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Friend or Defoe?: Why we should sign Jermain Ten strikers we could sign to save our season Exclusive interview with Paralympian Andy Lapthorne Why a running track won’t ruin Olympic Stadium experience Christmas fixtures: Crackers or curse? & much more The Number One West Ham United eFanzine! Print • Mobile • Online


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WELCOME EDITOR: David Blackmore NEWS EDITOR: Alex Shilling CONTRIBUTORS: David Bowden, Lily Fenton, Tim Holland, Andrew Hosie, Marcus Johns, Thomas Johnson, James Jones, Tim Lovett, Danny Rust, Lucy Woolford, EDITORIAL ENQUIRIES: EMAIL: editor@blowingbubbles.co.uk ADVERTISING ENQUIRIES: EMAIL: advertising@blowingbubbles.co.uk 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 www.blowing-bubbles.co.uk. TO CONTACT BLOWING BUBBLES: Email: editor@blowingbubbles.co.uk 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

With the Premier League champions indicating they will look into safe standing at Old Trafford, I believe my dream of being able to ‘legally’ stand while watching West Ham play at the Olympic Stadium will become a reality. All-seater stadia became law for all clubs in the top two divisions following the introduction of the 1989 Football Spectators Act but in recent years, there has been a growing clamour for the introduction of safe standing areas in light of the success stories in Germany, Sweden and Austria. On reading the latest twist in the saga, I was absolutely delighted because I believe the proposed idea is a fantastic one. It could also bring the family feel back to football but the safe standing campaign will only be successful if it secures the backing of the country’s biggest clubs. However don’t just take my word for it – when asked about his view on safe standing, David Gold told Blowing Bubbles last season he was in favour in the principle of safe standing. It is support from the likes of Manchester United and recent comments from Mr Gold that make me truly believe I will be ‘legally’ standing to watch West Ham in the Premier League once we move into the Olympic Stadium. Looking at this week’s issue and we’ve got an exclusive interview with Paralympian Andy Lapthorne as well as an excellent piece by WestHamWorld’s James Jones on 10 strikers we should look to sign in January. Enjoy the game!

David Blackmore Editor


Marcus Johns

Friend or Defoe: Should we re-sign Jermain?

They say that the second album is always the trickiest, sequels never live up to the original and that once you’ve gone, you should never go back. Try telling that to Julian Dicks and Tony Cottee. Both outstanding players who after brief forays at opposite sides of Stanley Park, came back to Upton Park and continued in the same rich veins of form as their earlier careers. However, players with such natural ability as Frank McAvennie and Joe Cole have disappointed second time round, and far from the rave reviews in their initial West Ham careers, have achieved nothing more than a nostalgic support from fans based upon their popularity. Which leads me on to the recent reports that Jermain

Defoe may well be on our radar during January. Hardly a popular figure at West Ham due to his reported attempts to force through a move within 24 hours of our 2003 relegation coupled with the red cards and perceived lack of effort before his move to Tottenham Hotspur, rumours are rife that he may well be joining for a second spell at the Boleyn. One, judging by people’s reaction to the news on Twitter, will be met with a fair amount of hostility. But does he deserve the flack? Let us not forget that he scored 29 goals in 93 games, a ratio of near enough 1 in 3 and included 15 in the 22 games he featured in during our Championship stint. Hence why I use the term “perceived lack of effort”. All

of this, as a young man - he was 20 years of age at the time of our relegation. Whilst youth should never be used as an excuse for a lack of common sense, it is clear that in asking for a transfer, he was badly advised, and this seems to be the reason why many West Ham fans – myself included – will never forgive him. But is it time to forget? Defoe seems to have been on the charm offensive recently, declaring his love for the club, and stating how leaving us was a mistake. He clearly feels he has unfinished business with us, and seems to be paving a way for a return. This admission in itself seems to me to set him aside form the likes of Paul Ince and particularly Frank Lampard.


There will be a number of fans who will vehemently oppose his return, but could it be the catalyst our season needs. Andy Carroll is still struggling with injury. He’s said to be nearing a return to full training, but as we saw last time – anything can happen. Our 4-6-0 formation works well away from home, but at Upton Park is a testament to how bad our current striking options are. Maiga is no more a Premier League striker than he is a lingerie model, Petric was a signing based on nothing more than panic following the fall out of Carroll’s set back, and as honest and hard working as Carlton Cole is – he’s a good back up option and not much else. Jermain Defoe would offer us a different dynamic. He is a six yard box poacher and a lone man leading the line all in one. No matter how we chose to play, he would fit into our system. Just imagine the ways in which he and Morrison would link up with each other? Above all though – he is a natural goalscorer. 218 goals in 526 senior games is roughly a goal every two and a half games. I’d take that right now – wouldn’t you? On top of that, he’ll be keen to add to his 19 goals in 54 caps at the World Cup this summer.

And if not Defoe, who In short, Jermain Defoe needs a club to showcase his would you like to see bought goal scoring talents. We are in? in desperate need of a Follow me on Twitter goalscorer. It couldn’t @Johnsie31 happen - could it? So what do you think – a Marcus Johns also writes potential match made in for West Ham website heaven? Or is it going to be moorethanjustaclub.com. more disastrous than taking You can follow them on back an ex girlfriend who had Twitter @MooreThanAClub cheated on you?


