The HamburgHammer Column

There will always be a West Ham and anyway, we will stay up this season!

At least not another embarrassing defeat. In previous seasons, under normal circumstances, a 1:1 draw at home against Leicester would not have yielded the kind of enthusiastic support and raucous noise from the West Ham home crowd. But from what I could gather from the comfort of my sofa the atmosphere at the London Stadium last Friday was fantastic, a proper defiant reaction from our fanbase, displaying a fierce in the trenches corral mentality.

The current circumstances at West Ham are anything but normal, but at least the fans did their bit and it seemed to rub off on the team who gave a much more spirited performance. They looked like they actually gave a monkey’s.
The effort was certainly there, the running was a lot better, the pressing too and while there was still a clear lack of creative quality in our side this should come back in due course once the new gaffer has settled in properly and the team begin playing with more confidence and according to a clearly defined gameplan.

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There has been a lot of talk in recent days about former members of the ICF taking things into their own hands in terms of letting the board know that most of our supporters are anything but happy (and why that is the case), so those guys will try and compile a list of the most pressing issues and tell the owners accordingly. It is then up to the board to act upon the suggestions from the fanbase or face significant backlash in the shape of various fan protests over the coming weeks and months.

I applaud those guys for their efforts and wish them every success, alas I am less than hopeful it will have the desired effect. The board will follow their financial roadmap to the letter, cashing in their interest payments for another three or four years until they can sell the club without the shackles of having to share a portion of their profit with the LLDC/taxpayer. Then – and only then – will they seriously consider getting out of the club.

I take a degree of comfort though from the thought that there will still be a West Ham worth rooting for in some shape or form once the current lot are gone and hopefully the latest initiative from the “Real West Ham Fans” group will help in uniting our fanbase again, making sure that as much of our club’s soul as possible can be preserved, despite the actions of the current owners.

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I am confident that there are still plenty of sons and daughters out there who will follow in the footsteps of their parents, uncles, aunties and grandparents and grow up to be staunch West Ham supporters. West Ham are more than just a football club and it still has a place in the hearts of thousands of people all over the globe. That must count for something.

I have no doubt that our team is good enough to see out the season with a modicum of professional pride and reach the beckoning shore of Premier League safety.
It will probably not quite be another Great Escape a la Tevez, we look far too minimalistic on the pitch for that, so it’ll be more like a Late Escape than a great one, but escape we will. Of that I have no doubt.

The upcoming Everton game should be a thrilling encounter as surely Everton too are nowhere near where they expected to be in the table at the start of the season.
The pressure on them should be even bigger than on us which might work in our favour on the night. We should also have players returning back into the fold, like Hernandez and Antonio, giving us a few more options in terms of how to approach the game.

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It looks to me like a switch has finally been flicked and I have no doubt that both results and performances will continue to improve as long as the players persist with showing better effort and application as that alone can and will trigger the kind of support from the Hammers faithful that is paramount if we want to maintain our league status.

In other, local German news I told you in a previous column about the agreement of the local Regionalliga Southwest to play the Chinese U20 side in a series of friendly games, not affecting the league table, but giving the lower league clubs some much needed financial boost while affording the Chinese players the opportunity to play some competitive games to get themselves ready for the Olympic Games.

There was a lot of criticism even before a ball was kicked, now the experiment has been stopped until further notice due to some football fans deciding to make a political statement by taking Tibetan flags to the first game of the Chinese team which obviously didn’t go down with their players, officials and the football authorities back home.
On the one hand of course you could argue that sporting events like these should not be overshadowed by political campaigning.

On the other hand there is the right of free speech in Western Europe, so taking a flag to football should not be a reason to eject supporters from the venue or abandon the game. Then again West Ham fans have learned in recent weeks that you don’t have to take a Tibetan flag to the stadium to get yourself in a spot of bother.
I never thought the idea with the Chinese U20 team playing in Germany was a brilliant one to pursue and if a Tibetan flag in the crowd is all it takes to rile up the visitors then maybe they should get their Olympic preparations done elsewhere.

