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!

Follow @dan_coker on twitter.


Dan Coker's Match Preview

Crossed Hammers & Three Lions: Billy Moore

Welcome to the latest in a series of articles designed for international matches – a look back at former Hammers players who wore the Three Lions of England.

Today, as England prepare to face Croatia in the League A Group 4 Nations League decider at Wembley, we look back at a former Hammers and England inside-forward – Billy Moore. Billy was born in Elswick, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, on 6th October 1894 – his father was a beer retailer. Billy was a colliery labourer working above ground by the age of 17, by which time he was living with his grandmother in Seaton Deleval. He played for Seaton Delaval before signing for Sunderland as an amateur in November 1912, turning professional during the First World War. In December 1917, at the age of 23, he married Lena in Gateshead.

After 46 league appearances and eleven goals for the First Division Wearsiders, Billy dropped down a division to sign for West Ham United in May 1922. He made his debut for the Hammers at the age of 27 in a 2-1 defeat to Bradford in front of 27,000 at Upton Park on 26th August 1922 and scored his first goal for the club in his fourth match, a 2-1 defeat at Derby on 4th September 1922. He followed that up with his first Boleyn goals five days later, notching a double in a 4-0 win over Rotherham County (later to merge with Rotherham Town to form the Rotherham United we know today).

1922/23 was to transpire to be a significant season for West Ham, one of the most memorable in the first half-century of the club’s existence. The Hammers would be promoted to the First Division for the first time, finishing as runners-up in the Second Division to Notts County, and would reach the first ever FA Cup Final held at Wembley. Billy made 51 appearances, turning in many sterling displays and scoring 20 goals, including a hat-trick in a 6-0 league win at Leicester on 15th February 1923 and a brace in the 5-2 FA Cup Semi-Final win over Derby at Stamford Bridge. The Irons would lose the Cup Final 2-0 to Bolton in front of a recorded crowd of 126,047 on 28th April 1923, but could take solace in their upcoming place at football’s top table for the following season. Billy’s hat-trick at Leicester would be worth its weight in gold as the Irons secured their promotion by virtue of goal average over none other than Leicester.

For Billy Moore, that 1922/23 season took on greater personal significance. Almost a month after the FA Cup Final, the 28-year-old made his England debut playing inside-right in a 3-1 win in Stockholm against Sweden on 24th May 1923. In doing so, he became only the fourth West Ham United player to represent England. Billy had won amateur caps against Belgium, Denmark and Sweden, and could have done little more to impress on his first full international appearance, scoring twice against the Swedes! His first gave England the lead after 38 minutes, while his second was the Three Lions’ third to clinch the 3-1 victory in the 78th minute. Despite such a great debut, it was to be Billy’s only full England cap. Billy remains the England player with the best ever goals per game ratio.

A nimble, quick-witted player with a low centre of gravity at 5’7 who loved to drift into the opposition penalty area, Billy made 39 appearances in 1923/24, scoring ten goals as the Hammers finished 13th in their maiden First Division season. A highlight for Billy during the Irons’ first top flight season was scoring twice in a 3-2 win over Nottingham Forest on 22nd December 1923. Team-mate Jimmy Ruffell stated, “You wouldn’t wish for a better man alongside you than Billy Moore. He was nippy and clever and always surprising people. He didn’t look tough, but he was wiry.”

He played 38 games in 1924/25, again scoring ten goals. He struck twice in a 4-1 win over former club Sunderland at the Boleyn on 20th December 1924 and bagged another brace in a 4-0 home victory over Manchester City on 7th February 1925. Billy’s final goal for the Hammers came in a 2-2 draw at Middlesbrough on 7th April 1928; his final match in claret and blue was as a 34-year-old in a 2-1 win over Birmingham at Upton Park on 23rd March 1929. Billy Moore had scored 48 goals in 202 appearances for West Ham United.