Thomas Johnson

Olympic Stadium Debate: If Hertha Berlin don’t mind a running track in the Olympiastadion then why should we? The Olympic Stadium has reared its newsworthy head again in recent weeks, following the announcement that three people spied on West Ham and the club’s bid to become the tenants of the East London stadium famous for making the capital’s 2012 Olympics so successful. So it came quite timely that I took a trip over to Germany and sampled the atmosphere at the home of Hertha Berlin and the city’s Olympiastadion. I am a massive fan on the Bundesliga, it is as good as the Premier League in my opinion, so the visit of Champions League side Schalke to newly promoted Hertha BSC was rather exciting, and even more so that I would share it with just under 70,000 fans. It was breathtaking, the moment we walked into the stands to see the pitch and

the supporters was incredible and guess what, their stadium has a certain running track, a major sticking point for our fans about the move into the Olympic Stadium. It took nothing away from the atmosphere, it didn’t hinder the views really – and we were up in the German heavens – and the game was massively enjoyable. So why are we opposed to the running track? English football feels it needs to be right at the feet of the players, bouncing on the touchline and historically this has been great and this piece is no attack on English fans, but in the German stadiums they have very steep stands, this is something that benefits as you still feel on top of the pitch even in row Z. I am in favour of the move to the Olympic Stadium, even more so now I’ve been to a

ground with a running track and experienced a great atmosphere, if our beloved West Ham are going to truly progress in the English top flight then the move is vital. In this money dominated industry that the game has now become, progression is important, you needn’t look far to the likes of Manchester City to see how a move to a bigger stadium can do wonders for fortunes on the pitch. Moving will increase global attraction around the club, whether that comes from a Russian billionaire or just more shirt sales and recruiting some worldwide Hammers to following West Ham United Football Club over land and sea. There has been a lot of speculation around retractable seating at the stadium and it is well worth looking into as it would increase some viewing points and possibly make the transition from the Boleyn Ground to the OS and easier one, but it is not a deal breaker. A running track is not the end of the world, it is down to us Hammers fans to make the atmosphere, if we sing our hearts out and show our colours then why can’t the Olympic Stadium become our new home and fortress, because we are West Ham Till We Die. Follow me on Twitter @SoundOfVinyl


West Ham World

Ten strikers we should look to capture It’s that time of the season when we’re linked with players no one has ever heard of and there is just a poor-quality YouTube compilation to go by for judging whether they’re going to be any good or not. After what became something of a shambles in the summer, the club’s transfer policy will need to be back on form if we’re going to safely climb away from the drop zone and achieve our goal of a second successive top-ten Premier League finish. Strikers are top of the agenda for Big Sam, and there are loads to choose from. Of course, transfer and wage budgets are going to be a problem, but there are

going to be a number of steals to be had over the winter, not to mention the loan deals that could be done. Here is ten strikers I think Allardyce should be looking at ahead of the window opening on January 1. They’re not in any order of preference, just ten players that I think could fill the void left by Andy Carroll – and could potentially support him once he’s fit – during our current “crisis in front of goal.” Demba Ba (Chelsea) Ba was the subject of a failed attempt to bring him back to East London in the summer, but he is expected to finally

leave Stamford Bridge in January after rarely featuring under Jose Mourinho at Chelsea. His goalscoring heroics almost kept us in the Premier League a few years ago and, although we're not quite in the same position this time around, we could really do with his Premier League goalscoring exploits once again. Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders) We all know what he can bring to side after his spells with Fulham and Spurs, so there's no reason why we shouldn't be interested in him. It emerged earlier this week that he has a clause in his Seattle contract that


allows him to go out on loan during the MLS off-season, which means we can expect him to come back to England between January and March. Dempsey would offer us an extra attacking edge behind the striker, or even as a striker, and could potentially keep Kevin Nolan out of the side for a while if the skipper continues to go quiet during games. Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna) This relatively unknown 22year-old has been in fine form for Rapid Vienna, scoring 20 league goals in 43 appearances since joining the club from Borussia Dortmund last year. The USA international would no doubt welcome a move to the Premier League and, at 6ft 2in, could fit nicely in to Big Sam's style of football. Emmanuel Adebayor (Tottenham Hotspur) Why not? It's a well known fact that his Spurs career is over and he'll be looking to end what he has called the "lowest point of his career" as quickly as possible when January arrives. He has Premier League experience and we all know he's capable of scoring important goals. However, his wage demands will obviously be a stumbling block, meaning a loan spell until the end of the season is the most likely, if anything at all.

Felipe Caicedo (Lokomotiv Moscow)

Ola Toivonen (PSV)

The former Manchester City striker was linked with a move to the Hammers in the summer. The 25-year-old Ecuadorian only scored five Premier League goals in 27 appearances between 2008 and 2011 for City, but has impressed during loan spells in La Liga with Malaga and Levante in previous seasons.

The 27-year-old Swedish international has been linked with a move to the Premier League in recent weeks. He has netted 60 league goals in 136 appearances for PSV which means his ÂŁ5million price-tag cannot be sniffed at in January, and Big Sam would be a fool not to investigate further.

Jermain Defoe (Tottenham Hotspur)

Jordan Rhodes (Blackburn Rovers)

Love him or hate him, he's already hinted at a move back to Upton Park and there's no doubt he'll provide the answer to our goalscoring woes but, will he fit in to Allardyce's preferred style of play? A recent poll we did on West Ham World showed that most fans will welcome him back with open arms, which should give the club's superiors some comfort should they decide to make Spurs an offer.

For the third transfer window running, Rhodes has to be one of the first names on Allardyce's list of players to buy. He was prolific with Huddersfield - 87 goals in 148 appearances - and has continued that form with Blackburn, netting 37 goals in 64 outings. The 23-yearold is surely on the verge of a move to the Premier League.

