Page 1

BB 032

Why kick-off change proves Sky Sports is killing football Have West Ham turned a corner in our battle for survival? Carroll’s red card halts positive impact Did we panic buy in January transfer window? Matty Taylor: Unsung hero? & much more The Number One West Ham United eFanzine! Print • Mobile • Online

A&S Express Couriers Your Door to Door Link to the World

ยง International ยง Overnight ยง Sameday

ยง Passenger Cars

Our aim is to operate a fast, reliable and flexible service to all cities in Europe and the rest of the world and to make your bookings quick and convenient. There are no call centres; just professional staff to accept your bookings, answer your questions and to make sure your consignments are handled and monitored efficiently from point of collection through to delivery with a signature on completion. In addition to this service, we can also collect anywhere in the UK for international deliveries to send anywhere in the world. We are just one phone call away. We can also provide a UK sameday and overnight service Email: Tel: 0844 800 6810 Visit:

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

(c) Blowing Bubbles

It may have come six months too late but our win over Swansea finally gave Sam Allardyce a chance to show fans how he wanted West Ham to be playing since August. Andy Carroll may have made his first league start of the season against Chelsea but that was such a bus-parking exercise that effectively the Swansea game was his first start and didn’t the difference show? Kevin Nolan has plenty of making up to do in the eyes of many fans after his two red cards either side of Christmas so his first-half brace will have given him extra satisfaction, especially as best mate Carroll set up both. But just as we were being reminded what a centre forward looks like, he was gone. Straight red. The appeal came soon after but was unsuccessful and now we have to endure two more games without our main battering ram. Our remaining games in February are against Norwich and Southampton, matches where we must surely fancy our chances of picking up some points even though the absence of our biggest threat will make it more of a challenge. Turning our latest issue and I kick off proceedings with a piece outlining why I think the kick-off change for our game against Sunderland proves Sky Sports is killing football. This is followed by a piece from News Editor Alex Shilling defending the money in the game. Who do you think is right? Let us know! Enjoy the game.

David Blackmore Editor

David Blackmore

Why kick-off change proves Sky Sports is killing football

For many, money in football is a force of good which has revolutionised the game for the better, bringing with it a globalised sport which connects the people together but for others who ethics may stand firm against money they believe football has ‘sold its soul’. No one can deny the power and influence that money has in football, with Rupert Murdoch’s Sky TV, changing the face of the game from a ‘working class’

game to a billion pound business. On the surface of football everything looks to be incredibly successful; the Premier League is labelled ‘the greatest league in the world’ and billions are entertained by it, but beneath the surface, there is conflict and unrest. When the Premier League started back in 1992, no one could have truly predicted the impact the millions of Sky Sports would have on not only

the English football but the global game as well. But has football ‘sold its soul’ for money? Personally I think it has if this week’s announcement that West Ham’s clash away at Sunderland has been moved from the Saturday to the Monday is anything to go by. Yet again I feel the hardcore travelling West Ham fans have been ignored just for the benefit of TV. Hundreds of Hammers fans

who would have otherwise made the long, gruelling trip to the North East may now miss out due to the decision to postpone the fixture by 48 hours. This game is vital for the Hammers as we fight to avoid relegation from the Premier League and it could now well be a trip the team will now face without the full backing of the club’s tremendous away following. What the wonderful people at Sky don’t realise is that real football fans have to plan trips the length of the country well in advance. Doing it this way, you get better deals on accommodation and travel. I know one group of eight who are travelling up on the Saturday morning early doors and have also booked a hotel in the centre of Newcastle before travelling home on the Sunday morning. There must have been hundreds of other fans who had similar plans and now they must ask themselves how much of the trip is nonrefundable and is it worth cancelling it to save the cost of say the hotel bill? What would the true greats of the past in football think of the influence and power that money has in the game? The FA is losing grip of football in England and some rules and restrictions need to be put in place before the real spirit of football is lost forever and it becomes a business rather than a spectacle.

Alex Shilling

True spirit of football still exists despite Sky Sports’ cash

Take a look around the current West Ham’s starting XI, when everyone’s fit and free from suspension. I’d go for Adrian, Demel, Tomkins, Reid, Armero, Jarvis, Diame, Nolan, Noble, Downing, Carroll. I know we’re struggling against relegation but on the face of it, that is a decent team, no? Seven internationals and a wealth of Premier League experience. But where does it all come from? Where does West Ham United have the money to amass such a relative array of footballing talent?