After retiring, he became assistant trainer at the club under Syd King in 1929; he was appointed Trainer-in-Chief in 1932. By the outbreak of the Second World War, Billy was working as Head Trainer and a groundsman at West Ham and living at 116 Plashet Road, just round the corner from Upton Park tube station. He retired in May 1960, having spent 38 years with the club both as a player and as a coach under King, Charlie Paynter and Ted Fenton. Two years earlier, in 1958, he’d realised his greatest personal ambition in seeing the Hammers return to the top flight after an absence of 25 years.

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Billy and his wife, Lena, were regular visitors to Upton Park in the 1960s and also journeyed on many away trips in which Billy acted as unofficial courier, making sure everyone was accounted for on the coach which carried club officials and guests. Billy Moore passed away on 26th September 1968 at the age of 73.

England v Croatia

England face Croatia this afternoon in the deciding match of League A Group 4 of the 2018 Nations League – it will be the tenth meeting between the two nations. The first competitive meeting between the pair resulted in a 4-2 win for the Three Lions in front of 57,047 at Lisbon’s Estadio da Luz on 21st June 2004, in their final Group B match of the 2004 European Championships. Britney Spears was number one with ‘Everytime’, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban topped the UK box office and Wimbledon were officially renamed as Milton Keynes Dons.

England were dealt an early blow when Hertha Berlin’s Niko Kovac gave Otto Baric’s Croatia the lead in the fifth minute. Sven-Goran Eriksson’s England equalised through Manchester United’s Paul Scholes five minutes before the interval before Everton wonderkid Wayne Rooney gave England the lead with a strike from distance right on half-time.

Rooney raced clear to make it 3-1 after 68 minutes but Juventus’ Igor Tudor pulled one back five minutes later. Former Hammer Frank Lampard Junior wrapped up the win with 11 minutes left to make it 4-2. England would be knocked out by hosts Portugal in the quarter-finals.

Croatia: Tomislav Butina (Club Brugge), Josip Simunic (Hertha Berlin), Dario Simic (Milan), Boris Zivkovic (captain, Stuttgart), Robert Kovac (Bayern Munich), Igor Tudor (Juventus), Dovani Roso (Maccabi Haifa), Milan Rapaic (Ancona), Niko Kovac (Hertha Berlin), Tomislav Sokota (Benfica), Dado Prso (Monaco).

Subs: Ivica Mornar (Portsmouth) for Robert Kovac; Ivica Olic (CSKA Moscow) for Rapaic; Darijo Srna (Shakhtar Donetsk) for Simic.

England: David James (Man City), Gary Neville (Man Utd), Sol Campbell (Arsenal), John Terry (Chelsea), Ashley Cole (Arsenal), David Beckham (Real Madrid), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Paul Scholes (Man Utd), Michael Owen (Liverpool), Wayne Rooney (Everton).

Subs: Ledley King (Tottenham) for Scholes; Darius Vassell (Aston Villa) for Rooney; Phil Neville (Man Utd) for Lampard.

The previous articles in the series are:

Vic Watson
Jack Tresadern
Ken Brown
Johnny ‘Budgie’ Byrne
Bobby Moore
Martin Peters
Frank Lampard Senior
Sir Trevor Brooking
Alan Devonshire
Alvin Martin
Paul Goddard
Stuart Pearce
Frank Lampard Junior
Joe Cole
David James
Robert Green


Dan Coker's Match Preview

West Ham's Croatian Connections: Part Two

Ahead of England’s Nations League decider tomorrow, here’s the second part of my look back at Croatians who have represented West Ham United.

Part One can be viewed here.

Davor Suker

Davor Suker was born in Osijek on 1st January 1968 and began his professional career with local side Osijek in 1984 – West Ham would later play Osijek in the UEFA Cup in 1999. Suker played for Yugoslavia in the 1988 Olympics before moving to Dinamo Zagreb in 1989. He won two caps for Yugoslavia and joined Spanish club Sevilla in 1991. Suker made his Croatia debut in 1992 and was named in the Team of the Tournament at Euro ’96. Suker caused controversy in 1996 by posing for a picture at the grave of Croatian fascist leader Ante Pavelic while in the company of two well-known criminals. He signed for Real Madrid in the summer of 1996 and won the Golden Boot at the 1998 World Cup.