Alfred Finnbogason (Heerenveen)

Maybe not a priority purchase, by any means, but certainly a player that Allardyce could get the best out of. He hasn't been given a proper chance at Arsenal and would perhaps welcome a fresh start where he could play regularly. We've seen the Danish striker produce goals on the biggest stage, so there's no reason why he couldn't do it for us.

This 24-year-old striker is taking the Eredivisie by storm at the moment. He netted 24 goals in his first year at the Dutch side last season, becoming the highest scoring Icelandic player ever in a top division in any country, and has already scored 16 goals in 13 league appearances this campaign.

Niklas Bendtner (Arsenal)


Lucy Woolford

Christmas fixtures crackers or curse?

Being at the foot of the Premier League at Christmas is a fate that all sides wish to avoid. Peering over their shoulders’, clubs fear the ‘Curse of Christmas’ that dooms sides to relegation before December has even ended. This has been the case for over 20 years with one exception - West Brom made the ‘Great Escape’ in the 04/05 season, finishing in 17th position after being rock bottom as Santa flew over the world. If we just have a look back to Christmas 2010, West Ham United were rooted to the foot of the Premier League and the curse struck. We spent the 11/12 season in the Championship as we all could have predicted in January.

It’s a very strange and interesting pattern. Maybe it’s mostly a mental battle for clubs who panic at the sight of the table and fixtures that seem beyond them. If they’ve had a poor first half of the season, they roll over and concede that they will have a bad second half too. Even if some fighting spirit kicks in at the end of March, it’s too little, too late. The build up of fixtures in the festive period certainly is difficult. If one player is struck by injury in the first of a run of games, your whole season can be turned on its head. As the table currently stands at the time of writing, it may look at little precarious for West Ham, but as is usually the case, one win over your table neighbours can make a big difference.

Let’s have a quick look at our festive fixtures, which for us this year includes the extra complication of the League Cup. We have five games in two weeks, which line up as follows: Sunderland at home (14th), Spurs away in the cup (18th), Man United away (21st), Arsenal at home (26th) and West Brom at home (28th). Yeah, difficult. Facing Manchester United and Arsenal in the same week is the stuff nightmares are made of. By then, David Moyes’ side may have found their rhythm and we’ve seen how Arsenal can pick themselves up. We will either be boosted by another historic win at White Hart Lane or tired out because we tried too hard to impress and failed.


We also can’t underestimate Sunderland and West Brom. Sunderland will also be keen to avoid being bottom on Christmas day, so they should be fired up. Gus Poyet knows his oppositions well and may be able to pounce on our weaknesses. West Brom probably won’t need to be fighting come the end of December, but they are probably aiming a little higher. An ever-improving side, West Brom will prove difficult opposition and that could be a game that we applaud a point from. December fixtures are so important to a whole season. They are a test of squad depth, stamina and fitness. Obviously, the aim for all sides is to gain as many points as possible in a two week period. But I think that it’s important to be realistic. Out of those four league fixtures, there are 12 points on offer and to be honest, we could be looking at walking away with two. It’s very easy for fans to look at that and turn on the side, but I do believe that December is hard for all clubs and the way fixtures fall is key. We seem to have been rather unlucky with the draw this year. It would be easy to imagine a conspiracy here.

It’s so important that we keep level heads. This kind of difficult fixture cluster makes me nervous. I can already foresee booing and ridiculous calls for Big Sam’s head as we struggle through a striker crisis and are 2-0 down at half time to glorious Van Persie strikes. All we can ask is for effort and commitment, and then we’ll stand a chance of more than two points and a harmonised crowd and players. My only worry is ‘Second Season Syndrome’. Being so precariously placed at this time of year is a nail biting

experience, but add to the mix that we had a blinding first season back in the Premier League makes me feel like we could be in for a disappointing end to the season. We will probably grind out lots of 0-0 draws and narrow scrappy wins. Christmas won’t be merry and bright for West Ham this year, but if we come out the other side alive and ready for the new year, we should have Andy Carroll to look forward to and a fruitful 2014. Follow me on Twitter @lucy_whufc


Tales from the Sandpit

Where do we go from here?

I'm glad I took the time out to calm down before writing this article after our last match against Norwich. I'm sure, like me, you watched on in astonishment as events unfolded in the second half at Carrow Road. Although it was an odd type of anger I was feeling not a 'rage', not a torrent of expletives, it was almost like I was so angry I had actually flipped through to a feeling of utter nothingness. An acceptance of this is how it is, this is how it seems to have been a lot this season and probably will continue for quite some time yet. Actually, well before they added their third goal I was grateful for a 'Come Dine With Me' Supersize edition I'd discovered on another

channel at the same time. Far more entertaining. And yet it was all going so well. After flying overnight back to Dubai, I was feeling tired and irritable but delighted we were the evening match so I could slump on the sofa and relax ahead of next day's return to work by slobbing out and watching a match that I had every hope of us getting three points from. The first half was pretty good as well, getting the goal and all that, and with our defensive record as well as the fact we were playing a team who had had seven knocked past them the previous week things were on course for a precious victory. Unfortunately this was only at half time. Yes Norwich had been poor, yet we were

