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Julian Dicks’ exclusive column A plea for Carlton Cole to get a game Why we need to drop Captain Fantastic How should we say farewell to Upton Park? Reid it and weep: Is Winston going to leave? & 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, Julian Dicks, Peter Harris, Geoff Hillyer, Tim Holland, Andrew Hosie, Marcus Johns, Thomas Johnson, Peter Roy, 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

After the Norwich debacle earlier this month, Sam Allardyce was quick to invoke the stats book in the team’s defence, reciting numbers like a train spotter. But two weeks down the line, after the latest toothless rolling over, there are only two stats that matter. Shots on target: one. Goals conceded: three. Ok, I lied make it three - Premier League games without scoring so far this season: seven out of 12. And that is why West Ham are 17th in the table with only goal difference keeping them above our next opponents, Fulham. Arguably the most depressing thing about the last weekend’s performance was the fact it wasn’t even a thrashing. The West Londoners won at their leisure with never any hint of it being a contest. Anyway, turning to this week’s issue and ex-Hammer Julian Dicks is back with his brilliant column calling on Gold and Sullivan to give Allardyce the cash he needs to bring in a quality striker and explains why we should play our best team against Spurs in the League Cup despite our league position. He also hits out at our weak defence, Allardyce for not having a plan B and for players not working hard enough. Elsewhere in the book, Andrew Hosie pleads with Allardyce to start playing Carlton Cole and David Bowden outlines why he thinks Nolan should be dropped. Lucy Woolford also explores what options there might be for the closing ceremony at Upton Park and the opening ceremony at the Olympic Stadium. It’s another cracking read. Enjoy the game.

David Blackmore Editor


Julian Dicks

It might only be November but I’ve been in a similar situation as we’re in now when I was at Birmingham and West Ham and before you know it, it’ll be New Year’s Day and we could be rock bottom. I’m not suggesting for a moment we hit the panic button but it's really important we go on a bit of a run and get maximum points against Fulham, Palace and Sunderland which will give us a real boost in the run up to Christmas. I then hope the board will give Big Sam some money to spend on players in January.

If he can bring in two or three experienced players then I think we will be all right but if he doesn’t get anyone, it is going to be a real struggle. It goes without saying that we need a striker or two because even when Carroll starts playing again, he will get injured or be suspended for a game or two. I also think we need back-up for when Noble and Diame are injured and, being blunt, we probably need a new ‘keeper too. The thing that really worries me at the moment is that we just don’t seem to have a plan B which has been embarrassingly evident in our

recent games. Sure we went to Spurs and gave them a hammering by playing 4-6-0 but you can’t play that in every game and sadly that is exactly what Allardyce has done. I went to Carrow Road for the Norwich game with BBC London and when I arrived people were saying to me ‘he’s not playing a striker again’ and I honestly couldn’t believe it. Norwich got battered by Man City the week before so we really should have been looking to attack them. Playing without a striker just sends out the wrong message and, just like the

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Villa game, I don’t think it was the right formation to play. We should have hammered them and it really annoyed me that the week after they get hit 7-0 we played without a striker. Having said that we did really well in the first half. We were in complete control of the game and every time we had the ball it went through Mark Noble and it was great to watch. But Chris Hughton is a good manager and when things aren’t going right, he will change things around but at West Ham we just don’t have any other options. I think we all knew Hughton would make changes to get after West Ham and as soon as the second half started, I noticed someone on Mark Noble straight away and we all saw what happened in the second half. Not having a striker up top just means you keep the pressure on your defence. In the Norwich game, Kevin Nolan was our main outlet but he is 31 now and has never really been that kind of forward. He was also on his own for a lot of the game and didn’t really get the back-up he needed. My other issue with that game was that the centre backs spent most of the game launching the ball forward and missing their

man by 30 yards. You don’t expect players to be exact with their passes every time but to miss by so much time and time again was ridiculous. There were also so many gaps at the back you could drive a double decker bus through. Time after time, there were 30 yards between Collins and Tomkins which was wrong and great teams will tear us apart - just like Chelsea proved last weekend, It’s all right when things are going well but when things are going wrong, like at the moment, we really need our senior players to step up but it’s just not happening at the moment and no-one is pointing fingers out on the pitch. If I made a mistake then I would get a bollocking. Not in a nasty way but players like Alvin Martin, Tony Gale and even Rio Ferdinand would be like ‘what are you doing?’. For me, all of the above boils down to work rate and sadly there are a lot of players who are not working hard enough. If we had put in a good performance against Chelsea and came off with a defeat, it wouldn’t have been the end of the world. If every player had also worked their socks off then the fans would have appreciated that but they didn’t, we got smashed and I

think the fans were right to get on their backs. Looking ahead and the Fulham and Sunderland games are going to be tough as will our trip to Selhurst Park but if we can play like we did in the first half against Norwich and maintain it for the whole game, we’ll be fine. The biggest thing I’ll be looking for out of these games is work rate. We just don’t seem to want to close players down or want to compete. Against Norwich, I really can’t remember any tackles going in from our midfielders. I honestly think between now and the New Year we need to take each game as it comes and put out the best available team to make sure we give ourselves the best possible chance of beating our opponents and that includes our League Cup quarter final against Spurs. West Ham aren’t going to win the Premier League anytime soon so we have to go for the cup competitions and we really should be putting out our best team against Spurs. These guys train every day and should be as fit as a fiddle so they should easily be able to play two or three games a week – I used to.

