Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: West Ham v Crystal Palace

Blast from the past

Today’s blast from the past features a 4-0 victory at Upton Park against this weekend’s opponents, Crystal Palace; it arrived just over 46 years ago, on the 28th of October 1972 in front of 28,894 spectators. Lieutenant Pigeon’s ‘Mouldy Old Dough’ was number one and Barry Crocker, Barry Humphries, Peter Cook and Spike Milligan were in UK cinemas in The Adventures of Barry McKenzie while, six days previously, England goalkeeper Gordon Banks was involved in the car accident that led to his retirement. In East London, legendary Hammer Trevor Brooking (pictured below) scored twice against our south London neighbours, while ‘Pop’ Robson and John McDowell completed the Irons’ goalscoring.

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Ron Greenwood’s Hammers ended the 1972/73 season in sixth place in the First Division while Crystal Palace ended up relegated in 21st. Liverpool won the league title and Sunderland won the FA Cup. Robson finished the season as the club’s top scorer with 28 goals in 46 appearances in all competitions – he would also be voted Hammer of the Year, with Billy Bonds runner-up.

West Ham United: Bobby Ferguson, John McDowell, Tommy Taylor, Bobby Moore, Frank Lampard, Johnny Ayris, Pat Holland, Trevor Brooking, Clive Charles, Bryan ‘Pop’ Robson, Clyde Best.

Club Connections

West Ham United Academy product and 2012 Hammer of the Year runner-up James Tomkins could feature for Crystal Palace, as could fellow former Hammer Cheikhou Kouyate. A large group of players have turned out for the Hammers and the Eagles. Divided here by position, they include:

Goalkeepers: Perry Suckling, Steve Mautone, Vincent Blore.

Defenders: Eddie Presland, Kenny Brown, Malcolm Pyke, Alf Noakes, Bill Roberts, Neil Ruddock, Paul Brush, Danny Gabbidon, Jose Fonte, Chris Powell, Alan Stephenson, Tony Gale, Darren Powell.

Midfielders: Victor Moses, Jimmy Wood, Anton Otulakowski, Hayden Mullins, Derek Jackman, Carl Fletcher, Harry Gunning, Jobi McAnuff, Fred Norris, Trevor Dawkins, Kyel Reid, Ray Houghton, Michael Hughes.

Strikers: Joe Johnson, Ron Williams, Freddie Sears, Ian Wright, Andy Smillie, Jeroen Boere, Johnny Cartwright, Johnny Byrne, Peter Simpson, Clive Allen, Dave Swindlehurst, Paul Kitson, Ron Brett, Dave Sexton, Marouane Chamakh, George Petchey.

Malcolm Allison and Jack Tresadern played for the Hammers and managed the Eagles, while Iain Dowie played for both clubs and also managed Palace. Alan Pardew played for the Eagles and managed both clubs. Sam Allardyce has also managed both clubs.

Today’s focus though is on a former Hammers defender and captain who had a loan spell with the Eagles. Matthew Upson was born in Suffolk on 18th April 1979. Originally at Ipswich’s School of Excellence, Upson joined Luton as a trainee after Ipswich youth coach, and current West Ham United Academy Director, Terry Westley moved to the Hatters. Upson joined Arsenal in 1997 after just one league appearance for Luton. After a year out with an anterior cruciate ligament injury, the centre-half spent a short loan spell with Nottingham Forest.

Upson moved to Alan Smith’s Crystal Palace on loan in the spring of 2001, making his debut in a 2-0 home defeat to Preston on 3rd March 2001. He was on the losing side in each of his first four appearances for the Eagles as the First Division outfit battled against relegation but he tasted success in his fifth match, a 1-0 win over Crewe at Selhurst Park. He helped the Eagles to another clean sheet in his next match, a goalless draw with Huddersfield which ultimately relegated the Terriers, with Palace surviving at their expense by a single point. His seventh and final appearance for Crystal Palace came in a 2-2 draw at Watford on 7th April 2001.

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Upson spent the 2001/02 season back at Highbury, making 14 Premier League appearances which earnt him a title winners’ medal at the end of the campaign. He broke his leg in February 2002 and joined Reading on loan in September 2002 to aid his recovery and return to action. He signed permanently for David Sullivan and David Gold’s Birmingham in January 2003 and spent four years with the Blues, winning seven England caps during his time at St Andrew’s.

The 27-year-old Upson signed for Alan Curbishley’s West Ham United in January 2007 for an initial fee of £6m, rising to £7.5m depending on appearances. Birmingham boss Steve Bruce later claimed that he was forced to sell Upson by Karren Brady, Birmingham’s managing director at the time. Upson made his debut for the relegation-threatened Hammers at Aston Villa on 3rd February 2007, but had to be withdrawn with a calf injury 30 minutes into the 1-0 defeat. He lasted just 11 minutes of his comeback match a month later against Tottenham before again succumbing to injury in a match the Irons would eventually lose 4-3.

West Ham eventually pulled off the Great Escape without Upson but he was to have a much bigger impact throughout the rest of his career in claret and blue. He made 33 appearances in a 2007/08 season which saw West Ham finish tenth in Curbishley’s only full campaign in charge – his first goal for the Hammers was the winner in a 2-1 triumph over Manchester United at Upton Park on 29th December 2007. Upson also made a return to the England side under Fabio Capello in a 2-1 win over Switzerland in February 2008, becoming the first Hammers centre-half to wear the Three Lions since Rio Ferdinand eight years earlier.