stroking the ball around very well and effectively although, of course, our lack of firepower was exposed again and again. Norwich could not be that bad in the second half though and it was obvious where their weakness was. Pundits, commentators, every Norwich fan and every West Ham fan pretty much knew they would not play two upfront after the break and they'd sort out the midfield which was being totally overrun in the first 45 minutes. Everyone knew, it seems, apart from our manager. Ok, you could say it was Jussi whose blunder let them back in the match but he can hardly be criticised after saving us time and time again this season. With or without


the penalty there was only going to be one outcome based on the respective second half performances. Why did we not have an alternative strategy to snuff them out? It was painful to watch. So where does that leave us now? Well, a few weeks ago, sportswriters were looking at the run up towards the festive season, noting that we had a fairly decent set of fixtures in order to get some points on the board and move ourselves up to our usual mid-table safety level. When they were writing this they were obviously giving a nod to Aston Villa and Norwich, pretty much ignoring this match, and then looking beyond. I'm thinking they were not envisaging just 1 point out of 6 after the Villa and Norwich ties which leaves us loitering down at the bottom, grateful that Fulham and Stoke are equally as rubbish, Crystal Palace more so. Sunderland, who we could have said that about a few weeks ago, are not in that category at the moment unfortunately so it is up to us to start getting results to avoid becoming a serious relegation candidate. But you know I don't think it really matters that it is Chelsea who are our visitors this weekend. Our sequence of results has been so poor

since the Tottenham match that I'm sure most experts won't give us a hope of getting anything out of this game but they didn't think that when we were playing Spurs though, did they? Regardless of our opposition at the moment we have to concentrate on not losing at home. There have been some bad results and we have to stop that if our away tightness could be starting to fall apart. It's seems typical of West Ham. If we do OK away from home, our home form is rubbish. Do well at home, our away form is appalling. Could it be possible that we could at least have a period where we have both doing OK for a while, please?

That would be nice and you know I am actually praying for the first time ever that we actually finish this game 0-0. Either way, it'll mean if we do get a win, it will be a return to the ecstatic feeling of the post Tottenham match (and after the corresponding fixture from last year come to think of it), a draw will leave me quietly satisfied and a defeat will be not the end of the world as everyone's expecting us to lose anyway. After all we can always take solace in watching us beat a bunch of kids 9-0. Thanks for that, marketing team. Not! Follow me on twitter @hosiemon


The Big Interview: Andy Lapthorne

Tim Holland speaks to Paralympian and West Ham fan Andy Lapthorne about Rio, the Olympic Stadium and Allardyce’s style of football How did you come to support West Ham? Like most people, it’s down to my family. My Dad has always supported West Ham and so do the majority of my friends so I had no choice really. Who was your favourite player growing up? It has to be Paolo Di Canio. I loved his passion for the game and for the club. How did you get into tennis? I got into tennis after growing up watching Tim

Henman at Wimbledon. I ended up attending a tennis foundation camp for beginners and fell in love with the game from there. Along with your doubles partner Peter Norfolk you won Silver in London. How good a feeling was that looking back? It was strange because I wanted to win gold so bad that I was a bit down in the dumps for a while after the final. But winning the semi final and knowing you've just become a Paralympic medallist was very special and a feeling I’ll never forget.

Did West Ham offer good luck before your Olympic final? Yeah I got good luck messages from the club and from some of the players as well. I also got a message from ‘the Moose’ from Talksport. Andy Murray sent me a video message was nice as well. Are you now preparing for Rio 2016? Yes, I played the Australian Open Grand Slam and made the final at the start of the year and I'm at a career high ranking for singles of Number 2 in the world but everything I do for the next 4


years will be in preparation for Rio 2016. Do you think that London 2012 has raised the profile of the Paralympics? The London 2012 experience for everyone has done so much for the Paralympic movement, things like live TV coverage, sold out arenas everyday (not free tickets either) and the legacy that the games has already started to provide is massive. I feel that London 2012 is just the start of the Paralympics gaining the recognition it's always deserved. Where do you stand on the current West Ham regime – David Gold and David Sullivan? I think they've been great for the club; it’s always nice to have people that support the club involved at the top of the football club. Hopefully they take us forward into the Olympic stadium and we can make that a success and hopefully see the club play Champions League football in my lifetime! What’s your view on the Olympic stadium move? I will be gutted to leave Upton Park, I come here every other week with family members and friends so I’ll be leaving behind a lot of memories. But I think it’s the

only way to move the club forward without being able to build on the chicken run. What are your views on the current team and the summer signings? Very happy with what Big Sam has done so far. He has managed to bring in real quality for the style of football we play, I think we need to move a few out and replace them with quality but we are moving in the right direction with signings like big Andy and Stewart Downing coming in. We’ve hit a patch of form at the moment but once we get players back I think we’ll be fine. What do you think about Sam Allardyce and the current style of football? I wasn't a massive fan when we were in the

Championship. I was brought up always knowing one thing about West Ham that we would play ‘good football' but as long as we have the right players to execute Sam’s style I'm all for it!. What’s been your favourite West Ham match or highlight? It has to be Paolo Di Canio scoring past Barthez at Old Trafford in the FA cup. That’s a goal I will always remember. What’s your prediction for the season? I'm hoping for top 8 but I'd take a top 12 finish. Andy is currently looking for sponsors so if you or your company is interested please contact him via Twitter @lapstar11


Lily Fenton

Leave Nolan alone!

