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.


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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Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: Watford v West Ham

Blast from the past

Syd King’s West Ham United arrived at Cassio Road, the former home of this weekend’s opponents Watford, for a Southern League First Division fixture on 28th March 1908 while en route to a tenth-place finish. The first Scout troop outside the UK had been formed in Gibraltar the day before and British film director Sir David Lean was born three days earlier. Maurice Ravel’s Rapsodie espagnole had recently received its premiere in Paris – it was one of Ravel’s first major works for orchestra.

With goalkeeper George Kitchen injured in an FA Cup second round defeat at Newcastle the previous month, understudy David Clarke continued his extended run between the posts. The Hammers recorded a 3-2 victory in front of 3,000 spectators. Len Jarvis (pictured) – or ‘Dick’ as he was popularly known – bagged a rare goal on this spring afternoon. The never-say-die half-back, who was employed at a Grays cement works before signing for West Ham, was one of the club’s most consistent performers but only scored five goals in his 140 appearances for the Hammers over six seasons. His spirit was typified in a match against Brighton when he sustained a deep cut which required several stitches after a kick to the face – he returned to the action, albeit heavily bandaged. His whole-hearted approach often landed him in hot water with the authorities – he gained attention and press coverage when he smashed Millwall’s Alf Dean against a metal advertising hoarding in a game on 13th October 1906. The incident was investigated by the Football Association and Jarvis was banned from playing for two weeks. This strike at Watford transpired to be Jarvis’ last goal for West Ham before a move into league football with First Division Bury over a year later, in the summer of 1909.

Outside-right Jim Frost was also on the scoresheet at Cassio Road – it was his second of four goals for the club, having made his debut just two months earlier. Centre-forward Harry Stapley completed the Hammers’ scoring with his last goal for the club – this was Stapley’s final appearance for West Ham before he moved into league football with Second Division Glossop, having scored 41 goals in 75 matches for the Irons. He retained his amateur status so he could continue working as a schoolteacher.

Watford would finish the 1907/08 campaign in 14th position, while Stapley would end the season as the Irons’ top goalscorer with ten goals in 25 games.

West Ham United: David Clarke, James Gault, Archie Taylor, Dick Jarvis, Tommy Allison, Bob Young, Jim Frost, Billy Grassam, Harry Stapley, Billy Brown, Fred Blackburn.

Club Connections

Former Hammer Mauro Zarate is now on Watford’s books, although the Argentine forward is currently with Dubai-based side Al Nasr on a season-long loan.

Other players to have represented both clubs, divided by position, include:

Goalkeepers: Billy Biggar, Ted Hufton, David James, Perry Suckling, Manuel Almunia, Jack Rutherford.

Defenders: Jon Harley, Calum Davenport, Lucas Neill, James McCrae, Chris Powell, Colin Foster.

Midfielders: Henri Lansbury, Alan Devonshire, Alessandro Diamanti, Stuart Slater, Jobi McAnuff, Jimmy Lindsay, Joe Blythe, David Noble, Jimmy Carr, Mark Robson, Valon Behrami, Carl Fletcher.

Strikers: James Reid, David Connolly, Jack Foster, Roger Hugo, Billy Jennings, Peter Kyle, Bertie Lyon.

Len Goulden played for West Ham and managed Watford, while Malky Mackay played for both clubs and went on to manage the Vicarage Road club. Glenn Roeder played for the Hornets and managed both clubs; Gianfranco Zola has managed both the Hammers and the Hornets.

This week’s focus though is on a goalkeeper who represented both clubs in the early years of the 20th century and serves as a tribute to those footballers, and indeed all, who have fought for our country at this time of Remembrance. Joe Webster was born in Ilkeston, Derbyshire in 1886 and started his career with his local club Ilkeston United in 1907. He moved to Watford in 1910 where he was signed as Billy Biggar’s replacement. Biggar was also a former Hammers goalkeeper himself, having made seven appearances in 1902/03 before becoming an outstanding servant at Watford, for whom he played 217 matches between 1904 and 1910, when he moved to Rochdale.

Webster had big boots to fill but adapted admirably, making 148 appearances for Watford in the Southern League. Watford failed to forward Webster’s name for registration at the start of the 1912/13 season though and were fined by the Southern League authorities. Webster played alongside the young Arthur Grimsdell whilst at Watford – Grimsdell would go on to captain England and skippered Tottenham to FA Cup glory in 1921 before returning to Watford to serve on their board of directors between 1945 and 1951.

