Talking Point

The target is Six Points from the next four matches!

Sam Allardyce has confirmed that the club’s target over the next four PL matches is to take six points from a possible twelve. The obvious source of the points being the home matches against Sunderland this Saturday and WBA on 28 December 2013. The team can certainly help themselves if they can take maximum points in these two matches, as the other two fixtures are at home against Man Utd and Arsenal. It is going to be tough, especially if we continue to be so wasteful in front of goal, but the squad need to buckle down and grind out a couple of vital wins in this key period.

Can we take anything out of the Man Utd and Arsenal matches? Well, we should not just turn up to make up the numbers. The squad need to be competitive and put in a couple of good performances, as part of the revival process. Good performances build confidence and if we can nick a point or three against a out of sorts Man Utd then so much the better. With Nolan’s absence through suspension it gives us the opportunity to try a different set up, with either Ravel Morrison or Joe Cole playing in an advanced midfield role. Also, with Stewart Downing out injured, Matt Jarvis needs to get back to his best form out wide. Jarvis has the pace and skill to really test the opposition, but I just wish that he could use his assets to score more goals. Too often Jarvis breaks through on goal and seems to lack the confidence to finish. We all know that he can do it, as evidenced by his time at Wolves. Now he needs to do it in a West Ham shirt.

We shall have to see what the situation is with James Tomkins’ injury. Hopefully he will recover and be able to line up alongside Collins this Saturday. If not then I guess it is a choice between young Leo Chambers or either McCartney or Diarra as an auxillary centre back. Since Reid has been injured the defence has become almost as problematic as the forward line. We have allowed sloppy defending to creep back in and seem unusually error ridden just lately. We need to cut that out and try to get back to the solid defending that we exhibited at the beginning of the season. However, the sooner Winston Reid returns, the better as far as I am concerned. Will the club also sign another central defender in the January window? I would not be surprised and I am sure that a loan deal for Christopher Samba is probably on Allardyce’s wish list.

If we achieve that six point target then it will give us 19 points ongoing in to the New Year’s Day. In fact it could provide a launch pad for an upturn in results, with winnable early New Year fixtures against Fulham away, Cardiff City away and Newcastle Utd at home. Hopefully, with the assistance of Andy Carroll’s much anticipated return, the equally important return to fitmess of Winston Reid and at least one new striker added to the squad. Ideally, good business needs to be transacted early in the window so that any new acquisition(s) can have maximum positive impact, as quickly as possible, in the New Year. Although from David Gold’s recent comments, it looks like that business is going to be via loan deals, with a view to possible permanent moves in the summer. The club must get this right, lets have no honest but underwhelming journeymen strikers or veteran marksmen long past their best. We need an injection of genuine class up front to give us that missing cutting edge. It remains to be seen whether they can pull that off in the loan market and in the difficult January window. All will be revealed soon enough!

The latest name in the speculative frame is former Newcastle Utd striker Obafemi Martins. The 29 year old Nigerian international is currently plying his trade in the lucrative north American league and a loan could be possible during their close season. Many of us remember Martins as a pacy, powerful striker, with a good PL strike rate. He is still only 29, but has not been playing in the strongest of leagues. Also, there is the complicating factor that any loan will end in March 2014 to facilitate the north american pre-season. That is far from ideal and will probably mean that a second striker will need to be signed to cover his premature departure at a potentially key stage of the season.

So, on to this Saturday’s match vs Sunderland. We need another high tempo and attacking performance like the Fulham match. This is a match where the skills and technique of Morrison and Joe Cole should shine through. It is likely that Allardyce will start with Maiga up front again, with Carlton Cole figuring from the bench. In terms of the opposition, I would opine that the key danger men are Adam Johnson and Stephen Fletcher. Johnson is a technically gifted wide man, with the ability to hurt us. Up front, they have a very dangerous striker in Stephen Fletcher. Fletcher is having a bit of a fallow period in front of goal at the moment. And that could spell danger, because it seems that every misfiring striker manages to rediscovers his goal scoring touch against us. But seriously, we need to keep those two quiet, if we are going to take all three points. Sticking my neck out slightly, I feel that we can grab an invaluable, and much needed, 2-1 win over Sunderland.

Elsewhere, there have been a couple of media stories about possible January exits from West Ham. The first of these is a potential Liverpool bid for Mo Diame. The other is alleged interest from Newcastle Utd and Everton in Mark Noble. Of the two, the Liverpool move for Diame probably has slightly more substance. While I doubt very much that Mark Noble will be leaving the club anytime soon. Especially as he has just signed a new contract. Hopefully, West Ham will also soon sign Diame on an improved contract (minus that £3.5m release clause) and stop this recurring speculation during each window. We cannot afford to lose our best players, and aside from one or two fringe members of the squad, I doubt there will be many notable exits in January.