Intriguing question, the answer to which I’m only going to address partially. Television. The goggle box, the idiot’s lantern as my mother puts it, is what I’m driving at. Useful, isn’t it? You can watch all kinds of things on it, Channel 4 news, Charlie Brooker’s Newswipe, repeats of Hollyoaks, Babestati… anyway, I digress. What I’m driving at is the big Sky Sports debate. Except that it’s not really a debate just now, and I think that’s wrong. The common wisdom amongst football fans is that Sky Sports is

killing football. This is something I disagree with in as many ways as much as a #Noble4England hashtag used on Facebook, and I’ll go into that in further detail below. During your travels on the Internet over the time since the last issue of Blowing Bubbles, you may have come across an article in the Metro by the man known privately (and now publicly, in print) to me as David Blackmore, aka our editor, David. The gaffer is of the opinion that the most recent kick off change (the match at Sunderland in

March, from a Saturday afternoon to a Monday night) is killing ‘the real spirit’ of football. I admire his steadfast idealism but the fact of the matter is that without Sky Sports, we as fans would not have the privilege (view that turn of phrase as a long-term concept) of watching the team I listed in the first paragraph. I was as annoyed as anyone when the Sunderland game got changed to a Monday night. I’m a student at Dundee University and given I’m only in London for half the year, much of which is during the close season during the summer, I only manage to get to around 10 games a year and had targeted the Sunderland fixture as a definite away day. I can only feel for the fans who had already booked nonrefundable trains and accommodation. However, this is just the way football is today. The wisdom that ‘Sky Sports is killing football’ is hardly revolutionary thinking fans know the risks they are taking when they book advance train tickets or hotels for away days up north. A question in the debate over football coverage on television which is seldom asked is why do the clubs not look after their fans better?

Football clubs are not forced to have their matches broadcast on television; they are offered good money to be on television and they accept. Instead of lambasting the television companies offering the money, why do fans not lambast their clubs for accepting it, in the knowledge that it will grossly inconvenience their supporters? The answer to that question is that clubs accept the television money and the inconvenience it causes their supporters because they are doing it for their supporters. Firstly, a trip to Sunderland on a Saturday would attract, at most, 3,000 travelling Hammers. We’ve haven’t had an attendance under 30,000 in the Premier League at home so far this season and all of those fans who attended our last home match would, I imagine, be keen to watch the away game at the Black Cats, so the acceptance of the invitation to have it screened on live television is in in the interests of the many, rather than the few. Secondly, football costs money. West Ham spent more in the transfer window last summer than we had ever done previously in our history. Whether you agree with the purchases or not (and I definitely don’t, but

that’s a matter for another article), fans have to accept that they can’t have it both ways, if they want the club to spend money on players like Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing, sacrifices have to made in other areas of the club, and sadly it is going to be the fans who bear the brunt of that, with ticket prices rising and more matches being screened live on television. Sky Sports is a feature of our football-supporting lives now and we can all fight it or rock out to it. I’m not going to pretend that I don’t find a football fan who has a subscription to Sky Sports and watches Super Sunday as well as La Liga, Champions League and live matches featuring his club that he can’t get to, yet moans about the company ‘killing the game’ just a tad hypocritical, and I’m afraid I have some bad news for the boss: football is already ‘a business rather than a spectacle’ and has been for some years. However, there are plenty of good things about the modern game so fear not, Davey boy, the true spirit of football still exists in many forms. Follow me on Twitter @alexshilling

Julian Shea

Have West Ham turned a corner in their battle for survival? So January has been and gone, and despite tabloid warnings of everyone being buried in apocalyptic snow storms or washed away by tides of Romanians, the world has kept turning and from West Ham’s point of view, the outlook at the end of the month is decidedly more upbeat than it was at the start. There were certainly moments last month when West Ham may have looked like a sinking ship (which might explain Razvan Rat’s departure) but what does not kill you makes you stronger, and as a result, West Ham can look forward with considerably more confidence. One of the main

reasons why is the return of Andy Carroll. After brief appearances in the meaningless Capital One Cup semi-final second leg against Manchester City, and in Operation Batten Down The Hatches at Stamford Bridge, the difference his attacking presence made to the whole team against Swansea was obvious: finally, a hub around which to play, and a spearhead to lead the attack. With Carroll the maypole, West Ham led Swansea a merry dance, with the way the Welsh side had to resort to Chico Flores’ shameful and embarrassing play-acting to nullify the 25 year old’s threat showing just how unplayable he can be. His huge physical

