Talking Point

Is Relegation Looming or are the Bookies Right?

Back in August there was a really good feel factor on the site about West Ham’s chances of a good season. A good pre-season had seen a return to form of Joe Cole and Matt Jarvis, whilst Alou Diarra had been looking fit and eager to start. Whilst Andy Carroll was going to miss the start of the season it was only a matter of a month or so before he was due to return. The signing of Stewart Downing was to compliment Jarvis in supplying Carroll with plenty of ammunition. And then of course there was the emergence in the friendlies of young Ravel Morrison. This was indeed our strongest and deepest squad in many years?

Eleven games in and it has all gone so horribly wrong with the one exception being that wonderful 3-0 win at Spurs. The League table currently shows us level on points with the 3rd bottom club – is relegation looming? The season opening win against Cardiff was just confirmation of what we all thought at the time – top ten for sure. But outside these two aforementioned wins there has been four draws and five defeats and we are still to play away at Arsenal, Man City, Man Utd and Chelsea. In fact we have only played once against last seasons top four home or away (Man City at home) and we were whipped! Include that with the fact we also still have to play Liverpool twice and Everton away and Spurs at home, it is not an easy time ahead. Whilst I am sure we will spring another surprise or two, ala Spurs, the reality is that to reach 40 points we now have to win more than just a point a game from here on in – and that is something that looks quite unlikely on current form and with the upcoming fixture list.

Since the initial pre-season optimism our expectations have faded, but have they died? The injury to Andy Carroll has reoccurred and some pundits even doubt whether he might play again? Worse still is that we have no suitable replacement for him. Diarra suffered a bad injury and one wonders whether he will actually have the fight in him for a relegation battle when he returns? Jarvis and Downing have been bombing in crosses like there is no tomorrow, trouble is, I am sure they think Andy is in the box there somewhere! Actually, if they had looked up, they would have seen there was no one in Claret and Blue there at all. Ravel has shown glimpses of brilliance but as the season has worn on it seems like he may need more time to settle into the week to week battles of the Worlds toughest league. And on top of this we have Mo Diame not looking as though he wants to play, for us anyway, and now even JJ is making mistakes and we have lost Hammer of the Year Winston Reid to an injury. Goodness knows how long he will be out as the charades are flying about as to whether he is injured or just playing “hooky” from the NZ World Cup squad?

So, the ups and the downs of supporting West Ham have not changed one bit. For every silver lining there is another lost lead, an unjust penalty conceded, a once in a season free kick from 30 yards bombed into our goal, or just another injury to one of our best players. The bookies still have us at 6/1 for the drop and their opinion is usually pretty good as it comes from an unbiased viewpoint where it costs them big money if they are wrong. History shows they get it right much more than they get it wrong. At present they rate seven teams more likely than us to go down. This is one bet I am happy for them to win. I am sure there are a lot more ups and downs to come but whatever you do – hang on to your seat because it is going to be a bumpy old ride.

Talking Point

Guest Post: Respect where respect is due (or how we treat our heroes?)

Guest Post by D McCailey

Every supporter at every football club will have their own set of heroes from their club based on experiences, skill, attitudes or particular events in that player’s career at a club. There are many, many West Ham heroes, ranging from players that transcend generations like Bobby Moore or Paolo di Canio, to players that achieved hero status over a very short period of time – Carlos Tevez or Dean Ashton in more recent memory. Hero status can sometimes be blighted in the short term (Scott Parker) or over time perhaps develop (Frank O’Farrell).

But what is very special about the West Ham fans, I believe, is the passion with which they esteem their heroes. Tony Hanna’s recent post about the ‘Johnny Lyall’s Claret and Blue Army’ event could only have come from a club such as ours – the ‘boos’ that followed it from the opposition fans showed their lack of understanding of that moment. The passion with which other players have been welcomed, or indeed lambasted, upon their return to the Boleyn with other clubs shows we truly care – either through love or hate – about players who have worn the Claret and Blue. Players such as Defoe and Bellamy ‘hurt’ us, which is why they have received the treatment they have, and perhaps, given recent developments in books and interviews, why some of us are very ready to forgive. There are many others who, frankly, we couldn’t care less about!

Which brings me on to the real reason for writing this piece. In recent times – through ’Arry’s book, or Bonzo and Devo talking to the KUMB podcast – it has become apparent that the board through the 70s, 80s and 90s, did not treat our heroes with the respect they deserved. It is testament to the players themselves that they have not gone into great depth about the details, but certainly we know that Bobby Moore WAS hung out to dry by the club and evicted without a ticket; Bonzo has only just returned to the club for the first time since he left in the early 90s, and I was amazed to hear that Devonshire didn’t set foot in the club for 15 years after he left ‘because of things that happened at the time’. I wonder how many other of our ‘heroes’ were treated by the club in that way at the time? I was very critical of the board at the time in an earlier post regarding their lack of ambition and these things do not help that view!

