Opposition Q & A

Opposition Q&A with The Wolves

This weekend West Ham a pointless West Ham welcome Wolves to The London Stadium hoping to finally get our first points of the season. Ahead of the game I spoke to Tom Baugh, the editor of Wolves fan blog to discuss the upcoming game and the season.
First off, congratulations on reaching the Premier League: at this stage last season did you realistically think you would be getting promoted? When did you start to believe it would happen?
Thanks very much. I think once we dominated the winter period after most of our rivals openly suggested our Portuguese contingent wouldn’t hack the cold weather, we knew we were onto a good thing. We generally kept a significant margin between ourselves and third place for most of the season, but as a football fan you’re never confident until it’s actually done.

It must be doubly or (trebly even) pleasing seeing as how Birmingham and The Villa are languishing in the Championship, and West Brom were relegated?
It’s certainly nice to be top dogs in the region after Villa failed to get promoted and Albion dropped down. We haven’t been the most successful club in the West Midlands in my lifetime so this is a first. Nice to have a derby though, so wouldn’t be too bothered if one of those clubs can make it back next time.

Nuno Espírito Santo seems to be doing a great job as your manager, tell us a bit about him, and how do the fans view him?
Well, he’s pretty much brilliant. Tactically astute, progressive in how he wants to play the game and very good with the supporters who all seem to love him. It obviously helped that his arrival coincided with serious investment in the side but without him, I suspect we wouldn’t be back in the Premier League. He’s integrated all these big name signings into the side, but equally impressive is the performance levels he’s coaxed out of lesser known players he inherited like Conor Coady, Matt Doherty and Ryan Bennett.

What’s the biggest difference you’ve noticed between the Championship and the Premier League in the six years you’ve been away?
I was surprised by the pace the game was played at when we kicked off against Everton. Obviously you expect teams to be better in possession generally but I’d probably forgotten just how quickly the better players can move the ball. There’s a definite period of adjustment and a couple of games later I already feel like some of our own players are getting up to speed.

You’ve had a steady start to the season with a great draw against Man City, but what position do you think Wolves will finish come next May?
Still very difficult to say. We recruited well and have put in some decent performances so far but like West Ham, are yet to get a win on the board. I hope we’ll finish around midtable but still wouldn’t rule out a relegation slog. After all, there’s normally only a few points between those who are comfortable and those who are struggling. I would say that people suggesting we can challenge for 7th or 8th place are being overly ambitious.

We’ve had a nightmare start, where do you think West Ham will end the season?
The only real disappointment from the outside looking in was getting turned over by Bournemouth. You made some big moves in the transfer market and getting Pellegrini seems like a coup, but getting steamrollered by Liverpool and edged out by Arsenal can’t have come as a great surprise surely? With so much turnover in the summer, it was always a tough ask to go straight into those games and be competitive. I’m sure you’ll sort it out and I’d expect you to be comfortable midtable given the talent in your squad.

Which teams are you looking forward to seeing at Molinuex this season, and conversely who are you not holding your breath to see?
It was great seeing Man City last time out just because they’re a phenomenon under Pep. As much as you want to see your own team do well, for a newly promoted side it’s just great to see the best players in the flesh. For the same reasons I’m looking forward to seeing all the big clubs. Wouldn’t say there’s anyone I’m unhappy about playing, only because every game, particularly against less attractive opposition, is a chance to get points. But if you’re pushing me, Cardiff – ha. I’ve had a lifetime of Warnock.

Which three teams do you think will suffer relegation and who will lift the title this season?
From what I’ve seen so far I would guess at Cardiff, Huddersfield and Southampton. I also think Burnley and Newcastle might have a struggle, but very early days of course. Tough to look beyond City for the title.

