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David Gold on: Player loyalty & Luis Suarez Signing another striker Our summer signings Breaking into the top 10 & much more The Number One West Ham United eFanzine! Get it: Online • On Your Mobile • Delivered

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WELCOME EDITOR: David Blackmore NEWS EDITOR: Alex Shilling CONTRIBUTORS: Colin Steel, Lucy Woolford, Thomas Johnson, Brian Williams, Neil Chatterton, Andrew Hosie, Christian Gare, Bill West, Tim Holland EDITORIAL ENQUIRIES: EMAIL: ADVERTISING ENQUIRIES: EMAIL: WHERE YOU CAN READ IT: Blowing Bubbles is available to buy prior to each home game and is also available to read on your PC, Mac, Tablet or Mobile. For more information visit TO CONTACT BLOWING BUBBLES: Email: Blowing Bubbles is published by Barking Dog Media. Blowing Bubbles is a completely independent publication. The views expressed within Blowing Bubbles are not necessarily those of the publishers. Opinions expressed by companies and individuals appearing within the magazine are not that of Blowing Bubbles or the publisher. The publisher accepts no liability from any action raised in response to any such opinions. Readers are strongly advised that although we take every care to ensure prices and content, etc, are up to date. It is the responsibility to check with the advertiser before purchasing or travelling to view products. No reproduction, either in part or whole of the magazine is allowed unless written consent is obtained from the publisher. The publisher accepts no responsibility for any actions arising from articles or features or advertisements within this magazine. Readers are advised to pay by credit card when ordering goods as these are regulated under the Consumer Act 1974. Debit and charge cards are not.

(c) Blowing Bubbles

Before the first ball was kicked in anger at Upton Park earlier this month, if anyone had offered me four points after our two opening fixtures I would have gladly taken it. Given the fact that Cardiff are a newly-promoted side and Newcastle were probably looking to get revenge for our victory at St James’ Park last season, I felt we approached and handled both games very well and we should be delighted with both performances. As for the visit of Stoke this weekend, I believe we have the perfect opportunity to continue our unbeaten run From what I’ve seen of the Potters so far, they are not the same side they were a few season’s ago under Pulis and if we can take the game to them from the off, I can only see us securing three points. Looking at this week’s issue and we’ve got another exclusive interview with David Gold. This time he has spoken to us about player loyalty and why fans should stop worrying about it as well as buying Stewart Downing and his quest to sign another striker. He also spoke to us about Scott Parker and the work happening at the Olympic Stadium. I’d like to personally thank him for taking the time out of his busy schedule to meet and talk to me. Elsewhere, we’ve got a brilliant piece from Colin Steel who has started a campaign to get the club to name the East Stand after Billy Bonds as well as another letter to Sam Allardyce by Brian Williams. We’ve also got an exclusive chat with the new West Ham Ladies captain Bex Merritt and much, much more. Enjoy the game!

David Blackmore Editor

The Big Interview: David Gold

Player loyalty? Stop worrying about it! Ask David Gold whether or not fans should expect footballers to remain loyal to their employers and his answer is simply for fans to “stop worrying about it”. The days where football was graced with the likes of Tom Finney, Stanley Matthews, Bobby Moore, Billy Bonds and Matthew Le Tissier are no more, West Ham’s joint chairman claims, and there is only one person to blame. “There was a time when local people played for their local clubs but then a person called Bosman came along and messed it all up,” Mr Gold told editor David Blackmore during an exclusive interview. “I believe he is solely responsible for loyalty going out of football because it is very hard for somebody that was born and bred in say Senegal, who has never heard of Mil-

ton Keynes or Middlesbrough, to come to this country and play football thousands of miles away from his home while missing his family and all we talk about is loyalty. It’s not their fault; it’s Bosman’s. “Loyalty in football hasn’t completely gone but it’s very limited today. I’ve got players at West Ham who will walk over broken glass for the club but equally I knew players in the past who wouldn’t walk two yards for my club. “We’ve got to, as fans, move on because the days of Tom Finney and Stanley Matthews are gone. The thing to remember is that when you and I die, our children will be the next generation of fans and their children will be the next generation of fans of this football club. This is the heart and soul of any club. “Players will come and go, managers will come and go

and even owners will come and go but generation after generation of fans will continue to support the club and that is why every football club truly belongs to the fans. “The family tradition goes on and on but things change – even stadiums. “The only thing that remains solid forever is the fans of the football club so we shouldn’t focus too much on player loyalty. We have to, as fans, just live the moment because football has changed and it is what it is. “But I promise you they are out there fighting to win. They want to win for you, they want to win for the football club and they want to win for themselves because they might then get to play for the country or get a move to help secure their financial situation for the rest of their lives – that’s no different to everyone else.”

Asked about the Luis Suarez saga which has led to many columns dedicated to asking if there is any loyalty left in the game, Mr Gold continued: “From an owner’s point of view, you have to try and make everyone happy. “We want to make the fans happy as well as the players, the manager and the board. “There are some players out there who I would never want to play for my football club but I have to take into account the feelings of both the board and the fans. “You have a responsibility to all these people and also the reputation of the football club is very important but it is very difficult to sit here and criticise the Suarez situation because it could happen to me in the future. “You can’t say if I was at Liverpool and I had the Suarez situation I would do this and that because there are 100 elements to the debate that we aren’t aware of and without that information it is very hard to stand as judge and jury.” Moving onto how he felt the summer has gone for West Ham from his point of view, Mr Gold said: “It’s been a bit of a problem in the sense that we made a record signing but fans haven’t really benefited from it because they already had Andy Carroll so the fact we converted his loan into a six year contract hasn’t really changed anything. “You make the club’s record signing but it hasn’t had the impact for the fans

that you would get if you brought in a brand new player but to the club and the board it’s been a massive deal.” And asked how the Downing deal came about so quickly, he continued: “Sam came to us and said he wanted Stewart Downing and the reason it was done quickly was a number of reasons. “Firstly Stewart Downing was happy to move and happy to move to a London club. “Secondly he was happy to move to a club where he believes he is going to play on a regular basis which wasn’t the case at Liverpool and

thirdly he is joining his old teammates in Joe Cole and Andy Carroll. “From our point of view, he can play either right or left hand side which is good because we can switch him backwards and forwards with Jarvis and he is a quality player. It was also quite clear, in my opinion, that he wasn’t in Brendan Rogers’ plans and Liverpool want to reduce their wage bill because of the new wage restraint rule and this was an opportunity which suited them.” He continued: “I’m thrilled with the fact we’ve brought in Andy Carroll and Stewart