All I’ve seen on Twitter and social media over the last couple of weeks is people blaming Kevin Nolan for West Ham’s run of bad form. I agree that he’s not in the greatest form at the moment and he defiantly plays better when he has a target man to play off of, which is actually when the whole team plays best. That’s the way we have worked for a few years now but we don’t have that at the moment which is leading to the struggles. There is no explanation for the defeat at Norwich and the difference from the first half to the second, I don’t think anyone is able to explain. Every player including Kevin played so well first half and we won’t know why everything changed in

second half but we can’t just blame one person, it’s not fair on anyone. Everyone is using Nolan as a scapegoat just because he’s not playing his best and it’s getting ridiculous. Diame and Matt Jarvis are not playing their best either but because Sam has stopped playing them and kept Kevin everyone’s gone mad. It’s well known that Sam and Kevin have a close relationship but what’s wrong with that? Playing Nolan as a fake number 9 is not going to make him look great because he’s not a striker. When the whole team is back in the form we know they can be, Nolan will be one of our best players. He is already a fantastic captain and holds our team together at times and sticks up for team members a lot.

There’s not a doubt in my mind that he should be playing every week. All these jokes that he’s fat, just aren’t funny. Fans are so frustrated that the team are not doing well they are blaming him and that’s not the way it should be. We should all be getting behind every player in the team because that’s how good West Ham fans are. We get behind our team better than any other so that should mean getting behind every player. I hope in the coming weeks we get our form back and fans can start being positive again, and what better way to start than playing a team that gave us such amazing memories last year. Follow me on Twitter @lily_fenton


Twitteraction

@bl0wingbubbles Following our disastrous defeat at Norwich earlier this month, West Ham fans took to the wonderful world of Twitter to speak of their anger at the second half collapse at Carrow Road and other messages posted by Hammers fans. Here’s a selection of what some of our followers had to say: Sez Hardy @CoachSarah83 @DavidGold I hope you guys are happy? What can we possibly do with no strikers? I hope you get your finger out in January. Relegation looms Paul Wells @PaulPaulWells28 The problem is we don’t shoot enough but then again we don’t have a striker so no wonder! Stacey Little @StaceyLittle Thank you West Ham for yet again putting me in a foul mood! #Embarrasing #Relegation West Ham World @West Ham World It was never a penalty but Jussi messed up. The rest was crap

Christian Drake @CJDrakey @DavidGold The problem at West Ham is that we haven’t had a decent striker since Dean Ashton Joe Lennon @JoeBoyLennon Gotta go off Twitter for a while because some West Ham fans are doing my nut in. People blaming Nolan but were happy Carlton Cole is back Lukey Boy @LukeyMalden When was the last time a West Ham fan could look forward to Match of the Day? Bent Finger @Trustywhu_AF Get a grip! We lost, it was bad but relegation based on that? Do one! It’s November, there’s a long time yet and we’ve got players to return Brett Moore @BoleynBoy1895 No Reid, no clean sheet, no win, no defensive strength, no intelligence - one man team? Michael Quinn @MichaelQuinn01 Think that [game] has finally brought me down from Spurs

James @1JamesGreen Noble is the complete opposite of Nolan, he works so hard. If we kept Lansbury instead of Nolan, I’m sure we would be so much better Luke Richardson @Luke_WHU @DavidGold January is massive Mr Gold. Without signings, we’ll find our great club once again in the Championship when we need to build for OS Jo Carr @JonCarr6 Twitter is full of clueless West Ham fans after a defeat. I can’t read it, do one and support Chelsea David G @DaveyaGrant Sam says he will walk if fans don’t want him. Well Sam, don’t slam the door on the way out! Kirk @KirkBailey3 I’ve gotta laugh at the “Sam Out” brigade on my timeline. First proper manager we’ve had for years. Some even want Di Canio! Ha!


West Ham Ladies Midfielder Stacey Little has set herself a target of returning to action by January in a bid to give the West Ham Ladies a huge New Year boost. The 26-year-old has been highly praised by her teammates this year for her performances which has also seen her receive two player of the match awards in seven league and cup games. But Stacey is currently enduring a frustrating period on the sidelines after chipping a bone in her ankle and sustaining ligament damage during the Ladies draw with Tottenham Hotspur last month. “I don’t know exactly when I’ll be returning yet and I don’t have a timescale in place but I’d love to be back by the New Year,” the midfielder told Blowing Bubbles. “I had a cast on my ankle for a week after the Spurs game to give me some pain relief and to stop me putting any weight on my ankle but now I have an air cast which allows me to walk on it. “It has been really frustrating not being able to play because I’m injured but what’s worse is not having a realistic return date to work towards. I have been going to training and do keep asking when I can come back but at the moment I’m just working on upper body stuff. “I thought I had been playing well this season too. I really feel I had come on

Picture by Mickey Cartwright

Midfielder battling for New Year return leaps and bounds since the manager [Mark Saunderson] has come in and I’ve had two player of the matches. I’ve even stepped in at centre back because we’ve had injuries and I felt I didn’t do too badly. “The other motivation for me to get back soon is that I’m not guaranteed my starting place because there is so much competition for places. For me now it’s a case of starting all over again

that’s what I find frustrating. Going through pre-season again really. Someone has got my shirt now and it’s my job to get it back off them.” She added: “I really didn’t want to come off during the Spurs game but I’ve had ankle injuries before and I knew something bad had happened. It happened after a tackle and I can remember actually screaming in pain which I never do unless I have really hurt myself.


