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Julian Dicks’ exclusive column Can Downing put his Liverpool nightmare behind him? Striker crisis? Do me a favour! Time for Allardyce to reveal plan B Will Petric have an impact? & much more The Number One West Ham United eFanzine! Online • Mobile • Print

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WELCOME EDITOR: David Blackmore NEWS EDITOR: Alex Shilling CONTRIBUTORS: Julian Dicks, Lucy Woolford, Thomas Johnson, Brian Williams, Andrew Hosie,, Bill West, Tim Holland, Marcus Johns, David Meagher 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.

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After a poor performance against Stoke, I felt we did really well to pick up a point at Southampton but the visit of Everton this weekend will prove to be our toughest test so far this season. The news of Andy Carroll’s injury also concerns me greatly and I’m sure most of you would agree, the sooner he gets back the better! Having said that I’m intrigued to see how Petric fits into our team, assuming he gets a game anytime soon, and whether or not Big Sam will look to change things around without a target man up top. Looking at this week’s issue and I’m delighted to announce that Julian Dicks has agreed to write a monthly column for us. He was one of my heroes growing up and I hope you will enjoy his no-nonsense, straight-talking columns this season. We’ve also got a brilliant piece by Bill West on the impact Petric could have on our squad and another statcrazy article by Lucy Woolford. Like it or hate it, Brian Williams is also back with another “Dear Sam” column when will he start receiving emails from the gaffer again?! With away games at Hull and Spurs coming up after this weekend’s Everton clash, we’ve also got three opposition views. They are all well worth a read and offer a great insight into these clubs ahead of our games. As for our clash against the Toffees, I really hope we can pick up all three points but I think this can only happen if we get a couple of penalties. I am, therefore, going for a 2-1 win with two penalties slammed home by Mark Noble.

David Blackmore Editor

Julian Dicks Hello and welcome to the first of a series of columns I’ll be writing for Blowing Bubbles this season. Every month, I’ll be giving my thoughts on all things West Ham for you, the fans, to chew over. Plenty to talk about so I might as well get stuck in! I watched us play quite a bit last season with my work for BBC London and sometimes it was a bit boring but football is all about getting results and that’s what we did last season. When Sam Allardyce came in, if someone had told the fans he would get us promoted in the first season and in the next season finish 10th in the Premier League, I’m sure 99 per cent of fans would have taken that and I think West Ham had a great season last season. I know a lot of fans disrespect Sam Allardyce about his style of play but we played some great football last season. I think Sam is an experienced manager whatever people think of him. His teams are always well organised and don’t conceded many goals. But this season I would like to see a bit more football played and another striker up top with Andy Carroll. Last season he was up top by himself a lot but he wins so much in the air and holds the ball up really well but at

times there was never anyone to play to. Having heard Sam Allardyce speak last season, you would think we were playing 4-3-3 when the reality was we played 4-5-1 and at times it showed. I am looking forward to seeing more of Matt Jarvis and Stewart Downing charging down both flanks this season. Both are brilliant crossers of the ball and I bet Andy Carroll can’t wait to get playing again because these guys will be firing good deliveries from both sides. I think Downing has also got quite a bit to prove

because when he went to Liverpool from Villa, he didn’t perform. Hopefully he has come to a side where he can play how he wants to play. For me I think what we spent on Andy Carroll was way too much money. Having said that I like his style of play and he gets the team going when he is firing. But for £15 million he has to be more prolific for me and score 15 to 20 goals a season. It’s the same for Kevin Nolan. When he’s scoring goals he is fine but when he isn’t scoring goals, I don’t think he brings anything else

Julian is available to give your team [adults and kids] a professional coaching session on an hourly, weekly or monthly basis

to the side. He needs to be doing a lot more. There is no denying he is a good captain and I know his game is to ghost into the box unmarked to score but I think he needs to be doing more for the team. Just look at players like Alan Shearer who when he wasn’t scoring goals would be working hard to create chances for others. Looking ahead to this season and I think we have to continue to progress and we have to finish 10th or above. We have the players to do this so long as we keep everyone fit. You look at some of the other clubs outside the top five and they are fairly average and nothing special to be honest. I really do

believe we have the players to get at least 10th again. I think the three teams who came up last season will go straight back down because they haven’t got the quality and they aren’t big clubs, like us or Newcastle. It’s not all about spending mega bucks to stay in the Premier League – it’s about having a strong core of players, keeping them fit and making sure your home form is good. Home form is key and if any of the promoted clubs start playing well at home, they might surprise me. Moving onto the Olympic Stadium saga and I have never wanted to move there. I can remember the first time I played at Upton Park – it was scary!

I was only 17 and was playing for Birmingham at the time and thought it was the scariest place on earth. But when I was playing for West Ham it was the best place in the world. The ground was tight and the atmosphere was electric – especially under the lights. I think for all the family to go to the Olympic Stadium it should be £30. You hear the term “affordable” banded about a lot these days and more often than not, it is not affordable at all. Upton Park wasn’t completely full for every home game last season and I think going from a 35,000 seater to 55,000 seater, you need to find another 20,000 people so you have to make it affordable. A lot of my friends can’t afford to go to watch their team play at the moment because it is just too expensive at Upton Park. I’ve never been for moving away from Upton Park because it is a fantastic stadium. People have said to me that when we move to the Olympic Stadium we will bring in better players but that’s a load of rubbish. A stadium doesn’t attract better players – a good manager, money and winning trophies does.

Contact Julian by emailing him on or following him on Twitter @Julian3Dicks

Bill West Last week West Ham finally signed a decent back-up striker. No, it wasn’t Carlton Cole, it was Croatian Mladen Petric. The 32-year-old had been without a club since leaving Fulham in the summer. He has signed a deal with the Hammers until the end of the season. He may be coming towards the end of his career but I believe Petric could make an impact once he gets back his match fitness. Petric had a blistering start at Fulham last season, scoring two goals and providing an assist in the opening day win over Norwich. However, the rest of the season didn’t go to plan and he ended up with five goals in 23 Premier League appearances. That stat doesn’t sound great, but what has to be taken into consideration is he was behind Dimitar Berbatov in the Fulham pecking order, and of those 23 games, only around 10 were starts. Apart from his spell in West London, Petric has been prolific throughout his league career. He scored 38 in 99 games for Hamburg, 13 in 29 for Borussia Dortmund and 38 in 72 for Basel. Plus, he’s netted 13 in 45 for Croatia. His most famous Croatian goal is without doubt the 25yard stunner which beat England 3-2 at Wembley, meaning the Three Lions failed to qualify for Euro 2008.