Downing and I’m delighted we brought in the experience of an international left back in Rasvan Rat. “I think it’s great we’ve also got a ‘keeper in Adrian who is highly regarded and in the few minutes I saw him play in pre-season, I could see he is a very commanding young man with a bright future. “But the fans will say, and I sympathise with them on this argument, that we need a striker. We need a striker to play when Andy Carroll is injured or suspended but it’s hard to get a quality centre forward when you are saying ‘Centre forward required. Not to play but to sit on the bench and maybe get a couple of

games when Andy’s injured or suspended’. “There were a number of players who wouldn’t join us on the basis that they either had to play wide right and be a back-up centre forward or sit on the bench. What we have got to hope is that some of the younger players coming through become that supporting striker. “The bottom line is no striker of any quality wants to sit on the bench so that’s been very hard for us and that’s why we made the decision to go for a quality player in Stewart Downing.” Looking ahead to the season and Mr Gold said there was “no doubt” in his mind

that the squad is stronger and hopes the boys in claret and blue can break into the top 10. “Last season I think we over performed and we were flattered with our 10th finish and I think that’s being realistic,” Mr Gold said. “But this season if we finish 9th I will be absolutely thrilled. “There are people who are saying we can do better than that but equally you can have a bad run of injuries and you could find yourself struggling. Having said that I think the squad is stronger this season so I think we are more capable of coping with injuries and securing our Premiership

status compared to last season. Mr Gold also denied there was any chance Scott Parker could make a return to West Ham before he signed for Fulham. He said: “There were no talks with Scott. I think it would have been very difficult for him to return. “We wished him well when he left and we understood he was leaving because of his international career and I don’t think Scott Parker would want to return to West Ham.” Asked about what work will happen at the Olympic Stadium over the next year, Mr Gold continued: “Work will go ahead to ensure the roof is on in time for the Rugby World Cup in 2015 which will be a great opportunity for all of us to go see the roof. “The seating is currently being worked on off site and then will be brought in huge chunks like a Meccano set and put together. There is also work going on at the park itself. I was there a few days ago and there’s work going on all the time. “The thing is this isn’t just going to be a stadium, it’s going to be a place where you can say ‘Look guys let’s meet at 11am’ and there are 100 different combinations you can do in that wonderful place.” He added: “The only thing that’s pressing at the moment from our point of view is to ensure that we are a strong Premier League football club when we move to the Olympic Stadium.”

Colin Steel If you are young enough to remember the 70s and early 80s when cup finals were 10 a penny for West Ham, then you would have been fortunate enough to have seen William Arthur 'Billy' Bonds in his prime. Arguably West Ham's most influential player of all time, you knew that wherever you were watching West Ham, at home or abroad, that Bonzo would give nothing less than 100 per cent once he pulled on that shirt. Billy Bonds MBE will be 67 in September. He spent 27 years as a player and manager at West Ham making a record 793 first team appearances over 21 seasons - 10 of those as captain. He is the only West Ham captain to lift the FA Cup twice and won Hammer of the Year four times in 1971, 74, 75 and 87. He was also runner-up three times in 1969, 70 and 88. I have been banging on West Ham's door about honouring Bill since 2006 when I asked if he would be guest of honour for the FA Cup final at Cardiff. No-one at West Ham had even given him a thought, instead Billy went to a family birthday party on the day and presented the FA Trophy to Grays at Upton Park the day after. All requests were falling on deaf ears for years but I now feel that we are getting somewhere. In February I went to a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of

Let’s give Billy the honour he deserves Bobby Moore's tragic death, which was held at the statue opposite the Boleyn. It was a bitterly cold Sunday morning but David Gold, Martin Peters and Bobby's daughter and grandchildren turned up. Phil Bayles from ITV London News was there interviewing fans and I told him it was a shame that no current players were there to pay their respects and that I hope West Ham do not leave it too late to honour Billy Bonds as they did with Bobby.

Later that evening my rant about the current players made the news but they cut out the bit about Bill. I was contacted by a number of people who had seen me and I decided to give the Billy Bonds Stand idea another shot and got many people to tweet David Gold that evening. Two weeks later West Ham announced the Lifetime Achievement Award for Bonzo - this may have been planned for months but it encouraged me to get moving again and a month later I met

David Gold at his book signing at Upton Park. I hung around until the end knowing that would be my chance to have my say and, fair play to the co-chairman, he listened and agreed with me that Bondsey kept the team going for years. I suggested that the East Stand should be renamed the Billy Bonds Stand for three years until we went to Stratford. David Gold agreed and promised to think about it. Personally I have been going to West Ham since the 1964/65 season with my first game being a 0-0 draw against Leicester with Gordon Banks playing in goal for Leicester. Like the majority of West Ham fans it's in the blood. Along with my three sons, my

brother and his two sons we're all just carrying on a family tradition that goes back to before the 1923 FA Cup final. In all those near 50 years, I have never seen a player that inspires and leads by example as much as Billy Bonds. In his early days at right back he sent many a left winger - including George Best - over the Chicken Run Wall and it would be poetic justice that the same stand be named after him. The comments we are getting on our Twitter page have been fantastic and Bill looks like he was a hero to many. They say that you should never meet your heroes and before I met Bill about five years ago I was worried that I was doing the wrong thing,

but Bill was just what I expected - an old school, unassuming, modest, thoroughly decent man. West Ham fans are a special breed and really know our history, we are Moore than just a football club. The fans are rarely wrong about players. Having said that I'm not sure if 6'2" Bill has eyes of blue or brown (but then again Ludo comes from the Czech Republic and that's 1,000 miles from Moscow!) Please support us and sign our Twitter campaign and let's give Billy Bonds the recognition that he thoroughly deserves. Follow us on Twitter: @billybondsstand