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To quickly update you on Reece Oxford and his exploits at a team from Germany (Borussia Moenchengladbach) his loan club surprisingly managed to deal the mighty Bayern Munich its first defeat in what felt like five years or so, beating them 2:1. Moenchengladbach are now only five points behind the league leaders from Munich and The Foals Eleven (as they are affectionately known in the country of the sausage munchers) are well on course to secure Champions league football coming to the Rhineland next season.

It’s not ideal for Reece Oxford on the face of it as Moenchengladbach have no reason whatsoever to play him as things are going very well as they are at the moment, without Oxford getting any significant gametime. On the other hand they are known for developing and bringing through youngsters in a very strategic and patient manner, so his time may come, but Moenchengladbach may take their time in watching his progress and maybe even decide to buy him if they are convinced he is right for them.
They certainly won’t be playing him just to do West Ham any favours.

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As for the quick Concordia update (haters, please skip this section accordingly), the trip to Buchholz in Lower Saxony (representing the longest away trip of the season with their ground being 30 miles away from my flat) yielded mixed results. On the pitch it was an unmitigated disaster, with Cordi losing 0:4 to a side fighting relegation.
Concordia this season are certainly not pulling their weight and at this rate can forget any ambitions of going up one level at the end of the season. Not good.
Talking of weight though, for a food aficionado like me Buchholz offer a unique selling point to the carnivorous groundhopper: Grilled sausages made from horsemeat.
In the Oberliga Hamburg no other club serves these, but Lower Saxony is horse country, hence their unusual (and very tasty) offer on the matchday menu.

Before you kill me, I don’t have a special bond with horses. I never spent any holidays on a ranch as a kid, I have never ridden a horse in my life, I don’t bet on horses and I also eat pork, veal, beef or chicken. And besides, Cordi only play away at Buchholz once a season, so please forgive me if I treat myself to a horsemeat based snack once a year. And believe me, right now I am particularly grateful for any treat I can get.

Which brings me to a bit of a parish notice, closing out my column for this week. In the upcoming weeks my column may be a lot shorter than usual. There may even be certain weeks where I won’t feel like penning an article at all. This is due to personal circumstances/family reasons. Quite simply, I may be absent-minded when it comes to West Ham in the next few weeks/months (although I will still come over for the Chelsea and Arsenal games), so please accept my apologies should my column not go up quite as regularly as you have been accustomed to.

COYI!!!

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Dawud Marsh's Photo Diary

Just Like My Dreams They Fade And Die - Part 1

I was unable to attend the Friday night match against Leicester this week so I thought it would be great to post some photos I had of our last season at Upton Park. Hopefully the images will bring back some memories of our home and provide some relief from our current season so far. Part 1 is about the journey from Upton Park tube station down to the ground itself, picking up some of the colour and character of the match day experience. Part 2 will be inside the ground with some images of the matches and crowd in the ground. I have some photos of the last match at home, but my photography was a little less developed back then. I’ll try and edit them as best I can. Included some black and white images as I know some of you prefer those.

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Match Thread

Match Thread: West Ham v Leicester City

West Ham v Leicester City
FA Premier League
London Stadium
KO 8pm
TV: Sky Sports
Radio: BBC 5 Live

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

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Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: West Ham v Leicester

Blast from the past

New Year’s Eve 1977 – Wings were number one with their double A-side Christmas number one ‘Mull of Kintyre/Girls’ School’, Star Wars was in UK cinemas and, on the day which saw Bruce Forsyth step down as presenter of The Generation Game after six years, the Hammers defeated the Foxes at Upton Park in front of 25,355 spectators.

John McDowell (pictured) fired in a rasping drive for his only goal of the season to give the Irons the lead. Derek Hales, sent clear by a Trevor Brooking pass, made it two with his fifth goal in ten games to give the hosts a 2-0 half-time lead.