Finally, well done to Kevin Nolan and the rest of the squad for cancelling the Christmas jamboree to Dublin. The last thing the fans need to see is pictures in the Daily Mail, of boozy sessions in Dublin hot spots, at a time when only goal difference keeps out of the bottom three. All minds need to be concentrated 100% on winning football matches. That is their bread and butter, with an extremely large dollop of jam on it, and boozy sessions are an unwelcome distraction. Its about being professional and the players have made the right decision without a shadow of doubt.

SJ. Chandos.


News

Christmas is cancelled!

According to a report in the Sun, West Ham players have cancelled their Christmas party in Dublin this year.

They claim Captain Kevin Nolan called on the squad to cancel their plans given the club’s precarious table position.They were due to fly from Liverpool to Dublin on Saturday.

A club insider is quoted as saying “The players realised it wouldn’t be right to be celebrating with the situation the team is in. Kevin actually cancelled it last week before they lost at Liverpool”

Players on their Christmas Party in Dublin last year

News

Season Ticket Holders' Forum report

Tuesday night saw the Season Ticket Holders’ forum with a Question and Answer session with Manager Sam Allardyce & Captain Kevin Nolan for the first hour and Joint chairman David Gold answering questions for the second hour.

400 season ticket holders filled the legends lounge at the Boleyn to ask questions of the West ham trio.

The crowd were quite subdued at first, Kevin Nolan looked nervous and Sam Allardyce looked like ready for the onslaught from frustrated fans. However, it was a very civil affair with the crowd very well behaved and respectful of the speakers. Sam started the evening explaining the current form and his view of the season so far. He complained about a lack of goals and the impact of injuries.

I was able to ask the second question to Sam ‘What is your realistic league position target at the end of the season and how many points are you targeting for the next four games against Sunderland, Manchester United, Arsenal and West Brom?’ I asked. Answering the second question first Sam said he expected a minimum of 6 points from those four league games. When I pressed him to answer the first part he explained his realistic target was still to finish better than last season.

Sam went on to talk about Matt Jarvis dip in form, why he bought Stewart Downing instead of a striker, signing a striker in January and the current injury crisis.

Kevin Nolan spoke about the injuries this season. He said team morale is still high he has no doubt West Ham will stay up this season.
He confessed his own finishing has been poor and apologised for the red card on Saturday ( The video of his apology can be seen below) He explained the origins of his chicken dance saying it was how one of his mates used to dance..

David Gold called our season “disappointing” and said he had expected us to be mid table by now. He said “We put all our eggs in one basket” with Carroll and Downing but admits no one expected the injuries. Andy Carroll is expected back for the New Year. He also said “We must rely on Sam!”.

David said our “four best players” are injured calling it “bad luck”. He suggested we will see Ravel Morrison played in Kevin Nolan’s role. He admitted in hindsight that we should not purchased a winger rather than a striker. When challenged on Financial Fair Play and the January transfer window, he claimed “budgets change” and explained that half season loans are cheaper. Gold said Sullivan and himself are doing everything to get a striker in January and said that work had already begun.

In a funny moment David Gold said selling one of our fringe players would help with transfer funds in January. “Fringe or French?” Asked a season ticket holder. “Yeah, French” he said laughing. He then went on to answer a number of questions about the Olympic Stadium finishing with his views on Barry Hearn’s challenge to share the Olympic Stadium.


Kevin Nolan Apologises


Nostalgia

Remembering Geoff Hurst

Geoff Hurst was one of the really great legends of our club and is widely remembered around the football World for his hat trick in the 1966 World Cup final. A feat still not matched to this day. He made his debut for the Hammers in December 1958 in a Southern Floodlit Cup ( later the League Cup) and went on to play 501 games scoring 249 goals – that’s close enough to a goal every two games! In his early seasons he played as a wing half until manager Ron Greenwood decided to give Geoff a go up front. It was against Liverpool in 1962 and two days before the game Ron had summoned Geoff to his office. Geoff’s performance had been awful in the reserves on the weekend and he was expecting the worst. However, Ron told Geoff of his tactical plan and that he would take the blame, not Geoff, if the positional change did not work. The rest is history.