Contact Julian by emailing him on juliandicks3@icloud.com or following him on Twitter @Julian3Dicks


It always grates me when managers come out of the dressing room after a game and say their players are tired – maybe these players should try working in a factory 10 hours a day for five days a week and then play football at the weekend. I’ve noticed more and more managers using this excuse over the past couple of seasons and saying their players play too many games but managers like Jon Lyall never said that. I would always rather play three games a week than work in a factory. Finally, I’ve read the stories about Jermain Defoe’s possible move back to West Ham. I know what people think about him and, for me, what he did to the club was wrong but I do like him as a player. He scores goals wherever he goes and that’s what we need. There is no point, however, us signing him if we are going to put him up front on his own. He needs someone like Andy Carroll up there with him to play off but if his goals keep us up then I’m all for him joining. Demba Ba is another name that keeps popping up with a January move to West Ham. He did well when he was here before and he is not getting in the side at Chelsea so he could be a good loan signing for us. If we got Defoe too, I think they would make a brilliant partnership.


Geoff Hillyer

Fulham and Palace games will define our season Well, it's been a pretty rotten few weeks to be a West Ham supporter, hasn't it? From Andy Carroll's seemingly never-ending injury battle to our miserable run of form, coupled with our apparently complete lack of ability to score goals, things certainly aren't looking rosy in the West Ham garden right now, even for perhaps the most optimistic supporter. Confidence is low, and the bedrock of the team, the defence, seems to have had some alarming lapses lately. It's fair to say that the next few fixtures are really going to define our season. We certainly don't want to end the month towards the bottom of the pile, because we all know how difficult it is to get out of it

Managers need more time

come Christmas time – if we are there, it could be a long 2014. It all starts with Fulham at home then. Ordinarily, I'd put “home banker” on this one because Fulham are pretty terrible right now. However, the stats show that we have the secondworst home record in the league, scoring less than a goal a game on average. It's pretty grim reading and it's hard to make a case for us going on a sudden run of form at home. The only thing that you can say is that, at some point, we are due a win – we haven't won since the beginning of October – and we can't go on being useless in front of goal forever. Fulham at home is

the perfect opportunity to do that; and if we do win, of course, the league table could look very different come Sunday morning. A look ahead at our further fixtures show that results against Fulham, and then Crystal Palace away midweek, are vital. Why? Because through the month of December, we face challenges away to Man Utd, a home match against Arsenal and a League Cup quarter final away to Tottenham in there too. Positive results in these matches may be tricky to come by. Only the match against Sunderland might offer some respite, and we've seen that they've had a bit of a resurgence lately. Personally, I don't think that some of our performances have been that bad – we've just been unable to stick the ball in the back of the net. However, other performances have been plain awful. What we desperately need is for a performance and a result – you do feel that if we could just click, confidence might be boosted, and it might just set us on a better path for the rest of the season. One thing's for sure: defeat and the natives will get very restless. It's not a brilliant plan to start December potentially in the bottom three. We need a win. Follow me on Twitter @geoffhillyer


Tales from the Sandpit

Managers Bring on Carlton pretty please?need more time

I don't know where to start really. I've been pondering the 90 minutes of football from last Saturday with a kind of resigned 'c'est la vie' and trying to work out what was the most depressing aspect of it. Was it that West Ham did not even provide much of a contest and any fight was pretty much knocked out by Demel's woeful backpass? Or was it the fact that we pretty much knew when Lampard blasted that penalty in that it was game over? Shall we talk about the substitutions made after 40 minutes and try and work out any logic in the thought process? Or shall we talk about Carlton Cole not getting on

the pitch depite the fact that the crossing from Stewart Downing was one of the few vaguely positive points of the match for us? I wrote in last week's issue that I was praying for a 0-0 and as the clock ticked down to kick off I was genuinely hopeful that we could come away with a point. Not once in the run up did I believe we had a chance of getting all three, and especially when the team line-up showed that again we were sticking to this 4-6-0 formation with Kevin Nolan the furthest forward. This is a formation that has worked once and as each week goes by looks like it worked once purely out of chance. It's the kind of result

you sometimes get on Football Manager because for that one game all the calculated algorithms work in your favour. Your rejoice in your unexpected result before returning to losing 3-0 at home to the bottom team, scream at the computer screen as you realise you'd forgotten to save the game beforehand. I know I am definitely not the only one who does that. If only there was a 'save and quit' option in reality and we could have started the Chelsea match again (and a whole host of others) with a different tactic. Clearly Allardyce did the next best thing from 'save and quit' by attempting to


turn things around after only 40 minutes. Unfortunately the decisions seemed to be based on hoping the driving force from our victory against our visitors 357 days previously and the scorer of the third goal that day would create a similar second half comeback this time round. I'm sure Mourinho was quaking in his boots when he saw our tactical transformation - bringing on a striker who doesn't score goals and a player who it's suggested is once again having contract discussions and possibly in a pay dispute with the club. After the penalty I pretty much indulged in channel surfing as has become all too common whilst watching a West Ham match at the moment. Flicking over every so often to confirm our ineptitude while another episode of Come Dine With Me came to the rescue yet again on Saturday evening. Everytime I did flick back to the match the commentator and co-commentator (can't remember who they were now) were discussing the blatant non-appearance of Carlton Cole on the pitch at any point. The summariser was querying what Cole had to do to get on the pitch and why did West Ham give in a contract after all the hoo-ha in the summer if they are just going to pay him to sit on the bench.