David ‘Psycho’ Cross then scored his first ever goal in claret and blue, getting on the end of Brooking’s cross to score the first of his 97 goals for West Ham United. The Hammers were 3-0 up but, typically for West Ham, the game was not over – Steve Kember scored a freak goal from a cross which looped over Bobby Ferguson to pull one back for the visitors. Scottish goalkeeper Ferguson, playing in his first league game for 20 months, then made a super save from a dipping shot by Roger Davies. Steve Sims added another for Leicester with a looping header from a corner but the Hammers held out to claim a 3-2 win and end 1977 on a happy note.

My video below shows all the goals from this game as well as Ferguson’s save and an interview with the former Hammers goalkeeper.

West Ham would go on to be relegated in a 1977/78 campaign that saw them finish third from bottom, in 20th place, just one point behind QPR. Bryan ‘Pop’ Robson would be the Irons’ top goalscorer with 11 goals in 41 matches in 1977/78. Brooking was voted the Hammer of the Year and, for the only time since 1961, there was no runner-up. The Foxes finished ten points behind the Hammers, rooted to the bottom of the First Division table. Nottingham Forest won the league and Ipswich won the FA Cup.

West Ham United: Bobby Ferguson, John McDowell, Billy Bonds, Tommy Taylor, Frank Lampard, Alan Devonshire, Alan Curbishley, Trevor Brooking, Bryan ‘Pop’ Robson, Derek Hales, David Cross.

Leicester City: Mark Wallington, Tommy Williams (Steve Earle), Dave Webb, Steve Sims, Dennis Rofe, Steve Kember, Jon Sammels, Eddie Kelly, George Armstrong, Roger Davies, Billy Hughes.

Club Connections

Players who have represented both the Hammers and the Foxes include:

Goalkeepers: George Hebden, Colin Mackleworth.

Defenders: Gary Charles, Chris Powell, Dickie Pudan, Rufus Brevett, Paul Konchesky, Dai Jones, Matthew Upson, Clive Clarke, Billy Oakes, Fred Milnes, John Paintsil.

Midfielders: Andy Impey, Shaun Newton, Nolberto Solano, Franz Carr, Sid Bishop.

Strikers: David Connolly, Albert Carnelly, Mike Newell, Brian Deane, Keith Robson, David Speedie, Bertie Lyon, Paul Kitson, Norman Proctor, Les Ferdinand, David Kelly, Tony Cottee, Jimmy Quinn.

Frank O’Farrell and Jimmy Bloomfield have played for the Hammers and managed the Foxes.

Today’s focus is on another who played for West Ham United and managed Leicester City. Martin Allen was born in Reading on the 14th August 1965 and started his professional career at QPR in 1984. Martin was born into the famous footballing Allen family – the son of Dennis Allen (who played for Reading, Charlton and Bournemouth), the nephew of Les and cousin of Paul, Bradley and Clive. He played in the 1986 League Cup Final during his time at Loftus Road before joining Lou Macari’s West Ham United in the summer of 1989 for a fee of £670,000. He scored on his Hammers debut in a 3-2 home win over Plymouth on 26th August 1989 and bagged another in his next appearance at Upton Park in a 1-1 draw against Swindon. Allen scored an impressive 11 goals in 48 appearances in his first season with the club and also picked up a red card in a League Cup quarter-final against Derby – it was Allen’s strike against Wimbledon that had booked the Hammers’ place in the last eight. He had gained a reputation as a midfielder with an eye for goal – his combative nature in the middle of the park also lived up to his nickname, ‘Mad Dog’.

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Billy Bonds had taken over from Lou Macari midway through the 1989/90 campaign – Allen’s goal at Middlesbrough had given Bonzo his first win as Hammer manager. 1990/91 would see Allen spend more time as a substitute than the previous season – he made 46 appearances but 12 of these were from the bench. He scored five goals in this promotion-winning campaign – four came in October 1990 with two in a League Cup second round second leg 2-2 draw at Stoke and another double in a 2-1 home win over Charlton. His final goal of the season was in the reverse match at Selhurst Park, Charlton’s temporary home, in a 1-1 draw.