presence and the waves he creates are the perfect embodiment of manager Sam Allardyce’s preferred pattern of play. 0/10 for sophistication, perhaps, but at the moment that is hardly the priority, and it is so straightforward that there is no danger of anything getting lost in translation, which should make it easy for newcomers Marco Borriello, Antonio Nocerino and Pablo Armero to pick it up and get used to it pretty fast. After his tactical error in the summer, signing goal provider Stewart Downing rather than another goalscorer as back-up for Carroll, (thank God for free agent Carlton Cole digging

the club out of a hole, rejoining in the January transfer window just months after being deemed surplus to requirements), Allardyce played his cards pretty well during the January transfer window. Yes, some prominent targets eluded him, but in landing Borriello and Nocerino he may have pulled off something of a coup. Both have Champions League pedigree, have played this season for top teams (Roma and Milan) in one of Europe’s most competitive leagues, and have more than a few Italian caps. Definitely worth having at your disposal. Signing such quality players is a lifetime away from the dark days of conceding 11 goals in two games last month, but even that experience allowed Adrian to establish himself as the club’s first choice keeper, another plus. Throw in the return of the colossally important Winston Reid in defence, and all of a sudden the warmth and optimism of spring feel significantly closer. It’s been a season of fits and starts for West Ham but as we approach the decisive final third, they are not just back to full strength, but mentally and physically stronger than ever. It’ll be a scrap to the end but West Ham are fighting fit. Follow me on Twitter @JulianSheaSport

Lucy Woolford

Adrián: The away fans’ goalkeeper

Adrián is settling nicely into his West Ham goalkeeper jersey. It was a slightly shaky start in pre-season, but his performances have come to make him an almost overnight hero for us. To match his on pitch skills, he appears to have the character that the fans and maybe even the dressing room needs. There is no doubt that some of his saves helped us to a point at Stamford Bridge two weeks ago and this was encapsulated at the end of the game when his teammates flocked to

congratulate Adrián on another top class performance between the sticks. I loved seeing that. A sense of togetherness that we often question the presence of. The ‘keeper seems to be someone who is uniting players in celebration when the good times come, and yelling out instructions when things aren’t going right. What I liked the most about the post-Chelsea scenes were his celebrations. I’ve noticed this about Adrián - he celebrates good results and goals (when they come), and I love that in a goalkeeper.

So often we see them left out and feeling a little far away, but we seem to have a man here who enjoys playing, winning and putting in a noticeable performance. Watching Adrián’s reaction to the Chelsea draw after a heap of pressure from the home side, made me think of how his interaction with West Ham fans is a great testament to his personality. To have settled in so quickly despite not having a guaranteed starting position, and to already be a fan favourite is quite something. I watched his pre-season performance at Cork City. I

was at the other end of the pitch when he was on for the second half, and at the time I wasn’t aware that Jaaskelainen had been substituted. I was concerned that Jussi was having a dodgy second half and flapping around a bit, until I was told it was Adrián. That was my first impression of him. He understandably got a few cup games under his belt, that’s expected from a second choice goalkeeper. Then on December 21st, I was in my kitchen. I heard Jeff Stelling ask his Soccer Saturday panel: “Are you surprised that Adrián is starting of Jaaskelainen today?” Out loud, I remarked: “What?!” I was on my own in the kitchen, so no one answered me, but I stopped chopping to look at the telly and listen to the comments. I was so surprised and I hadn’t seen this move coming. It is very rare that ‘keepers are changed, and when they are it’s normally to the embarrassment of the former man because he’s made a few howlers. To gauge the general consensus of this decision I turned to Twitter. It seemed as though most others were less surprised than me and thought it was a good move, with Adrián being backed on his better distribution and

general shot stopping ability. I remained sceptical but trusted that there was good reason to replace Jaaskelainen. So up to now, his ability as a goalkeeper is proven. We have had enough opportunity to see him play and although results haven’t been great, he’s not been to blame. But in his few games, his personality has been what has won me over. His prematch tunnel smiles are a welcome addition to a nervy starting 11. I attend more away matches than home ones these days, and the presence of a charismatic goalkeeper is great for travelling fans. When we’re on the attack at the other opposite end of the field (but not looking too promising), or if it’s a bit of a dull midfield tussle, we need a bit of light entertainment, and goalkeepers are often our source of fun. Rob Green was undoubtedly the best for this. He used to react to the fans, make us laugh and give us generous applause at the final whistle. Some of my fondest away day memories involve ‘Greeno’ with whom there was never a dull moment.Jaaskelainen warmed up to his away fan duties eventually. Whilst not as entertaining as Green to the fans behind him, he gave the odd wave and I loved his