I can imagine the frustration going through Cole's head as he watched Jarvis getting prepped for action. To be honest he was probably already at boiling point seeing Maiga getting the nod to go on in the first half because if that's not a kick in the teeth and a sure fire motivation destroyer I don't know what is. Overall then, it's been a terrible last one and a half matches for the Hammers. I hate writing negatively about the team but there has been so little in the way of redeeming features in any of our play since half time at Carrow Road it is difficult to remain upbeat and positive, particularly as we have conceded six goals in the last 135 minutes. It is not a crime to lose to Chelsea, far from it,

but it's the way we lost that is very worrying and the fact that Mr Allardyce does not, at the moment, seem to know what to do about it. But surely the boss has to throw the 4-6-0 formation into the bin for this weekend as defeat is simply not an option. We need goals and we need someone (ie Cole) in the middle of the box to aim at. Even if he doesn't do anything and the ball just bounces off him from a cross by Downing, Jarvis or whoever at least it'd be better than what we've had recently. Failing to score in seven out of 12 league matches is a very telling statistic. Simply put, it cannot be eight out of 13. Follow me on Twitter @hosiemon


David Bowden

Managers need more time

Captain Fantastic needs to be dropped It is often said by the West Ham faithful that Kevin Nolan must be Sam Allardyce’s love child because the skipper rarely gets substituted in games and never gets pointed out after a poor performance by the gaffer. During the Chelsea game, however, the unthinkable happened, Kevin Nolan was replaced midway through the second half for Matthew Jarvis. A cheer erupted around Upton Park when the number four appeared on the fourth officials board. It was yet another abject display from the West Ham captain reminiscent of that of

a certain captain of years gone by Matthew Upson. The game passed him by, everything he touched went to a blue shirt; it was just an all-round bad day at the office for Nolan. Now I’m willing to admit the sheer excitement I had when that yellow ticker went across that Sky Sports News bar two seasons ago which read: “Kevin Nolan signs for West Ham on a five year deal”. There was no doubting at the time what a quality signing he was, a goal scoring midfielder for the Championship of his quality was not to be sniffed at.

But now two seasons on and it seems that he has run out of ideas and confidence and it is so clear that he misses his pal Andy Carroll. Playing 4-6-0 with Kevin Nolan the furthest forward just doesn’t work. With Vaz Te up there it worked at times because he could hold the ball up or at least run at the defence. Nolan’s form is very concerning. As captain you are expected to lead from the front and in recent games that just hasn’t happened. Yes he had a good first half against Norwich but he then turned into a passenger in the second half.


A lot of fans could forgive him last season because even if he had a bad day at the office he would still pick up a goal late on to make the faithful forget all about his previous errors in the game. But with just one goal this season, some fans are calling for him the take a place on the bench with Mark Noble taking over the armband. Is time running out for Nolan? This season has seen him miss chances that over the last two seasons he would finish in his sleep, the miss against Villa in particular springs to mind. Yes it was at an angle but I have never seen a professional footballer in the Premier League spoon a ball that much. A confident Nolan would have finished that chance with ease and grace last season. With six in midfield as a team you have to press high up the pitch and get in the faces of the opposition and I can’t help but feel without Nolan in the team the midfield would do a better job of it. I also believe it would get the best out of Ravel Morrison as it would allow him to push further up the pitch. Morrison is wasted in the deeper role, he is the player who can change things and make things happen. Instead he is often found on the half way line having to make all the running himself only to look in front of him and

see absolutely no one on the same wavelength as him. I would love to see Diame in that holding role next to Noble, with Jarvis and Downing on the wing with Morrison in “the hole” as the false striker. For me that is the best way to play Allardyce’s new system whilst Carroll is out, and that does mean unfortunately “captain fantastic” does miss out. Besides a break may well do Nolan good. He has looked jaded in games and at times just can’t keep up with the pace of the game. I remember two seasons ago in the Championship, following Nolan’s sending off against Millwall, he served his three match ban and came back a new player. So maybe a rest is in order for Nolan to recharge his batteries and help him to get back fit and firing on all cylinders. Like it or not, an

in-form Nolan is an asset to any Premier League team, let alone a Premier League team languishing near the foot of the table. It would be a high risk strategy from Sam Allardyce to drop his captain especially for two of the biggest games of the season, Fulham at home and Crystal Palace away, but it is one that he may have to make. I firmly believe we will see the best out of Nolan once his mate Andy Carroll is back in the starting eleven as it gives the Hammers a target up front to aim at. Now I have said all this watch him prove me completely wrong and grab a hat trick when it matters against Fulham. It is time to step up Kevin, your team needs you. Follow me on Twitter @Bowdenwhu


Lucy Woolford

Say hello, wave goodbye

I participated in the Premier League National Fans Survey last month and I was very honest and open in my responses. I rated my home and away experiences very highly and I hope that my written responses were constructive. Those of you who also filled in the questionnaire will know that the questions are fairly general and ask about your opinions on stadium facilities, customer service, travel and other features of the overall experience of supporting a club. Of course, as it was sent to my email address, it was a specific set of questions aimed at West Ham United

fans. So I found it all fairly easy until the final round of questions when it asked me about our upcoming change of stadium, and specifically questioned my views on ceremonies for both leaving Upton Park and arriving at our new home, the Olympic Stadium. The moment I read the question, I got that horrible little heart flutter and butterflies in my stomach. I didn’t really want to think about it. Even just picturing a “closing ceremony” at our home made me feel a bit teary. I composed myself a bit and thought: “This is my chance to voice my opinion