Dear Sam: Brian Williams

Dear Sam, Great start to the season with that win over Cardiff, Big Fella! But I hope you've severely reprimanded those players who forgot the system and tried a spot of illicit passing? That young Noble was the worst offender – you're going to have to have a word with him before he gets ideas above his station. Cutting out their full-back with slide-rule precision? An inch-perfect crossfield ball? Where does he think he is – Barcelona? Luckily Ginge kept his head, though, and didn't try any of that Continental rubbish. Now there's a lad who knows how to put his laces

through the ball. Good on him, I say. In James Collins, my friend, you truly have an Iron with a hoof. Still, while I think of it, you might like to warn City Airport of the kick-off time for the Stoke game – low-flying aircraft won't want to be anywhere near the Boleyn Ground while that's in progress. Anything below 30,000ft is in danger of being brought down by a ball played into the channels (or maybe played into THE Channel if Collins gives it any more welly when we're facing south). How are things your end? I'm still not getting any emails from you. I've had another word with our techies, and

now they're saying it's all down to some sort of cyber terrorism. According to them, our place has come under attack from an outfit called the Syrian Electronic Army, and all the servers are down. Between you and me Sam, I reckon that's a serious porkie. We've got more chance of being attacked by the Electric Light Orchestra than a bunch of poor sods from Syria who think themselves lucky if the mains is up and running in Damascus for more than a couple of hours a day. But that's the trouble with these computer monkeys – they'll tell you anything rather than get their hands dirty. They're not like you and me, eh? Most of 'em have never done a hard day's work in their lives! They go to some fancy university, get a degree in IT, and then the best they come up with is telling you to switch off your computer round the back and give it a few minutes before logging on again. Funny thing is, my mate Angela is getting emails from you – and she's never set foot inside Upton Park in her life. The closest she ever got was the West Ham shop in Lakeside when she bought me the Santa gnome for Christmas a couple of years ago, yet she's treated like royalty. I've been supporting the Hammers for 50 years, and I don't get a dickie bird from you. Now I'm not one to com-

plain, but that doesn't seem right to me. Not that I'm blaming you personally. I'm sure it's a technical problem and they'll get it sorted out soon. Meanwhile, I'll keep writing to you as promised. Would you like my mobile number in the meantime? That way, we could keep in touch by text. We could even have the occasional chat! I know you're a busy man, so I'll ring the main office and get them to give me yours. Let me know if there's a bad time to call you. It was good to see Bonzo finally getting a gong for his services to West Ham. If anyone deserves it, he does. What a legend! Nobody mentioned the fact that he once smacked useless Ted MacDougall in the north and south, though. He should have got a medal for that! If you ever find one of your teams mullered 4-1 and the striker clearly doesn't give a toss, do what Ron Greenwood did and look the other way when a rather more committed team mate decides to point out the error of his ways. And they try to tell you Ron didn't have a clue about man-management! Strictly entre nous, who's your enforcer? My money's on Winston. Hard to see anyone taking liberties with a nine-foot-three Kiwi who's got eyebrows like that. Is it true he was making a living as an Orc in the Lord of the Ring films before we picked him up in Denmar? I

got that from the brother-inlaw, but I don't always know when I should take him seriously. Hope the trip to Newcastle didn't bring back too many painful memories. For what it's worth, I think the way the Geordies treated you was bang out of order. Don't they recognise quality football when they see it? How's Pards enjoying life with Mike Ashley, by the way? I trust they didn't try to talk you into a friendly game of three-card brag. My understanding is that a session round the green baize with those two can get a bit lively. Still, Mr P has only got to stick it out in the frozen north

for another six years then he can come home again. That'll teach him to go blind while the other bloke's holding a pryle of threes. You've got to be happy with a point up there, but they look like they could be in for a tough season. Pardew needs to get his players motivated, I reckon. Perhaps he should remind them that now they're playing with Wonga on their shirts, 100 per cent effort is no longer enough. These days, they've got to go out there and give it 4,117 per cent. Be lucky, Your mate behind the goal


@bl0wingbubbles There was delight on the wonderful world of Twitter at our performance away at Newcastle United last weekend with some fans disappointed we didn’t take all three points. Here are what some of our followers tweeted after the game The Grumpy G33k @TheGrumpyG33k Pleased with our start to the season, 4pts and two clean sheets is not a bad start! #COYI David Hales @westhamster2 Our big problem is we've got widemen who hardly ever score and a star striker who's injury prone with no back up. Good defence though

Cholmondeley @KnoxRover How can Hammers be that disappointed? Imagine if you can average two points every game for a season. Europe. #COYI Luke Sheppard @LUCINO101 4 points. 2 games. No goals conceded #whatastart #COYI

Pinball Wizard @Jenky67 West Ham played Newcastle off the park! If AC was playing it would have been 3 points for the Irons! #COYI

Cumbrian Hammers @CumbrianHammers Got lucky at the end there but Collins and Reid best players on the pitch for us! Second half Maiga might as well went off #COYI

Sam Hunt @SHunt_92 I'm pleased with a draw today, another point another clean sheet, third in the league after 2 games! #coyi

Vans Braddock-Mead @Vansbm Nothing wrong with a clean sheet and a point. Solid start and something to build on

Ben Rose @coyi1895 Newcastle has to be 1 of if not the best away day in a season, great ground bang in the middle of the city and bars near as well.