belly laugh reaction to one fan yelling “Finland’s number one” at the top of his voice. Adrián strikes me as someone who will be a favourite with away fans, and will give them the antics that they desire, whilst also giving a solid performance with 100% effort. If he plays his cards right, he can gain a relationship with the crowd that will give him a buzz that he won’t want to give up. They’re already singing his name as we saw at Chelsea, and following the win over Cardiff, Adrián told "For me, the support is the best support in the country, away and home. I am really feeling close to them." That’s what we like to hear! It’s also worth checking out his Twitter page. I know footballers on Twitter is a bit of a contentious issue, but his positive outlook on life shines through in his post-match tweets, and there’s been a few good images of him and his happy team-mates posted up. Adrián looks like a man who plays with smile on his face and his heart on his sleeve. I like that, and I’ve certainly warmed to him. Long may his infectious happiness continue! Follow me on Twitter @lucy_whufc

Andrew Hosie: Tales from the Sandpit

The real reason we beat Swansea

I have always thought West Ham do better when I am not watching. I’m sure many of you feel the same and I’m sure you believe in crucial matches this seems to be particularly true. This all started for me when I first moved to Dubai and we were involved in the play offs in 2004. I saw the first match which we lost 1-0 and I remember deliberately not watching the second leg of the game against Ipswich, which we went on to win 2-0 and then, of course, the crushing disappointment of watching the play-off final in a

pub in Dubai city centre run by a Crystal Palace fan just to rub salt further in to the wounds. So in a country where up to recently every single league match was shown live, this has caused issues season after season with the overwhelming desire to watch West Ham on the box conflicting with my belief that I doom them to defeat as soon as I flick that button on the remote control to the correct channel. Actually, as an aside, now that I’m writing this, wasn’t there a recent statistic that showed West Ham generally

performed appallingly in matches that were selected to be screened in the UK? In fact, I think they didn’t win any of their UK televised matches in the entirety of last year. Thank goodness that feat was not based on the Hammers TV appearances in the UAE otherwise we’d be in a far more calamitous position than where we are now! Perhaps, then, my belief had some vague merit to it thus I think I was right to be wary when a friend of mine, who’s a Newcastle fan, invited me to the local hostelry to take in the two live early kick offs on

February 1. However, in the spirit of friendship and the desire to sink a few pints on a Saturday afternoon, I agreed to head down and meet him there. Now, the set up in my local means that we’d be able to sit on one table, he’d watch the Newcastle game on one screen and I’d watch the West Ham game on the other. This had worked well the previous Wednesday night where most of the bar watched the Tottenham v Man City match and I kept an eye on the Chelsea v West Ham game. On that night I had no worries about watching fully assuming that we’d get blown off the park so the curse was not ‘in-play’ that night. Anyway back to Saturday afternoon and it was with some relief where, after the pints had been ordered, the bar staff informed us they had a problem with one of the receivers and were only able to show one of the matches that afternoon and as BeIn Sports were focusing on Newcastle v Sunderland that was the match they were going to show. Secretly delighted, I made some suitable protestations, but overall the situation suited all. My friend was happy as he could watch what he thought would be a Newcastle home win and I could drink my pint(s) in relative calm knowing that

my curse was not going to be an issue for West Ham. Also BeIn Sports run an ‘instant goal’ service, showing goals from other matches 30 seconds after they’ve gone in so I wasn’t going to miss out on any news. As the half progressed you can imagine how things panned out - my friend getting more and more agitated and me getting more and more relaxed as the events from Upton Park were relayed to me in snippet form from friends on Whatsapp and from the instant goal service. However, concern grew at half time when my friend suggested he’d had enough of Newcastle’s ‘awful’ performance and suggested we switch channels to watch West Ham for the second half. “Don’t be so hasty,” I said, offering that we stick with the St James’s Park coverage because “if Newcastle grab an early goal, it’ll be game on!” Luckily he agreed and the channel remained on but as the second half started progressed it became clear there was not going to be a quick Newcastle comeback. After a while with my friend getting more and more angry, venting his frustrations at the screen and not being able to hold any kind of conversation, it was agreed we’d switch over.