and maybe make a difference to my beloved club.” But I then found it a difficult question to answer. Who’s ever really thought about what a club should do to both celebrate the life of a stadium and look ahead to the future? The first thought that popped into my head was that I didn’t want it to be cheesy. A pop concert where the Spice Girls have another reunion to sing ‘Goodbye’ is something that I can imagine happening, but it would be my worst nightmare. I wrote out my response which explained this. I said


that I would like our absolute legends to be present on the day to commemorate the fantastic history that we hold within those four stands. But then I ran out of ideas and simply said that it needed to be tasteful and sensitive. There won’t be a dry eye in the house that day and we definitely don’t want the club to treat it as a big pay day. Similarly, when there is some kind of ceremony to celebrate our arrival to the Olympic Stadium (or McDonalds Park or whatever it may be), it needs to be equally sensitive. We will have just lost one of our greatest historical assets, but we need to be moving on. We need to bring a bit of the old into the new, so I think our legends should also be present on that day. Some kind of special unveiling of the newly placed Bobby Moore statue would give us time for reflection, but would also help us to remember that greats like Bobby have helped us to move forward and believe in our club. Then I wondered if it’s really that important to have a grand ceremony as such when we move. Is that just blowing our own trumpet and setting ourselves up for a fall?

Will it take away from the really important business which is on the pitch? This could be an opportunity to knock out our opponents with playing in such a grand and already historical arena. I had an ask around on Twitter to find out if I was alone in my thoughts. Turns out not. @dave_boy replied: “Closure: a celebration, not a funeral. Opening: nothing too cringeworthy.” That echoes my sentiments and he’s obviously another slight pessimist about the ability of any British run ceremony to have a little cheese thrown in. All we need to do is get Danny Boyle on board and we’re sorted! Another tweet that reflected my thoughts was from @JimBarwick1: “Should involve as many ex whu players as poss in the closing day of the Boleyn Ground”. As you will have already gathered, I agree completely. Seems there is a general consensus that this should be the case. A reply from @browser1983 said: “Last game should be a tribute to everything good that’s happened to a club. 1st a look to the future”. That last one will be an emotional rollercoaster, but

a fitting tribute to everything we have loved and grown up with. Finally, @Richard97Kane thinks we should get the flares out! Do you mean the 70’s jeans, or the soon-to-bebanned smoking type? I think if we look at how Arsenal left Highbury behind, they brought back their legends and the Marching Band, paraded their trophies, had a lap of honour and left time for reflection of personal memories - that all sounds perfect. The bits I’d subtract from their occasion would be a balloon release, Roger Daltrey singing a specially prepared song and maybe even get rid of the fireworks. This is undoubtedly an incredibly emotive subject to think about and I think we’d all rather sweep it aside for now, but maybe if we get our thinking caps on now and contact the club in such ways as this survey, we can make our own celebrations that touch more personal to us, the fans. As we get towards the end of 2013, that’s another calendar year marked off towards our big move. It’s going to happen. Let’s make it as positive and painless as possible. Follow me on Twitter @Lucy_whufc


West Ham Ladies Picture by Mickey Cartwright

Campaign to stop FA funding cut West Ham Ladies are fearing for their future after FA plans to withdraw funding from the Women’s Premier League were revealed. Blowing Bubbles understands that under the new proposals, dubbed the ‘Game Changer’ strategy, the FA’s focus will be primarily on the top flight of women’s football, the recently-created Women’s Super League. This strategy will be at the expense of the Women’s Premier League, which will be merged with the South West, South East, Midland and Northern Combination league and would mean likely financial and footballing disaster for West Ham

Ladies. But last week a campaign was launched to try and stop this from happening. A spokesman for the Save Our WPL campaign said: “In December 2012, the FA invited all the Premier League clubs to a meeting to discuss the new League structure where [FA Director of the National Game and Women’s Football] Kelly Simmons delivered the FA’s devastating fait accompli. "Either the current WPL clubs (29 in all made up of National, Northern and Southern divisions) would have to agree to become amalgamated with the Combination clubs from the leagues below and formed into a new, less supported Championship League, or the

WPL would simply cease to exist altogether." "The meeting was labelled ‘consultation’ but this was the first time all clubs had the chance to look at the new structure and therefore were denied any opportunity to fully consider all its implications. "A vote was then undertaken in part by at least half the clubs who now belong to the WSL and also one or two now relegated clubs. “But what was not fully understood at the time was how the clubs, and indeed the entire women’s game, would be affected when the new Championship league lost its Premier League stature and the level of funding substantially decreased.


"This means that 36 clubs per league will get a share of just £45k instead of 22 clubs accessing £140k, therefore less funds to help towards the cost of running teams at this level. "The league will be downgraded from Premier to Championship level so clubs will find it hard to attract players and there will be less players coming into the game in the lower leagues because the FA isn’t strongly supporting them. "When funding is cut, Men’s clubs that have Women’s team may not continue to support them either; therefore there is a real risk to their future survival. "The FA are building a top down strategy rather than a bottom up one which will create an elitist sport rather than a sport for all." Save Our WPL are demanding a Special General Meeting with the FA to debate ‘Game Changer’ against their alternative strategy for women’s football, ‘Every Player Counts’. The spokesman added: “It’s clear from Women’s Premier League (WPL) players’ reactions so far, the absence of promotion from WPL to Women’s Super League (WSL) in the Game Changer strategy is a huge demotivating factor in their development and may even cause some to leave the game.