Webster (pictured) signed for West Ham United in 1914 and made his debut in a 2-1 win over Gillingham at Upton Park on 1st September that year. He made 17 Southern League appearances for the Hammers in 1914/15, keeping five clean sheets. One of these shutouts came in a 1-0 win at former club Watford on 28th November 1914.

World War One was to interrupt Webster’s West Ham career though – he had three years active service in France, serving in the 17th (Service) Battalion of the Duke of Cambridge’s Own (Middlesex Regiment). This infantry battalion was a ‘Pals battalion’ – a specially constituted battalion of the British Army comprising men who had enlisted together in local recruiting drives, with the promise that they would be able to serve alongside their friends, neighbours and colleagues (‘pals’), rather than being arbitrarily allocated to battalions. Webster’s particular battalion was known as the ‘Football Battalion’.

During the First World War there had been an initial push by clubs for professional football to continue, in order to keep the public’s spirits up. This stance was not widely agreed with and public opinion turned against professional footballers. One soldier, serving in France, wrote to a British newspaper to complain that “hundreds of thousands of able-bodied young roughs were watching hirelings playing football” while others were serving their country. The suggestion was even made that King George V should cease being a patron of The Football Association. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, writer and creator of Sherlock Holmes, publicly objected and appealed for footballers to volunteer for service, saying “If a footballer has strength of limb, let them serve and march in the field of battle”.

Conservative MP for Brentford and future Home Secretary William Joynson-Hicks formed the battalion on 12th December 1914 at Fulham Town Hall after a suggestion by Secretary of State for War Lord Kitchener. England international Frank Buckley became the first player to join with a further 30 players who signed up at its formation. The formation was announced to the general public on 1st January 1915 and approximately 150 more enlisted over the next few months, the battalion’s ranks further swelled by numerous amateur players, officials and fans. Webster’s fellow goalkeeper, Tommy Lonsdale, who had preceded Webster between the posts at Upton Park before signing for Southend, also signed up. Press complaints continued though, as there were some 1,800 eligible footballers – I have previously told the story of how George Hilsdon, formerly of West Ham and Chelsea, hid in a chicken run to avoid active service. Many footballers deliberately chose to avoid the battalion by joining other regiments, causing the War Office to initially have difficulties filling the ‘Football Battalion’.

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Webster fought as a Private on the Somme, at Vimy Ridge, at Ypres in the Battle of Passchendaele and at Cambrai. He survived these battles and, moreover, the Great War itself and re-joined West Ham after the Armistice, with the Hammers having now been elected to the Football League. He made two Second Division appearances, both at Upton Park, as deputy for Ted Hufton – these were against Huddersfield in a 1-1 draw on 27th December 1919 and Port Vale in a 3-1 Hammers win on 7th February 1920. The win over Port Vale would be Webster’s 19th and last match for the club – he went back to Watford as the club’s trainer at the end of the 1919/20 season and later held a similar role at Northampton. Joe Webster died following an appendix operation on 15th October 1927 in Northampton – with his exact date of birth unknown, he passed away at either the age of 40 or 41.


The referee on Sunday will be Andre Marriner; the 46-year-old’s most recent Hammers appointment was the 2-2 draw at David Moyes’ Sunderland in April, while he also took charge of our 2-1 home defeat to Chelsea in March, Boxing Day’s 4-1 win at Swansea and the 1-1 home draw with Stoke last November. Prior to that, in last season’s trip to Manchester City, he had failed to send off Sergio Aguero for an elbow on Winston Reid with the Hammers trailing 2-1 with 14 minutes remaining. The Argentine was retrospectively charged with violent conduct and suspended for three matches, a decision which did nothing to benefit West Ham. Marriner did, however, show leniency that day towards the visitors by failing to issue Arthur Masuaku with a second yellow card on more than one occasion.

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Since we achieved promotion back to the top flight in 2012 the Birmingham-based official has been far from a good omen for West Ham – he has refereed 15 of our league matches, officiating in only three wins for the Hammers, five draws and seven defeats.

Possible line-ups

Tommy Hoban, Craig Cathcart, Younes Kaboul, Nathaniel Chalobah and Isaac Success are out injured for Watford, while Troy Deeney is suspended. Goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes, centre-half Christian Kabasele and attacking midfielder Roberto Pereyra are all expected to be fit but centre-half Sebastian Prodl and winger Andre Carrillo face late fitness tests. Richarlison has had 39 attempts on goal in the Premier League this season, second only to Harry Kane’s 59 – the Brazilian has scored with four of his seven efforts on target.