“I think when I get back to playing again, I’ll still be putting in the same tackles. After every injury, it’s all psychological and I’m sure I will be worried about my ankle but going in for tackles is part of my game – I can’t change that about my game.” Following the draw against Tottenham Hotspur and without Stacey, the Hammers have lost against Keynsham Town, Coventry City and Cardiff City but did get a brilliant draw against a Gillingham side performing well in the FA Women’s Premier League South. Stacey continued: “I’m extremely disappointed to be missing out but I was really pleased that they got a point against Gillingham. When the girls are at home, I will go to

support them but to travel and watch them from the sidelines is pretty hard. “I think we’ve had a very difficult start to the season. We got through pre-season and a few players left like Rosey Sullivan and then the players who filled in got injured and our back four has been constantly changed. I think it’s really important to have a solid starting XI to gel together at the start of the season especially with the new players coming in. Regardless of all this, the team has got on with it and morale is high.” The former Charlton Athletic player added: “My personal aims for the season have changed now with the injury. I’m just focused on getting my shirt back and

playing in my position and playing my game. I know what the manager expects of me and I’m happy to fill in wherever I’m needed. “As a team as a whole, there’s no-one in the league that should be beating us – that’s how much confidence I’ve got in our squad. We were unlucky not to get a point against Charlton and we’ve beaten Portsmouth and got a good point against Gillingham bearing in mind their start to the season. As long as the girls can kick on now, there’s no reason why we can’t be pushing into the top half of the table.” The Ladies host Gillingham on Sunday, November 24. Kick off at 2pm at Thurrock FC, Ship Lane, Aveley, Essex, EM19 1YN


David Bowden

Now is not the time for panic stations

I think I have just recovered from the dismal second half display at Carrow Road, and I have one message for all West Ham fans out there: “Don’t panic just yet”. We are only 11 games into the season and there is a long long way to go, and considering we’ve played the majority of the season so far without a striker it’s amazing we’ve picked up 10 points already. The team have performed well at home all season and but for that cutting edge in front of goal it could all have been very different. Against Everton we were just outdone by two absolute world class free kicks from Leighton Baines, who hasn’t done it since but I guess it just sums up our luck at the minute.

The Norwich game was no different. The usually reliable Jussi Jaaskelainen decided the ball was a piece of soap and turned into a juggler before fouling Hooper to give a desperately poor Norwich side a way back into the game, and they didn’t look back. Yet another free kick stupidly given away by James Collins cost us and my pet hate came out once again. Kevin Nolan can bang on about bad luck with these free kicks all season long but when a wall doesn’t jump and with Jussi’s positioning, you’re going to concede with a good free kick taker behind it. Not jumping in a wall is unforgiveable. Against Pennant, Baines and now Snodgrass the wall failed to jump, and all four

times the ball found the back of the net. That is the only thing I’m worrying about as things stand, surely the club can see this if us fans can. After that little rant, I’ll tell you why I’m not as concerned as many other fellow fans. Firstly, we are playing well as a team, apart from that second half display against Norwich. In the first half at Carrow Road, some of the football we produced was wonderful. We passed it around and made Norwich look terrible, we also played Tottenham off the park in the second half of that game, and but for a sloppy few errors we would have beaten Everton. All this without a recognised striker at the club. Yes, you can blame Big


Sam and the owners until you are blue in the face that we didn’t buy a second striker, but the club had Maiga, Vaz Te and Carroll at the club at the start of the season. It is just unfortunate that Maiga hasn’t hit any sort of form since joining the club last season and that Vaz Te who was performing well picked up a knock. When Andy Carroll returns, the goals will come as he attacks those inviting crosses from Downing and Jarvis from the wings. Secondly, we have one of the best defensive away records in the league. Again apart from the blip in Norfolk, our away form has been sensational, we have conceded just four goals away from home and have looked solid throughout the season. I do fear with Winston Reid out, we could be in a spot of bother because he is our calming influence at the back and you could tell that against Norwich. But James Collins is no mug, he has been there and done it, I’m sure he will be back to his best soon. And who can forget that win over Spurs, see it’s not all doom and gloom is it? My third point is Big Sam’s managerial record. He has never in his career been relegated. Fact. He is a manager who knows what he

is doing, his style at times might not be pretty but it is effective. Although I do believe his style has changed dramatically at West Ham with us playing the ball on the floor a lot more and he wants the overlap for crosses. Unfortunately at the moment those crosses are finding nobody. I believe Sam Allardyce will sign a striker in January and with Carroll surely returning soon the club will start looking up rather than down. My fourth point is that there has to be three worse teams than us surely? When looking at the table you always analyse it, well I do anyway, particularly in times of trouble. I look down the table to see which clubs are treading

water below us and who I think will struggle. At the moment I can see three worse teams than us, just. Those three being Palace, Fulham and although they beat us Norwich. Stoke and Sunderland are also going to find it tough this season. If we can pick up points against those teams Palace, Fulham and Sunderland in particular I think we will be okay. The next couple of weeks are huge for West Ham United starting with Chelsea. It’s time to get behind the club and start believing again; after all we did beat Chelsea at home last season so why can’t it happen again? Mark my words; we will be fine this season Follow me on Twitter @Bowdenwhu


Danny Rust

Why we shouldn’t be worried about Hodgson’s Morrison snub

After the England international team confirmed their place at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, national manager Roy Hodgson admitted that he was hoping

to allow some uncapped and inexperienced players to star in the friendlies with Chile, Germany and Denmark before the tournament. Many pundits were expecting