James May @JimMay89 Would have loved to win that but 4 points from first 2 games is a top start. Looking very solid, just need a bit more going forward

Bygones @Bygones_Torquay Will take an away point even against a poor Newcastle #westham #COYI Chicago Hammers @ChicagoHammers A decent point on a rainy day at Newcastle. Thought we would push for more but a good result #COYI Howard Webster @Aitchweb West Ham still well on course for Champions League football next season! Bones4624 @Bones4624 To be honest 4 points out of 6 and two clean sheets, think we can all be happy with that Dan Springate @dcsWHUFC Two clean sheets in a row is a big positive. Defence looked solid throughout, still disagree with the Downing substitution. #COYI

Thomas Johnson Say it quietly but West Ham could be targeting a place in the Europa League in the next two or three seasons. But we should be very cautious as to not rush our return to European football. Firstly the ways in which the club could gain entry into Europe could disrupt our Premier League season. Just look at both Wigan and Birmingham who went on cup runs winning the FA Cup and the League Cup, respectively, only to be relegated at the end of the season. Every fan would love a cup run but there are risks, with the Premier League everemerging as the powerhouse of British football, to the detriment of the cups It takes its toll on a squad, and it could affect our league performances. As co-chairman David Gold said in Blowing Bubbles Issue #19: “I fear of the dangers of the Europa League on a fledging Premiership club.” He says “fledging” because we must remind ourselves this is just our second season back in the Premier League so whilst optimism breathes confidence into the club, it is one that should be wrapped in cautionary cotton wool. Teams in a similar situation to ourselves, Newcastle and Stoke, proved that playing Thursday night football had a serious impact on the playing squad and league performances. The St James’ Park side we have just faced finished

The perils of Europe 16th at the end of last season where they spent the first few months in the Europa League, and faced a real threat of relegation for some time, whilst Stoke City finished 14th in their campaign featuring European football. At this current time we do not have a squad capable of playing three games a week, Big Sam cannot afford injuries to our key players and it is well known that he feels the club’s priorities lie in remaining in the Premier League and building on last season’s impressive campaign. European football would not be a completely bad thing of course. Fans would flock to the East End fo night time performances, with the possibility of playing against top sides from Italy, Spain and Germany.

Fulham proved that the Europa League can be a blessing to a mid-table side. There’s no doubt that the Craven Cottage side enjoyed their run to the final, beating the likes of Juventus, Hamburg and Shakhtar Donetsk before just losing out to Atletico Madrid in the final. In the summer time the club have done well in improving the quality of the squad, Downing, Carroll, Rat and Adrian bring in good experience and great ability so an improvement on last season’s 10th placed finish must be in the pipeline. A good season for West Ham would be finishing around 8th and a cup run, but talk of going for Europe may be too much too soon for Big Sam’s Claret and Blue Army. Follow me on Twitter @SoundOfVinyl

West Ham Ladies

Forward is thriving in new roles

Picture by Mickey Cartwright

As a West Ham fan, Bex Merritt always speaks of her pride at pulling on the claret and blue every Sunday to play for the West Ham Ladies. So it was little surprise the forward beaming from ear to ear when she met editor David Blackmore after it was announced she was to captain her side this season. She said: “It was a great feeling when I was told I was going to be captain. “It’s massive for me as a West Ham fan to be given the chance to captain the side and I’m very grateful for

the opportunity and for the new boss putting faith in me.” As well as continuing to lead by example on the pitch, Bex hopes her new role will further encourage the younger members of the squad to come to her with their problems. Bex continued: “I have always had a few of girls come to me about things off the pitch too and I think because I am one of the older players they come to me naturally for advice so I hope this continues now I’m captain.” As for pre-season, things didn’t quite go to plan for the 27-year-old despite the fact

she started her training a few weeks before the squad first met. She said: “From my point of view it wasn’t the best because I missed a couple of games during pre-season – one was because I was ill and the other was with the development squad to try and get my fitness back – so the friendly against Nottingham Forest earlier this month, which we won 3-0, was massive for me. “It was great to get 90 minutes under my belt before the Charlton game and It was a great game against Forest because I haven’t played them before and I’m not sure how long it has been since the club has either – if we even have. “Northern teams are always tough to play against because they are more physical and play a completely different style of football so it was good to play in that game.” She added: “Overall, I think it was a really good preseason for the club. “With the changes in management there were a lot of new faces about and we now have a great medical staff but everyone has settled in well. “Mark [Sanderson, West Ham Ladies manager] has been setting standards for us all pre-season and then when we hit them, he ups it again. “We have had some good signings and the squad is really beginning to gel now and we are all beginning to understand how we all play.”

As well as her new role as captain, Bex has also been given the task of adapting to a new role - a challenge she is thriving on. She continued: “I haven’t been given a goals target this season but personally I would like to at least equal my goal tally from last year – I think I got 15 in all competitions. “I am, however, playing a slightly different role this season which will allow me to wander a bit so I won’t be playing right up top which could impact the amount of goals I score. “But I’m really looking forward to the season because I think this role suites my game better rather than playing as the top striker.” The Ladies didn’t get off to the new season off to the best start last weekend losing 2-1 away at Charlton Athletic. But with games at home against Portsmouth and Lewes, the Ladies will feel they have a chance to kick their season into full gear. Bex continued: “After Charlton we do have a few tough games coming up but there are no games in this league that are easy anymore because of the introduction of the Women’s Super League 2 has meant a greater range of teams have been brought into one league which I think will be better for us. “I think we play our best stuff when we are playing against tougher opposition rather than games where we are expected to win.