In July 2008, Upson’s squad number of 6 was retired by the club in memory of Bobby Moore, after which he took the number 15 shirt. Gianfranco Zola took over early on in a 2008/09 campaign which saw Upson make 41 appearances in all competitions as the Irons finished ninth – he also won a further seven England caps, becoming a mainstay of Capello’s defence and making five starts. He was named Man of the Match and scored his first goal for his country in a 2-1 win in Germany in November 2008. Upson was linked with a £10m move to Manchester City and Tottenham in the January window of 2009, but Zola and the board opted to cash in on Craig Bellamy instead.

The 2009/10 season began with Upson being appointed captain after the departure of Lucas Neill. Upson scored in the season’s opening match, a 2-0 win at Wolves, but bigger clubs had again been sniffing around, with a £15m bid from Liverpool reportedly rejected, while interest from Fiorentina, Arsenal and Aston Villa was also rebuffed. The club opted to sell James Collins instead. Upson made 35 appearances during the campaign, scoring a further two goals – in a 2-1 defeat at Stoke on 17th October 2009 and in a 1-1 draw at Avram Grant’s Portsmouth on 26th January 2010, which was to prove to be his final goal for the Hammers. The cash-strapped Irons avoided relegation by the skin of their teeth but Upson had still impressed sufficiently to travel to South Africa as part of England’s 2010 World Cup squad – he would end the tournament as the Three Lions’ joint-top goalscorer, thanks to his header in the 4-1 second round defeat to Germany (that one is for our visiting German friends this weekend, Hamburg Hammer and ebiwhu!). It was to be Upson’s second goal in his 21st and final cap for his country.

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The 2010/11 season would be an unmitigated disaster for West Ham United. Grant joined the club as manager from Portsmouth, the first appointment by Upson’s former Birmingham employers Sullivan and Gold. He made 35 appearances as the Hammers were relegated in bottom position – his final match in claret and blue came in a 2-1 defeat at Manchester City on 1st May 2011. The 32-year-old Upson left the club on a free transfer later that summer, opting to remain in the Premier League with Stoke. Upson had made 145 appearances for West Ham United, scoring four goals – each of these four goals can be viewed in my video below.

After a year and a half with Stoke, Upson dropped down to the Championship to sign for Brighton, initially on loan before making the move permanent in the summer of 2013. He returned to the top flight with Leicester a year later before signing for Championship side MK Dons in the summer of 2015. He retired from playing in 2016. Now 39, Upson is currently working as a pundit for the BBC – he has a son, Elijah, with his wife Ellie, a British runner.

Referee

The referee on Saturday will be Anthony Taylor – his most recent Irons appointment was for our 4-0 opening-day defeat at Liverpool. The Hammers were only allocated the 40-year-old once last season, for our 1-0 home win over Chelsea in December 2017. In 2016/17, Taylor took charge of our 2-0 defeat at Everton in October 2016 and our 2-1 opening-day defeat at Chelsea in August 2016, awarding the home side a penalty and later controversially failing to issue a second yellow card to Diego Costa for an awful lunge at Adrian – Costa remained on the pitch to score the 89th-minute winner. He also refereed our 1-0 defeat at Leicester on New Year’s Eve 2016 and our 1-0 win over Tottenham in May 2017. Taylor officiated the Irons on five occasions in 2015/16 as he took charge of our defeat at Tottenham, as well as our home win over Newcastle which came just three games after he had controversially sent off Adrian against Leicester. He was also the man in the middle for our FA Cup third round win over Wolves and our 3-2 win at Everton in March 2016.

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Indeed, controversy and incident are never far away when the Cheshire-based official is the referee for a West Ham United match. Taylor was in charge when the Hammers took on Liverpool at Upton Park in April 2014, awarding a controversial and ultimately match-winning penalty to the Reds. There was also controversy surrounding Guy Demel’s equaliser for West Ham in that game. Taylor is also the referee who had not one, but two red cards rescinded from the same game after he had sent off Carlton Cole and Darron Gibson in the Hammers’ 2-1 home defeat to Everton in December 2012. He sent off the home side’s Kevin Mirallas against the Hammers at Goodison Park in March 2016 and awarded the Toffees a penalty which Romelu Lukaku saw saved by Adrian.

Possible line-ups

West Ham United are without Ryan Fredericks, Winston Reid, Aaron Cresswell, Carlos Sanchez, Jack Wilshere, Manuel Lanzini, Andriy Yarmolenko and Marko Arnautovic. Pablo Zabaleta is one yellow card away from a one-match suspension. West Ham are unbeaten in their last six Premier League matches against Crystal Palace, winning three and drawing three.

Crystal Palace will be without Scott Dann, Connor Wickham and Christian Benteke.

Looking ahead to our next match against Fulham, Aleksandar Mitrovic is one yellow card away from missing our trip to Craven Cottage – Fulham face Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Possible West Ham United XI: Fabianski; Zabaleta, Balbuena, Diop, Masuaku; Snodgrass, Rice, Noble, Anderson; Perez, Chicharito.