For West Ham United, Winston Reid and Diafra Sakho should be available after international duty but Chicharito is out with a hamstring injury. Sam Byram, Jose Fonte and Michail Antonio are also unavailable. James Collins is back in training but is not yet ready for selection after seven weeks out. Pablo Zabaleta returns from suspension. David Moyes will take charge of West Ham for the first time in his 500th match as a Premier League manager – a tally only surpassed by Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger and former Irons boss Harry Redknapp. The Hammers have lost only one of their last 13 league matches at Watford.

Possible Watford XI: Gomes; Femenia, Kabasele, Britos, Holebas; Doucoure; Pereyra, Cleverley, Hughes, Richarlison; Gray.

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

Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!

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Talking Point

The Return of 'Psycho': Moyes' Coaching Appointments

Back in June 2015, I wrote a piece introducing Bilic’s Backroom Boys. Now that David Moyes has confirmed his own backroom team, I thought it would be a good opportunity to introduce the new coaching team at West Ham United.

First up – Alan Irvine. The Glasgow-born 59-year-old was a winger who started his career with Queen’s Park in 1977 before spending three years at Everton between 1981 and 1984. He moved to Crystal Palace, making over 100 appearances for the Eagles, before returning to Scotland in 1987 with Dundee United. He closed his career with a three-year spell at Blackburn, retiring in 1992 after helping Kenny Dalglish’s men win promotion to the Premier League.

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Irvine was Academy Director at Ewood Park between 1993 and 1998 and held a similar role at Newcastle from 2001 to 2005, bringing through Steven Taylor and Peter Ramage. He then moved to Everton in 2005 where he became David Moyes’ assistant. He graduated to management in November 2007 with Preston, guiding them from a relegation battle to 15th place at the end of his first season. He took them to the play-offs in his only full campaign in charge, but lost to Sheffield United in the semi-final. After a run of one win in ten games, he was sacked in December 2009.

Irvine was appointed manager of Sheffield Wednesday in January 2010 but the club were relegated to League One at the end of the season. He was dismissed in February 2011. He returned to Everton in the summer of 2011 to become manager of the club’s academy. Three years later, Irvine was back in management, this time at Premier League level with West Bromwich Albion. He was sacked after seven months, in late December 2014. In the summer of 2016 he became assistant manager at Norwich and became caretaker manager eight months later after the departure of Alex Neil, steering the Canaries through the final two months of the campaign.

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Billy McKinlay is a 48-year-old former midfielder who won 29 caps for Scotland, appearing for his country at Euro ’96 and the World Cup in 1998. Like Moyes and Irvine, he was born in Glasgow. Starting his career with Dundee United, for whom he made over 200 appearances, McKinlay moved south of the border to reigning Premier League champions Blackburn in 1995. He spent five years with Rovers before spells at Bradford, Clydebank, Leicester and Fulham. His coaching career began as reserve team manager at Craven Cottage and he was also named as assistant manager of Northern Ireland. He left Fulham in December 2013 and was appointed first team coach at Watford nine months later. He was very quickly named head coach after the departure of Oscar Garcia, but was himself replaced after just eight days in charge, Slavisa Jokanovic being named as his replacement.

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McKinlay worked under Moyes at Real Sociedad between November 2014 and November 2015. After leaving Spain he was named manager of Norwegian side Stabaek but he resigned in July 2016 after less than eight months with the club. He worked as a scout under Moyes at Sunderland and became first team coach at the Stadium of Light just last month – he was appointed joint caretaker manager alongside former Hammer Robbie Stockdale but has since relinquished this role to move to the Hammers.

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And last but not least – Stuart Pearce. ‘Psycho’ needs very little introduction to West Ham supporters, having spent two years at the club between 1999 and 2001. He made his Hammers debut in a 1-0 win over Tottenham on the opening day of the 1999/2000 season and even made an England return in September 1999 at the age of 37 – he was the third-oldest outfield player to appear for England after Stanley Matthews and Leslie Compton. The official West Ham United website this week released a ‘Six things you probably didn’t know about Stuart Pearce’ article – point three on the list was that Pearce played for the Hammers in Europe as a member of the InterToto Cup-winning side which got the Hammers into the UEFA Cup. This is, in fact, not true – ‘Psycho’ did not play a single minute of any of the six InterToto games and was out with a broken leg when the Hammers competed in the UEFA Cup.