“It will be frustrating if we win the league this season and can’t get promoted to the WSL until the following year but we have a plan as a club which goes beyond this season. “We will very much be taking this season week by week and see how we go. “If at the end of the year we are picking up medals for winning the league and a cup competition than that will be brilliant and it’ll do wonders for attracting more players. “The cups are always great to take part in because it gives us the chance to see how far we can go and it’s brilliant for the squad to travel together and play teams above us or in a

strong position. It also gives us a test to see where we are individually and as a team.” And reflecting on how last season’s squad compares to thie season’s, she continued: “The difference is we have got a lot of strength in depth which a lot of other women’s teams don’t have. At the moment there is a brilliant vibe at the club and everyone is fighting for the shirt.” The West Ham Ladies play their home games at Thurrock FC, Ship Lane, Aveley, Essex, EM19 1YN. They play Portsmouth on September 1 and Lewes on September 8, both at home with kick off at 2pm

Lucy Woolford

Big Sam’s Claret and Blue Army We have many favourite crowd chants at Upton Park with “Bubbles” of course being our favourite and most famous. We have funny ones, cruel ones, player specific ones and even ones to declare our love for all West Ham. So, what are we missing? A chant for our manager. Last week I sent out a tweet that gained mixed reaction. The tweet in question read: “Man Utd had the same manager for 20 years yet still sing Moyes' name before he's done anything. Shouldn't we sing Allardyce's name by now?” I had a few retweets, and few favourites and a few negative return tweets. First game of the season, David Moyes has proved

nothing (no, Community Shield doesn’t count). He’s made no transfers and managed no Premier League games, but fans who have worshipped the best manager in the world for the last 20 years have still moved on. It doesn’t matter who their manager is, the important thing is that he’s their manager, and they need to be on his side for success. I’m really not sure why we’re not singing Allardyce’s name week in week out. How many other teams are there that don’t even mention their manager’s name in a chant? If there are some, we as fans probably hate them and call them miserable (or words to that effect).

In two seasons, Big Sam has won us promotion and got us to the top half of the Premier League, that’s worth singing about, right? The last time we really got behind a manager, we were singing “Alan Pardew’s claret and blue army” and should Pards return, we’d probably put on our rose tinted specs and sing it again. I can understand why we never really got to grips with chanting Avram Grant or Gianfranco Zola’s names, because they didn’t really make any impact and only had their foot in the door before they were turfed out again. But Allardyce has earned the right to hear his name ringing round Upton Park. There’s only a few more years left there, it’d be a shame to

not be proud of everything we have inside those stands and to let every set of away fans know about it. I’m not for a second suggesting that everyone should love Allardyce like no other manager and claim that he is the be all and end all, I know that’s never going to happen. I just think that he deserves some respect and love. Some might think that “We play on the floor” counts as a manager chant - it doesn’t. That just satisfies the armchair managers amongst us. As for the argument that our manager has an unfortunate name that won’t fit easily into a tune, I beg to differ. Unlike Alan Curbishley, there are options for our man in charge now. There’s “Allardyce’s claret and blue army”, “We are Big Sam’s claret and blue army”, or even play-off final favourite “Allar-Allar-Allardyce”. Maybe poor Sam suffers from the fan consensus that no one is good enough for this club if his name isn’t Paolo Di Canio. One day in the future, it will be great to be able to sing that from the stands in the knowledge that he is in charge, but the reality is he’s not our manager, neither is he ready to be our manager. We can’t keep sulking by withholding our tuneful praise for a man who is really enjoying his managerial career with the Hammers. This isn’t the first appeal of this nature by a Blowing

Bubbles writer. You may recall an article last year that asked that fans sing for our manager. Next season, there will be another article asking for the same unless we all just join together to sing for Sam. In fact, that’s the hashtag #singforsam.

Make today the day. Let’s let the Stoke fans know who’s the boss, and more importantly who’s the West Ham boss. Follow me on Twitter @lucy_whufc


@bl0wingbubbles Following our opening day victory against Cardiff, the wonderful world of Twitter was awash with praise for the team’s performance and delight at Stewart Downing’s debut. Here are what some of our followers tweeted after the game Who Are Ya? @king1416 Gonna be a long journey home up the M4 for them Cardiff fans lol! Welcome to the Premier League Cardiff #GoingDown Bygones @Bygones_Torquay Great start to the season thought we looked comfortable, still a forward light even with Carroll fit #COYI West Ham Dan @danwhufcflemin Brilliant opening day win for the mighty hammers! #COYI Ed Harris @EdHarris_ We are top of the league, say we are top of the league #BPL #topoftheleague #COYI #WHUFC James Robert Page @Pageyyy3 Good team performance. Downing looked good when he came on. Diame was my MoM. Good finishes from J Cole and Nolan #COYI

Tom Edwards @Tom_Edwards1997 Good win today was promising downing jarvis and Carroll on the same pitch will be very exciting good for nolan to score and JC was top. Michelle Winters @Michellewin99 I want to really thank Liverpool for AC Joe Cole and Stuart Downing. Sorry you lost over 35 million but it was to a good cause WHU thanks West Ham Transfers @westhamtransfer West Ham played 1 = 3 points joint top Millwall played 3 = 0 points BOTTOM! Las Vegas Hammers @LasVegasHammers So pleased to see the Great Billy Bonds honoured at Upton Park today, Mr West Ham! They don't make em like him anymore. #whu

Cumbrian Hammers @CumbrianHammers Now that’s what you call a nice team goal! Who said West Ham can't play good football long ball team my a*** ExWHUemployee @ExWHUemployee Thought Downing looked class when he came on and think with him supplying a fit AC we are in for a good season. Defence very solid too #coyi John Tomlin @johnnytomo05 The cameo from Downing tells me we can be a threat away from home this season he's pace and will to beat he's man will be great Slaphead @michaelsearle21 Downing owned the right wing when he came on today, AC will have a field day when he's back! #coyi Jason Holmes @JasonTomHolmes1 Great result this weekend Bring on Newcastle!