Possible Crystal Palace XI: Hennessey; Wan-Bissaka, Tomkins, Sakho, van Aanholt; McArthur, Milivojevic, Kouyate, Meyer; Zaha, Townsend.

Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!


Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: West Ham v Cardiff

Blast from the past

17th August 2013 – Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa topped the UK box office and Miley Cyrus was number one with ‘We Can’t Stop’ as West Ham United recorded a 2-0 victory over tonight’s opponents Cardiff City in front of 34,977 at Upton Park.

Joe Cole (pictured below) scored the Hammers’ first goal of the 2013/14 season 13 minutes into this opening day encounter, meeting Matt Jarvis’ low cross from the left before swivelling and squeezing an effort into the corner of the net. Shortly afterwards, Mo Diame’s deflected effort spun inches wide of the post as the Irons sought to double their advantage against the newly-promoted Bluebirds, managed by former Hammers centre-half Malky Mackay.

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Stewart Downing came on for his West Ham debut before skipper Kevin Nolan secured the points for West Ham in the 76th minute, sweeping home a first-time curling shot after good work by Mark Noble. Nolan would go on to be the Hammers’ top scorer of 2013/14, with seven goals in 35 matches. Ex-Hammers strikers Craig Bellamy and Nicky Maynard featured in the match, with substitute Maynard coming closest for the visitors, scooping over under pressure from former Bluebird James Collins.

Sam Allardyce’s Hammers would finish 13th in the Premier League in 2013/14, while Cardiff would end the campaign relegated in bottom place. Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City won the title and Arsenal won the FA Cup.

West Ham United: Jussi Jaaskelainen, Guy Demel, James Collins, Winston Reid, Joey O’Brien, Mark Noble, Mo Diame (Alou Diarra), Joe Cole (Ricardo Vaz Te), Kevin Nolan, Matt Jarvis (Stewart Downing), Modibo Maiga.

Cardiff City: David Marshall, Matthew Connolly, Ben Turner, Steven Caulker, Declan John, Gary Medel, Aron Gunnarsson, Craig Bellamy (Rudy Gestede), Peter Whittingham, Kim Bo-Kyung (Nicky Maynard), Fraizer Campbell (Jordon Mutch).

Club Connections

A decent number of players have worn the shirts of both West Ham United and Cardiff City. These include:

Goalkeepers: Tommy Hampson, Stephen Bywater and Peter Grotier.

Defenders: Clive Charles, Danny Gabbidon, Phil Brignull, Roger Johnson and James Collins.

Midfielders: Gary O’Neil, Matt Holmes, Trevor Sinclair, Ravel Morrison, Bobby Weale, Billy Thirlaway and Jobi McAnuff.

Strikers: John Burton, Craig Bellamy, Marouane Chamakh, Billy Charlton, Nicky Maynard and Keith Robson.

Bobby Gould, Malky Mackay and Frank O’Farrell all played for the Hammers and managed the Bluebirds.

Today’s focus though is on a player who turned out for West Ham before representing Cardiff later in his career. Joe Durrell was a winger who was born on 15th March 1953 in Stepney. He started his career with the Hammers, signing schoolboy forms in 1968, and made his debut at the age of 18 in a 2-1 home win over Stoke on 25th September 1971. A diminutive, speedy winger competing for places with Johnny Ayris and Harry Redknapp, West Ham supporter Durrell made six appearances for the Irons during the 1971/72 season, with his final appearance for the club coming in a 1-0 home win over Southampton on 1st May 1972.

Competition for places led to Durrell moving to Bristol City in 1973 – game time was again hard to come by and he had a two-match loan spell at Cardiff in 1975. The most successful spell of his career came at Gillingham, for whom he played from 1975 to 1977, scoring nine goals in 49 league matches.

A bubbly character, Durrell returned to the East End with wife Denise and worked as a primary school teacher. He suffered a stroke in 2016 but, now aged 65, is said to be “fine” and, pleasingly, attended a pre-Christmas drink with a few fellow ex-Hammers last Friday.

Referee

Tonight’s referee is 50-year-old Graham Scott. The Oxfordshire-based official will be taking charge of only his sixth Premier League match involving West Ham United – the Hammers have won four of the previous five league matches he has officiated. His first Premier League appointment with the Irons was our 3-1 win at Southampton in February last year. He also took charge of the Hammers for our 3-0 win at Stoke in December – Scott’s decision to award Manuel Lanzini a first-half penalty saw the Argentine retrospectively banned for two matches. He also refereed our 2-0 home win over Watford in February, our 3-1 home win over Everton on the final day of last season and, most recently, our 3-1 defeat at Arsenal in August.

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Scott was also the man in the middle for our 2-1 League Cup victory over Cheltenham in August 2013 and also sent off Callum McNaughton in the defender’s only Hammers appearance as the club were knocked out of the same competition by Aldershot in August 2011.

Possible line-ups

Manuel Pellegrini should have Fabian Balbuena available but Aaron Cresswell is a doubt. The manager has previously hinted that Michail Antonio could come in for Pablo Zabaleta, who is likely to be rested. Zabaleta is also one yellow card away from a one-match suspension. Ryan Fredericks, Winston Reid, Carlos Sanchez, Manuel Lanzini and Andriy Yarmolenko are still sidelined. West Ham are on a six-match winning streak against Cardiff, keeping clean sheets in five of those games. Andy Carroll hasn’t played since May but could make his 200th Premier League appearance.