The fateful First Division campaign of 1991/92 saw Allen spend a considerable amount of time on the sidelines with an Achilles injury – he scored two goals from 24 matches, both against Sunderland in a 3-2 FA Cup fifth round replay defeat at Upton Park on 26th February 1992. Allen was a key member of the 1992/93 promotion-winning side though, playing 44 matches as he teamed up with new signing Peter Butler in midfield – the pair provided a tough-tackling, no-nonsense approach which allowed wingers Kevin Keen and Mark Robson to create for free-scoring Trevor Morley and Clive Allen, Martin’s cousin who had joined from Chelsea towards the end of the previous campaign. ‘Mad Dog’ scored four goals – September strikes in a 2-1 home win over Watford and 3-1 triumph at Peterborough were followed by a goal in a 6-0 smashing of Sunderland at Upton Park and another in a 4-0 home victory over Brentford.

1993/94 saw ‘Mad Dog’ stamp his paws on the Premier League – he scored ten goals in 34 matches. Most of his game time in the early months of the season came from the bench and he only registered one goal before Christmas, in a 2-0 League Cup second round second leg win at Chesterfield. He won his place back in January 1994 and scored three goals in as many matches – against Watford in a 2-1 home win in the FA Cup third round, at Aston Villa in a 3-1 defeat and in a 3-3 home draw with Norwich – he kept his place in midfield for the rest of the season as the Hammers consolidated their top-flight status. A flurry of goals between March and May saw Allen bag six goals in nine matches, including a delightful lofted effort over David James in a 2-1 home defeat to Liverpool and typical long-range efforts in a 2-1 home defeat to Blackburn and 2-0 win at Arsenal. Although Ken Monkou did score an own goal later in the 3-3 draw with Southampton on 7th May 1994, ‘Mad Dog’ holds the distinction of being the last West Ham player to score in front of the terraced North Bank having struck earlier in the second half of the game.

1994/95 saw Harry Redknapp take up the managerial reigns – Allen scored twice in 33 appearances that season, in a 2-1 win at Chelsea and 2-0 home win over Southampton, both in October 1994. Allen’s final goal in claret and blue came in a 1-1 draw at Nottingham Forest on 26th August 1995. His last appearance for the club was four days later in a 1-1 draw with Tottenham at Upton Park. After the death of his father Dennis, who used to watch Martin from the West Stand at Upton Park, Allen decided it was too emotional to play at Upton Park and left the club for Portsmouth in August 1995. He had made 232 appearances for the club, scoring 35 goals. 33 of Mad Dog’s 35 goals can be seen in my video below.

After two years at Fratton Park, Allen moved to Southend where he ended his playing career in 1998. He began his managerial career as assistant to Alan Pardew at his hometown club Readingand managed Barnet, Brentford and MK Dons before getting the Leicester job in May 2007. Due to a strained relationship with chairman Milan Mandaric, mainly revolving around player transfers, Allen was only in charge for four games before leaving the club on 29th August 2007. He won two, drew one and lost one of his matches with the Foxes.

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Now 52, Allen has since managed Cheltenham, Barnet (on three further occasions), Notts County, Gillingham and Eastleigh.

Referee

The referee on Friday will be Martin Atkinson, who most recently refereed our last Friday night match – the 3-0 home defeat to Brighton. He was also in charge of our 4-0 opening weekend defeat at Manchester United on 13th August. 2017/18 is Atkinson’s 13th as a Premier League referee. Since West Ham United achieved promotion back to the top flight in 2012 Atkinson has refereed 19 of our league matches, officiating in nine wins for the Hammers, two draws and eight defeats.

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Atkinson also refereed the Hammers’ FA Cup quarter-final at Old Trafford in March 2016, when he turned down appeals for a penalty after Marcos Rojo appeared to have tripped Dimitri Payet and failed to spot Bastian Schweinstieger’s block on Darren Randolph as Man Utd equalised late on. He refereed last September’s 4-2 home defeat to Watford and October’s 1-0 win at Crystal Palace, when he controversially sent off Aaron Cresswell for two very harsh yellow cards in quick succession. His previous Hammers appointments this calendar year were our 3-1 win at Middlesbrough in January and our 3-0 defeat to Arsenal in April.