Christian Gare Last season, it is fair to say, West Ham were quite simply dire away from home. Over 70 per cent of our points came at home last season and we scored fewer goals away from home than any other team in England. It is clear that our away form has got to improve this year as we cannot solely rely upon our performances at Upton Park again. Perhaps a change in tactics will achieve this. Throughout the transfer window West Ham have been linked with a fair few strikers: Remy, Hooper, Vydra, Cardozo and, more recently, Fabio Quagliarella and Roger Rojas. It is clear that these players will be playing second fiddle to Andy Carroll (when he is fit) as Sam Allardyce generally plays a 4-2-3-1 formation with Carroll as the lone striker. Some of the players are big names and I personally cannot see them wanting to come to West Ham if they are going to warm the bench. Furthermore, the majority are also small goal scorers rather than target men. Therefore I believe that it is within West Ham’s away strategy that they should mainly be implemented. Seeing as we have been heavily linked with Quagliarella, I will use him as the example. At Upton Park I would continue with the 4-2-3-1 formation: on our thin pitch it works a charm with Carroll

3-5time-2 change away from home up front and I believe it would have a similar effect even with the smaller striker. However away from home I would switch it to a 3-5-2 formation with this as the lineup: Jussi, Reid, Collins, Rat, Jarvis, Noble, Diame, Downing, Nolan, Carroll, Quagliarella. With the three at the back it will give us more flexibility up front and also more of a danger, especially on the break. In some away games it may well backfire and we end up letting in three or four goals, however I believe that the increase in goals conceded will be offset by the goals we will score against the teams around us. Furthermore it doesn’t leave us that vulnerable at the back because Jarvis and Downing can both play as wingbacks. Most importantly

our front three look incredibly dangerous; Nolan and Carroll always play well together and the second striker (in this case Quagliarella) would have a field day, latching onto Carroll’s knock downs; it’s an attack that has goals written all over it. If needs be and we are one or two goals to the good then we can return to the 4-2-3-1 to hold on to a lead, something which I feel much less anxious about under Allardyce than under past West Ham managers. Most importantly, what in essence it will do is change our mindset of going into an away game desperately trying to maintain the clean sheet. We would approach it from a more attacking and, quite honestly, positive view and I think it would genuinely help us to win more away games.

Opposition View: Stoke City

Tim Holland speaks to Eric Peters, Stoke City fan and Britannia Stadium season ticket holder, about uninspiring Mark Hughes, signing a namesake and Owen retiring How do you rate Stokes’s start to the season and pre season? We had a pre-season tour of the USA which went well – two wins and loss as well as a win at Wrexham and a draw against Genoa. It could’ve been better and could’ve worse but ultimately it has set us up for what will be a mediocre season and a defeat in our first game against Liverpool was always on the cards. Tony Pulis has been replaced by Mark Hughes. What are your thoughts on the appointment? I think Tony was a great servant to the club for many

years and our transformation to a Premier League club was down to him but I think his time was up. A lot of fans wanted a new direction but I’m not sure we’re going to get that with Mark Hughes. It doesn’t feel like the most inspiring appointment. Hughes has made a couple summer signings including your namesake Erik Pieters and Marc Muniesa. How have they settled in and have they improved our squad? Given our recent transfer policy, I thought it might have been me who’d been signed! I’ve taken quite a ribbing from mates about the Erik Pieters signing but in fairness he

looks a really good player. Marc Muniesa is a young defender from Barcelona with a lot of potential. I’m also excited about Juan Agudelo, the U.S.A forward we’ve got on a pre-contract agreement. Overall the signings have improved the squad but we still need a few more faces. What other area of the squad do you think Stoke should improve in the summer? Last season we needed a goal scorer and unfortunately that hasn’t changed. Hopefully Juan Agudelo will be that player. Jermaine Pennant left the club and was re-signed by

Hughes. Do you think this is last chance at the club?

Which West Ham players stand out for you?

In a word, yes. I was surprised to see us re-sign him given his performances last season but if Hughes has seen something in him and can get him to up his game then we have to trust him.

I’ve always been a fan of Andy Carroll - he reminds me of a good Crouch! Other than that I like Winston Reid and am surprised one of the big teams hasn’t come in for him.

Michael Owen retired in the summer. Was that a blow for Stoke? In another word, no. He contributed very little last season and it was good to get him off the wage bill especially with the new regulations coming in. With the arrival of Jack Butland in January have you been surprised that Asmir Begovic hasn’t been sold this summer? I thought that was Tony’s plan for this summer but it all depended on Asmir wanting to go which he didn’t. Jack Butland is still young and will be our number one in years to come. Who should West Ham fans be wary of? Peter Crouch can cause problems for defenders and so can Walters (as long as he doesn’t take a penalty!). Kightly has also been in good form in pre season.

Last season you predicted that Stoke would finish 10th and West Ham would slip to 15th. What is your prediction for this season? I think we’ll be 14th and you’ll finish 12th.

Moore Than Just A Club

Is Maiga good enough cover for Carroll? Questions over Mobido Maiga’s ability to lead the line when Andy Carroll is injured have been posed many times over the transfer window. This question also may be irrelevant amid rumors that the Mali International may be shipped off before the transfer window shuts, with clubs in France reportedly interested. Many have doubted his talent because of his performances last year but I think this is unfair, Last year Sam played Maiga out of place a lot of the time, having him play on the wings. There is nothing worse than a player being played out of position if he does not enjoy the position. However Maiga many times has been quoted to

look like a headless chicken and lack composure in front of goal. Maiga has proven himself in pre-season and has shown the claret and blue faithful glimpses of talent. For example his goal against Southampton and his pin point cross to spot Nolan against Reading on the last day of the season. Personally I believe we should have played Maiga instead of Cole. If you look at Maiga's stats however, they aren't that bad. He has scored three or four times in pre-season. And in the league last year he started two times and scored two times but he came on as a sub 15 times. So that's two goals in two starts.