Cardiff City will be without the injured Jazz Richards, Greg Cunningham and Kenneth Zohore. The Bluebirds have picked up nine of their 11 points this season from trailing positions, second only to Arsenal. They are also the only two sides yet to lead a Premier League game at half-time this season.

Possible West Ham United XI: Fabianski; Antonio, Balbuena, Diop, Masuaku; Snodgrass, Rice, Noble, Anderson; Arnautovic, Chicharito.

Possible Cardiff City XI: Etheridge; Morrison, Bamba, Ecuele Manga; Camarasa, Ralls, Arter, Gunnarsson, Hoilett; Paterson, Murphy.

Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!


Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: Newcastle v West Ham

Blast from the past

West Ham United had opened the 1977/78 campaign with three defeats from their first three games and been knocked out of the League Cup by Nottingham Forest in a 5-0 defeat when they travelled to Newcastle United on 3rd September 1977 – Elvis Presley had died just over two weeks previously but was number one with ‘Way Down’, Roger Moore’s James Bond was in UK cinemas in The Spy Who Loved Me and the Hammers bagged maximum points with a 3-2 First Division victory over the Magpies in front of 26,983 at St James’ Park.

The Irons went into the fixture 41 years ago with a major injury crisis (what’s new?!) and were without both Billy Bonds and Trevor Brooking. The visitors found themselves 2-0 down as Newcastle took control through goals from striker Micky Burns and a long-range stunner by Northern Ireland international midfielder Tommy Cassidy. The Hammers pulled one back before half-time, Billy Jennings rifling home a ‘Pop’ Robson cross after expertly controlling on his chest.

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West Ham were level within four minutes of the restart when Pat Holland’s low cross was turned in by Alan Taylor. The comeback was complete when Frank Lampard’s free-kick was headed home by Robson (pictured above), returning to his former club. All the goals from this match, plus an interview with John Lyall, can be seen in my video below.

Lyall’s Hammers would end the 1977/78 Division One season in 20th position and were relegated after finishing a solitary point behind QPR, while Newcastle would also suffer the drop as they finished one place and ten points behind the Irons. Robson would be the Hammers’ top scorer with 11 goals from 41 appearances, while Brooking would be voted Hammer of the Year for the fourth time. Nottingham Forest won the league title and Ipswich won the FA Cup.

Newcastle United: Mick Mahoney, Ray Blackhall, John Bird, Kenny Mitchell (Irving Nattrass), Aiden McCaffrey, Alan Kennedy, Graham Oates, Tommy Cassidy, David McLean, Tommy Craig, Micky Burns.

West Ham United: Mervyn Day, Frank Lampard, Kevin Lock, Tommy Taylor, Paul Brush, Alan Curbishley, Pat Holland, Alan Devonshire, Billy Jennings, Alan Taylor, Bryan ‘Pop’ Robson.

Club Connections

West Ham United and Newcastle United have shared a multitude of personnel over the years. Andy Carroll could face his former employers on Saturday, while Mohamed Diame welcomes his former club to St James’ Park. A brief run-through of others who have represented both clubs is best served by dividing them by playing position.

Goalkeepers: Shaka Hislop, Matt Kingsley and Ike Tate.

Defenders: Tommy Bamlett, Abdoulaye Faye, Wayne Quinn, Dave Gardner, Dickie Pudan, James Jackson and Stuart Pearce.

Midfielders: Kevin Nolan, Scott Parker, Lee Bowyer, Rob Lee, Nolberto Solano, Kieron Dyer and Franz Carr.

Strikers: James Loughlin, Paul Goddard, Les Ferdinand, John Dowsey, Bryan ‘Pop’ Robson, Justin Fashanu, Demba Ba, Marlon Harewood, David Kelly, Keith Robson, Vic Keeble, Craig Bellamy and Paul Kitson.

Chris Hughton also played for the Hammers and managed the Magpies while Alan Pardew and Sam Allardyce have managed both clubs. Glenn Roeder also played for Newcastle and managed both clubs.

This week’s focus though is on a goalkeeper who played for both clubs. Pavel Srnicek was born in Ostrava, Czechoslovakia on 10th March 1968 – the son of a woodcutter, he started his working life with a period of service in the Czechoslovak People’s Army. He began his footballing career with Banik Ostrava in 1990, replacing a certain Ludek Miklosko who had just moved to England to sign for West Ham United.

The 22-year-old Srnicek signed for Jim Smith’s Newcastle in January 1991 for £350,000 and made his debut under newly-appointed boss Ossie Ardiles in a 1-0 home win over Sheffield Wednesday on 17th April 1991. He played the final seven matches of the season as the Magpies finished 11th in Division Two. A tough start to the 1991/92 season saw Srnicek concede 32 goals in his first 15 matches of the campaign as he struggled to deal with crosses and with the language barrier; Ardiles dropped him in favour of Tommy Wright. Newcastle struggled, with Ardiles being sacked in February 1992 and replaced with Kevin Keegan – they secured safety, finishing 20th.

6’2, agile, acrobatic and often unorthodox, Srnicek quickly became a popular figure with fans and players alike, playing 32 matches in 1992/93 as the Magpies stormed to the newly-named First Division title and promotion to the Premier League. Mike Hooper was brought in from Liverpool to provide competition for Srnicek but the Czech still made 22 appearances as Newcastle finished in an impressive third place in their first Premier League campaign. He played 52 matches in 1994/95 as the Magpies made a return to European football in the UEFA Cup and finished sixth in the league.