Pearce made five league appearances in claret and blue before suffering the aforementioned broken leg against Watford – typically, he wanted to carry on playing! He made a return to action in February 2000 but only lasted three games before breaking the same leg. 2000/01 saw better times for Pearce though – he played in 34 of the Irons’ Premier League matches, with a further eight appearances coming in the domestic cups. Pearce ended the season as a 39-year-old but had played 40 matches at the top level of English football. He also scored three goals for the club: a consolation direct from a free-kick in a 2-1 home defeat to Arsenal in October 2000; a typically thunderous strike to give the Hammers a 2-1 lead at Southampton a month later in a game the Hammers would win 3-2; and an equaliser to make it 1-1 in an FA Cup quarter-final with Tottenham at a rain-drenched Upton Park in March 2001, a game the Irons would sadly lose 3-2. He was voted Hammer of the Year at the end of the 2000/01 season.

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Hammersmith-born Pearce had started his career at non-league Wealdstone in 1978 before moving to Coventry in 1983. Two years later he was signed by Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest and he would make over 400 appearances for the club. He turned down a move to the Hammers in 1997 to sign for Newcastle but did team up with Harry Redknapp two years later. After being beaten to the vacant managerial post at Upton Park by Glenn Roeder in the summer of 2001, Pearce left east London after 50 appearances to end his playing days with Manchester City, who romped to the First Division title and promotion to the Premier League under Kevin Keegan. Pearce had also won 78 caps for England and was part of the team which reached the World Cup semi-finals in 1990 and the last four of Euro ‘96 – England’s two greatest performances at a tournament since 1966.

Pearce’s first stint as a manager came as caretaker at Nottingham Forest in 1997. He became a coach under Keegan at Manchester City before becoming manager of the club in 2005. He became manager of the England Under-21 team in February 2007 whilst still in charge at City but was sacked by his club three months later. He guided the Under-21s to the semi-finals of the European Championships in 2007 and the Final in 2009 – his captains at both tournaments were provided by the Hammers, Nigel Reo-Coker and Mark Noble respectively. He also worked as a coach with the England senior team under Fabio Capello and managed the Great Britain Olympic team at London 2012. He left his role as Under-21 manager in the summer of 2013 and spent seven months back in charge at Forest in the 2014/15 campaign.

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Welcome to all three, and good luck. Best wishes too to Winston Reid tonight, as his New Zealand side look to claim the last remaining place at the 2018 World Cup in their play-off in Peru.

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Guest Post

Champions Place Personalised Stones

Guest Post by Paul Christmas, WHUISA Chair

WHUISA are aware of a number of West Ham United supporters who have had difficulties with the service provided by the club over the Champions Place personalised stones, which cost between £60 and £499. If you have had problems with your order please can you let us know, via enquiries@whuisa.org:

The name of the person who placed the order
The date the order was placed
The order reference number
Details of your last communication from the club

We will then collate this information and try and get a handle on the scale of the situation. For example one member placed an order in April 2015 and is yet to hear if the stone has been installed.

Please send replies to enquiries@whuisa.org

WHUISA plans to raise the issue at a Supporters’ Advisory Board meeting scheduled for Wednesday 15th November.

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There will also be an open Committee meeting at the White Post Cafe in Schwartz Wharf (Building 4), 92 White Post Lane, London E9 5EN on Friday 24th November (before our home game against Leicester) starting at 5.30pm sharp. All are welcome to attend.

You can become a member of WHUISA by clicking here.

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Talking Point

A Little Bit of History Repeating... Will The Board Ever Learn..?

Regular readers of my blogposts and comments here will know I’ve been a staunch Slaven Bilic supporter. I was championing his arrival to the club over a year before he actually joined and remain steadfast in my view that he would have been a resounding success as our manager without the underhand comments and undermining which came from above (either directly from our chairmen or indirectly from their leaks to the media and fansites).

I was tremendously disappointed to hear on Monday that Slaven had been relieved of his duties as West Ham United manager. His first season showed just what a good manager he can be – not many managers, in one season, lead their teams to victories at the homes of Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool while also getting draws away to Manchester United and Chelsea. We did not lose to any of those teams in the league that season and also beat Tottenham at the Boleyn.

How, then, does a manager go from getting such good results, our highest league finish for 14 years, our first top-flight positive goal difference since the best season in our history and an FA Cup quarter-final to what we have seen at times over the last season-and-a-bit? Dimitri Payet obviously made a huge difference – but his signing was top of Slav’s wish list. Slaven was supported with the players he wanted in his first season – he knew what was needed to help us push on in the following campaign but was left frustrated as, in his own words, the board “did not go big or go early” on his top targets.