"Rather than throwing the Women’s Premier League under the bus, the FA should, in fact, be looking to retain the WPL and invest more in its growth both in finance and management, as they have learned already how necessary it is to support the lower leagues in the men’s game. "Ours is an approach that will be a more effective and cost-efficient way to achieve a more widespread player development route and create pathways for new players. "In short, it will respect and deliver on the women’s game

as a national, grassroots movement and not an elite sport for the wealthy few. And it will ultimately better serve the England national team by helping to develop many more English players. The FA have also moved to distance themselves from the FAWPL by claiming their previous collaboration was a “mistake”. The news was announced on the influential independent FAWPL News Twitter account which has done much to promote the women’s game in England. The FA were unavailable for comment.


Twitteraction

@bl0wingbubbles Following our disappointing defeat at home to Chelsea last week, there was a lot of anger from West Ham fans on the wonderful world of Twitter. Here is a selection of messages posted by our followers:

Ronnie B @hammerheadronni Played rubbish but the fans were all wicked. Last 15 mins in the Trevor brooking lower was class we shut them plastics right up #coyi

Gary Lewis @Gaznipper Too early to panic. Next 4 games are crucial. 3 of the teams below us. Until they are over keep calm and support the team. #coyi

Imrano @1mrano Allardyce you & your stupid ,4-6-Nothing formation! Play strikers or just resign. You need to learn!

Richard Taylor @RichieT64 Can anyone tell me why we'd go to the trouble of getting Carlton Cole back and then refuse to play him when we need to Dom Worth @StatsDom Heads up Hammers! Long way to go yet! Playing against a very strong Chelsea side! Mr Gnome @UptonparkGnome Another poor performance from players and manager Geoff Walker @geoff_walker1 If we don't get 6 points from the next 2 games then relegation is a real possibility

Alex Mead @alexmeadsocial Why does Big Sam insist on continuing to give Modibo Maiga chance after chance? He missed another sitter yet again today. #COYI #WHUFC Boz @BrianBosomworth We keep making basic errors and you can't do that in this league without getting punished. Big two games coming up.#COYI Dean Appleby @deanapp Sam has to change it for Fulham, Eliot Lee and Carlton up front. This system isn't working with the players we have. #coyi

Stefanie Goodridge @Stef_Goodridge I'm still West Ham through and through! The goals will come eventually! #COYI Martyn Phelps @witter_dad Didn't watch the match. Didn't want to spoil my day. Not surprised by the scoreline. Still best club on the Planet Official Jamie WHU @GuildfordHammer To the fans in the Trevor Brooking lower and Bobby Moore lower that stayed.. I salute you! COYI! Ciaran Cusack @Ashgrove40 Dear Santa! can u please buy me a striker! and a few points for Christmas as I've been a good Hammer all year round! Supporting my team! Kyle @kyle1bruce Bad times when even palace are looking better than West Ham! Sir Little Batman @scaiger85 Think it might be time for big Sam to get the big boot


Thomas Johnson It was with a heavy heart that I read the news of your ankle injury that is likely to keep you out until the New Year. You are my favourite current Hammer because you’re the rock of the back four with your timely tackles and composed clearances. Winston, you have provided us with so many highlights over the past few seasons which obviously include scoring in London derbies against Millwall and Spurs. You are earning a place in a lot of fans’ hearts and if you stay with the claret and blue, you’ll be a cult hero too. We got off to a rocky start, there’s no denying that, though it would’ve been hard for anyone to shine under Grim Uncle Avram. We were promised a ‘World Cup star’ by the club and there you appeared. It was an unfair billing for a young player moving to one of the top leagues in the world and no doubt piled on more pressure, but boy are you changing our minds our current Hammer of the Year. A stalwart this season and last it fills the stands with confidence seeing your name on the team sheet. Looking at the games you’ll sit out it would certainly make me feel better to see you taking to the pitch against the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United amongst others.

Wonderful Winston, get well soon Just eight games shy of 100 in claret and blue, Winston, it is a shame to lose a player of your calibre to injury. When it comes to injuries to our best players it is something us fans have had to get used to – send a get well message to Big Andy Carroll as well because I would love to have you both back on the pitch as soon as you’re ready. Since the season you proved your worth as we searched for promotion from the Championship, it has been a debate amongst Hammers of who should partner you in central defence. With your commanding displays and powerfulheaded clearances it is no wonder that you are one of the first names on Big Sam’s team sheet as I am sure you would be on everyone in the crowd’s starting XI. It may be slightly premature but you are captain material, in the current squad I see only you

and Mark Noble as future captains, the both of you stand out as players prepared to clip a teammate round the ear or offer some advice, whilst solidly organising and giving the referee an earful. So come back as soon as possible, put your feet up and have a brew, but don’t try and make it yourself because you’re at West Ham and we can’t afford your dropping the kettle and injuring yourself further Winston. From everyone with an affinity to our beloved West Ham United we wish you a speedy recovery and for you to come back with every bit of passion and drive that we know you’ve got. Yours sincerely, Thomas Johnson Follow me on Twitter @SoundOfVinyl


Marcus Johns

Reid it and weep

It was only going to be a matter of time before we were sussed out. Years after we West Ham fans worked it out, several so-called bigger clubs have cottoned on to it too. That is, of course, that Winston Reid is one hell of a good centre half. If we’re truthful to ourselves, we’ll admit it took us a while to unanimously agree on him. A signing originally pitched to us in the summer of 2010 as someone who was a star of that year's World Cup, it was a tad of an anti-climax when we discovered the player we had been courting was a New Zealander. Not quite the Spaniard or Dutchman we’d expected.