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Keegan signed future Hammer Shaka Hislop in the summer of 1995 and he displaced Srnicek from the side at the start of the 1995/96 campaign as Newcastle stormed to the top of the Premier League. Hislop was injured in December, with Srnicek taking over for the rest of the season – he played 19 games as the Magpies subsequently let a 12-point lead slip and were beaten to the title by Manchester United. Srnicek kept his place for the start of the 1996/97 season, playing 30 matches in all competitions before a dip in form saw Hislop take over again midway through the campaign.

Now under the management of Kenny Dalglish, the 1997/98 season saw Shay Given brought in as added competition to Srnicek and Hislop. The Czech goalkeeper made only one appearance during the campaign and left Newcastle at the end of the season – the 30-year-old had made 179 appearances for the club. He rejoined hometown club Banik Ostrava, playing six matches, before returning to England to sign for Sheffield Wednesday in October 1998. He remained at Hillsborough until the summer of 2000 when he moved to Italy, signing for Brescia. He stayed with the club for three years before a brief spell with Cosenza. Srnicek also won 49 caps for the Czech Republic and started all of his country’s matches at Euro 2000.

Srnicek returned to England in September 2003, signing for Harry Redknapp’s Portsmouth where he was reunited with Hislop. The 35-year-old Srnicek joined West Ham United, initially on loan in February 2004, as cover for Stephen Bywater after the departure of David James to Manchester City. When Bywater was sent off at Millwall with the Hammers 3-1 down, Srnicek’s first action as a substitute was to see Tim Cahill fire a penalty off target. He could do nothing about Millwall’s fourth in their 4-1 win with his hapless fellow Czech Tomas Repka at fault for Nick Chadwick’s goal.

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Srnicek made his move to the Boleyn Ground permanent on a free transfer and made his first start against Derby on 10th April 2004 – he kept a clean sheet in his only Upton Park appearance for the club in an Easter Saturday goalless draw. His third and final appearance for West Ham United came in a 1-0 defeat at Crystal Palace two days later. He left the club in the summer of 2004, moving to Portugal where he spent two years with Beira-Mar.

Injuries to Tim Krul, Shay Given and Steve Harper in the autumn of 2006 led Newcastle manager Glenn Roeder to take the 38-year-old Srnicek back to Tyneside. He made his second debut for the club as an 87th-minute substitute in a 3-1 win over Tottenham, receiving a tremendous reception from the Geordie faithful. He started in a 2-1 defeat at Bolton on Boxing Day 2006 – this was his second and final game of his second spell at St James’ Park and his 181st appearance in total for the Magpies. It was also his final match in professional football.

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After retiring, Srnicek began the Srnicek School of Goalkeeping in the Czech Republic, offering youngsters from around the world the opportunity to learn from his coaching. He was also involved in a number of charity organisations. Srnicek also joined the coaching staff at Sparta Prague in January 2012. A regular visitor to the North East after his retirement from playing, Srnicek returned to Tyneside in December 2015 to promote his autobiography, Pavel is a Geordie, named after the song the Newcastle faithful sang for him.

Just weeks after visiting his former club, Srnicek suffered a cardiac arrest while out jogging in his native Ostrava on 20th December 2015. He was put into an induced coma but sadly passed away nine days later at the age of 47. Srnicek’s funeral was held in his hometown on 4th January 2016, with his former Newcastle understudy Steve Harper and Czech team-mate Pavel Nedved among the mourners.

Referee

Saturday’s referee is 37-year-old Paul Tierney. The Lancashire-based official has refereed the Hammers on three previous occasions, with all three matches ending in draws. His most recent Hammers appointment was our 0-0 FA Cup third round draw at Shrewsbury in January of this year.

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Tierney’s first West Ham appointment was for the 1-1 draw with Everton in November 2015 which saw James McCarthy’s tackle on Dimitri Payet put the Frenchman out of action for two months. His other Irons game was our 0-0 draw at West Brom in September 2017, when he chose to issue just a yellow card to Ben Foster for his late tackle on Chicharito.

Possible line-ups

Newcastle United are set to be without Florian Lejeune and Paul Dummett for the visit of the Hammers. Karl Darlow, Jamaal Lascelles and Yoshinori Muto could be available. Newcastle have kept four clean sheets in the Hammers’ last six trips to St James’ Park.

West Ham United will be without the injured Ryan Fredericks, Winston Reid, Carlos Sanchez, Manuel Lanzini and Andriy Yarmolenko but Jack Wilshere could return and Marko Arnautovic is available. The Hammers have not won away at Newcastle since November 2012.

Possible Newcastle United XI: Dubravka; Yedlin, Lascelles, Fernandez, Clark; Ritchie, Ki, Diame, Kenedy; Perez; Rondon.

Possible West Ham United XI: Fabianski; Zabaleta, Balbuena, Diop, Cresswell; Rice, Noble, Obiang; Antonio, Anderson; Arnautovic.

Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!


Player News

The Sunday Times: 'Oxford Still Waiting For Graduation Day'

Jonathan Northcroft, Football Correspondent for The Sunday Times, has conducted an interview with West Ham youngster Reece Oxford in which the 19-year-old expresses his fears that he may have to leave the club in January if he cannot break into the first team.