Why I’m tipping Petric to make an impact After the match, he refused to swap his jersey, saying: "This is the proudest moment of my career. I didn't want to swap this jersey for anything." That goal against England showed fantastic technique, which he shows on a regular basis. After Pertic was signed by West Ham, Sky Sports News showed his goals from last season. One goal away at Queens Park Rangers was better than his Croatia goal at Wembley. It whistled into the top corner from around the same distance. A top strike, and hopefully we’ll see a few more in his time at Upton Park. In terms of his goals to games ratio, he is better than a 1 in 3 forward, something that none of the strikers at West Ham possess.

When Andy Carroll finally makes his comeback from injury, he has the capacity to score 1 in 3, but he doesn’t have that record currently. Modibo Maïga had a good record at Sochaux, with 24 goals in 59 Ligue 1 games. But he must have either played with top players or played against rubbish defences because he has shown not even a glimpse of that kind of form in his Hammers career. Ricardo Vaz Te was brilliant for West Ham in the Championship but unfortunately he’s not translated that form into the top flight. Yes, Vas Te was injured for part of last season and played out wide but you would still expect better than three in the league season. Petric might be in the twilight of his career, but his experience and eye for goal may prove vital for us.

Lucy Woolford

Can Downing put Liverpool nightmare behind him? We’ve all heard the unfortunate stat about Stuart Downing’s creative prowess in one particular season. If you haven’t, I’ll remind you - in his 2011/12 season with Liverpool, he failed to provide any assists, including to target man Andy Carroll, despite playing 36 games for the Reds. Doesn’t sound great does it? As a lone stat, this sounds poor for a man who charges up and down the wing, whipping in crosses, but the blame can’t solely lay on him. Pondering this fact prompted me to try and find some positives about the England international by the

way of statistics and opinions on the 29 year old. West Ham is Downing’s fourth Premier League club, and I think it’s fair to say he’s been highly thought of at most. Despite a slow start with Middlesbrough, he lit up the league and ended up with an England call up from Sven. He also received high praise from Lazio’s Fernando Couto following an impressive UEFA Cup performance. Although he didn’t have a massive assist total in the Premier League for Aston Villa (10 in 63 appearances) he did score 9 and was subsequently valued at around £20 million by Villa.

This was the reported fee he was believed to join Liverpool for. Of course, he’s an English player, so this probably isn’t a true reflection of his value but nonetheless, Liverpool wanted him enough to pay the price. On the last day of that 2011/12 season at Liverpool, Downing hit the bar with his last shot of the campaign. In his entire Liverpool career, he managed 123 shots on goal, three of which were converted. Ok, so that’s a conversion rate of 2.4%, but let’s compare that to “veteran striker” Carlton Cole whose 2012/13 campaign saw him

as the worst striker in the league with a conversion rate of 6%. We didn’t buy Downing for goals but to think that he’s almost half as good as a man who may become our main striker is interesting to say the least. If we want to compare Downing’s success on the wing, the obvious comparison would be to Matt Jarvis. Unfortunately for Downing, Jarvis came out of last season with the most flattering title of “best crosser in the league” or words to that effect! Yes, Jarvis had the most successful crosses in the league in 2012/13, so Downing has got to go some to beat that. I quite like the idea of competing crossers though. Thanks to Jarvis’ efforts last season, West Ham had the highest percentage of crosses that found teammates with a 24.5% success rate. Liverpool, interestingly, were fourth from bottom with 14.5%. Not a glowing review, I know. Unfortunately, this article was planned before the news that Andy Carroll had suffered a serious looking injury in training for his return. My aim was to shout from the rooftops that West Ham have finally got some great

prospects with tricky wingers and a hungry target man, but that’s all changed. The signing of Mladen Petri will provide Downing with a goal poacher to aim at so we can only keep our fingers crossed that an understanding partnership will blossom pretty sharpish. As any good West Ham signing tends to be, Downing has been plagued with injuries, which may be just one contributing factor to his slightly more modest £6 million price tag this time around (nearing 30 and lacking high assist numbers may be the others) but to his credit, he has a reputation for being a persistent tryer. I know sometimes that’s not enough but if Downing can keep fit and Carroll can eventually do likewise, his determination will pay off.

Unlike so many of our signings, Downing has been ever present in the Premier League. He hasn’t come from some far away land with no experience and he isn’t nearing 40 years old. His stats may not put the fear into the opposition, but like so many players, I think Downing needs confidence. If regular football and a few assists can come fairly soon after his return from injury, he may prove to be worth his price tag (which is still less than Jarvis’, it has to be said). Want one last fact to keep you going? Stewart Downing is a keen DJ, and plays “funky house” tunes. Didn’t expect that, did you? Follow me on Twitter @lucy_whufc

Alex Shilling

Striker crisis? Do me a favour! If you’re as intent on internally torturing yourself as I am, you may well have seen an article in the Daily Mirror last Tuesday by Duncan Wright, addressing what he described as the ‘West Ham striker crisis.’ Now, this piece went up went up on Tuesday afternoon so naturally, I assumed Mr Wright had written it before the signing of Mladen Petric was announced. But no: “West Ham have Maiga and now Petric.”

Evidently, having three fit senior strikers (two of them internationals) and one England international striker working on his comeback qualifies as a ‘crisis.’ I’d hate to think what the esteemed author made of the summer of 2008, where the Hammers paid a transfer fee for only one player (£5m for Valon Behrami from Lazio) and ended up playing the bumbling David Di Michele and the dog-tired Diego Tristan up front for most of the season!

Let’s be clear about this. It would have been infinitely preferable that Sam Allardyce had put the remainder of our transfer budget towards another striker, instead of splashing out on a hugely overrated winger who couldn’t get in the worst Liverpool team I’ve ever seen but he didn’t, and now appears to have abandoned the 2011/2012 plan to turn the club into ‘West Ham Wanderers’ in favour of an updated 2013 plan to turn us into ‘Liverpool Ham United’. We haven’t strengthened the frontline like most of us hoped we would but this does not mean the situation is a crisis, far from it. Mr Wright acknowledges in his article that ‘Big Sam’s teams are always organised, disciplined and hard to beat’. Quite so. It is teams like this which Allardyce has built which have ensured that he has never once been relegated in a managerial career spanning 22 years. Yeah alright, I know West Brom got relegated to League One for the only time in their history in 1991 with Big Sam on the coaching staff, but that was only as assistant player-manager, so we’re not going to count that one. The point is that with Sam Allardyce as your manager, you know what you will get. You will not get a lot of goals but you will get a solid defence.