Our disappointment was soon turned into genuine fear when our new £5m man played his first few games. Seemingly confused by the fact he wore the number two shirt, Uncle Avram proceeded to start him at right back – a position he struggled to adapt too before suffering a fate you’d not wish on any professional footballer. He was dropped - for Julien Faubert! It wasn’t until Grant had relegated us and left that we started to see the signs of the player we’d been promised. Knowing a thing or two about centre halves, Big Sam was quick to make him a mainstay in our Championship side, making

33 appearances. And with each appearance there was an ever-increasing assurance and calmness that perfectly balanced our defence at the time and played a key role not only in our promotion. Despite the signing of James Collins – deemed by many at the time to be bought to played alongside Tomkins – Reid continued to establish himself at the heat of our defence. Now fully prepared for what the Premier League might throw at him, his strength, bravery, ability to tackle, his leadership and above all his pace meant that for the first time in recent memory, we had a defence that we could actually be proud of. And,


more importantly, one we didn’t have to watch through our fingers every time a ball went into our box. So good was he, in fact, that in a season full of positives for the entire team, it was Winston who held aloft the coveted Hammer of the Year award for 2013. With a strong start defensively to this season, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that he has been drawing more than just an admiring glance from one of the big boys – with rumours rife of a bid coming from Arsenal. And when you look at Arsenal’s defence, it’s not hard to see why. Per Mertersacker and Laurent Koscielny have looked far from convincing this season, and lack many of the qualities Reid could bring them., however such qualities at Premier League level must come at a price. But what is that price? Media reports have suggested a bid should be expected in the region of £6million. To me, this smacks of a repeat of Arsene Wenger's perusal of Gary Cahill, whereby he bid deliberately low in an attempt to unsettle the player. Unlike Bolton though, we are currently in a position whereby we do not need to sell. He’s an established part of a solid defence, and only recently spoke out about his

love for West Ham, and how settled he is with us. However, we must remain pragmatic. As happy as he appears to be at the club – confirmed by the fact he has not publicly courted any approach – will the opportunity to join Arsenal be too appealing to a player now in his mid 20s? With New Zealand being a nation who at best struggle to qualify for World Cups – he is unlikely to be able to fully showcase his talents on the highest stage of them all, so is bound to harbour strong ambitions to play in the Champions League. Let’s be honest, it’s an ambition he is unlikely to be able to achieve with West Ham, be it at Upton Park or as part of the Olympic Stadium legacy. And when a player has the ability to really further his career – are we really in a position to stand in his way? The last thing we want is a distracted and despondent player at the heart of our defence. If he does go, we must ensure that the deal is the best possible deal for West Ham. I’ve seen comments on Twitter to the tune of holding out for £15million, but again we must be realistic. This is as overly inflated as the reported £6million is ludicrously low. Somewhere between the two, and you’ve probably got a realistic value.

But is a cash deal the best deal? If we did sell him for £10million, suddenly every replacement option goes up in price knowing that we have cash in our pocket. So what is the solution? Well, I suspect the answer is currently sat on Arsenal’s bench. If Reid did sign to compete with Metersacker and Koscielny, then where does that leave Thomas Vermaelen? Unlikely to be happy at being fourth choice at The Emirates, I believe we should look to include him in any deal. Whilst a player I’d have previously thought we’d be unable to attract, the lure of being a first choice centre half in the run up to a World Cup would surely be preferable for the Belgian. Attracting Vermaelen to commit long term might be an issue, but the inclusion of a buy-out clause in case of a decent tournament would potentially suit both parties. A deal of £2m cash plus Vermaelen, will solve many problems. We will have a ready made replacement for Reid and have the cash to fund a loan move for a proven goalscorer in January. While it will be sad to see Reid leave the club, there may well be a deal to be made that might benefit the club and the player alike. If he does leave, I will wish him all the best.


Marcus Johns

Is there finally something that football can learn from rugby? We’ve heard it many times before - football should take note of what is going on in other sports and learn from them. Why, you might ask, would the world’s most popular sport need to change? On the whole, you’d probably be right. When it comes to marketing, popularity, media coverage, glitz and glamour, there are no other sports that can command the global appeal of football. But would it not be a bit too single minded

and ignorant to totally rule it out? Take rugby as an example. Both sports born from the same game before splitting into Rugby Football and Association Football, and although both are very different today, surely parallels can still be drawn from each to improve the other? As mentioned earlier, whilst there is very little we would want to change about the beautiful game, if you had to sit down and pick out what is wrong with our game, its

probably fair to suggest that towards the top 3 of anyone’s list would be the high wages paid to players, the lack of respect shown to match officials, and players feigning injury. I’m sure you’ll agree that wages are probably too high. However, to go down a rugby union style salary cap? Not for me. I, for one, love seeing some of the very best ply their trade in England. So unless it was to be a world-wide cap, it would only follow the course in rugby, which has seen the


vast majority of top stars head abroad. The lack of respect shown to match officials is indeed appalling on most parts. Anyone who watches rugby can only look on in a mix of awe, admiration and embarrassment at the difference between the two sports in the way the referee is addressed in rugby, and the way in which even the most debateable decision is accepted. The reason being simple – in rugby, territory is everything. Back chat to a referee will see you marched back ten yards. Do you recall football experimenting with this rule? It arrived to a mass fanfare in 2001 and disappeared without a trace quietly in 2005 on account of the fact that the rule, well, didn’t really have any effect. So onto the final of those 3 footballing annoyances, and the one thing I feel football can look to its sporting cousin for guidance on. Play acting. They say that the difference between the two sports is that a footballer spends 90 minutes trying to convince everyone he’s been hurt when he’s not, and a rugby player spends his match pretending not to be injured when he is. Picture the scene – and it’s one we’ll have all groaned at in the past – the opposition are on the attack and in trying to make a