West Ham United central midfielder Ravel Morrison to be called up to Hodgson’s senior team. The former Manchester United bad-boy has


impressed in the opening part of the season since making his Premier League debut in the home defeat to Stoke City. Morrison, 20, has since been called up to the under21s set-up and has been a great success in Gareth Southgate’s team. However, an on-field altercation with Manchester United winger Wilfried Zaha against Lithuania dented Morrison’s reputation. Sam Allardyce has been pleased with the midfielder since he broke his starting XI in September and I think he really has gone from strength to strength since. He has also proved to be a threat in front of goal as he has scored with all three shots he has had this season. Those goals included a deflected effort against Everton, a fantastic solo goal in the unforgettable victory over Tottenham Hotspur and most recently a tap-in at Norwich City. It came as a surprise to many when they saw that the former Birmingham City loanee had not been included in Hodgson’s squad to face Chile and Germany at Wembley Stadium but, it may turnout to be a good decision both for the Wythenshaweborn man and his club. Firstly, Morrison is still relatively inexperienced and

may need a little more time before being put under more pressure. He has only recently broken into the under-21 side after appearing at under-16, 17 and 18 levels. Therefore, it may be best if he continues in the under-21 side for some time before making the step up. Also, if Ravel impresses on the international stage, then it may result in him moving away from the Boleyn Ground. With the January transfer window opening in just over a month, two good performances against Chile and Germany could have resulted in a manager from one of the ‘top four’ taking note of West Ham’s talisman. That would be bad news for Allardyce as the midfielder, who signed for only £600,000 in January 2012, has been showing real potential. It would not be ideal for Morrison to leave in January, as he is arguably West Ham’s most creative midfielder at the moment. Furthermore, it may result in Morrison becoming overconfident. He may have reason to be confident in his ability, as one of the greatest football managers of all time, Sir Alex Ferguson, once described

him as one of the brightest footballers he had seen come through the Manchester club’s academy. Ferguson also commented that Morrison was ‘a brilliant footballer, brilliant ability, top class ability, but needs to get away from Manchester and start a new life’. But a call-up to the international side may see Ravel become a bad-boy once again as he could become over-confident. Finally, West Ham supporters may be relieved to see that Morrison was not selected for England because it means he will not get injured while training with the national side at London Colney and St. George’s Park. In recent years, the Hammers faithful have seen Dean Ashton’s career forced to an end after he sustained a serious injury on international duty. It would be extremely unfortunate if another Hammers star was to suffer an injury as serious as that again but by Morrison not being involved, it diminishes the opportunity. It is clear that it may be good for West Ham and Ravel Morrison himself that he may have to wait a little longer to make his international debut for the England senior team.


Tim Lovett

Allardyce’s flawed substitution policy

Watching West Ham over the last couple of seasons, and especially the last couple of weeks, I’ve noticed a pretty frustrating trend going on with the substitutions Big Sam is making week in, week out at West Ham, and this came to a peak at home to Villa, where some of the substitutions being made by Big Sam were really quite frightening. I’m only intending this as a quick rant at Allardyce’s substitutions, I’m going to stress now, and not a rant at Allardyce as a manager himself. I’m not one of those who is thinking we should get rid of the manager at all, it’s just that his substitutions lack common sense more than anything to be honest. Anyway, against Villa, the main thing that was evident to the crowd inside Upton Park

is the lack of a striker once again. I’ve said before we shouldn’t play a false nine at home, especially against teams we should really be beating at home, like Villa, and to be fair to Big Sam he did resist, playing more of a 4-3-3 than a 4-6-0, with the only real problem being our starting striker was Kevin Nolan. And Nolan, let’s be fair, isn’t a striker. He can play off the striker, mainly when Andy Carroll is starting up top, but playing up there himself, he spent most of the game offside and generally not causing any threat to Villa’s back line. So you’d think, with two recognized strikers on the bench in Modibo Maiga and Carlton Cole, no matter how good we may think they are,

they’ve got to be better than Nolan up there surely? The way Nolan played, they wouldn’t have had to have done much to do any better. So that was one of the roots of the main problem with the substitutions, but there were two other aspects too. Firstly, our central midfield three was certainly lacking something when the substitutions were made. We started with Mark Noble, Ravel Morrison and Jack Collison, who has only recently returned from a short loan spell down in Bournemouth, leaving Mo Diame on the bench. By the time we were thinking about subs, Mark Noble was having a brilliant game but had no movement in front of him from Nolan, so he


would stay on once Nolan was replaced. Well that’s what we hoped anyway. Either way, that left either Collison or Morrison to be replaced by Diame, surely, to install some flair in the midfield. Morrison is a flair player, but he was extremely quiet against Villa, so he would have been the one to replace in my view, plus I thought Collison was actually having a decent game. So those were the substitutions that, in my opinion should have been made. Carlton Cole for Nolan, Diame for Morrison. But yet the wingers come into this too. We played Jarvis on the left, with Downing on the right. Both players looked like they could make something at some point, asking questions of the defenders and getting numerous crosses into the box, especially in the case of Downing, who I thought was the best player on the park against Villa. Either way, they were doing a good job of getting the crosses in, we just didn’t have a proper striker to get on the end of them. So fiddling with that combination shouldn’t have even crossed Sam’s mind. And so, on the hour mark, we made our first two subs, and that’s when I started to get just a little bit angry. Instead of the sensible subs I had drawn up in my head, it was Carlton Cole for Collison,

and Joe Cole for Jarvis. Now, where did Sam get that one from? How does that make any sense? So, Nolan is having a shocker and we keep him on, Morrison has hardly touched the ball and we’re keeping Diame on the bench over replacing Morrison, but more than anything, why take Jarvis off? We needed a striker to get on the end of Jarvis’ and Downing’s service, and with a double substitution we’ve managed to get the striker on, but cut the service he’s going to get in half. It just lacked common sense. Joe Cole, like I expected, did hardly anything in the half hour he was on, and the service coming into Carlton Cole was reduced, so we finished without a goal again. And Sam only had himself to blame. In one double substitution, he gave even less flair to a midfield that needed increased flair by essentially replacing Nolan for Collison, and cut down the striker’s service, who he was only just bringing on at the time too. As double substitutions go, that one was literally a step backwards. And to make matters worse, the flair we evidently needed, preferably in the shape of Diame, didn’t make an appearance until about two minutes from the end, so it had no time to make an impact at all really.