You will also pick up a lot of yellow cards and you will get a phenomenally boring assistant manager. There is a reason why Allardyce has never been relegated (in a senior managerial capacity) in his entire managerial career. He sets his sides up exactly the same way, building from the back, through midfield and anything up front is a bonus. His teams will never get relegated but they won’t tear up many trees either, Bolton in 2004/2005 was the result of many long hard slogs over several season; Allardyce was a Revieesque figure at Bolton and achieved a very particular kind of success there based on a very particular relationship he had with his players. It remains to be seen whether he can repeat that kind of relationship with the players here. They certainly seem to like him.. Mr Vaz Te aside. Talking of the snapback connoisseur himself, we have a potentially decent Premier League striker if two things happen. Firstly Allardyce builds some bridges with Vaz Te and publicly ruffles his hair and refers to him as ‘a good lad’ and secondly Allardyce follows this up by, when we lack a centre forward in the absence of Carroll, playing the one fit senior centre forward we have available (RVT) as opposed to sending out the pacy but lightweight Maiga. If those two things happen and

Vaz Te starts to enjoy his football again, we could have a #Baller on our hands. In Maiga as well, we have a decent striker. Fans quick to criticise him for his performances so far this season are quick to forget his impressive performances as an impact substitute last season. Goals against Southampton and Chelsea shortly after coming on as sub showed that the Mali international is capable of scoring goals at this level. It sounds a simple thing but never underestimate the added quality boost playing players in their correct positions can give your team as a manager. In the absence of Carroll, Vaz Te should be playing centre forward and Maiga should be playing off his shoulder. Done.

And what of Petric? Five goals in 23 appearances in a previous spell at Fulham doesn’t leave him exactly steaming hot, but the bloke is an international and Croatia aren’t bad these days. We could have done a lot worse in terms of a free signing and he deserves his chance. The fact is that West Ham United have been through striker crises before and this is not one of them. Yes, our best striker is out injured but we have three fit senior forwards raring to go and eager to prove a point, as well as some great young players. Add that to the fact that our defence is the strongest it’s been since 85/86 and those claiming we’re in the midst of a crisis really should buy a dictionary.

Moore Than Just A Club: Marcus Johns

Time for Allardyce to reveal plan B So Carroll’s injured. Again. Now, more than ever, the failure to sign an additional striker in the transfer window is becoming a full on disaster. So desperate have we been to add firepower, we turned back to Carlton Cole before signing Mladen Petric - a player deemed surplus to requirements at Fulham. No disrespect to the lad but can we fans really be excited by the arrival of a cast off from a club who finished three places below us last year? But we are where we are. Ifs buts and maybes will have to be consigned to history come Saturday, as we prepare to take on Everton. What I find interesting though, is how we aim to take on Everton and indeed the rest of

the Premier League between now and Andy Carroll’s return. Despite his critics claiming he has steered us away from “The West Ham Way” it is difficult to argue Sam Allardyce’s way of lining us up hasn’t worked. We are harder to beat, tight at the back and the system allows midfielders to get beyond the striker and into dangerous positions. Yet for each of his two seasons, this system has been played with Carlton Cole or Andy Carroll – both big, strong target men who cannot be faulted for their contribution to the team. Without either of these to use as the go to guy, what can we expect? Maiga has clearly not fitted into this system, and Petric,

having been without a club during preseason, is clearly not going to be match fit. And even when he is, much like Maiga, he has traditionally played his football as a second striker, rather than an out and out target man. This leaves us with the only other recognised senior forward at the club in Vaz Te, another known for playing off a big man, rather than competing for high balls, holding it up and bringing others into the game. So where does this leave Sam’s tried and tested formula? Should Downing be fit to return, one possibility would be to bring Morrison into the centre of midfield and push Nolan forward into the number 9 role. Unlikely, but anyone witnessing Maiga’s

performance against Stoke would have been happy for this to be tried out. Perhaps then, the solution is not to fit players into a system that doesn’t suit them, but instead to look at what players we have available, and work out the best way to utilise the players we do have available. Now I’m not expecting Sam to go all out and play two strikers but the 4-5-1 or 4-3-3 formation can be used differently to the way he plays it. If Maiga, Petric and Vaz Te are unable to play the role that Carroll and Cole did. why ask them too? Why not instead drop Nolan in deeper alongside Diame and Noble to outnumber and frustrate, utilising the pace that a forward three of Jarvis, Vaz Te and Morrison could offer you as a counter attacking option. Then, the option of bringing on Petric halfway through the second half will provide an option to either go two up top, or keep to the same formation. I think I speak for most fans when I say that I don’t want to see a repeat of the Stoke debacle, whereby a flat refusal to change tactics saw Maiga hung out to dry and the team fail to function. But is Sam too rigid to adapt to a Plan B? How do you think he’ll line the team up against Everton and what would you do differently if you were in charge? For more articles like this visit

David Meagher

Reality bites: Where are we in the Premiership pecking order?

After an excellent pre-season and solid start over the first two games, the visit of Stoke City really brought Hammers fans back down to earth with a sickening thud. It wasn’t just the disappointing result, which in fairness Stoke City did deserve but the fact that they were able to expose just how limited our offensive options are. To call us one-dimensional would be to suggest that we had a discernible shape and plan, but sadly this was hard to detect as we just engaged in a largely unstructured, bitty encounter where there was no sense at any stage

that West Ham were going to unlock the Potters’ cage. Even worse, despite our seemingly endless supply of midfield options, N’Zonzi bossed the midfield, reminding us of last season’s encounters against the Frenchman. Thankfully, the international break provided some time to lick our wounds and reconfigure – except that will now be without Alou Diarra for the rest of the season and, at least temporarily, Joe Cole and Stewart Downing. Added to the difficulties in identifying new attacking options and the emerging news that Andy Carroll’s

injury woes will continue ‘for an indefinite period’ suddenly all is not so chirpy around the Boleyn. The spectacle of a Hammers side coming out on top in an away trip to Barcelona (albeit in a friendly against Espanyol rather than the mighty Barca!) has done little to lift the spirits as this was really a run out for the kids rather than a collision between two combative first elevens. So where are we in the Premiership pecking order right now and what can we realistically expect from this season? First up, dreams of European adventures are

premature – the current squad is woefully lacking in attacking options both in respect of personnel as well as an effective plan B for matches where our preferred physical approach fails. Sure, Jarvis, Cole, and Downing can provide exciting attacking options but they are unlikely as individuals to provide a steady stream of goals as they are better designed to provide assists than to fill the onion sack themselves. Captain Kev can be expected to chip in with a decent haul of goals but his legs are ageing and last season’s double figures tally was considerably bolstered by a meaningless final day hat-trick against already relegated Reading. On the bright side, Ravel Morrison looks like he can be a real attacking threat from midfield but in his first Premiership season it would be unreasonable to expect too much and Sam does tend to be frustratingly conservative when introducing young talent to the rigors of the top flight. So, after failing to land a striker before the closure of the transfer window, we have been left to trawl through the left-overs. The arrival of Mladen Petric provides some cause for optimism. Although now in the autumn of his career at 32 years of age, he has a pretty

consistent record of a goal every three games across the Swiss and German leagues over more than a decade and his time at Craven Cottage last year could be seen as a useful acclimatising period for the pace of the Premiership. But it’s hard to get too excited by the signing of a player deemed surplus to Fulham’s requirements. Maybe Carlton Cole can yet prove his fitness and add to his modest Hammers tally of a goal every four games? Either way, it’s hardly a season-changer! On the positive side, whatever happens up front, we can expect to remain solid in defence. The back four is not only experienced and well attuned to each other, but strengthened by the arrival of the experienced Ratzvan Rat. Moreover, the presence of Diame and Noble provides that important extra layer of protection. Jussi is simply too long in the tooth to change his reliable ways! Finally, it’s worth considering whether we could we find ourselves involved in a nasty relegation battle? Think of the worst case scenario – Carroll’s injury persists, Cole and some of our other injury-prone squad experience niggly injuries that prevent us from playing a consistent first team and, God forbid, any of Reid, Collins, Diame or Nolan get injured.