So to Upton Park we went pretty much ten or so minutes in to the second half just in time for the curse to take effect and for us to witness some kind of altercation between Andy Carroll and Chico Flores near the touchline. As we’d been chatting about something or other I didn’t really notice the incident as it occurred but became very aware of the issue when I saw Carroll walking off the pitch and it was clearly not a substitution! Needless to say that convinced me the curse was back and in full force. Pleading and begging to turn the channels back fell on deaf ears but fortunately for me fate was to play its final hand. Seconds later, the TV feed fell apart and we were forced to concede that switching back to the Newcastle match was the only option. So, a series of events transpired to ensure that I was unable to watch West Ham versus Swansea at the start of the month and THAT is why we won that match. Oh, and I suppose I can also add it was because of a great West Ham performance too. A repeat performance Tuesday night please and I promise not to watch! Follow me on Twitter @hosiemon

West Ham Ladies

Hard work should start reaping rewards Midfielder Lindsey Morgan hopes the West Ham Ladies’ hard work on the training pitch will see them climb up the table once they return to FA Women’s Premier League South action later this month. The Hammers haven’t played a league game since they beat Chesham United 3-1 on December 8 because of the wet weather conditions so far this winter and might not play again until March. The Ladies currently sit fourth from bottom having picked up 12 points from their opening 12 games and Lindsey believes the prolonged winter break has

been a positive. “I think to a certain extent having a break from games has worked in our favour,” the 33 year old said. “It has enabled us to regroup and given us the opportunity to work together as a squad to improve in some areas. “I can't really see any issues arising as a result of the backlog of games. “It will obviously prolong our season but for me this will only become an issue if we suffer any injuries because we don't have the biggest squad this season in comparison to previous years.”

Lindsey rejoined West Ham United in 2011 from Millwall Lionesses and has impressed so far this season with one player of the match award and a goal in 12 appearances. “My hope moving forward is that we put in some good solid team performances and pick up some momentum,” she continued. “It is important that we pull together and work for each other and hopefully the results will start to reflect the hard work we are putting in on the training pitch. “As a senior player I look forward to continuing to

nurture the young talent at the club and will pass on my experience to the other players in the squad whenever possible.” The midfielder had planned to hang up her boots at the end of the 2011/12 campaign but admits she now has no plans to retire. “I have spoken previously about retirement but while I'm fit and injury free hanging up my boots couldn't be further from my mind,” she said. As for the departures of fellow senior players, forward Becky Merritt and goalkeeper Toni Anne Wayne, she added: “It is the nature of football that there will be a natural turnover of players at the club. “However, that being said it is always disappointing to lose experienced players. “On a positive note we have a lot of good young talent at the club and perhaps this will give them the opportunity that they need to break through into the first team.” The Ladies play their home games at Thurrock FC, Ship Lane, Grays, Essex, RM19 1YN. For more information about upcoming games, visit nitedladiesfc For more stories like this visit: WestHamLadies.

Opposition View: Norwich City

Tim Holland speaks to Peter Barry about it being a bad season for travelling Norwich fans, not being a fan of Elmander and Ravel wanting out

How do you assess Norwich’s start to the season so far? I thought this season was going to more about mid table obscurity but it now seems like we’re being pulled into the relegation battle. I’m really surprised that given our performances and the amount of losses we’ve had this season that we’re not in the bottom three but that just shows how many poor

clubs there are in the league. What’s most difficult to accept is how bad our away form has been. It hasn’t been good to be a travelling Norwich fan this season! Chris Hughton’s odds of being sacked have been shortened over the last month or so. How do you think he’s doing? I sit on the fence in regards to Chris Hughton

and for me it’ll all depend on where we stand come the end of the season. It’s too late in the season for anything to happen now. I like him as a person and I think he’s got some fight about him but I think some of the transfers haven’t quite worked. Norwich signed a number of players in the summer. How do you assess their time at Carrow Road?

Where do I start? I’ve never been a fan of Elmander and he hasn’t done anything to change my mind. Leroy Fer has done well in my eyes, as has Gary Hooper. I think there was a lot of expectation of Ricky Van Wolfswinkel coming into the season but he’s yet to deliver for us. Hopefully it is just that he needs a bit of time to settle in. Are you surprised that Hughton wasn’t busier in the January transfer window? I thought we were going to get a striker as we’ve been lacking goals all season even with Elmander and Ricky van Wolfswinkel. We definitely needed to strengthen our defence and add some experience and Yobo does both of those things. Gutierrez is a great signing and I was surprised that he was deemed surplus to requirements at Newcastle. Overall, not a bad transfer window.

player has conducted themselves so unprofessionally to go back to the dressing room with the team especially as he was expecting to leave in January.

It looked like Wes Hoolahan was destined to leave in January. Do you think he’ll be welcomed back into the team?

I think Van Wolfswinkel is due a goal or two before the end of the season and I like to see Gary Hooper extend his good form of late. In midfield, Johnson, Pilkington and Fer can all be threats.