Happy with your transfer window dealings? Are there any areas that you think still need improving?
On paper yes. I felt we needed a better goalkeeper and Rui Patricio more than fits the bill. Wingback Jonny is on a season long loan deal from Atletico Madrid and seems capable as you would imagine. Bringing in Joao Moutinho to play alongside Ruben Neves in midfield is barely believable for a club with our recent history and he’s settled in nicely. Adama Traore is a bit of a question mark, but you need pace and players who can open doors in the Premier League and he certainly possesses those attributes. Mexican striker Raul Jimenez has done very well so far leading the attack and bringing others into play. He’s on a loan deal from Benfica with a £30 million fee to pay if we want him permanently so you’d expect him to be decent. We also brought in Belgian international Leander Dendoncker who can play in midfield and defence but has yet to make a league appearance. Add to that a number of last season’s stars who made temporary deals permanent and you can’t feel disappointed. We tried to get Zinchenko from Man City which makes sense as competition at wingback is probably the only area we’re short.

If you could have any current West Ham player in your first team who would you choose and why?
Still haven’t seen much of your new contingent so would have to say Arnautovic. Players that are proven to create and score goals are invaluable so a no-brainer to take him. I read rumours about Man Utd wanting him in the summer and surprised they didn’t make a move as he’s the type of player I feel they’re lacking. On a side note, I saw a lot of Fredericks for Fulham over the last few seasons and always rated him highly so he’d also be high on the shopping list given our dearth of options.

Any memories of West Ham v Wolves from the past?
First season back in the Premier League in 2009 you beat us 2-0 at Molineux on the opening day. I felt we played quite well but Mark Noble scored a great goal from distance and it was a case of ‘welcome to the top flight’. Then later in the season we came to Upton Park and won 3-1, which felt seminal at the time as you were also struggling under Zola by that point and that victory pretty much ended our relegation fears.

Which Wolves player(s) will be key to your hopes this season?
Got to be Ruben hasn’t it? I think you’ve already seen in three games how important Neves is to our side. He intelligence, passing range and ability to shoot from distance are all essential to how the team is setup. You could probably take any other player out and we’d cope alright but he is the glue.

How do you expect Wolves to setup against West Ham on Saturday/ Team/formation prediction?
It’s always 343. The team we started against City is the best bet, which is Patricio in goal, then Boly, Coady and Bennett in defence with Doherty and Jonny wingbacks. Neves and Moutinho are the holding midfielders with a front three of Costa, Jota and Jimenez. The only change I might predict is playing Traore in place of Costa, but that might be premature.

Prediction for score?
Given your troubles and the fact you’re still trying to make that team gel, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling confident about a decent result. But you do have a lot of quality and it will click at some point so sods law it will be this weekend. I’ll put splinters in my backside by sitting on the fence with a 2-2. Good luck for the season Irons.

Thanks to Tom again for his time. For my part I think that West Ham will be boosted by beating Wimbledon on Tuesday and will score an early goal and go on to win 3 -1. COYI

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Opposition Q & A

Opposition Q&A with Arsenal

This week West Ham travel the short distance to the Holloway Rd to play Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. They are stuck on nil points along with us and Fulham. Ahead of the game I spoke to The Times journalist, and lifelong Arsenal fan Sam Joiner to discuss the coming match and the season.
I suppose Arsenal fans are not as used as West Ham fans are to being stuck at the bottom end of the table with zero points after two games. Have there been any plus points for you so far this season?
Against Manchester City no, but they’re so much better than everyone else in the league it’s not a great barometer of how your team is shaping up. Finishing aside, I thought the team were very good going forward against Chelsea and I can’t remember an Arsenal team creating that many chances at Stamford Bridge. The team are clearly trying to get to the byline in the channels and there does appear to be a style of play. The move for Iwobi’s goal was lost amongst the mayhem, but it was 18 passes from front to back and a brilliant example of what Emery is hoping to produce.

The Arsenal Boo boys finally got their way with the sacking of Arsene Wenger last season. Where do you stand on this? Was it time for him to go? Could the club have handled his departure better?
Definitely time for him to go and I actually think the club handled it really well when the decision was made, and Wenger was ushered out in good grace given he was basically sacked. The question for the board is whether it should have happened sooner.

How do you think Unai Emery fits as the Arsenal manager? What will be the measure for Emery to have a successful 1st season at The Emirates?
Top four or winning the Europa League would be success, but the fans would be happy with a clearly defined style of play. I think Emery will get time and I’m pleased with him. Importantly he’s not afraid to drop players, as you could see by his decision to drop Ramsey on Sunday and sub Xhaka and Ozil. That would never have happened under Wenger.