Also it is two goals in two starts in the League Cup. Maiga should be given a second season at least to prove his worth, after all he cost us around £5 million. Don’t forget it took Parker about a year to get in to his groove after signing for us in the summer of 2007. It does look like we will be signing a new striker but as things stand, Maiga looks set to be playing the Stoke match. We all beamed with joy last season when we saw Maiga take it round Given and nearly make it 2-0 on our first day back. And Neil McDonald has said if Maiga wants to prove himself his chances are there this season. It would be nice to see Maiga do well this season. With Carroll likely to remain out for a few more games, what better an opportunity to show us that he is good enough. In terms of covering for Carroll, Maiga certainly has more pace and could dribble or take it round a player or two. If he can get on the end of some of the crosses and work on his finishing I think Maiga is adequate enough for cover for big Andy. I would like to see him stay for at least another year. Follow me on Twitter @All_WHUFC_Fans For more articles like this visit www.moorethanjustaclub. com

Bill West After a decent 0-0 draw against Newcastle last Saturday, the Hammers have a good chance to get another three points against Stoke City in our third league match of the season. The Potters are under new management in Mark Hughes, having replaced Tony Pulis in the summer. The Staffordshire side will be confident ahead of the game at Upton Park after getting their first win of the season against Crystal Palace at the Britannia Stadium, which followed a narrow defeat to Liverpool on the opening day. They may have a different man in the hot-seat, but Stoke will still be a test for any side. The 2011 FA Cup runners-up may not have a great deal of attacking prowess, but with a centreback pairing of Robert Huth and Ryan Shawcross, a ballwinner in Steven N’Zonzi and a top-class goalkeeper in Asmir Begovic, they’ll be a tough nut to crack for any side. Mark Hughes has a lot to prove as a manager after his disastrous spell in charge of Queens Park Rangers. The Welshman has a decent Premier League record as both a player and manager, but he will want to rebuild his reputation that was so damaged in West London. But this won’t be easy at Stoke, a club that had an alarming dip in form in the final third of last season,

We must finish better which ultimately cost Tony Pulis his job. Over the season, Hughes will probably try and change Stoke’s style of play from a direct team to one that can play football on the floor. The idea sounds good but this will take time. Tony Pulis tried to change how Stoke play football in recent seasons by bringing in technical players such as Charlie Adam. But the results didn’t come to fruition and they ended up reverting back to the tried and tested direct approach that has served them so well. The Potters have a decent defensive unit but the problem last season was scoring goals. They only netted 34 goals in the Premier League, which was the second worst in the division after QPR. Jon Walters was the top Premier League scorer for Stoke with eight goals while Peter Crouch bagged seven. Hughes has signed

defenders Marc Muniesa and Erik Pieters, but hasn’t strengthened in the attacking department, so goals could be hard to come by again in this campaign. As for West Ham, a point was gained on Tyneside but it so easily could have been three. Kevin Nolan and Stewart Downing both missed chances which they would have buried on another day. The Hammers go into this match with a good record at home against Stoke. In five previous Premier League meetings at Upton Park, Stoke have won on only one occasion. If West Ham are to get into the top ten this season, we need to beat teams like Stoke at home. The finishing needs to improve from last weekend but if the wingers get plenty of crosses into the penalty area with plenty of support from midfield; we should create plenty of chances and hopefully a few goals.

Tales from the Sandpit

Bringing the East End to the Middle East

It's two hours to kick off. A smattering of claret and blue shirts mingle by the bar, West Ham United colours are draped over a table in front of a telly showing the early kick off. There's an air of excitement in the room, an anticipation of what's to come, a general hubbub of chat and laughter filling the air. But this is not a pub on Green Street. It's not the Duke of Edinburgh, it's not the Queen's and it's not the Boleyn. This is Nelson's, a bar 3,000 miles away in Dubai, the home of the Dubai Hammers Supporters Club. It's last Saturday, the early kick off is a rain sodden

Fulham v Arsenal and the Dubai Hammers are gathering to watch the match against Newcastle. The weather could not be of greater contrast to the downpour we're seeing on the TV. Indeed many have arrived in West Ham shirt, casual shorts and flipflops, testament to the 40 degree heat and 70 per cent humidity outside. But inside we might as well be back in E13. The Dubai Hammers Supporters Club is in its second season and has grown rapidly since its inception, now boasting more than 230 members on its Facebook page. It's fully recognised by West Ham United Football

Club as the official Supporters Club for the United Arab Emirates and the rapid growth is entirely down to the efforts of Tony Sutton, Dave Leader and Stuart Bell, who work tirelessly to promote the club week in week out ensuring the Nelson's meets are always mentioned on radio and the latest gossip and chat is constantly being updated on Facebook. Gone are the days, as they were, when I first arrived in Dubai nine years ago, when I looked on enviously as friends who inexplicably followed other Premier League teams went off to their respective alehouses and joined their all encompassing rabble on match day. Indeed, people looked at you quizzically when you mentioned you supported the Hammers, but if, lo and behold, you met someone else who was an Iron you gasped in disbelief that you actually weren't the only one in the city. Now that's all changed, Dubai appears to be teeming with Hammers fans and there's a place we can go where no-one minds a whole heap of people wailing "Come on You Irons' and other such ditties on a Saturday evening. Indeed, it would appear the management of Nelson's are Hammers fans too, or someone in the management hierarchy must be, as the Dubai Hammers are assigned their own bar staff, their own TV screen (being

upgraded in size in the next week or so), chip butties at half time and a 20 per cent discount off the bevvies and pre match dinner. Chuck in the fact you can have a go at guessing what time the first goal's scored to win the kitty, East End humour at its best, the gentle ribbing of opposition fans (yes, they are very welcome), and the whole match day experience is given a great East End sheen. Incidentally, if no goal is scored (alas, Saturday!) the

kitty is rolled over to the following week and if the first goal is scored in the 6th or 66th minute the kitty money is donated to the Bobby Moore Fund - a nice touch. So if you ever get to Dubai make sure you head to Nelson's, Media Rotana Hotel, on matchdays, (kick off 3 hours ahead in summer, 4 hours ahead in winter) and join the Dubai Hammers Supporters Club cheering on the mighty Irons. A load of us will be down there later!