Could we find ourselves in real trouble? Big Sam is a big fan of statistics and a little intelligence gathering from the Premiership over the past five seasons makes for interesting consideration. Much as goals win games and games won really push on the points tally, it is interesting that a comparison of the three relegated sides versus those who fared next worst (i.e. finished 15th to 17th) in each season really highlights how goals conceded contribute to a club’s relegation much more than a deficit of goals scored. The fifteen sides relegated over the five years scored 2.6 goals less per season than the three surviving relegation battlers, whilst for goals conceded the difference between these two groups was a massive 25 goals per season. In fact, for two of the three seasons the three relegated sides outscored the next three survivors. For the ever so parsimonious Hammers this is good news since, despite our offensive limitations, we remain a tough unit to score against. In conclusion, mid-table obscurity beckons but so does the Olympic stadium and all the while we are moving further and further away from the nearbankruptcy of the preGold/Sullivan era. Patience my friends, patience!


@bl0wingbubbles Following our draw away at Southampton, the wonderful world of Twitter was awash with some praising the point gained and others speaking of their frustrations over our lack of firepower. Here are what some of our followers tweeted after the game Nicolas Paul Bury @NicolasPaulBury Unfortunately a 0-0 bore draw was as good as it was going to get today. Lacking quality and creativity in the final 3rd as usual #WHUFC

Les Hitchcock @LesHitchcock Really don't know what you are all moaning about ! A point away from home ok no punch but that will come COYIs

Jack Lebeau @jacklebeau98 We'd be top of the league with Carroll, would have beaten Stoke, Newcastle and So’ton.

MarshyWhufc @whufc4ever91 I understand saying "I'll take a draw away from home", but the main problem I'm tryin to get across is the lack of threat we pose as a team

Tommy Bee @TommyWHUFC If we had beaten Stoke we'd have been sitting 4th in the league, that is depressing

Graham Murphy @geemurphy1 Jussi had a blinder, solid at the back, BUT we need a striker desperately. Bad planning G&S

Jarvo @whufcJARVO 5 points and 3 clean sheets in 4. Cant complain with that!

Riccardo Bertani @Claretbluemod No Carroll, no party. I'm happy with a point though #hammersabroad

Jason Perry @Jay____Pee This point could have been such a great point if we had beaten Stoke at home. We are a very 'ordinary' team at the moment. No pace again!

Tom Edwards @Tom_Edwards1997 well that was dreadful. i cant see where our next goal is coming from. Good point in the end but wow we have nothing up top #WHUFC

WOODY @Mylegssuck DG says “Maiga is good in training” > I'm good at Flight simulator but I reckon I'd struggle to keep a real 747 from crashing!

West Ham Transfers @westhamtransfer Unbeaten away unbeaten awaaaay we are West Ham and we are unbeaten away.

Joy Baker @avocadothrower Good debut today @morrisonravel . Keep on keeping on. Fans really want you to succeed.

Darren Turner @whu647580 Anyone out there who seriously still thinks Maiga will come good, needs their head examined.

Colin Hughes @collywobzers Delighted with the point, not normally negative , however 2 shots on target in 270 mins of football is nowhere near good enough! #westham


@bl0wingbubbles There was a flurry of furious tweets on the wonderful world of Twitter after Stoke’s victory at Upton Park last month with many tweeters worried about our lack of firepower. Here are what some of our followers tweeted after the game Leanne Baker @Leanne_Baker_ One thing that does annoy me about BFS is that he can see Maiga is not working but leaves it till 85 mins to bring Lee on Sam Hunt @Shunt_92 @WHUFC_official get rid of our waste of spaces and sign some players. Worst performance by the team in years. Ryan Jarmain @WestHam1982 Not great today @DavidGold but just a bad day at the office. I think we need some fire power up top as I’m sure you know

Chris Cooper @lammie29 We never looked like scoring. No plan B without AC. Noble, Maiga, Collison nowhere near good enough. Need the old Diame back too! WHU Stats @WHU_Stats Disappointing but I guess that’s what happens when you spend 80% of your transfer budget on a player who is injured so much Cumbrian Hammers @CumbrianHammers We were poor. We just offer nothing in terms of attacking and won’t until Carroll is back

Justin Struble @jstruble287 Quite toothless today glad big Andy is coming back soon. Maiga didn’t cut it today and I didn’t like his work rate

Norman’s Wisdom @Happyhammer69 I can see a pattern emerging. If we haven’t got a striker then we don’t score. It’s that simple!

James @James_Meacock At least I can go down the pub later and drink my sorrows. It’s a hard life supporting West Ham

Max Harvey @M4xwell1 A draw would have been disappointing but just about acceptable but to lose, that’s just s***

Michael White @MichaelWhite84 Maiga was non-existent today! Noble and Diame gave the ball away too often. Might as well have played with eight men. Rick @RicElliott Three months we have had to address the second striker situation. Maiga is not good enough to lead line dancing let alone a forward line! Benjamin Anthonisz @76KID Nolan was worse than Maiga today. How can we lose at home to Stoke!? No passion from anyone today but the away side #dreadfulresult Jackie Connell @Jackie_Connell We beat a poor Cardiff side, no shot on target against Newcastle and very poor today. I fear the worst with Sam.