tackle, one of your players catches one of their players late, sending him crashing to the floor. There he resides, rolling, groaning and throwing his arms up in the air. Your team win back possession, begin a counter attack only for the referee to blow his whistle on account of the player on the floor who was in such agony until the referee’s whistle was blown. He then has his bit of attention and suddenly is no longer screaming and writhing around but picking himself up in a miraculous show of recovery. Yep, it’s bloody annoying. But does rugby have a solution? You see, by the very nature of rugby seeing two 18 stone slabs of solid muscle smashing into each other, serious head and neck injuries are always a distinct possibility – as seen in this summer’s first test between the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia in which three Australians were carried off in neck braces. So, to ensure that players receive the best treatment possible, the medical teams are allowed to enter the field of play at any time to tend to their injured players. And for me, this is something football has to adopt – for if a physio can come on during open play, there would be no need to play act.

No need to waste time or disrupt the oppositions flow. If a player wants to roll on the floor awaiting unnecessary medical attention, well that’s up to him. The only one’s he’ll be disadvantaging will be his own team. We should forget, that not only would this appease the cynical aspects of the game, but also help those who genuinely need it. My heart still sinks a little at the memory of Michael Owen crawling towards the touchline during England’s World Cup campaign of 2006 while play carried on. If football was to look at introducing rugby’s methodology, sights such as that would be a thing of the past. So while it is fair to say that there are many other sports that could look and learn from football, we must acknowledge that if minor things from other sports can be used to improve our great game, and cut loose some of the gamesmanship that can cast its reputation into disrepute, then we as a sport must be strong enough to take it on board – even if it does mean copying the egg chasers! Follow me on Twitter @Johnsie31 Marcus Johns also writes for West Ham website moorethanjustaclub.com. You can follow them on Twitter @MooreThanAClub


Opposition View: Fulham

Tim Holland speaks to Fulham fan Peter Harris about Petric, Martin Jol and the new owners and buying veteran players

How do you assess Fulham’s start to the season? I’ve been shocked by how it’s gone. I think there was a real sense of optimism coming into the season. We didn’t have a great preseason but then that doesn’t have a bearing on the actual season in my eyes. We made some good purchases and loan signings and also cleared out some of the deadwood (Petric et al) but it really hasn’t gelled for us yet and I’m worried about when it will.

Pressure has been mounting on Martin Jol. Do you think he’ll be sacked if the results don’t start changing? I think when new owners come into a business they usually want to stamp their mark on it and football clubs are no different. Shahid Khan has taken owner from Al Fayed and given the results I’m surprised he hasn’t gone already. I like Martin Jol but I’m afraid I think he is on borrowed time.

How have your summer signings adapted to life in the Premier League? I’ve always liked Derek Boateng and Reither was good on loan last season so it made sense for a permanent deal. We replaced Schwarzer with Skelenenburg which was a good swap given Mark’s age. Scott Parker was another good acquisition especially with Simon Davies retiring. The loan signings of Taarabt and Bent were very astute – we just need them to start playing!


You have a new assistant in Rene Meulensteen. How much of that decision has been made by Jol himself? I’ve heard rumours that he will replace Jol if the results don’t improve. I’m not sure how true they are but given the perilous position of the club Jol probably needs as much help as possible at the moment anyway. How surprised are you that Berbatov and Bent aren’t scoring consistently this season? I think there’s always a worry when you buy veteran players that you’re not getting the player they were two years ago. They’re no longer in their prime and therefore don’t have the consistency. Berbatov was great last season but has struggled so far this season. Bent has done ok but again has shown glimpses of his ability. Both need to get firing on all cylinders. How is ex Hammer Scott Parker getting on this season? Scott’s a natural leader in the middle of the park and although his engine isn’t quite what it used to be, he always puts in a good shift and has popped up on the score sheet this season. Overall I’m happy

with him in the team although striker away from a good he is quite similar to Sidwell in team though and if you manage to get someone in at many ways. the start of January then you Who should West Ham fans could have a change of fortunes. be wary of in the Fulham first XI when the club’s Which West Ham players meet this season? would you have in your Berbatov and Bent need to squad? start scoring if we’ve got a I’m not surprised Winston chance of fighting off Reid has been drawing the relegation. Hammer’s fans plaudits this season – I’ve know Parker’s abilities so he shouldn’t come as a surprise. always liked him and Tomkins. Adel Taarabt has some great Ravel Morrison is also a player that I’d like to see in a skill but needs to use his Fulham kit. head a bit more. What’s been your opinion of West Ham this season? Like us I’m surprised you’ve struggled like you have this season. I think you’re one

What’s your prediction for the match and for both clubs this season? 1 -1 for the match, Fulham 15th, West Ham 16th.