Credit where credit is due, however, I am pleased that Gold and Sullivan are looking to rectify that, giving Bonzo his award and acknowledging our ‘heroes’. I see Dicksy has been asked to do some corporate work for the club. Cynics will say that these are all about building the ‘image’ and ‘brand’ of West Ham, and of course they are right, but at least our heroes are being treated with the respect they deserve.

Player Performance Results

Results: Player Performances v Norwich City

Talking Point

Remembering the West Ham Pals killed in WW1

This Remembrance Sunday at 11am please remember the West Ham Pals killed in the first world war.

One of the reasons why the First World War was so traumatic an event to British society was that so many of the new infantry Battalions formed to fight in the trenches were the so called “Pals Battalions”. Where men could serve with local friends, neighbours or workers.

The West Ham Pals were officially called the 13th Battalion of the Essex Regiment.

Unofficially they were West Ham football team supporters who joined on mass with their mates and whose battle cry (and bayonet charge) was “Up the Irons”.

The Battalion fought in some of the worse battles in the Somme, Vimy Ridge and Cambrai during the War and suffered causalities with many killed, wounded or missing.

The impact of all these deaths and casualties in battle on the local community was therefore immense. About one quarter of the original battalion volunteers were killed and nearly half were returned to UK with severe injuries

The West Ham Pals website can be found here or on Facebook here

In 2009 Sir Trevor Brooking unveiled a plaque at the Boleyn ground to remember the West Ham Pals.

I always feel proud when the army march around the Boleyn ground at the home match before Remembrance Sunday like they did in the game against Villa. Just a shame a minority of Aston Villa fans couldn’t keep their mouths shut for the one minute silence.

Match Report

Match Report: Norwich City 3 West Ham 1

Click HERE to rate the performances of the West Ham players who played at Carrow Road.

Well that must have been some kind of team talk from Sam Allardyce at half-time. As my LBC colleague Steve Allen would say “dreadful, Ladies and Gentlemen, dreadful”. Having dominated the first half we yet again paid the price for missing chance after chance as we went in only 1-0 up. We had 57% of the possession and Norwich looked there for the taking. But we looked a totally different team in the second half. Razvan Rat seemed to hardly give a damn and Kevin Nolan looked positively Dowie-esque in his inability to control the ball when he received it. And as for Jussi’s performance, don’t get me started. Was he Joe Hart in disguise? I suppose every goalkeeper has an off day, and Jussi has fewer than most, but he was to blame, at least in part, for all three goals. He gave away the penalty having flapped, he remained rooted to the spot for the Snodgrass free kick and should have easily parried the last goal from Leroy Fer.

But there are plenty of other candidates for anti-man of the match. Stewart Downing did nothing during the game. Carlton Cole might as well not have been on the pitch after he came on for all the difference he made.Even Mark Noble was invisible in the second half and gave away the ball which led to James Collins’s foul, which led to the Snodgrass goal. James Collins looked fairly ring rusty, and James Tomkins wasn’t at the top of his game either. But for me, Rat and Nolan vie with each other for worst West Ham player on the pitch, Twice in the second half Rat was in a good attacking position but failed to receive the ball properly. He was constantly out of position and made Joe Cole’s task even harder than it ought to have been. As for Kevin Nolan, yes he passed the ball for Morrison to score, but what else did he actually contribute during the whole game? More than Diame would have? It has to be said that after last week’s good performance against Villa, Jack Collison was off his game too.

Has anyone noticed that we have conceded at least 6 goals from free kicks outside the area this season so far. For a shot stopper Jussi needs to do far much better with these, and the wall does too. They didn’t even jump up today. Had they done so, they might have stopped the shot. Jussi didn’t even seem to see it and remained rooted to the spot. He’s done that far too often for my liking.

All very depressing. It’s the last result you’d want before a two week international break, which is then followed by a home match against Chelsea. The thing is, when Andy Carroll does eventually return (around Christmas, I imagine) it will take at least seven or eight games for him to gel into the team.

I am depressed. Cheer me up.

Jussi 4 – All over the place
Tomkins 5 – Distinctly average, partly to balme for the final goal
Collins 6 – Ring rusty – gave away the foul for the Snodgrass screamer
Demel 8 – Great game
Rat 4 – Truly awful. Come back Joey.
Morrison 6 – Faded badly in the second half
Noble 6 – Failed to orchestrate midfield in this usual manner
Collison 5 – Largely anonymous
Downing 4 – Might as well not have played. No threat at all
Nolan 5 – Only redeeming factor was the pass which led to the goal
Joe Cole 6 – Flashes of brilliance but what did he achieve
Carlton Cole 4 – Did nothing. Nichts. Nada.

Well done to Norwich (who I have to say are my second team). In the end you have to say they deserved it.

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