Who should West Ham fans be wary of in the Norwich’s first XI?

Well, he hasn’t played since New Year’s Day so I think What’s your opinion of West unless the talks go well with Ham this season? Hughton I think he’ll go in the summer. I always think it I think that like most fans I must be difficult when a felt sorry for you after the

[Capital One Cup] semi final against Man City but that seems to have reinvigorated you a bit along with Andy Carroll coming back. You seem to be such an all or nothing team – you either boss a team or fall apart and that seems to be your issue this season. Which West Ham players would you have in your squad? I like Ravel Morrison but he seems to have been a quiet of late and I did hear he wanted out in January. Andy Carroll seems to have come back with a bang (and an elbow) and Stewart Downing has also looked good for you this season.

West Ham World: Tom Dowsett

Carroll’s red halts positive impact

Few West Ham fans would have expected us to pick up anything from Chelsea but the fact they did made our home game against Swansea City a vital match. Had the Hammers came a cropper against the Swans, it would have undermined the heroically-grabbed point at Stamford Bridge. Thankfully, we picked up another decent result, beating the Swans 2-0. The only downside from the match though, which I’m certain most fans would agree on, was the straight red card given to Andy

Carroll for the apparent elbow on Chico Flores. The majority inside the ground were booing Chico’s every touch from that point on. The general consensus from the support was that the reaction from the Spaniard was what got the striker sent off. Certainly the commentary team on the BT Sport coverage of the match also said that Howard Webb’s decision seemed very harsh. Big Sam later confirmed in his post-match news conference that the club would be launching an appeal and they had hoped to have

the three-match ban overturned. Although Carroll is not 100% match fit yet he is a real impact player and his presence will be missed as we now face a month of crucial fixtures which includes games at home to both Norwich City and Southampton. After the win away at Cardiff City there was praise for the impact that Carroll made when Big Sam introduced him, not least when he set up Mark Noble’s for the second goal to secure all three points and send the away support travelling back

to the East End with, at last, a reason to cheer. The impact of the former Newcastle United man has also had an effect on teammate and club captain Kevin Nolan. They worked so well as a partnership at St James’ Park and showed signs of the same against Swansea. Their deadly instincts should continue now they have reunited in East London as Carroll set up both goals for the skipper to take his tally to four goals for the season. The other positive to come out of the game other than three points was the return to first-team action of defender Winston Reid, who has been out with a long-term ankle injury. He was named on the bench and came on to replace Matthew Taylor and he certainly typified what the team have been missing in his absence. It seems that Allardyce made the correct call in not rushing the New Zealander back as he replaced the injured Joey O’Brien with George McCartney in the starting line-up. From the performances the team have shown in the last few games, providing the manager can keep the nucleus of the side together, that team should have enough quality to retain the club’s Premier League status.

For more articles like this visit You can also follow the team on Twitter @WestHamWorld

Thomas Johnson

Andy’s topsy turvy day against Swansea

Having Andy Carroll back has been a big boost for the club. He showed his importance to the team in that gruelling defensive display away at Chelsea and looked like he was getting back to being the player the club laid out a record transfer fee for. We saw the best and the worst of it against Swansea City. For 60 minutes he had completely dominated the game, snuffed out the Welsh side’s passing abilities and provided two great knock down assists for his old pal Kevin Nolan, who looks a different player when Big

Andy’s on the pitch. But then Swansea defender Chico Flores took matters into his own hands. The incident was not one of a red card, though that is what referee Howard Webb deemed it to be. I will not say that Carroll was completely innocent. He should have known better than to leave an arm swinging, especially when involved in a tussle with a character like Chico, who has plied his trade in the European leagues where diving and off-hand tactics have been commonplace for far longer than the

Premiership. Big Andy had clearly frustrated Chico Flores beating him to every ball and he had clearly ruffled the Swansea defender’s feathers. To the point where in the entanglement that led to Carroll’s sending off, Chico was all over the Englishman as if he were a climbing frame. It could be argued that it was a petulant swing from the West Ham striker, but he is off balance and had just had an opposing player clambering all over him so it is unsurprising his arm caught Chico.