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Suker moved to Arsenal in 1999 before joining West Ham on a free transfer in the summer of 2000. The 32-year-old made his debut in a 4-2 defeat at Chelsea on 19th August 2000 and scored his first goal for the Irons in a 2-2 home draw with Manchester United a week later. He scored his second goal for the Hammers in a 1-1 draw at Sunderland on 5th September 2000, with his final goal coming in a 2-0 home win over Blackburn in the League Cup third round on 31st October 2000. His final appearance for the club came as a substitute in a 1-0 defeat at Manchester City on 28th April 2001. Having made 13 appearances for West Ham, scoring three goals, Suker moved to German side 1860 Munich in the summer of 2001.

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Suker played for Croatia at the 2002 World Cup – in total, he won 69 caps for his country, scoring 45 goals. He retired from playing in 2003 and established his own school of football, the Davor Suker Soccer Academy, with training camps located in Zagreb and several other Croatian cities. Now 50, Suker has been the President of the Croatian Football Federation since 2012. His three goals for West Ham can be viewed in my video below.

Mladen Petric

Mladen Petric was born in Brcko on 1st January 1981 and began his professional career with FC Baden in Switzerland in 1998 – Petric had moved to Switzerland with his family during his childhood. He moved to Grasshopper Zurich in 1999 and spent five years with the club, winning two league titles and making his Croatia debut in 2001, before joining Basel in 2004. Petric won the Swiss title again and the Swiss Cup with Basel but moved to Germany in 2007, signing for Borussia Dortmund. Under the management of new Croatia boss Slaven Bilic, Petric became the first player to score four goals in a match for Croatia (against Andorra) and also scored the winning goal in a 3-2 victory over England at Wembley, a strike that ensured the Three Lions would not qualify for Euro 2008. After a season with Dortmund, he joined Hamburg and spent four years with the club.

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Petric moved to Fulham in 2012 but was released just a year later. He made his final appearance for Croatia in February 2013 – he won 45 caps for his country, scoring 13 goals. With West Ham United having failed to sign a striker to join Andy Carroll during the summer transfer window having been linked to Jermain Defoe, Loic Remy, Romelu Lukaku and Demba Ba, Sam Allardyce brought in free agent Petric in September 2013 – he made his debut as a substitute in a 3-2 home defeat to Everton on 21st September 2013. Petric made three more sub appearances for West Ham over the following month, in a 3-2 League Cup third round win over Cardiff, a 1-0 defeat at Hull and his final appearance in claret and blue, a 3-1 home defeat to Manchester City on 19th October 2013.

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Petric was released in December 2013 and signed for Greek side Panathinaikos in January 2014. He won the Greek Cup in 2014 and announced his retirement from football in May 2016 at the age of 35.

Nikica Jelavic

Nikica Jelavic was born in Capljina on 27th August 1985 and began his professional career with Hajduk Split in 2002. He moved to Belgian club Zulte Waregem in 2007 before joining Austrian side Rapid Vienna in 2008. He made his Croatia debut under Bilic in 2009 and moved to Scotland in 2010, signing for Rangers. After 18 months with Rangers, he joined Everton for £5m and spent two years with the Toffees.

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Jelavic moved to Hull in January 2014, spending 18 months with the Tigers before teaming up with his former international manager Bilic at West Ham on transfer deadline day in September 2015. He had made his final appearance for Croatia in 2014 having won 36 caps for his country, scoring six goals. Jelavic made his Hammers debut as a substitute in a 2-1 win at Manchester City on 19th September 2015 and made eight sub appearances before his first start, in a 0-0 draw at Swansea on 20th December 2015. Jelavic scored his first goal for West Ham in a 1-0 FA Cup third round win over Wolves at the Boleyn Ground on 9th January 2016 and scored his only league goal for the club a week later in a 2-1 defeat at Newcastle. His final appearance in claret and blue was again as a substitute in a 2-0 home win against Aston Villa on 2nd February 2016. After scoring two goals in 15 appearances for West Ham United, Jelavic moved to China, signing for Beijing Renhe. After spending a loan spell with Guizhou Zhicheng, Jelavic, now 33, signed for the club permanently last year.

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