Possible line-ups

West Ham United have lost only three of their last 30 home matches against Leicester stretching back to 1967, with 21 victories and 6 draws against the Foxes in that time. David Moyes will be without Chicharito, Sam Byram, James Collins, Jose Fonte and Michail Antonio. Marko Arnautovoic and Andre Ayew are both available. Andy Carroll has gone 12 hours and 49 minutes without a goal – spanning 10 games – since scoring against Hull on 1st April.

Leicester City manager Claude Puel will be without Robert Huth and Matty James. Leicester failed to register an attempt on target in a Premier League game for the first time in 13 months against Manchester City last weekend. The Foxes could record three successive away victories in this fixture for the first time. They had only won one of their 28 league visits to east London prior to back-to-back victories in the past two seasons.

Possible West Ham United XI: Hart; Zabaleta, Reid, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Kouyate, Noble, Obiang; Ayew, Lanzini; Carroll.

Possible Leicester City XI: Schmeichel; Simpson, Maguire, Morgan, Fuchs; Iborra, Ndidi; Mahrez, Albrighton, Gray; Vardy.

Enjoy the game – Come On You Irons!

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Match Preview

Opposition Q&A With Leicester City

This week David Moyes leads West Ham into his first home game at the London Stadium against Leicester City. He will be hoping (as will we all) that West Ham can hit the net with a couple of chances they create. Ahead of the game I had a chat with Chris Forryan from “leicestertilidie”:http://www.leicestertillidie.com to discuss what he thought about the fixture.

Chris, you have got us in the Friday night fixture this week, are you feeling confident you can beat a ‘bottom three’ team?
I’m a Leicester fan, we are never confident about anything.

Having sacked your manager less than a year after guiding you to Premier League victory, Slaven Bilic’s sacking will have come as no surprise to you?
Nothing surprises me in football these days and after Leicester’s manager sacking history of late It would be wrong of me to criticise West Ham’s decisions.

What do you think of his replacement David Moyes?
Lets just say I’m glad you got him!!

How do you rate your current manager Claude Puel?
Craig Shakespeare was a great #2 but had no tactical nous when it came to making game changing substitutions.
Early days but at least Puel has that nous and, to be fair, not a bad signing I believe.

After the heady days of two years ago where do you think you will finish this season?
With our new manager 8th – 10th

Where do you think West Ham can realistically finish the season?
16th or 17th if you are lucky. For me Moyes was the wrong replacement for you.

Which three teams do you think will suffer relegation and who will lift the title this season?
Palace, Swansea and if they stick with Unsworth (who again is tactically inept) Everton.

N’golo Kante seems to have been irreplaceable, apart from his loss are you happy with the make-up of your squad?
Ibbora & Maguire have been great signings. Silva when we finally get him in January will give us strong midfield options. One thing Shakespeare (and his team) did well was our signings this season.

I can recall in your Premier League winning year, you looking very impressive beating us right at the beginning of the season, 1 – 2. I’ve just looked up the details because I was sure taht Vardy scored, apparently not, but he ran us ragged all afternoon. Any memories of West Ham/Leicester games of the past?
Last seasons 2-2 draw with the Vardy dismissal. A draw that felt like a win at the time.

Mmm, I seem to remember a dodgy penalty in that game…If you could have any current West Ham player in your first team who would you choose and why?
To be fair don’t know enough about your players to choose, but to be honest if he can get them playing well our team is strong enough to do well this season so don’t know where anyone would fit in.

Which Leicester player(s) will be key to your hopes this season?
Maguire, Gray & Vardy

How do you expect Leicester to setup against West Ham on Friday/ Team/formation prediction?
4-4-1-1 with Mahrez just behind Vardy

Prediction for score?
3-1 To Leicester

Thanks again to Chris for his time. Not a David Moyes fan you would say! Well you can’t blame him for feeling confident, but you’d have to hope that Moyes has prepared for this game as well as any other, and that the players have responded accordingly. I’ll go for a 2 – 1 win. Come on you Irons!

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