What is unforgivable is the despicable way the Swansea defender took to the floor rolling around as if Big Andy had beaten seven shades out of him, I understand this is modern football but it is rather disgraceful that the footballing world has come to accept this. It is typical old West Ham though, just as we’re showing glimpses of promise it is snatched away from us, usually from injuries but every now and then it’s a referee eager to flash that red card. Andy Carroll was just getting back to full match fitness, providing those knock downs and holding up the ball greatly in the first half against Swansea, the big forward pressuring their defence meant the midfielders could push up and join him, it really is a far cry from the days of having to lump it to Maïga and watch the ball roll away to the opposition. With Carroll in the side we have a great chance of surviving, the England centreforward will be looking to fire the Hammers to safety and repay the faith shown in him by the club. The red card will be a small blip in the season if he can lead the line and rescue us from relegation trouble. Follow me on Twitter @SoundOfVinyl

Danny Rust

Panic buying Hammers

West Ham United’s January transfer window went to plan in that they brought in the striker which Sam Allardyce so desperately craved. Marco Borriello has been welcomed to Upton Park on a season-long loan deal from Italian Serie A side Roma, and he brings a reasonably good goalscoring record with him too. In 28 appearances for

Genoa last season, Borriello found the back of the net on 12 occasions. At 6’1”, the Naples born striker also has the aerial threat that Allardyce usually looks for in a player. He has previously played in the same side as Ronaldinho and Kaka so he certainly has played alongside the best in the game. The main

disadvantage for the temporary signing of Borriello is that you can already tell that he is not going to make many appearances. Andy Carroll will definitely be Big Sam’s first choice striker after paying £15m for him in the summer, with Carlton Cole next in the pecking order. We all know that Allardyce is not going to

alter from playing with only one up front, so it is clear already that Borriello will be the club’s third choice striker. If the former Milan man can force his way into the side, he could become a very important player, but it will be tough to get Sam to alter his philosophy. Borriello should take Adrian’s attitude as an example. The Spanish goalkeeper came to the club as back-up for Jussi Jaaskelainen, yet his cup performances and attitude both on and off the pitch saw him take the Finn’s place between the sticks within months. Obviously the Hammers are now out of both cup competitions so Borriello won’t be able to use that as a platform, but he can’t go far wrong by trying to impress the manager in training. Antonio Nocerino may have a similar problem to his fellow countryman. Joining on loan from AC Milan, Nocerino is known for being a holding midfielder and is looking to board the plane to Brazil this summer with Italy. With Mark Noble and Kevin Nolan being everpresent in the side - if Nolan steers clear of more suspensions - then Nocerino still has Mo Diame and Ravel Morrison in his path. Allardyce always goes with

a midfield three, with Nolan and Noble being the regulars. Morrison had a run-out in the team in the opening months, but since he supposedly said he wanted a move to Fulham, Diame has regained his place. Despite Nocerino’s experience and determination to make his country’s World Cup squad, I can only see him making a handful of appearances at the Boleyn Ground. The first signing of the window was Roger Johnson. The Wolverhampton Wanderers centre half was brought in because of the Irons’ bad luck with injuries at the heart of defence, but he failed to do anything to stop a Manchester City drubbing on his debut. Johnson was just a panic signing because he

could play in the League Cup semi-final and he had Premier League experience, but the fact that he has been relegated in each of his last three seasons should have told Big Sam that signing Johnson on loan was a bad move for the club. Jaanai Gordon and Abdul Razak were the only permanent additions to the squad. Gordon looks like one for the future, whereas Razak has been signed to a shortterm deal. Razak has been involved in the Premier League before with Manchester City, but he failed to impress. He was recently with Anzhi in Russia but his contract was terminated there. It would be surprising if he made many appearances before the end of the season.

Toby Fry

Matthew Taylor: Unsung hero?

There’s some players that are always expected to produce an impressive performance and there are others that are seen as inevitably ‘below par’. However there are also some players who are seen as being amongst the latter category whose impressive performances regularly slip under the radar. One player who would be seen by many as ‘inadequate’ is Matthew Taylor. The 32 year old midfielder has not been particularly impressive when it comes to goals and assists since joining West Ham in July 2011. Taylor has scored just three goals in his West Ham career, including a stint in

the Championship- hardly a prolific record. So far this season, he has a goal and an assist, both in the Capital One Cup. Overall, certainly not impressive reading. However, in a side which has hardly been in full scoring form, it is hardly surprising that a sporadic first team player has yet to directly contribute to a goal in the Premier League. Matt Taylor has recently become a player of choice for Big Sam and Taylor has started the five Premier League games before the Villa game, in which West Ham’s form has certainly increased, with two wins (Cardiff and Swansea) and an

away draw versus Chelsea. Of course the contribution on these results from the return of Andy Carroll is not to be taken lightly. Regardless, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Matt Taylor has been involved in West Ham’s best run of the season. In an extremely tough position in the league and with a subsequent relegation battle on the cards, you can have all the technical ability in the world and get nothing in a game. That is why Big Sam has recently opted for Matthew Taylor, and rightly so. Taylor will most certainly give you 100% and put himself around the pitch for 90 minutes.