Neil Chatterton So the Premier League has kicked off, as has NBC’s coverage, having taken over from Fox Sports and ESPN. NBC will show three live games on Saturday, at least two on Sunday and then the Monday game, which is not much different from what we had in the past. What is different is that NBC is offering every game live via their “NBC Extra” app, and so while watching Arsenal v Villa on the network channel, I was able to watch West Ham v Cardiff on my tablet. No complaints after week number one! My various football RSS feeds this week almost mirror last week; with the top stories being about transfers in and out, strengthening squads before the deadline, which is now only only a few days away. Brendan Rogers is worried that Liverpool don’t have enough depth and Spurs are spending money like water, but probably losing Bale. Meanwhile Chelsea are still looking at Rooney and have become late buyers in the race to sign Willian, upstaging Spurs in the process. In Manchester, City lose Kompany for a month and are now searching for a replacement and United are still interested in buying two of Everton’s best players. As I’m reading I come across this interesting quote: "If you remember, I said I am happy with my squad but every manager

Rewind and play, repeat says we are happy but we almost want something more and we never close the door. Before the game I told you that we had Plan B and Plan C. The point is not to sell; I want a 22-man squad. We do not need to sell." Another quote read: "I've got no money left, I've got the squad I've got, so that's it" And another read: "If there is to be a new player coming in, we have to sell some players but I'm not looking at doing it because I'm happy with the squad I've got at the moment” Then I came across this quote: "(It is) unlikely there will

be any ins or outs, you never say never, but we're not actively looking for any players to bring in and we're not actively looking to sell any players either." And another read: "I'm not anxious about any transfers like a lot of managers will have because we've done all our business as quick as we possibly can and I think we've got a very good squad.” Finally I came across this one: "Other teams are strengthening their squads considerably and obviously spending a lot more than we're spending but that's something you just have to

deal with as the season goes on. We'll decide what strength all the other teams are once the window is closed." Obviously, the difference between the first quote and the rest, is as wide as the gulf is between the two clubs, and more importantly, the two squads. Jose Mourinho has everything that Big Sam doesn’t. Mourinho worries about a squad with so much depth, that playing time, chemistry, egos, wages and expectations dominate his world. Allardyce on the other hand is broke. Let’s list the West Ham starters from last weekend’s game against Cardiff that could start for Chelsea… exactly. So here we are going into the Stoke game and already knowing that West Ham has no money left for transfers this summer, and understanding that the club will have sell players in order to buy. Last week I had my rant about the money we spent this summer versus what other teams did, and also highlighted the revenue given to West Ham by the Premier League. It wasn’t my intention to make this a weekly crusade, but Big Sam’s message should be a warning to us fans. The Premier League season is a marathon, full of ups and downs, but the most important thing to me is depth, and I am not going to pretend that I am happy, when it’s al-

ready obvious, that unless we have an injury free season, we are once again going to be mired in the bottom third. Carroll, who spent last season on loan at West Ham, became the club-record buy when he was brought in on a permanent basis from Liverpool earlier in the summer and he was joined by former Anfield team-mate Downing. Unfortunately, Carroll is still injured and will not play this weekend. Even though the transfer window remains open and West Ham had been linked with Juventus forward Fabio Quagliarella, Big Sam knows that will not be happening. “It's not frustrating for me, it's a fact of life. There is a new set of regulations that say you've got a limit on your wages set by these new rules that the owners have decided to put into place. I've hit my limit and that's it, we move on.” So based on this quote, are we to assume that West Ham has hit the wage limit imposed by the new rules, or the limit imposed by the owners? There is no doubt that the owners have given Big Sam a maximum wage bill and he has no room left to strengthen the squad. Which again, begs the question, why sign Carroll, when he’s never healthy and gets injured every time he sneezes? I sense frustration in the quotes by Allardyce, and he understands that to compete

you need depth and money to spend. Not having Carroll to start the season must be weighing on him too. It’s one thing to beat a poor Cardiff team, who along with Hull look likely to be “one and done” in the Premier League, but here we gearing up to play Stoke, and he’s still missing. Here’s what he said, when asked about his ailing forward: "Andy has had an injection to finally finish off the last bit of pain and suffering in that area. "Within the next few days we'll expect him to step up his training, and then we'll take it one day at a time from there in terms of his progression. "I think now it could be pretty quick but it could be something that takes a little bit longer. We just do it day-byday based on how Andy feels. "If he's feeling good from the day before, we'll step the training up a little bit more and we do that each day. As long as he's not feeling any pain in that area we step it up until he joins in with the lads." Who out there reading this has ANY confidence that Carroll will start a game before the end of September? Based on his transfer fee, let’s say he plays 5 years. Each game he misses costs about £100k. The clock is ticking and has already reached £200k that can never be recouped. Finally, a comment on Big Sam’s 50 point target for this season. You’ve got to love his optimism.


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Blowing Bubbles #21 (West Ham V Stoke 31/08/13)  
Blowing Bubbles #21 (West Ham V Stoke 31/08/13)  

Edited by a team of journalists, we aim to inform, entertain and unite West Ham fans across the globe with our easy-to-read, well-designed &...