Opposition View: Everton

Tim Holland speaks to Terry Pitman, lifelong Everton fan and Goodison Park regular about Baines not leaving, filling Fellaini’s boots and hair and Ross Barkley’s England call up What do you make of Everton’s season thus far? A win over Chelsea is always going to be appreciated but so early in the season with a new manager adds something. I think after having a manager for so long there is always a worry that the transition period is going to prove difficult. Hopefully that won’t be the case. You said last season that you wouldn’t begrudge David Moyes going to Man United. Is that still the case? Being Man United manager is a huge job in football and I still don’t

begrudge him leaving. I think it was the right decision for everyone. We needed a new direction and new way of thinking. Hopefully with Martinez will give us that. I think Moyes might be caught out at Man United though – he’s a good manager but it’s a totally different club to us. There is a lot of pressure on him to get results week in week out, they need a good cup run and need to be in the top two. Hopefully he can deal with this pressure. What have you made of Roberto Martinez so far? I wasn’t overly impressed with the appointment; I think we should’ve gone for Laudrup or a foreign

manager. Martinez’s record at Wigan wasn’t great and I hope that he can step up. Everton and Wigan are very different so I’ll reserve my judgement for the time being. Everton were busy in the transfer window particularly on deadline day. What are your views on your signings? I’m not a fan of Kone – it seems a little bit short sighted after one decent season. He’s not getting any younger and the transfer fee wasn’t small. Our loan signings have been good – both Barry and Lukaku have impressed me. Alcaraz has been injured but definitely bolsters the defence. McCarthy is a good player

but the transfer fee was too big and he has big boots (and hair) to fill in Fellaini. The only downside was that Anichebe left on deadline day though. Leighton Baines was linked with a move to Manchester United. Do you think he’ll move from Goodison in January? I think they tried to sign him again on transfer deadline day as well. Moyes has said that the deal is dead hopefully that is the case but I think he may leave next summer. He’s approaching 30 and I think he may want a big money move before he retires. Fellaini left at the eleventh hour on the transfer window day. What did you make of the deal? He’s a good player and I think we got a good deal for him. I wish him the best but I’m not sure where he fits in at Man United. The main thing for us was that we managed him to find replacements for him on deadline day. We needed the money and I think it worked out well for everyone involved. Ross Barkley earned his first England call this season. Do you think it was deserved? Of course. I’ve said for a long while that he’s a great player with a great future. His vision and passing is amazing for a player so young. If we

can nurture his talent and make sure he gets the games this season then I think he could go all the way and become an England regular in the next few years.

might suffer from second season syndrome this year as clubs have sussed you out. The problem with Allardyce is that I think it’s all a bit one dimensional.

Who should West Ham fans be wary of in the Everton squad when the club’s meet?

Which West Ham players would you have in your squad?

McCarthy and Lukaku could both be dangerous for the club this season. There is a weight of expectation on McCarthy now but is up to him to respond. I think Lukaku could be our top goal scorer come the end of the season. Kone really needs to start scoring.

I think Razvan Rat has one of the best names in football but in terms of footballing ability I think Jarvis, Downing and Carroll are all very good players. You just need to get them all on the same pitch at the same time.

What’s been your opinion of West Ham over the past few seasons?

Last season you were nearly spot on with your prediction of Everton coming 6th and West Ham coming 11th? What’s your prediction for this year?

Last year you over performed and quite rightly did better than the other promoted teams. I think you

I think it’s going to be a bit more difficult for both clubs so I’ll go with Everton 7th and West Ham 13th.

Dear Sam: Brian Williams

Dear Sam, I know I promised to keep you posted about what people are saying in the stands but, believe me mate, you don’t want to know what was being said during the Stoke game. I know you’ve got broad shoulders, but nobody wants to hear that sort of language – especially when it’s coming out of the family enclosure. Best draw a veil over proceedings there, I reckon. We weren’t all that clever at Southampton either, were we? Still – we did manage to overcome the mighty Cheltenham, so fair play for that. The boy Ravel Morrison was different class that night.

Mind you, someone needs to sort out the ticketing arrangements. The queues went halfway back to the station. Did no one know we were coming? Have a word, will you Sam? Can’t say I enjoyed the international break. Still, we were all delighted to see Frank Lampard get his 100th cap for England. He was always a big favourite at Upton Park. There was a time I thought he might come back – I remember him going down the tunnel after we’d giving him another rousing cheer and he made a sign that suggested he only wanted two more seasons at Chelsea. But that was some years ago, so I may have

misunderstood what he meant by those two fingers. What’s going on with Andy Carroll? You’d think a big lump like that would be able to survive a knock in training without taking the next four months off. I do hope we haven’t signed ourselves another Sicknote. Get one of the backroom boys to tell you about Kieron Dyer. He was here four years and barely kicked a ball in anger. I’m not one to tell tales out of school, but Dyer wasn’t exactly the most popular player we’ve ever had – nobody was ever going to dedicate a stand to him like they did with Sir Trev and Saint Bobby. They could have named the treatment room after him, though. With Big Andy out of action, another striker might have been useful. Didn’t you think of buying one when the transfer window was still open? I can see one or two people getting a bit impatient if we don’t score again before Christmas. Not me, you understand – I recognise that you are tactical genius, but not everyone sees it that way. Still, what do they know, eh? Don’t s’pose there’s any chance of getting Carlton back into his old shirt now? Not going to fit him, is it? But you mustn’t blame yourself for the fact he couldn’t take rejection. You were well within your rights to let him go and

there’s no reason for you to feel guilty about the fact he now is totally unemployable as a professional footballer. We’ve all had girlfriends who’ve hit the Haagen Dazs after we’ve given them the elbow. Sorry to keep banging on about this, but I’m still not getting your emails. Could you check your address book to see if I’m in it? I have a horrible feeling I’ve been deleted for some reason.

Have you changed your internet provider recently? That can play havoc with your settings. Luckily my mate Angela is still receiving you loud and clear, so she’s forwarding anything she gets on to me. To be frank, your deep insights are a bit wasted on her but she does appreciate you taking the time and trouble to keep in touch. The last one confused her a bit. I had to explain that Neil

McDonald is your No 2 and because you are a busy man you sometimes get him to handle the communication side of things. He’s all right, but he hasn’t quite got your turn of phrase if I may say so. But, hey, that’s why you’re the boss and he’s a bloke no one’s ever heard of. Where did we get him from, as a matter of interest? Did the Job Centre send him, or was he someone you’d met before? I reckon your gift of the gab could open up some interesting possibilities for you. I saw you on the telly with Freddie Flintoff and Jamie Redknapp in something called A League of Their Own and you came across very well. I thought you really showed ‘em what you’re made of with that challenge to see who eat the most camel’s testicles. You were awesome. What I thought was, with Alan Hansen giving up Match of the Day there might be an opening for you. You’ve obviously got a lot in common: clearly you’re comfortable with a mouthful of bollocks, which is precisely what he’s been coming up with the past 22 years. Be lucky, Your mate behind the goal

Tales from the Sandpit

Strikers? Who needs strikers?

It’s the events of the last few weeks that remind you being a West Ham supporter is not a role for the faint hearted. I think we should coin a new phrase, something like ‘West Ham-esque’, which we can use to describe an event or situation in which if there is a possibility of something going wrong then, my goodness, it most definitely will. Your boiler packs up on the coldest day of the year – that is so West Ham-esque. You are late for an important meeting at work and the car/train/bus breaks down – again, so West Ham-esque. The thing is when I last wrote for this magazine things were looking actually, well, good!