You can look at any statistic for Matty Taylor and be disappointed, but not many players with higher levels of technical ability will put in anywhere near the amount of effort that Taylor will. I’ll repeat, that is much needed in a relegation battle. In a midfield with Mark Noble, 200% effort is a regular occurrence. It’s not purely Taylor’s effort, but also his fight for the cause and his willingness to put his body on the line. He is averaging just over one block a game. You may suggest that around 85% of those shots will be on target and any number of those could have ended up in the back of the net. With 10 league appearances, Taylor has quite possibly saved West Ham many goals by putting his body on the line. Is it plausible to call Matthew Taylor an unsung hero? I’m not sure. He certainly deserves more credit than he gets, which I guess is the definition of an unsung hero. However, Taylor is destined to be under the radar as without contribution of goals as a midfielder, you’ll always be relatively unnoticed. That doesn’t mean that West Ham fans can’t/won’t appreciate what he is doing for our club. He may not be as exciting to watch as Ravel Morrison and Mo Diame, but is that really what is needed during the scrap of a relegation battle?

Kiran Moodley

Who has had the worst season; Allardyce or Moyes?

David Moyes’ transitional Manchester United team may only have narrowly lost on penalties in their League Cup semi final, but the defeat, for a club of United’s stature, felt just as embarrassing to them as West Ham’s 9-0 capitulation to Manchester City over two legs felt to the Hammers. This begs the question: who has had the worst season so far, Moyes or Sam Allardyce? Fans, pundits and whatever-Michael-Owen-is can debate this, but it’s clear what we have learnt from the past two legs of the League

Cup: that cup runs matter and can be a catalyst for an improved season elsewhere. Allardyce famously shrugged off any talk of his sacking after securing a 2-0 win away against Cardiff. Of course, this victory was after a 5-0 loss against Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup and a 6-0 drubbing by Manchester City in the League Cup. Allardyce chose a weakened side for Forest and starting elevens for both legs against City that showed little fight or a will to win, in sharp contrast to the heroics of the Sunderland side over

their two legs against the other Manchester team. Allardyce claims he was far more concerned with West Ham’s relegation battle, but Sunderland are also in the relegation dog-fight and have been spurred by their cup performances. Since Sunderland beat Chelsea in the quarter finals in December they have lost only once in nine games, in the process becoming the only team in the whole of 2013 to beat Everton at Goodison Park in the league. West Ham failed to utilise any of the positives from their

victory against Spurs in the quarter finals to push on; in fact, West Ham have never won consecutive Premier League games under Allardyce. West Ham’s lack of confidence is mirrored in the United team. One can’t help but feel a despondency in the United team, epitomised by poor penalties from Danny Welbeck and Phil Jones in the shoot-out defeat against the Black Cats. While United responded well to their League Cup quarter final victory against Stoke, the loss against Swansea at home in the FA Cup third round was a big one. During Ferguson’s 26year tenure, United only once went out of the FA Cup in the third round, and the defeat against Swansea was their fourth loss in six games at Old Trafford. United staying in the FA Cup, which they have not won since 2004, might have buoyed the team ahead of coming games. Instead, after the defeat against Sunderland they have only won once in 2014 out of six games. Say what you will about the decline in importance of the domestic cups, but both continue to prove that the drama will never die and that a cup run can be a catalyst for change and hope. Just ask the 9,000 Mackems who travelled to Old Trafford.

For more articles like this visit You can also follow them on Twitter @MooreThanAClub


Barking Dog Media provides a range of media services to help you promote, market and represent you or your organisation, club or business in public. Our experienced and friendly team of journalists, designers, photographers and PR professionals are here to help you maximise your exposure across a range of traditional and new media. Barking Dog Media’s tailor-made packages and competitive pricing structure means we’ll be able to help you achieve your ambitions – whatever your budget.

WHAT WE DO Articles and Press releases Brochures and booklets Website design & management Social Media Photography

Video Posters and artwork Ghost writing Crisis Management Reports and Applications

Find out more Email:



Blowing Bubbles #32 (West Ham V Norwich 11/02/14)  
Blowing Bubbles #32 (West Ham V Norwich 11/02/14)  

In this issue: *Why kick off change proves Sky Sports is killing football *Have West Ham turned a corner in our battle for survival *Carroll...