What do you think of West Ham’s appointment of Manuel Pelligrini?
I think it’s a great appointment. It was a mistake not signing a holding midfielder after Kouyate left but he’s got tonnes of experience.

How do you think Arsenal did in the transfer window?
Really well in terms of organisation – they got their business done early and plugged the holes in the team. The issue is whether the quality is there. I’d rather have Koulibaly for £60m and not Mustafi for £35m and Sokratis for £16m, who’s looked out of his depth so far.

Are there any players that you wish you had also shipped out? And who are you glad to still see pulling on the Arsenal shirt?
I almost wish we’d let Ozil go in January, brought in Mahrez and really broken with the latter Wenger years. Ozil doesn’t appear suit the Emery system of pressing aggressively from the front and I can see it becoming an issue. I’m glad we kept Ramsey though. It’s a huge year for him.

Who’s going to win the League, and who’s going to be in the running?
City to win it, Liverpool to push them close. Tottenham to come third and Chelsea or United fourth. The settled teams also have the best first XIs

Where will Arsenal finish the season?
Fifth or sixth

Where do you think West Ham will finish?
Top eight

Which if any West Ham player would you take at Arsenal and why?
Felipe Anderson. We haven’t replaced Sanchez which means we don’t have any wide players who can beat people

Who can West Ham hope will gift us a chance of a goal?
Cech plus the entire back four

Predictions for how Arsenal will set up this weekend? Players/formation?
4-2-3-1. Cech will stay in goal but I’d expect Torreira to come in for Xhaka alongside Guendouzi, who has been great, and Lacazette to start upfront with Aubameyang playing off the left.

Are you finally going to get a victory this weekend? Prediction for score?
I think we will. West Ham have made more changes and we’re good at home. 3-1, with Lacazette and Aubameyang to score.

Well thanks to Sam for his time and his thoughts. For my part I think we will have to come back fighting after that display against Bournemouth, and I think we can just scrape a draw 2 -2! COYI

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Opposition Q & A

Opposition Q&A with Bournemouth

This weekend West Ham welcome AFC Bournemouth to the London Stadium for our first home outing. The less said about last week’s thrashing against Liverpool the better! La plus ca change…… Ahead of the game I spoke to Peter Bell, the editor of Bournemouth online fanzine “CherryChimes”:https://afcbchimes.blogspot.com to chat about the game and the season ahead.

Hi Peter, you’ve already got three points under your belt, are you feeling confident that you’ll double this on Saturday?
Well, just because Bournemouth have one win under their belt doesn’t mean they have the answers they need to beat West Ham. I am sure the players will be more confident than had they lost last week, but the Hammers will be tough opponents and extremely keen to get their season up and running in front of a big home crowd I’d imagine. Cardiff didn’t really test Bournemouth but we know West Ham will.

You’re now beginning your 4th season in the Premier League, you must be feeling quite established now?
Last season was quite precarious for us. We only got the points we need to stay up in the penultimate game against Swansea. We can say that the players and Eddie Howe know what the Premier League is all about and the performances they need to put in to stay up, but it is also about trying to progress and enjoy the league. I think the club is just starting to wonder what it can do in this league. If that means established, then so be it. But we also know we are one bad season from being back in the Championship.

The transfer window is finally closed, are you happy with the business you have done. Who is going to help move Bournemouth up to the next level?
At first I was a bit frustrated as not a lot was happening. Then we got to see David brooks who is only 21 and joined from Sheffield United. He is a very exciting talent and links play with the forwards extremely well – he’ll be a hit. Deigo Rico was next in a left full back from Leganes but he is suspended for two more games and we have only seen him in one friendly against Real Betis. He did okay and put in lots of crosses, so hopefully he can challenge for the left back position. The club’s transfer record went with Jefferson Lerma signing from Levante for 25m. He played at the World Cup for Colombia and is a powerful midfielder who will tackle hard. Whether the Spanish experiment works out, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Who are you most pleased to see still pulling on the Cherries shirt each week?
Josh King is a player I think it was important to keep hold of. he had been linked with Spurs last summer and Newcastle in this latest window. He has been asked to play wide a bit more often than I think he’d like and when he plays as an out and out striker he gets the goals. he likes the responsibility so I’m hoping Howe let’s him have the chance to be the main goalscorer, because he can do it.