David Bowden

More Hammers embarrassment Inspiring Hammer eyes first team spot after battling and beating cancer Dylan Tombides isn’t your average teenage footballing talent. Having joined the Hammers at aged 15 with his brother Taylor after impressing for Australia youth in Hong Kong he was cruelly diagnosed with testicular cancer at 17. Every day he walks into the bathroom and staring back at him in the mirror is a 12 inch scar on his stomach which he has received from one of his many operations. He was on the cusp of glory as he was welcomed onto the bench by Kevin

Keen at 17 for the club’s last home game of the season against Sunderland. With the smile still beaming on his face, he got onto the plane to Mexico readying himself for the under 17s World Cup. Following a 4-0 win against Uzbekistan, the young Australian trudged off to a routine drugs test. Weeks later he found out the news that would change his life for ever. Recounting the moment to the Daily Mail in an interview in 2012, Tombides said; “It was only when I took the phone call in

Cancun that I realised just how serious the condition was. I had the blood tests and CT scans when I got back to England and they told me I needed to have a testicle removed immediately. I just accepted it. I mean, it was hurting me so much it seemed sensible.” It was news that shocked the West Ham faithful. One of our own, at such a young age had cancer. His story is an inspiration to us all. A humbling tale of a young man delivered with the worst possible news.


He remembered the moment he was hit in the groin in a fixture for Australia against Brazil. He was in pain, but had no clue he had cancer. “All I ever wanted to be was a top professional footballer with West Ham. I copped one in my groin against Brazil at the World Cup and I knew that I had a problem, but I had no idea it was cancer” he also told the Daily Mail. After months of treatment, the Aussie made an emotional comeback in the instantly forgettable 4-1 defeat in the Capital One cup tie against Wigan in September 2012. Following the clash, he tweeted a humbling and honest verdict. He said: “To be involved tonight and get on

the pitch while going through treatment is so rewarding shame about the result but we move on #BigPicture”. A year later, and after yet more surgery he is back in claret and blue and fighting fit. He now regularly plays for the development squad and scored the goal of the month in a recent vote on WHUFC.com for his delightful dink in the U21s friendly clash over Colchester. Now fully recovered, Tombides is at the heart of the “One for the Boys” campaign which made a special appearance in Stratford Westfield alongside many other big name stars. He was quick to praise West Ham for helping to raise awareness of male cancer.

"Football is watched by millions, especially men, so when a football club like West Ham lend their support in whatever way possible to campaigns and awareness programmes like this, it means a lot and we can get our message out to many more men” he told West Ham TV. Once tipped by legendary Academy director Tony Carr to be the next big thing Tombides is now well on his way to recovery and ready to grab his new chance with both hands. Here’s hoping we see him amongst the goals sooner rather than later. Follow me on Twitter @Bowdenwhu


Opposition View: Crystal Palace

Tim Holland speaks to Peter Roy, Crystal Palace fan and Selhurst Park regular about uninspiring Pulis, not being keen on Chamakh and worrying about Gabbidon How do you rate Crystal Palace’s season thus far? I’m not going to lie, it’s been tough. I think the win against Hull has really helped but up until then I was worrying where the next win was coming from. What with Holloway’s departure, it’s felt like a stop start season so far. Hopefully that result will push us on rest of the season. What was your view of Ian Holloway’s leaving so early in the season? It was a difficult call to make. I was surprised that

given Holloway got us promoted the club wouldn’t stand by him longer. I suppose it worked with Southampton last season but still that was after New Year. The sad thing is that Ian Holloway’s a character and personally I liked him at the club and I thought he was good for the Premier League. What have you made of Tony Pulis’ arrival? I did worry when Holloway was sacked as I couldn’t see any managers out there that I wanted at the club. Like most fans I think it’s quite an uninspiring managerial

appointment but if Pulis keeps us in the Premiership then that’s all that matters. It doesn’t help that I didn’t particularly like his brand of football at Stoke but it got results What have you made of your summer signings? It was a good mix of signings in the summer, expensive highly-rated youngsters, free transfers, experienced Premier League players and unheard of foreign internationals. Barry Bannan is a great signing for me and I think if Cameron Jerome can get back to his


best then he still has something to offer. Jimmy Kebe has shown glimpses of what he can do. I wasn’t keen on Chamakh (as I’m sure that most West Ham fans were) and that hasn’t changed. Ex Hammer Danny Gabbidon is a member of your squad. How’s old Gabbs getting on? Gabbs is still here, just about. He’s been playing in the league this season which always worries me but he does add some much needed experience to the team. I’ve got a feeling that he might retire at the end of the season though. Kevin Philips rolled back the years last season finishing your top scorer with 17 goals. How’s he getting on this season? Unfortunately after such a good season he’s not getting the games at the moment so I wouldn’t be surprised if he moved on in January. I have a lot of time for KP but I have a feeling he might be better suited to the Championship now. What’s been your opinion of West Ham this season? I’m surprised you’re struggling quite as much as

you are. Your midfield and defence are better than most but it looks like you’re having difficulty getting the goals at the moment – you couldn’t buy them at the minute. I’ve got a feeling that you might continue to struggle even when you get your players back. Who should West Ham fans be wary of in the Crystal Palace team when the clubs meet? I think Barry Bannan is a great player and that showed with his goal against Hull. Cameron Jerome is coming into some form so he will be troublesome as well.

Which West Ham players would you have in your squad? It’s good to see Ravel Morrison getting the headlines for good reasons this season. He looks a handful especially given his age. Diame scored some good goals last season as well. What’s your prediction for this match and for both clubs next season? I’ve got a feeling it’ll be a draw. I think both teams will struggle against relegation – Crystal Palace 17th, West Ham 18th.


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Blowing Bubbles #26 (West Ham V Fulham 30/11/13)  

In this issue: *Julian Dicks' exclusive column *A plea for Carlton Cole to get a game *Why we need to drop Captain Fantastic *How should we...

Blowing Bubbles #26 (West Ham V Fulham 30/11/13)  

In this issue: *Julian Dicks' exclusive column *A plea for Carlton Cole to get a game *Why we need to drop Captain Fantastic *How should we...

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