Geoff Hurst was big and strong. He had a terrific shot with both feet and was superb in the air. His other strength was the ability to hold the ball up and bring the wingers into the game, who in turn would cross balls to the near post, another tactic Greenwood was employing with success. I remember my first game at Upton Park against Burnley in 1967. Geoff unleashed a shot from around 35 yards and a Burnley defender turned his back on the ball before it hit him square in the middle of his back. Many minutes later and after many sniffs of the smelling salts, the defender was helped from the field. In another of my “remembering” series a few months ago I recalled his six goal haul against Sunderland in an 8-0 demolition in 1968. And then of course there was a matter of the World Cup in 1966 with his famous hat trick in the final securing England’s historic victory. Geoff played 49 times for England and again his goal ratio was close to his club scoring record with 24 goals. His achievements were to later secure an MBE in 1975 and a Knighthood in 1998. He may have been a knight that day in ‘98 but to the Upton Park faithful in the mid to late sixties he was the “King of football”, as the chant went.

He enjoyed three successive years of Wembley victories. The 1964 FA cup final win against Preston where Geoff scored a goal, the ECWC final win against 1860 Munich that followed, and then the World Cup win in 1966. In the four seasons between 1965 to ‘69, he scored 137 goals in 200 games for West Ham. Some of his favourite places he played at included the Maracana in Rio, Wembley, Hampden Park and the Azteca in Mexico City. His worst memory was at the Field Mill Ground at Mansfield. A shock 3-0 FA Cup defeat there in 1969 against the 3rd Division side was one night that Geoff remembers as one of his worst in football. In Geoff’s memoires he analyses that by the number of Mansfield supporters that have since told him they were there that night, there must have been 150,000 at Mansfield to witness the Cup shock. This despite the attendance that night mustering around 21,000. For me, the man was the best centre forward of his time. You knew what you got with Geoff Hurst – the label was on the packet with all the ingredients fully explained.

When Geoff turned professional in 1959, his sign on fee was twenty quid. Thirteen years later he played his final game for West Ham against Liverpool on the 15th April 1972. He went on to play three seasons for Stoke City before having brief spells at Cape Town City, West Brom, Cork City and Seattle Sounders. After playing he managed Telford United before moving to Chelsea and then Kuwait SC. In his early years he was a good cricketer having played once for Essex and 23 times for the second eleven Essex side. At the end of the day he will be most remembered by non Hammers for being on the end of those famous words by the one and only Kenneth Wolstenholme, commentating on the World Cup Final in 1966. “Some people are on the pitch….they think it is all over….it is now” Enjoy a trip down memory lane……….


Talking Point

You Have Reached the Olympic Stadium - Please Mind the Gap

Alex Miller, writing for the Daily Mail at the weekend declared an exclusive story about the Olympic Stadium claiming "Hammers fans fear Olympic Stadium design flaw will ruin atmosphere” The story can be read HERE

I can reveal the source of his World exclusive was an online building forum called SkyScaperCity.com. The forum members were less than impressed with Mr Miller’s article at the weekend with one saying “this seems like a rather dishonest report to me considering most of the seats behind that gap are actually not going to be used when the stadium is in football mode!”

One forum member even suggested an alternative configuration which can be seen below.

I understand the drawings referred to in the article which were posted on the forum had been released back in March so little new has been learnt from this article beyond it has highlighted the gaps to a wider audience.There are gaps at both the North and South stands behind the goals shown in the drawings but the main contract to rebuild the stadium has not been awarded so nothing is set in stone yet. I understand the main contract will be awarded on 23rd December this year with Sir Robert McApline considered the favourite to win it. The main contractor will then work with the architects Populous after the estimated £100 million contract is awarded. With an estimated £200 million final bill to rebuild the stadium, one would hope it is in everyone’s interest to get this right.

Another forum member said “For some reason the ends don’t really bother me, it looks bad on the cross section but I reckon it’ll look fine in reality”.

Whilst I agree the gap behind the goals needs to be addressed it is a bit too early to make claims of 15 metre gaps based on an online forum post without further information.
.
If you see the cross sections of the East and West stands they don’t suffer from the same gap as behind the goals. It is too early to be getting upset about the gap before the final configuration is submitted and agreed. This has been recently proved with the £41m roof contact, the main contractor Balfour Beatty is making significant changes to the roof post contract award. They say “It is proposed to amend the detailed design of the main roof, This has been influenced by a need to reduce the overall area, weight and complexity of the roof while still maintaining the acoustic performance and seating coverage” “The overall concept for the roof remains the same, the revised roof will have a solid white disc to reflect the original fabric roof and the inner roof will be a clear transparent disc. Balfour Beatty have simplified the roof design meaning the previous ridged surface will now be flat/smooth.

If you want to follow the SkyScaperCity.com forum thread on the Olympic Stadium rebuild you can follow it HERE

On the back on the Daily Mail article Stadiumdb.com published an article with more detail which can be read HERE


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