arsenal’s Joel Campbell and Portugal striker Hugo Almeida.

David Sullivan has stated that we need to sign one or two strikers on permanent and/or loan deals, with particular reference to adding some extra height to the attack, which has been lost with Carroll’s injury absence.

So, which of the three reported options are the best for the club? Or are there better targets that should be pursued instead?

SJ. Chandos.


David Sullivan Interview

On Thursday evening I was invited to a phone in for an Interview on the Talk Sport radio Sports Bar with Jason Cundy & Sam Delaney to discuss West Ham’s upcoming season, I followed an interview with former Hammer John Moncur. Little did I know at the time but David Sullivan took time away from his holiday in Spain to call to show after Hammers fan and host Sam Delaney upset the chairman by claiming fans didn’t know the full truth about Andy Carroll and his 4 month absence. Sullivan spent the next 15 minutes explaining the situation. In case you missed it here is the interview in full via YouTube.

Some of Sullivan’s quotes during the interview:

“We told the manager we want a more attacking form of football. But at the same time the manager has to pick the team. It’s his decision what he does, We’re more involved with the transfers this year because we think we haven’t spent our money well in the previous years and we hope we will spend it a bit better this summer. But we think what we’ve bought is better value for money and at least we’ve got some more lottery tickets than could turn into jackpots.There were games last season where I had tears in my eyes. It just wasnt’t good enough, That said and done, we have a contract with the manager and we believe in honouring contracts. We stick by managers, we have a history of sticking with our managers and that’s what we intend to do. But we’ve raised the bar a little bit. Sam was never told that survival was his target, that’s a complete myth. We may have said that’s a minimum acceptable achievement but that’s not what we’re aiming for, we’re aiming to be up there competing with the good teams. It isn’t easy but we would love a cup final, we would love to get into the top six, top half would be quite good. To label 17th as a success, well I don’t think it is. It’s not a disaster but it’s not a success if that makes sense.I don’t think we ever contemplated it [sacking Allardyce]. We only would if Sam was unreceptive towards what we saw was the future in terms of attacking a bit more, bringing in new players and us being involved a bit more with the transfers.We’re not mugs, we’ve been in the game 20 odd years and I looked at what we spent the last three years and there’s not a single player we could get our money back on let alone a profit.It’s not that we want to sell them but you like to have players on the field with a value in the excess of what you paid "

The full interview

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