Who’s going to win the league?
Man City are still too good for the rest.

Which teams will you look forward to playing against this season?
I get excited about playing Liverpool as we have had some great tussles and I’ll be pleased to visit Craven Cottage again as it is a great day out. I’ll also be quietly pleased if we shut the Wolves fans up as they are constantly bragging!

Conversely which team would you most likely give up your seat to avoid watching?
Good question. I think most of the teams try to entertain. In past seasons I would have said Stoke, but I don’t see a dull team in the Premier League this season – they all have something to offer.

Early days yet, but who are your favourites for relegation?
My head tells me Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town and Newcastle Utd. It’s a lottery though, let’s just hope the positions don’t include Bournemouth or West Ham Utd.

Where do you see Bournemouth ending the season?
It could be anywhere from 7th to 20th. I’m settling on 14th as it’s roughly in the middle of that.

Where will West Ham finish?
This depends on a million and one questions – How good is Pellegrini? How quickly can the new signings gel? Will West Ham fans kick off against the club’s owners again? Well, I don’t know the answers but my boss is a West ham fan so I’ll say 13th, one place above Bournemouth, just to keep him happy!

You already have Junior playing for you: which other West Ham player would you like to see playing for you, and why?
Junior Stanislas is great for us and I hope he avoids the injuries this season. I like Michail Antonio as he seems a genuine kind of guy who just loves to play football and has made his way up from the lower leagues.

How do you expect Bournemouth to setup against West Ham on Saturday/team/formation prediction?
I don’t expect Eddie Howe to change a winning team just yet so expect the same starting 11 that took on Cardiff City. It is probably going to be a 4-4-1-1 set up.

Begovic, A Smith, S Cook, Aké, Daniels, Brooks, Gosling, Surman, Fraser, King, Wilson

Who is going to create the most problems for us this weekend?
Ryan Fraser is bang on form and was miles better than everyone last Saturday. Josh King though is not usually quiet for two games in a row and he won’t like being behind in the goal charts to Fraser and Callum Wilson.

Prediction for score?
I think it will be a goal frenzy: 3-3. But I’d like Bournemouth to win 1-3 just to stay in the top three for a bit longer!

*Good luck for the season, except when you’re playing us! *
Same to you ha, ha.

Well thanks to Peter for his time. I’m going to be wildly optimistic and go for 3 – 1 to West Ham. COYI

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Opposition Q & A

Opposition Q&A with Liverpool

This weekend West Ham, under our new coach Manuel Pelligrini, travel to Liverpool on Sunday to open our campaign for the 2018/19 season. Ahead of the game I spoke to Duncan Oldham, the editor of Liverpool FC fanzine koptalk to talk about the coming season and our game in particular.

Before we start talking about our coming game: presumably you were engrossed by the World Cup? What were your highlights and lowlights of the summer festival?
Yes the World Cup was fantastic! Russia did a great job of hosting the tournament and the fact there was no trouble is a real credit to them. Italia 90 was a great tournament but this year’s tournament was even more enjoyable. I was 15 during Italia 90 and with England having failed to bring it home this time, I’m seriously starting to think I’ll never see us as world champions. I hate the international breaks and the friendlies during the domestic season but I always enjoy the Euros and World Cups. Good stuff!

When I spoke to you last it was near the beginning of last season, at the time you were a tad disappointed with how the season was going, you must have been delighted with how it finished?
Absolutely. Nobody expected us to go on that Champions League run and finishing 4th was acceptable. The modern-day fan sadly seems not to care about the domestic cups any more but had we lifted the FA Cup for example, I’d have been delighted. All in all, it was a decent season. Nobody cares about the runners-up though so we have to try and build on that, this term.

Is Jorgen Klopp finally going to bring the title back to Anfield? How is the German maestro rated on Merseyside?
I think many supporters, ourselves and our rivals, know that Manchester City are the team to beat at the moment. If they fail to repeat their amazing form from last season and if our new signings deliver, there has to be a real chance for us. Rival fans are sarcastically saying “Don’t you know, Liverpool have won it already” but I’ve not seen our lot displaying that attitude and I interact with thousands of Reds every week.