On Friday the same again: the familiar routine, the rut Reece Oxford is desperate to climb out of. Training over, on the wall at Rush Green training ground went the sheet listing West Ham’s matchday squad. No matter how often you are left out you still hope — but there it was again, 18 names and Oxford’s not among them.

“Every time, it hurts,” he says, and this has been a season of little punches to the gut just like that: demotion to the under-23s, nasties on social media, hearing Manuel Pellegrini say he’d been warned about his attitude.

Yesterday, instead of figuring versus Manchester City, and challenging John Stones in a battle of young ball-playing centre-backs, Oxford was home following West Ham’s game via his scores app. “I sit on the settee and feel angry. I don’t want to be there. I want to be on the pitch, playing against these big teams,” he says. “I’ve just got to find my way.”

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With regard to that he feels he’s reaching crunch time. Time to play regularly for West Ham — or to go. The case of Oxford is one that should concern all of the English game for here, in terms of talent, is a jewel: West Ham’s youngest ever player, a former England youth captain who outshone Kylian Mbappe when they met at under-17 level, who as recently as last year — on loan at Borussia Monchengladbach — was nominated for the European Golden Boy award. Someone who made West Ham’s bench at 15 and at 16 muzzled Mesut Ozil versus Arsenal on his Premier League debut. Someone who Manchester United and Red Bull Leipzig have bid £20m for, and in whom Arsenal registered interest. West Ham gave him a £1m-a-year contract in 2016 and yet since March of that year he has played just seven Premier League minutes. This season Oxford has not been in a single Premier League matchday squad, his football coming in the Checkatrade Trophy and for West Ham’s under-23s.

How did he get here? Before that, this is what Oxford is doing to try to escape his situation. On days off he goes to an all-weather pitch in Barnet with a self-hired personal trainer, continuing work they started in the summer with drills in his back garden and at a Power League in Muswell Hill.

At West Ham, after a heart-to-heart, under-23 coach Liam Canning devised a special programme for him which meant Oxford getting to training an hour before the others, at 8.30am, for supplementary gym and technical work. Enjoying it, for the last fortnight he has been getting in at 7.30am, and staying until 5pm, so he can fit in even more.

These “little extras” are something he is now focused on, feeling he missed out when he was the boy sensation. “At 16, I got on the first-team programme but it’s not the same as for youth players. I should have been doing my gym work. The extras the other 16 and 17-year-olds were doing. Instead, I was just training, going home, with the rest of the first team. I blame myself a bit but I think the club should have been on me more.”

Another regret is a loan to Reading in 2016-17. He was 18 and Jaap Stam preferred experience in defence. He played five times and “I feel like I wasted a season”. He loved being at Gladbach in 2017-18 and feels unlucky that West Ham recalled him in January, just after he had made three consecutive starts and been told by the manager, Dieter Hecking, that he was now a first-choice player.

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He sprained his ankle in his first training session back at Rush Green and returned to only manage two FA Cup appearances and a brief league cameo before being sent to Germany again. Having lost fitness, he made just four more Bundesliga appearances — albeit Gladbach rated him highly enough to offer £10m to buy him permanently.

West Ham rebuffed them and “I was looking forward to getting back to the club. I just wanted to kick on. I thought I had a good pre-season but the club had bought so many new players they didn’t play me [on tour] and then I was in the 23s.

“I don’t want to be in the 23s. I see it as I’ve been there, done that, and suddenly you have doubts. Am I good enough? Have I lost it?” However he soon found the contrary, that the under-23 games were all too easy and he admits cruising “in second gear” in a few early ones. Now, though, he is determined to push for Pellegrini’s attention in every 23s appearance and every training session and hopes his ‘extras’ are noticed. He wants to change the manager’s misconceptions.

“I haven’t really had a conversation with Pellegrini. We last spoke on the training pitch and he told me the reason I haven’t been in and around the team was because of my attitude. Or the perception of my attitude. He said he’d heard… from who, I don’t know. But other people in the club know me — I’m a very laid-back person,” Oxford says. “Maybe the perception of laid-back is bad.” In person Oxford is polite, respectful, certainly not arrogant — but definitely easy-going and he reflects that maybe being relaxed is sometimes misconstrued “as not wanting it enough — which is not the case. I’m determined to succeed.

“But I can’t change who I am off the pitch. And being laid-back is something I can take onto the pitch as an asset. I need to be confident on the ball, I need to be calm, and when I made my debut against Arsenal what Slaven Bilic liked was that I was so relaxed.”

It’s not like money has changed him. He is still on an allowance. His mother, Youmna, a bright woman who works in HR, takes care of his finances. What does change, when you earn well, is how others perceive you. “People knew I was on big money and they see you differently. Even coaches in the club or people from other clubs. They say, ‘oh, he’s on this amount when he’s not even playing’ and it’s hard to deal with when you’re hearing all this stuff and you’re a kid. But they [West Ham] gave me the money. I didn’t force them.”

He no longer looks at social media, because where once it was full of praise he now gets abuse, but in the street “fans stop me and say ‘why aren’t you playing? You’re such a good young talent. I don’t know why they aren’t giving you the opportunity’.” He’s driven to “get everyone on my side and show them I still have the potential they said I had before.”