A comfortable start at home against Cardiff, was followed by a 0-0 at Newcastle. OK, the performance wasn’t great there, but two games in, four points and two clean sheets – musn’t grumble. Then there was Stoke. There was that inevitability about it really, wasn’t there? The fact we could go top of the table for a few hours if we had won worked against us or it did in my mind anyway. Three games in a row without defeat always seems a nigh on impossibility, something that just seems tantalisingly always out of reach for West Ham. But there was something more. West Ham just had that

‘look’ against Stoke and within the first five minutes it was definitely going to be ‘one of those days’ – one where the television screen was in grave danger of being shattered by a remote control hurled in anger at it at any given moment. And there we have it. After three games, even before the news of Andy Carroll filtered through, things had lost their sheen somewhat. The bright start now seemed a lot more like distinctly average despite being helped along by an even kinder opening run of fixtures than last season. Writing this before the Southampton match, if we compare our results for this season to last we are already three points behind having beaten Newcastle away and drawing with Stoke at home last year. If we extrapolate that to this weekend we’ll have to hope to reverse the trend of doing worse than last year although we won’t have Cole to score for us and then get sent off for us this time round. Obviously like for like comparisons are extremely unscientific but does the statistic of one shot on goal over the two matches against Stoke and Newcastle tell any more of a story of our current status? Reading the report on our match against Espanyol were you in any way surprised our goal came from the penalty

spot rather than from open play and that the most talked up feature of the match was an outstanding display from one of our defenders? No, me neither. And all this was before the news that Andy Carroll had sustained another injury. For me, this was as West Hamesque as you could get, as inevitable as an ice cube melting in the Dubai midday sun. Sam Allardyce may tell us this is once again a moment of incredible bad luck. He tells us that specialists said the chance of this happening was 4%. A bizarrely precise figure based on what exactly and surely this happening to a key player who plays for a team that suffers from West Hamesque tendencies meant the probability of another injury occurring was hovering around the 100% mark? The injury setback to Carroll was sown into the history of West Ham when Allardyce gambled on the fact he would be fine to perhaps make an appearance against Southampton and definitely back to play against Everton, thus choosing to use the final funds available before the transfer window shut to invest in Stewart Downing rather than another forward. Now I’m not knocking the signing of Downing and indeed his arrival on the pitch against Newcastle did suggest that he is a very useful addition to the squad but the gamble was always

surely going to come back and haunt us. Cue Stoke match and the inevitable injury to Downing, the following two weeks turmoil with an injury list heading towards our usual seasonal crisis, a frantic search through the free transfer list to plug the gap in our forward line and the early season optimism has filtered away to be replaced by an apprehension of where we might be sitting when the transfer window re-opens in January. At the time of writing the club is saying the new injury to Carroll is not as serious as they first thought and an operation is not required but they cannot say when he might feature again. Lets face it, though, he’ll not be around much if at all for the rest of 2013 so we have to hope that a match fit Mladen Petric will do a job for

us in the meantime. A team cannot win a match without scoring goals and cannot score goals without having shots on target and we know West Ham have not being doing either recently. Obviously it is something that has to change and change quickly to ensure the rapidly diminished hopes and aspirations do not spiral towards a sense of panic. We have been fortunate with the fixture list and we must hope we’re not going to be punished for failing to beat Newcastle or Stoke later on in the season. In the meantime, a swift tonic and a boost in faith will be complete with three points in the bag as the final whistle sounds this weekend at the Boleyn. Bring on the Toffees and Come on You Irons! You can follow me on Twitter @hosiemon

Thomas Johnson Claret and blue tinted sunglasses off, very few of our academy and youth products will be good enough for Premier League football. Every fan of any club wants to see young talent rising through the ranks to the first team but the reality is 98% of them won’t cut it in the modern game. West Ham United stand as a perfect example of this harsh but realistic truth, fans will wax lyrical about the youth products as they’re classed as ‘one of us’ but especially since the arrival of Big Sam, the youth at the Boleyn Ground have found chances hard to come by. Sam Allardyce has been more ruthless than any previous Hammers boss when it comes to youth, seeing the likes of Montano, Hall, Stanislas and Hines out of the Upton Park doors, but as co-chairman David Gold pointed out, none of the youth who have been let go have gone onto play at the highest level since, so it is hard to argue against their judgement. Premier League football is not patient, certainly not when you are a side who will be challenging to stay in the top flight in what is almost seen as a mini-league outside the top 6. There is precious little time to blood in youngsters, the two obvious options are cup games or the use of the loan system, both have their pros and cons as has been exampled in recent seasons.

Youth and young manhood

The two cups have become breeding grounds for youth since the mid-2000s as the Premiership became the number one competition to be involved in. Since Allardyce took the Boleyn Ground hot seat our cup games have seen us lose 4, win 2 and draw the once, not much of a cup run to give any youth the chance of match time really. Alternatively, there is the loan system, which has seemingly proved wonders for our most exciting prospect of the 2013/14 season in Ravel Morrison, who spent last season at Birmingham City in the Championship. After a difficult start in the Midlands, Ravel knuckled down and was rewarded with some man of the match

performances that led to him being a star feature throughout West Ham’s preseason fixtures leading up to this Premier League campaign. This shows the benefits of the loan system, but time and time again we see our youth go out on loan and then leave the club permanently soon after. Two players that spring to mind are Freddie Sears and Rob Hall, the former now a fully-fledged Colchester man after loan spells with the club and the latter trying to break into a Bolton side in the second tier of English football. One thing that has always puzzled me is the complete lack of English players abroad, currently the best English players abroad are Anton Ferdinand, Nigel Reo-

Coker and surprisingly still playing Emile Heskey, and that surely speaks for itself. International managers from the likes of Spain, Germany and Brazil travel the world and watch some of the best games around to see their players, whilst Roy Hodgson just tries to squeeze in as many free Premier League tickets as he can get. Following on from FA Chairman Greg Dyke’s comments at the start of the international break, England won’t start to compete unless there is a massive change but this doesn’t mean stopping foreign players coming to the PL, it should mean sending our youngsters abroad to teams like Porto and Shakhtar Donetsk to gain a complete footballing education. The Premier League is a fantastic competition, but it is close-minded of English fans and players not to try their

hand abroad in the Bundesliga, Serie A or La Liga. Since Allardyce’s arrival the only player to really come through the academy and stay in the first team squad is Danny Potts, a good left-back who with time should come to be a regular in claret and blue, and one who will learn a lot from the experience of summer signing Razvan Rat. But with Sam at the helm, will any other youngsters in the lower age groups or development squad get their chance? History would point towards it being very limited as Allardyce has never been known for his faith in youth. But perhaps he is right, not every youth product has the quality for Premier League football and in his time he has given chances to a young Kevin Nolan and now Manchester United and England utility man Phil Jones.