When we discussed our previous match you intimated that West Ham might be wasting valuable time holding on to Slaven Bilic, and ultimately he departed: how did you rate our initial appointment of David Moyes, and what do you think Manuel Pelligrini brings to the table?
David Moyes isn’t a manager that excites me. He may be an old skool manager and I guess he brings what you’d expect but if I was a West Ham fan, I’d not have been celebrating his appointment. Manuel Pelligrini on the other hand is a managerial coup. It’s about time West Ham fans had someone who you would expect to do the business. Now we all know that things can go either way and there are no guarantees but I’m hoping Pelligrini can get the best out of your players and churn out some attractive, attacking football. One thing’s for sure, I can’t see him taking any prisoners. I hope it works out for you, after Sunday!

Last season you lost Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona, how do you rate your signings over the close season, and who are you most looking forward to seeing play?
Yes, the inevitable exit eventually happened. I’m happy with our signings and for once, our owners didn’t sell a key player to fund our business. Hopefully that will still be the case come the end of January. We managed to hold on to Mo Salah and Sadio Mané which was important. Liverpool fans have endured some poor goalkeeping errors for several years now so for me, the signing of Alisson made my summer. He needs time to adapt though. A new country and way of life, a new club, a new league, new team-mates and so on. The lad needs time to settle.

Although Dejan Lovric might think you have at least half the best central defence, in the world do you think you have finally got this recent weakspot solved?
No. Lovren does a job. He can be awesome one day and terrible the next. I wanted another centre-back bringing in to partner Virgil van Dijk. An injury to VVD and we are back to where we were. We don’t have a deep squad at all.

Which player are you most pleased to see remain at Liverpool, and conversely anyone you wish had been moved on?
Obviously I have to say Mo Salah. I thought there was a chance he would move to Real Madrid over the summer and I still think that’s part of his long term plan. There’s a lot of pressure from his homeland in business and politics for that to happen. I feel for the lad. He just wants to play football. Nobody will hold it against him if he moves on eventually. For now I’m just enjoying his contribution. I would have liked to have seen Daniel Sturridge moved out. There’s a lot of talk in the media that he’s been given another chance at Anfield but the reality is, nobody wanted to invest that much in him and with a year remaining on his very lucrative contract, he’s in no rush to leave. What else can the manager say? If he could stay fit, he would be great for us, he really would. There is nothing more that I’d like to see than Daniel staying fit and contributing but is he really going to overcome the various problems that seem to strike him down? I’m not convinced. I hope I’m wrong.

I expect you will be quaking at the prospect of a rejuvenated Everton on your doorstep?
Totes. But, if I’m completely honest, I want to see other clubs coming into the mix. It gets very boring and predictable in the league. Obviously it’s funny watching them struggle but I think we’d have a better league if the ‘smaller’ clubs could get stuck in a bit more.

Who’s going to win the League this year?
Liverpool, of course!

Early prediction for the relegated trio?
Cardiff City, Huddersfield and West Ham. Only pulling your chain! Brighton would be my third selection. I think there’s a lot of teams that could battle it out. Would you be surprised to see Newcastle down there? I wouldn’t. I hope they survive though. They’re another club with decent fans that deserve a break.

Historically , you must have taken more points from us at Anfield than any other team, are you confident that this will continue? Prediction for the score?
I refuse to do predictions because they always come back to haunt me. If I say Liverpool will batter you, we will get turned over. If I give a score it’ll come off because I didn’t have money on it! There’s no form on the opening day and it’s a whole new campaign so we’ll just have to see what happens.

How will Liverpool line up at the weekend? Formation/Team prediction?
I think we’ll see a 4-3-3 formation. There are doubts about the availability of new signing Fabinho. Jordan Henderson reported back late due to his participation at the World Cup and hasn’t had much time to train for this game although it sounds like he’s declared himself available regardless. Gini Wijnaldum could play in a holding position is an option after playing there in last weekend’s game against Napoli. Mané, Firmino, Salah will lead the attack. There are concerns over the defence due to injuries and fitness concerns.