We needed him to come on much earlier, and preferably for Morrison, or Nolan once he’d moved back into the midfield. And this isn’t the only substitution issue I have with Sam. It didn’t happen against Villa, but he has an unhealthy obsession with bringing on Matty Taylor as his impact sub. The word ‘impact’ being used extremely loosely. Usually when he is brought on, we have numerous better options on the bench, but he always goes for Taylor on the wing, where he doesn’t really do anything at all, or at all full back. And he’s not great there either if I’m honest. It just frustrates me how Allardyce can’t see that this is just a waste of a sub every time he makes it. So that’s the end of my rant. Like I say, this isn’t a call for the sacking of Allardyce not at all. He’s done brilliantly to get us up into the Premier League at the first attempt, and then comfortably keep us there with a top half finish last year and despite our slight problems at the minute, we have a pretty good squad. So to get rid of him for the sake of his estranged substitutions would be stupid. He just needs to make a bit more sense with his substitutions, and then we might be on to a winner. Follow me on Twitter @timlovett96


Opposition View: Chelsea

Tim Holland speaks to Craig Mead, lifelong Chelsea fan, about Mourinho coming home, West Ham’s poor start to the season and being lumbered with Stewart Downing How do you rate Chelsea’s start to the season so far? We’re struggling for consistency really. It’s always difficult for a new(ish) manager to a club, especially with team selection. We saw that earlier in the season with the benching of Mata. I think Jose needs to find his best XI and we need to play to the team’s strengths. Last season, you weren’t pleased with Di Mattteo’s sacking, missing out on Guardiola or Benitez’s short term appointment. Are you happy now? As happy as any other Chelsea fan I suppose. Mourinho has returned home as we all thought he would

one day. He’s inherited a team that he still needs to make his mark on but the omens are quite good. I think the loans moves were strange at the start of the season and that might damage us in the long run. Lukaku is a definite starter for me. The club spent big in the summer. How have your signings settled into life at the Bridge. I’ve been impressed with Willian but for the money we spent on Schurrle I hoped he would’ve hit the ground running a bit more. Eto’o has been ok which was to be expected because of the standard he’s been playing in for the past few seasons.

Van Ginkel has been very unlucky with his injury so it’s hard to pass judgement on him yet. John Terry is out of contract at the end of the season. Can you see him extending his contract? There are rumours of Galatasaray offering a big contract offer for him but personally I think he’ll stay. He’s been playing a lot more this season and he has a good relationship with Mourinho so has no reason to leave. Ex-Hammer Frank Lampard’s future at Chelsea looks steadier this season. Can you see him staying at


preseason is also quite a talent Who should West Ham fan’s be wary of in the Last season I said he was Chelsea first XI when the definitely off for one final pay day to the U.S but now I’m not club’s meet? so sure. Playing in the MLS Torres has fortunately means that he would have to come back into some form turn his back on his England as has Ramires. Everyone career. Perhaps he’ll play on until he’s 38 or 39 and get a knows how well Mata and Hazard can play from last few seasons elsewhere. season but they need to recapture a bit of that form Ashley Cole is under to start unlocking defences a pressure at left back with bit more. Azpilicueta pushing for his place, how long do you think What’s your opinion of he’ll be able to keep his West Ham this season? place? the club for the rest of his career?

Ashley Cole has been a great player for club and country for many years but like every player he needs competition for his place and I think that will keep him on his toes for the next couple of seasons. Chelsea has a number of young players coming through the ranks and out on loan. Who is your pick of the bunch? The player that fills me with excitement is Thibaut Courtois. He’s out on loan and is Athletic Madrid’s No 1 ‘keeper. I think he’s got a very bright future with the us. Bertrand Traore, the 18 year old, Burkino Faso international who played some games for us in

I think you’ve had a poor start to season with strikers and midfielders not scoring, You’ve got Andy Carroll out until who knows when and you’ve been lumbered with Stewart Downing! It’s been

miserable really. In fairness, I’m not sure the 4-6-0 is working for you but what else can you do? Which West Ham players would you have in your squad? Last season I said I liked the look of a few of your players, this year it’s like a completely different team has showed up. I like Diame and I think in a different team he might be a bit more consistent. Reid would be a decent back up I suppose. What’s your prediction for the match and for both clubs this season? I’ll go for 3-0 to Chelsea for the match and Chelsea 2nd, West Ham 19th


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Blowing Bubbles 25 (West Ham V Chelsea 23/11/13)  

In this issue: *Friend or Defoe: Why we should sign Jermain *Ten strikers we could sign to save our season *Exclusive interview with Paralym...

Blowing Bubbles 25 (West Ham V Chelsea 23/11/13)  

In this issue: *Friend or Defoe: Why we should sign Jermain *Ten strikers we could sign to save our season *Exclusive interview with Paralym...

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