Whilst since his arrival he has introduced Potts to the squad and is now giving Morrison game time and tentatively introducing Elliot Lee to the top flight, the West Ham boss may be ruthless in his view of youth but he isn’t blind to raw talent. With the summer arrival of Danny Whitehead from Stockport County and the return of Dylan Tombides from serious illness, within the club there is a lot of hope for the youngsters coming on behind the scenes at West Ham United. With a cup game against Cardiff coming up, it is a chance for the youngsters on the edge of breaking into the first team squad as well as the older fringe players to impress Big Sam, expect the likes of Lee and Morrison to feature. West Ham have always been a club that has prided itself on having the ability to bring through some terrific players, the academy of football tag might not be in full swing in recent years but with Tony Carr in the background it will always be bubbling under the surface. Our first season back in the Premier League was survival at all costs, no time to blood in youth, but avoiding second season syndrome will see West Ham building for the future. Follow me on Twitter @SoundOfVinyl

Opposition View: Hull City

Tim Holland speaks to Paul Bennett, Hull City fan about gate crashing the party, Abdoulaye Faye the beast and Danny Graham’s scoring boots

How do you rate Hull’s start to the season? It’s early days but I think we’ve made a good account of ourselves. Sometimes being promoted makes you feel like you’re gate crashing a party, everyone else got the invitation and knows what bottle of wine to bring and we turned up with a bottle of squash instead! I think once we settle into the league we start getting results. Following on from being runners up in the Championship, what were your expectations coming into the season? You know when your first match of the season is

Chelsea away that it’s going to be difficult but I think last season’s experience will definitely help. I think when fans see smaller clubs like us get promoted they rub their hands and expect at least 4 points in the bag but it’s up to us to prove them wrong. It’s all about establishing ourselves in the league and playing the way we know we can play and not being overawed. What are your views on Steve Bruce as a manager? I’ll be honest, when he was appointed I was disappointed but like many Hull fans he has turned me round. I think it’s the same for most fans probably including West Ham

fans - there are some managers that aren’t the most likeable when they manage other clubs, but when they manage your club that goes out the window! You have to forget about your previous opinions and get behind the manager. Steve Bruce signed a number of players in the summer. What are you initial impressions of the likes of Tom Huddlestone and Yannick Sagbo? Steve Bruce performed well in the transfer window from my perspective. We ended up breaking our transfer record with Tom Huddlestone, who might not be the most glamorous of

signings but brings loads of Premier League experience to our team. I’ve also been impressed with both Figueroa and Curtis Davies coming into the team. Sagbo was unlucky with his sending off so I suppose I can’t really comment on him yet. Resigning our loan signings from last season was good business as well, players like Boyd, Gedo and Elmohamady can all change matches. You signed both Steve Harper and Allan McGregor in the summer. Who would be your number one?

Hull City squad. How’s he getting on?

He’s more of a squad player now but as West Ham fans must know the lad is a Steve Harper is great back beast. He’s 35 now and has up, as he’s shown throughout only signed a one year deal his career but it has to be but he was immense last McGrego. He is a top ‘keeper year and scored some crucial with bags of experience so for goals for us. I was surprised me so it has to be him. I was that West Ham let him leave. surprised with signing two ‘keepers but I suppose When you think of prolific competition for places is strikers, you don’t tend to never a bad thing. think of Danny Graham. Is Your owner recently announced the rebranding of the club to Hull City Tigers. How have fans reacted to it? I think it’s not only pointless but it shows a complete disregard for the fans. Saying that ‘City’ is too common is ridiculous. We will always be indebted to Assem Allam but he needs to remember we’re not a brand we’re a football club with traditions. Ex West Ham defender Abdoulaye Faye is still in the

that a bit unfair? I think it is slightly. He offers more than just goals, similar to Andy Carroll, and at one point was one of the most prolific goal scorers in the country. You don’t lose that kind of ability completely. Who should West Ham fans be wary of in the Hull squad when the club’s meet? Elmohamady, Huddlestone and Koren all know to be dangerous and know where the goal is. Aluko can also be

a handful for defenders, as well as Graham if he’s got his scoring boots on! What’s been your opinion of West Ham over the past few seasons? I’m not a huge admirer of Allardyce or of his football but he’s put together a team that are hard to beat similar to his Bolton team of the 2000s. I still think you need a decent goal scorer. Which West Ham players would you have in your squad? I think Joe Cole is a very likeable player and I’m pleased he’s back at West Ham. If Jarvis keeps playing well I think he could play for England. What’s your prediction for both clubs this season? I think both clubs are going to be in the relegation battle this season unfortunately. Hull to finish 16th, West Ham 17th.

West Ham Ladies: Tommy Wathen West Ham Ladies manager Mark Saunderson is in confident mood after his side’s promising start to the season, racking up seven points in their first four games of the league campaign. Saunderson, having been appointed the Hammers first team manager earlier this summer, has done much to stamp his own mark upon the club. “I tend not to say too much to the team before the game as I believe that this is the time where the players will go through their own rituals to ensure that are physically & mentally ready for the game ahead,” he said. “The majority of the information that the players require for the game will have been communicated in the squad briefing during the last training session and the players will have worked on this aspects during the session. “I may reinforce some of information points from the briefing prior to the game but I tend to leave the squad to prepare themselves which usually involves some slightly dodgy music choices and ear shattering volume levels!” Reflecting on preseason and the campaign so far, he continued: “I have been impressed by the way in which the squad has embraced the direction and objectives that the management team have set. “The squad and coaching staff undertook an off-season and pre-season schedule that focused on ensuring

Picture by Mickey Cartwright

Determination rewarded with positive start that each individual was at their optimum performance level going into the opening fixture. “The coaching staff also focused on the detail and when combined with the squad’s work ethic and eagerness to learn, has resulted in the progress that we have collectively made. “The pre-season friendly schedule was designed to pose different scenarios and questions to the squad whilst providing a platform to progressively improve team performance and the squad have overcome each challenge with confidence. “The squad have over achieved the pre-season

objectives set for them but without losing focus or drive on the task in hand.” Last season, West Ham Ladies didn’t reach their full potential and failed in their bid to win the league title. Since taking the job, Saunderson is determined to improve the squad, identifying four key areas. “The squad has focused on the four main areas of performance: technical, tactical, fitness and psychological,” he continued. “I have seen major improvements, both on individual and collective levels, in each of the elements. From a management perspective, we have refocused on the