Which West Ham player is going to cause you the most grief?
Jack Wilshere. I think he may feel that he has a point to prove. It’ll be interesting to see if he steps up.

Finally where do you think Liverpool will end season, and where will West Ham finish?
My heart says Liverpool will win it! My head says we will challenge and finish in the Top 3. We have to hope that our rivals drop points. As for West Ham, hopefully you will have a decent campaign. Surely a top half of the table finish. West Ham could go on to surprise a few clubs this season. Wishing you all the best for the new campaign!

Many thanks to Duncan for his time. I’m going for a 1 – 1 draw, why not be optimistic? It’s the dawning of a new something! COYI

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Opposition Q & A

Opposition Q&A With The Toffees

After that great win against Leicester last week and a decent display against Manchester United West Ham go into the last match of an ultimately disappointing season without the pressure of needing to get points to ensure our survival against an Everton team led by Big Sam Allardyce who we know would have savoured trying to send us down. So with a big sigh of relief I spoke to my old mate, food blogger, and occasional Guardian commentator, and mad Evertonian Jim Coke aka The Disabled Chef about the game coming up and the season in general.
Hi Jim, we meet up for the last game of the season for a game that has less importance attached to it than it looked it might have a few weeks ago. The last time we spoke you were frightful that Everton might appoint Big Sam as your manager: how have you rated him since he arrived at Goodison? And are you hoping that he will see out his 4 year contract?
Yes it would’ve have certainly made the game more interesting if you and 58,000 others were all squirming in their seats. However as they say it is now a dead rubber but I’m hoping there will still be a bit of action specially if Mark Noble does his Tasmanian devil bit like he did on Thursday night with Pogba. As for my fears about Fat Sam – well they appear to have been vindicated. Okay on the form guide he’s done the job. He was brought in To keep us up which he has achieved and our current form Is good and would see us in the top six But honestly I’d be better off watching paint dry. The team appears to lack motivation and coordination and just don’t seem to play for each other, offering little on the pitch. Subsequently it’s been a really disappointing season. If we’d offered Sam four years then I’m sure the blue half of Merseyside would have gone through a similar period of self flagellation! Thank the heavens him and his sidekick, Little Sam will be gone by next week . It will allow the darkness to lift.

You also came across as quite a fan of David Moyes, therefore you can’t be surprised he has managed to secure our place in the Premier League next year?
Considering he picked up some dodgy reins, what I thought was an ageing squad and a club that appears at times to have been at war with itself, I reckon he has done an inspiring job. I’m really pleased for him as he has definitely struggled since he left his true love. His signing and pampering of Marco Arnautovic was inspirational and probably was the catalyst for keeping you up, bit like when we secured the services of Super Kevin Campbell who did the same job many moons ago, and he should be applauded for that alone. I hope in the near future the Olympic Stadium will be bouncing to the tune of David Moyes Claret and blue army but I understand you Irons are a bit picky about according your managers that accolade.

Super is stretching it a bit! Anyway how would you sum up your season? What have been the highlights and the lowlights?
To be honest the season has been a nightmare. We started with such high aspirations and a bunch of players we believed would take us to them stars, but we’ve hardly got out of first gear. Normally with a season there is something to cheer you up but this one has been barren. Obviously I enjoyed tonking you boys 4-0, Rooney’s goal was a peach, but The score did not reflect the game. I also went apeshit when Sigurdsson slid home the equaliser in the cup against the neighbours, but that was about it. My season was summed up best when the Disabled liaison officer at Everton persuaded me to buy a ticket for Arsenal away. I’ve never seen us beat them on 15 occasions: I warned him I’d be a Jonah for the cause, but he was insistent saying I had to break the chain: I left at half time when we were 4 nil down!

Which players do you think/hope will be cleared out by Big Sam or whomever you might appoint next season?
It’s difficult to know as Everton don’t seem to know their arse from their elbow! Accordingly Rooney has had enough and is off to DC United and many others may follow him out of the door. Personally I don’t think we rotated the squad enough. Lookman for example Is a fantastic talent, but we loaned him out and many other players have hardly had a look in. This must affect their form and willingness to play for the club. We need to build a structure have a sense of purpose and mould the players around that. Most important thing to remember is that no player is bigger than the club.

