Dan Coker's Match Preview
Blast from the past
Today’s blast from the past features our biggest post-war league victory at the home of this weekend’s opponents, Manchester United. It arrived on the 27th of November 1976, a 2-0 win at Old Trafford in front of 55,366 spectators.
The Hammers went into the game on the back of eight defeats out of nine games and sitting bottom of the First Division table. Anton Otulakowski made his debut one month after joining the club from Barnsley – the delay arising due to the player’s need to see out a month’s notice with the gas board! Goals from Billy Jennings (pictured) and Trevor Brooking gave the Irons one of only two away triumphs that season and began a recovery which would eventually see the club finish two points clear of the drop in 17th position. Manchester United would finish in sixth place, while Tottenham finished bottom and were relegated!
Manchester United: Alex Stepney, Alex Forsyth, Stewart Houston, Brian Greenhoff, Arthur Albiston, Gerry Daly, Steve Coppell, Sammy McIlroy, Gordon Hill, Stuart Pearson, Jimmy Greenhoff.
West Ham United: Mervyn Day, Billy Bonds, Tommy Taylor, Kevin Lock, Frank Lampard, Geoff Pike, Trevor Brooking, Alan Devonshire, Anton Otulakowski, Bryan Robson, Billy Jennings.
A largely impressive list of players have turned out for both West Ham United and Manchester United over the years. These include Noel Cantwell, Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick, Paul Ince, Billy Grassam, Ravel Morrison, Stuart Pearson, Les Sealey, Ralph Milne, Jonathan Spector, Teddy Sheringham, Luke Chadwick and Carlos Tevez. In addition, Dave Sexton and Frank O’Farrell both played for the Hammers before going on to manage the Red Devils.
Today’s focus though follows on from Brian Williams’ excellent article on custodians earlier this week by looking at a goalkeeper who has donned the gloves and played in front of his home supporters at both the Stretford End and the Bobby Moore Stand – Roy Carroll.
Carroll started his career at Hull before moving on to Wigan. After 135 appearances for the Latics, he was signed by Premier League champions Manchester United for £2.5m in the summer of 2001. Carroll competed with Fabien Barthez (“taxi!”) and then Tim Howard for a place between the sticks at Old Trafford, making 72 appearances for the club in all competitions. Carroll won one Premier League title and one FA Cup during his time with the Red Devils but is perhaps mostly remembered for two high-profile blunders in the space of two months in early 2005. First, he spilled a last-minute up-and-under by Tottenham’s Pedro Mendes over his own goal-line but the error was not punished due to an errant linesman. Carroll was then responsible for Hernan Crespo’s winning goal for AC Milan in the 78th minute of the first leg in the Champions League last 16 tie at Old Trafford, after failing to hold a routine strike by Clarence Seedorf. United went on to exit the competition 2-0 on aggregate following the away leg in the San Siro.
Three months later, Carroll was released on a free transfer and snapped up by newly-promoted West Ham United. He struggled with a back injury during his first season, with Shaka Hislop replacing the Ulsterman. Carroll endured a difficult second season at Upton Park, struggling with alcohol and gambling problems coupled with the arrival of Robert Green from Norwich. Having made 35 appearances for the Hammers in all competitions, Carroll departed for Glasgow Rangers on a free transfer in July 2007.
Carroll, who turns 37 next Tuesday, returned south of the border for a spell at Derby County before heading to the continent for five years. Spells at Odense in Denmark and OFI Crete in the Greek league were followed by just over two seasons at Greek giants Olympiakos. Carroll, who has won 35 caps for Northern Ireland, returned to British football this summer with a move to League One Notts County, who are captained by his ex-Hammers team-mate Hayden Mullins.
Saturday’s referee will be Lee Mason from… Greater Manchester. The same Lee Mason who refereed four of our games last season, sending off two of our players (Mark Noble against Everton and James Tomkins at Cardiff) and disallowing a perfectly good Stewart Downing equaliser at Crystal Palace. His fourth match with us last year was the 2-0 home defeat to Manchester United.
Mason was also the ref for our home fixture with Manchester United in 2011. He awarded West Ham two penalties, both converted by Mark Noble, but then failed to give Nemanja Vidic a red card for a professional foul on Demba Ba with the score at 2-0 to the Hammers. United went on to win 4-2, with their crucial third a very controversial penalty for handball against Matthew Upson, which Rooney converted. Mason also sent off Noble at Birmingham the season before.
Manchester United are set to be without four centre-halves, with Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling all carrying injuries and Tyler Blackett suspended. Marcos Rojo is set to play at centre-back with Luke Shaw at left-back. United could look to their Under-21 captain, Tom Thorpe, or 19-year-old midfielder-turned-defender Paddy McNair to partner Rojo. Alternatively, Daley Blind or Darren Fletcher could fill in as emergency central defenders.
West Ham United are without influential midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate. Morgan Amalfitano came on and scored on his home debut last week and also scored a wonderful solo effort at Old Trafford for West Brom last season. Amalfitano could play at the tip of the diamond, with Stewart Downing employed in a deeper midfield role alongside Mark Noble and Alex Song. Alternatively, Downing and Diafra Sakho could play wide with Enner Valencia as a lone striker, and Amalfitano playing in ‘the Nolan role’. Finally, Amalfitano and Downing could play wide, with Valencia and Sakho central but with one of the two in a withdrawn role.
Possible Manchester United XI: De Gea; Rafael, Blind, Rojo, Shaw; Herrera, Fletcher, Di Maria; Rooney, van Persie; Falcao.
Possible West Ham United XI: Adrian; Demel, Tomkins, Reid, Cresswell; Song, Noble; Amalfitano, Valencia, Downing; Sakho.
Enjoy the game – Up the Hammers!