detail and brought in the right people to support the players both on and off the pitch whilst providing the right environment for the players to excel within. “I also believe that we have captured players during the summer that have enhanced the playing squad in all areas whilst increasing the squad depth. I have also been impressed by the progress of players in the development squad and this is providing a valuable competitive element in training. “I am expecting several players from the development squad to progress into the first team fold over the course of the season and strongly believe that we have the foundations of an extremely competitive team.” Over the summer, women’s football has gone through a restructuring stage which has pitted West Ham up against several higher placed teams this season, but Saunderson thinks that their league opposition shouldn’t underestimate his team. “Because of the league restructuring this season, we will be coming up against teams that believe that they have greater resources at their disposal then us, whether it be players or financial due to their involvement in the national league last year. “For me, this has the added pressure of increasing expectations of players, managers and supporters alike whilst they will come up against teams who will

naturally raise their game for these fixtures. “I also believe that the league restructuring has also impacted upon player movement in our league as players are looking to secure moves to teams involved in the Super Leagues. “I feel that we were sensible to secure the services of the majority of squad from last season from day one whilst conducting the majority of our transfer business early. “We have introduced the right support functions for the squad in the background and when combined with the other factors, I am confident that we will be competitive this season.” Earlier this month, Saunderson announced that Bex Merritt will take over as the club’s new first team captain from defender Rosey Sullivan, believing that Merritt can take his mind-set on onto the pitch. He added: “Firstly, I have to recognise the performance of Rosey Sullivan whilst in the role of first team captain over the last few seasons. “For someone of such a young age, she has displayed great leadership qualities and has represented the club in the true spirit of West Ham United. “I did, however, feel that Rosey, whilst undertaking the role of captaincy and looking after other player interests, sometimes neglected her own to a certain extent and it was impacting upon her development as a player.

“The captaincy of any team should be used by the manager to be an extension of themselves upon the pitch. “The captain should understand the playing philosophy, the game plan and the objectives of the team and be able to inspire those players around her to achieve these elements without distracting from their own individual performance. “They should also shape and drive the team spirit, work ethic and mentality of the squad whilst embodying the spirit of the club and represent the club with the class that it deserves. “Finally, they should be able to balance and enhance the unity of the playing squad by their leadership style regardless if the individual player is a senior player or a member of the junior teams. “I considered several individuals over the course of preseason and took my time with the decision. Upon reflection, Becky Merritt demonstrated all of these elements and I am confident that she will excel in this role because of the support of not only the management team but the playing squad.” West Ham Ladies take on Keynsham Town in the League Cup tomorrow. The game kicks off at 2pm at Thurrock FC. The postcode for the stadium is RM19 1YN. For more stories about West Ham Ladies by Tommy Wathen visit

Opposition View: Tottenham Hotspur

Tim Holland speaks to Christos Anastasiou, Tottenham Hotspur fan, about the Gareth Bale transfer saga, selfish Defoe, and Allardyce’s unsexy football How do you assess Tottenham’s season so far? Well the season has only just started but I think with so many new first team players coming in I would say the season so far is going well. It’s always hard to get new players to gel straight away in a team but I think the players are already on a good wavelength with each other. Erikson in his first game against Norwich was one of the star performers and I think with the amount of creativity in the team now and the more solid defensive recruits we have made we could be very hard to beat this year. How did you rate AVB’s summer signings especially

given that you broke your transfer record a number of times? I think the signings were very astute. I’m not honestly sure how much influence AVB had as opposed to Frank Baldini, our new director of football, but we have purchased a lot of good quality to take us to that next level. It has also really galvanised our squad and players like Walker, Lennon, Sigurdsson, Defoe and Dembele really do need to step up if they want to remain part of the team. How do you think they’ve settled in? I think bearing in mind the amount of players coming in,

they have settled in well. Roberto Soldado has worked hard and already scored four goals. Erikson was amazing on his debut and has shown that we are in for a creative treat at the Lane this year. Paulinho and Capuoe have already shown their defensive qualities and I’m sure in time Lamela and Chadli will develop well. I foresee exciting times for Spurs in the next few years. We can’t talk about summer signings without mentioning Gareth Bale. What do you think of the transfer fee and his behaviour prior to his departure? I thought for a lot of the summer Gareth Bale’s

behaviour was extremely noble, he never spoke to the press and for a long time I thought he was going to give the fans another year. But with the Madrid hierarchy constantly talking about him daily his head was turned. It is extremely disappointing he was not willing to train with us as we are the team that really brought him through as a player. I’m not quite sure he is worth the £85m or so Madrid paid for him, but the money certainly helped us to get in good solid players in numbers. We now have more quality in numbers other than a single superstar player and I think we are more solid all over the pitch other than the Gareth Bale’s position. There were rumours of Jermain Defoe leaving for QPR in the summer. Do you expect him to still be in the first team this season? I have always loved Defoe as a player. He is an out-andout predator 6 yards from goal but he is a little selfish. I think he is still part of the manager’s plans but will have to wait his chance. His goal against Man City towards the end of last year was awesome but bearing in mind that was his first goal since January, he needs to step it up if he wants to remain a Spurs player. John Bostock left for Royal Antwerp in the summer on a free transfer. What do you think happened to the

youngster who was mentioned as a future England international at one stage? I think when a player that is so young joins a big club for a big fee there is so much pressure on them to perform. I think the pressure and expectancy of the fans got to him and he was not willing to put in the hours on the training pitch to really develop as a player. His first team opportunities were somewhat limited. Cherno Samba is another example of a young player where so much was expected of him at such a young age that was not able to fulfil his potential. Benoit Assou-Ekotto left the club on transfer deadline day for QPR. How surprised were you to see that transfer go through? I was very disappointed with the departure of AssouEkotto, He was one of my favourite Spurs left backs of recent years. A few years ago there was a good argument for him being the best in the league. You do not lose quality overnight and I think he performed very well for us over the last few seasons. I still remember the goal he scored against Liverpool on the first day of the season when we made the Champions League. I will sorely miss him and I do hope he performs admirably at QPR and comes back into the Spurs fold next year.

What’s your opinion of Sam Allardyce and West Ham? I think Sam has done well since his appointment. Although you don’t play the sexiest of football, he has built a solid team through the years at West Ham. I am somewhat disappointed in your lack of quality signings this summer and I think the jury is still out with Andy Carroll. He scored only seven goals for you last year and yet Sam was willing to pay £15 million for him. You have also brought in the Romanian captain this year yet Sam has said he is not going to be first choice left back yet. I think most Premier League teams have recruited well this summer and spent a lot, but I feel West Ham’s summer spending have not really excited the fans enough and I see you finishing a few places lower than last year. Which West Ham players would you have in the Tottenham squad? I think Nolan is a very solid midfielder that does create and score a lot of goals. Matt Jarvis also has an excellent cross of the ball that Soldado would lap up and Mark Noble also plays with his heart. What’s your prediction for both clubs this season? I think Spurs will finish 3rd or 4th this year and West ham I think 13th or 14th.


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Blowing Bubbles #22 (West Ham V Everton 21/09/13)  

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 &...

Blowing Bubbles #22 (West Ham V Everton 21/09/13)  

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 &...