He is unwavering in his belief in that potential. “You look at players your age, like Declan Rice, who has done so well, and think that’s the challenge, I should be doing that. But I also look at older players, who have been in first teams for years, and know what ability I’ve got and that it is the same as them.

“I feel if I do get the chance to play in a first team I would have a big opportunity to play for England, because [Gareth Southgate] is picking young players: 100% I know I can be in the England squad and that is still my goal — captaining England at a World Cup or a Euros.”

What next? The January window is approaching and if he is still not making first-team progress at West Ham, Oxford would prefer to move. Premier League, Bundesliga — he is open-minded. He just wants to play. A permanent transfer would be better, he thinks.

“Things can change round at West Ham in a week,” Oxford says. “I think Pellegrini believes if you’re training hard you can get in and I look at Grady [Diangana]. He’s kicking on now. I want that to be me.

“But if I’m not playing, I hope West Ham would look kindly on my situation and let me go, because there’s no point being 20 and not around the first team. Hopefully everyone wants me to fulfil the potential they’ve seen.

“The club has done a lot for me. Given me my debut. Made me the player I am. I could never talk down the club. But right now I need to be playing and if West Ham are not playing me, I’ve got to move on and part ways.”

This piece originally appeared in The Sunday Times and was written by Jonathan Northcroft.


Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: West Ham v Man City

Blast from the past

9th May 1987 – Ireland’s Johnny Logan won the 1987 Eurovision Song Contest with ‘Hold Me Now’, Starship were number one with ‘Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now’, Platoon was in UK cinemas and West Ham United emerged victorious from a First Division encounter against Manchester City with a 2-0 win in front of 18,413 on the final day of the 1986/87 season.

Before kick-off, Mark Ward was named runner-up in the Hammer of the Year voting with Billy Bonds claiming the main prize for the fourth and final time. City arrived at Upton Park knowing that only a win would be enough in their bid to survive in the First Division – it was the Irons who started the brighter though, Steve Potts creating an early chance for Stewart Robson which the midfielder blazed over. Kevin Keen had an effort saved by Eric Nixon after good work from Liam Brady before Paul Ince, playing as an emergency left-back, struck the crossbar, with Mark Ward having his header from the rebound saved. Brady then shot tamely at Nixon as the Hammers dominated, although City forward Paul Stewart did force Tom McAlister into action at the other end.

The Hammers finally made the breakthrough in the 33rd minute – Potts, who had celebrated his 20th birthday just two days previously, popped up with some neat work on the left flank and found Frank McAvennie. His cross was diverted by Republic of Ireland international Mick McCarthy into the path of Ward whose low shot was turned in by top scorer Tony Cottee (pictured below), poaching his 29th goal of the season in his 51st match.

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McAlister made a routine save from Paul Moulden in the opening exchanges of the second half before McAvennie was denied by a combination of Nixon and left-back Clive Wilson in the 50th minute. The Hammers doubled their lead from the resulting corner, Ward finding Brady who worked his way into the penalty area before firing low and left-footed across Nixon and into the far corner of the net. McAvennie again went close and Stewart hit the post for the visitors before 19-year-old Eamonn Dolan came on to make his West Ham debut – Dolan sadly passed away in June 2016 at the age of 48. With Dolan joining Potts, Ince and Keen in the action, West Ham ended the match with four players aged 20 or under on the pitch. The highlights from this match can be seen in my video below.

John Lyall’s Hammers finished in 15th place in the 1986/87 Division One season while Jimmy Frizzell’s City ended up relegated in 21st place. Everton won the league title and Coventry won the FA Cup.

West Ham United: Tom McAlister, Steve Potts, Gary Strodder, Neil Orr, Paul Ince, Mark Ward (Eamonn Dolan), Stewart Robson, Liam Brady, Kevin Keen, Frank McAvennie, Tony Cottee.

Manchester City: Eric Nixon, Kenny Clements, Steve Redmond, Mick McCarthy (David White), Clive Wilson, Andy May, Neil McNab, Kevin Langley, Paul Simpson, Paul Stewart, Paul Moulden.

Club Connections

Pablo Zabaleta and Manuel Pellegrini welcome their former club. A large group of players join them in having represented West Ham United and Manchester City. Divided by playing position, they include:

Goalkeepers – Joe Hart, Perry Suckling, David James.

Defenders – Tal Ben Haim, Tyrone Mears, Wayne Bridge.

Midfielders – Marc-Vivien Foe, Kevin Horlock, Patrick Leonard, James Cumming, Mark Ward, Eyal Berkovic, Steve Lomas, Frank Lampard Junior, John Payne, Michael Hughes, Ian Bishop, Trevor Sinclair.

Strikers – Bill Davidson, Carlos Tevez, Craig Bellamy, Phil Woosnam, Justin Fashanu, Trevor Morley, Clive Allen, Lionel Watson, David Cross, George Webb.

Stuart Pearce played for both clubs and has managed Manchester City – he was an assistant coach with West Ham last season. Malcolm Allison and John Bond were also West Ham players who went on to manage City.

Today’s focus though falls on a player who spent a season with West Ham before moving to Manchester City – Paulo Wanchope. Born in Heredia, Costa Rica on 31st July 1976, Wanchope started his career at Herediano before moving to England to sign for Derby in March 1997. After just over two seasons with the Rams, Wanchope signed for Harry Redknapp’s West Ham United in the summer of 1999 for a fee of £3.5m.