Any players that have had a good season, and you would be disappointed to see leave?
It’s difficult to pick out anyone. Pickford won all the end of season awards however the more the season progressed I felt his ability to deal with crosses and command his area became very poor. For that reason I wouldn’t have him as England’s first choice for World Cup. Jags has been a stalwart as ever and it was great to see Seamus Coleman return from his leg break but I’d be struggling to pick a five aside team from what I have seen. A lot of it is obviously about confidence and winning consistently. If we can get that sorted then hopefully next season I will be eulogising how brilliant our current crop of players are.

Most of the crucial positions in the table have been sorted, but I expect that you will be hoping that Liverpool can clinch that last Champions League slot and go on to win the Champions League for the pride of the city?
One of my biggest regrets in life is that I paid sympathy to Liverpool when they were 3-0 down in Istanbul that night. I hope Brighton muller them on Sunday but they won’t, but come the final I’ll be cooking tapas, paella and immersing myself into supporting Real Madrid. I’ve got a horrible feeling it could all go a bit Pete Tong though – and that’s not the cooking!

Any surprises in the teams being relegated?
It was a great achievement for all the promoted teams avoiding the drop and that was a surprise as I saw Brighton and Huddersfield as dead certs. Sadly the Baggies have had that sinking feeling for a couple of seasons now so there demise has an inevitability about it. As for Stoke selling Arnautovic to West Ham, that was suicide. They have never lit my fire over their tenure in the prem, so I won’t be missing them. Swansea have been poor for most of the season spending much of it on life support. Saints did them a favour putting them out of their misery.

What are your hopes for next season in terms of players?
We seem to be linked to most players because of our shed loads of cash but after last season’s shopping – I’m going to take the summer off and just hope for the best. On saying that we probably need a striker to bag us 20 goals and a nippy defender. We then have to sell them the golden vision and pay them a fortune so we’ll probably end up with a few cast offs from the relegated bunch if we get lucky!

Are there any West Ham players you would snap up if the chance came up?
Marco would be perfect for Everton. He is a big number 9 And when on his game is unplayable. He skinned Smalling on Thursday night and is a bit of a bully boy. He reminds me of Big Dunc and the great Bob Latchford who scored that wonderful equaliser at Elland Rd before Lampard Senior burst our bubble. I also like Cresswell who I think has had a great season and has a brilliant left peg. He’s a Scouser born on the wrong side of the tracks though, I so it’s unlikely he’d consider such a move.

Yes I remember Lampard scoring in that game, and his celebration after, but nothing about Bob Latchford funny enough. It’s amazing how many ex-Everton players get given the great and super epithets though. How do you expect the current Everton team to line up at the weekend?
Like we have all season: something quite uninspiring. Rooney will definitely be in for his last game with the club and I expect him to play behind Tosun who has potential. Sam won’t want to lose so expect the following 4-5-1 : Picks, Seamus, Bainsey, Jags, Keeno, Idris, Morgs, Theo, Yannick, Rooney, Cenk

I actually think that Rooney is injured. You must be hoping that Mark Noble isn’t wearing his shooting boots this Sunday. Are you confident that Big Sam can get one over his former employees? Prediction for score?
Sam will be desperate for a result especially as it could be his last game. I actually expect the game will be quite entertaining with a few goals unlike the spectacular nil all draw we endured last season. Noble and his shooting boots don’t scare me as he should be still exhausted after all his shenanigans on Thursday. He shouldn’t be playing as by the letter of the law, he should have been sent off. but he’s also one from the dark side and would love to stick one over us so I wouldn’t count him out not having an influence. However it’ll be 2-2 with Rooney scoring a pen and kissing the badge like there is no tomorrow.

Well it looks like Big Sam has deadened the appetite for football up on Merseyside – I know that feeling. Many thanks to Jim for his time, I must agree that Nobes was lucky not to be sent off, but I cannot agree with his prediction for the score: Moyes will be wanting to prove to West Ham and Everton alike that he is a ‘top six manager’, so I expect us to come out firing on all cylinders and am going for a 3 -1 victory. Come on You Irons!

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