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Despite this, and a difficult transition to life at London Stadium, Slav reached another Cup quarter-final and an 11th-placed finish. He became the first manager in our history to record top-11 finishes in his first two top-flight seasons. The board supported him with four decent signings in the summer just gone but, crucially, did not deliver William Carvalho – a player Bilic was so keen on that he sanctioned the sales of eleven players to secure his signature.

Despite my support for him, I obviously appreciate that Slav was not, and is not, the perfect manager. However, he proved that he had real promise in that first season but, when your chairman comes out and says you have to prove you’re not a “one-season wonder” while simultaneously handing bumper new contracts to players based on just one campaign, the power is handed on a silver platter to the players. From that point onwards, the outstanding work of the first season started to unravel. He was not given the conditions within which to succeed, as he had been in the first campaign – the undermining had started.

Incidentally, I see the re-writing of history and sullying (pun intended) of Slav has started. Daily Mirror writer Darren Lewis, a close associate of David Sullivan, wrote in an article at the start of this week that Bilic “did not want” Carvalho – the very same writer wrote in September that “Bilic still wants” Carvalho in the January window having been unable to sign him in the summer!

And so we move on to Slav’s replacement – David Moyes. By way of a minor comparison, Slav illuminated his time with us with good results at big clubs – he took two wins and four draws from nine games at the homes of the traditional top four teams of the last 15-20 years (Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool). Moyes is yet to win in 57 away league matches at the homes of those clubs. Let’s, for now though, ignore Man Utd, Real Sociedad and Sunderland and focus instead on Moyes’ real success – Everton Football Club. What allowed Moyes to be successful at Everton was stability and job security. He finished seventh in his first full season but the Toffees dropped to 17th in his second campaign. If Slav had experienced a bottom four finish the year after his first season finish of seventh, there is little doubt he would have been out of a job in May. Immediately after that flirtation with relegation, Moyes took Everton into the top four but they dropped again the following season to 11th. Again, is this something our board would have tolerated as being “in line with their ambitions”, to use their words from Monday?

In a nutshell, Moyes was allowed to get things wrong. He was supported with little, if any, undermining coming from the boardroom. No ‘two games to save your job’, no leaks of players he didn’t fancy or club statements of players he refused to sign. Will Moyes be allowed to operate and flourish in the same way under Sullivan, Gold and Brady? I would like to think so, but I just can’t see it. Before we’ve kicked a ball under the management of Moyes, Sullivan has already found a newspaper interview with The Sun too much to resist and has labelled his new manager “a gamble”. How about that for unequivocal support?

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There are two scenarios I can foresee. The first is that Moyes doesn’t do well and is gone in the summer – our second ‘dead man walking’ of the season. The second is that he is given support, as well as funds, and impresses – he lifts us up the table, stays into next season and we again secure mid-table status.

If the second of those scenarios occurs however, I actually fear for Moyes. He is not a big name manager – he’s not Mancini, Pellegrini, Ancelotti, Benitez and he’s never won anything (Community Shield aside) at football’s top table. Our board will actually believe that they could do better still if we are in a decent position and their delusions of grandeur will set in. They will believe that, for the ‘next level’, they will need a manager of the aforementioned ilk. If that happens, the undermining that crippled Slav for 18 months will begin, in turn, for Moyes. Polls after bad results, leaks to the media and fansites, club statements which throw the manager under a bus. It happened with Allardyce, it happened with Bilic and I can almost guarantee it will happen with Moyes.

And what will happen to West Ham United in this case of history repeating? We will be back where we are now, going round in circles with no long-term plan, no strategy and plenty of short-term thinking. The gap to the next level, meanwhile, will grow ever wider – and that is the best case scenario if Moyes does well! I shudder to think what will become of us if he doesn’t. As manager of West Ham United, I will support David Moyes as I have the previous incumbents of the post – I hope his new employers assess their treatment of their recent managers and decide to take a very quiet back seat in order to allow him to do his job to maximum effect.

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I’d like to end this article with a thank you to Slaven Bilic. Thank you for those days at the Emirates and the Etihad, thank you for our first win at Anfield in 52 years (and in some style, “parking the bus but leaving the handbrake off – and all that”). Thank you for taking us to Cup quarter-finals in three consecutive seasons for the first time since 1989-91. Thank you for galvanising the club’s support in that final season at Upton Park – for wins over Chelsea and Tottenham in our final matches against them at our spiritual home. And thank you, most importantly, for my best night supporting our great football team – that last Boleyn stand against Manchester United. Your emotion at the final whistle that night will be my abiding memory of your time as our manager.

To David Moyes – I wish you good luck. One way or another, I think you’re going to need it…

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