Wanchope made his Hammers debut three days before his 23rd birthday in a 1-0 InterToto Cup semi-final first leg win over Dutch side Heerenveen at Upton Park on 28th July 1999 and scored his first goal for the club in the second leg in the Netherlands a week later. He notched his first league goal for the Irons in a 2-1 win over Leicester on 21st August before scoring the crucial third goal in the famous 3-1 InterToto Cup Final second leg win in Metz to send the Hammers into the UEFA Cup three days later. The gangly striker made it three goals in a week when he scored again in a 3-0 win at Bradford. Wanchope was forming an effective strike partnership with Paolo Di Canio, with the Paulo/Paolo Show sending the Hammers into the Premier League’s top three by mid-September – Wanchope made it five goals from his opening ten games in claret and blue by bagging the opener in a 3-0 UEFA Cup first round first leg victory over Osijek of Croatia at the Boleyn on 16th September 1999.

Wanchope’s 1999/2000 season would be one of feast and famine – after such an impressive start, he then went 12 games without a goal before ending his drought with a goal in a 4-3 home win over Sheffield Wednesday on 21st November 1999. Another nine goalless games followed before an impressive run of nine goals in ten games. The purple patch started with a double in a 3-1 win at Leicester on 22nd January 2000, the Hammers’ first win of the new millennium.

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Strikes in successive games followed in victories at Watford and at home against Southampton in early March and Wanchope also scored the opener at Old Trafford on April Fools’ Day, although Manchester United would go on to win 7-1. By this time, Redknapp had brought in Frederic Kanoute but the Costa Rican’s strike against the Red Devils was the first of five goals in three matches, Wanchope going on to score braces in consecutive 2-1 wins, first over Newcastle at home on 12th April and then at former club Derby three days later – these goals at Pride Park were Wanchope’s last in a Hammers shirt. His final game for the club was a goalless draw with Leeds at Upton Park on 14th May 2000 – after 15 goals in 47 appearances for the Irons, Wanchope was on the move to Manchester City for a fee of £3.65m. All of Wanchope’s 15 goals for West Ham United can be viewed in my video below.

Wanchope made his Premier League debut for Joe Royle’s newly-promoted City on 19th August 2000 in a 4-0 defeat at Charlton but marked a stunning home debut at Maine Road with a hat-trick in a 4-2 win over Sunderland four days later. He played 31 matches in 2000/01, scoring ten goals, but could not prevent an immediate return to the First Division for the Sky Blues. Wanchope experienced an injury-hit campaign under new manager Kevin Keegan in 2001/02 as City romped to the First Division title, but he did score an impressive 13 goals in 18 appearances. A serious knee injury meant he played no part in City’s return to the Premier League in 2002/03 but he returned the following campaign to score six goals in 26 matches. After four seasons at Manchester City, in which he scored 29 goals in 75 appearances, Wanchope moved to Spain to sign for Malaga in the summer of 2004.

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Wanchope went on to represent Qatari club Al-Gharafa before returning to his first club back in Costa Rica, Herediano. He also played for Rosario Central in Argentina, FC Tokyo in Japan and Chicago Fire in the MLS before retiring in 2007 at the age of 31 – his relatively early retirement had been forced upon him by the repercussions of his long-standing knee problem. He had also won 73 caps for Costa Rica, scoring 45 goals – both of his brothers, Javier and Carlos, also played for the national team.

Since retiring from playing, Wanchope has managed Herediano and Uruguay Coronado in his native Costa Rica. He became manager of the national team after the 2014 World Cup but resigned in August 2015 after a post-match brawl with a steward. Now 42, Wanchope is married to Brenda and has a son and a daughter.

Referee

The referee on Saturday will be Andre Marriner; the 47-year-old failed to send off Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero for an elbow on Winston Reid in August 2016, 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 16 of our league matches, officiating in only three wins for the Hammers, five draws and eight defeats. His most recent match officiating the Irons was also his only game that he took charge of involving the club last season; our 2-0 defeat at Watford.

Possible line-ups

West Ham United have Ryan Fredericks, Winston Reid, Carlos Sanchez, Manuel Lanzini and Andriy Yarmolenko on the injury list, while Robert Snodgrass is suspended. Mark Noble returns from his three-match ban, while Jack Wilshere and Andy Carroll have been in full training and are available for selection, although it’s likely both will start on the bench. The Hammers have lost their three previous matches against Manchester City at London Stadium by an aggregate score of 13-1, Aaron Cresswell scoring the Irons’ goal.

Manchester City could be without Claudio Bravo, Nicolas Otamendi, Eliaquim Mangala, Benjamin Mendy, Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva. David Silva has scored four and assisted two goals in his six away matches against West Ham for City in all competitions, scoring in both the matches he’s played at London Stadium.

Possible West Ham United XI: Fabianski; Zabaleta, Balbuena, Diop, Cresswell; Rice, Obiang, Noble; Diangana, Anderson; Arnautovic.

Possible Manchester City XI: Ederson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Delph; Fernandinho, David Silva; Mahrez, Sterling, Sane; Aguero.

Enjoy the game – Come On You Irons!

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