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INSIDE: Are WHUISA really the answer to our problems?

BY FANS, FOR FANS APRIL 2018 #80 £3 WWW.BLOWING-BUBBLES.CO.UK

CROSS D I V A :D INSIDE E AN RIC L C E D PLUS: YES O M D I DAV AND:

ALIVE & KICKING

West Ham show fight after Burnley chaos


WELCOME EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: David Blackmore MANAGING EDITOR: Simon Osborn CONTRIBUTORS: Luc Bailey David Bowden, James Gavin, James Jones, Jack Kavanagh, Phil Parkes, George Parris, Brian Penn, Emily Pulham, Greg Richardson, Sean Whetstone, Brian Williams, Merion Williams Lucy Woolford, Holly Worthington. CHIEF PHOTOGRAPHER: Nicky Hayes ENQUIRIES: editor@blowingbubbles.co.uk advertising@blowingbubbles.co.uk WHERE YOU CAN READ IT: Blowing Bubbles is available to read on PC, Mac, Tablet or Mobile. Blowing Bubbles is published by Fanatic 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

West Ham fans need a real voice in the boardroom in tough times W hat a difference a game makes. After the capitulations against Swansea and Burnley, I was absolutely seething and I could completely understand the anger in the stands. Being honest, I really wasn’t looking forward to the Southampton game. A combination of nerves about the result and performance, and fear of more trouble and pitch invasions. What would have happened had Southampton taken an early lead, I don’t know but clearly the players

came out with a point to prove and hit the ground running from the off. There is no doubt, however, that March 2018 will go down as a remarkable, standout chapter in the history of West Ham United. Amongst all the outrage of what we were seeing on the pitch, we also saw West Ham’s latest accounts released which further fuelled the anger towards the co-owners. We couldn’t print this issue without a focus on the protests; both the cancelled march before the Burnley

game and the different events before the Southampton game. Our thanks to Brian Williams for his interview with Mark Walker from the West Ham United Independent Supporters’ Association. It was a real eye-opener to read how Mark feels at this current moment and we’d certainly like to back an campaign to help get a supporter on the board. Are we out of the relegation battle yet? Not by a long shot. We’ve plenty still to do.

David

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WHUISA

‘We will work with the board but we need action not words’

West Ham United Independent Supporters’ Association chairman Mark Walker tells Blowing Bubbles how fans can play a huge role in the future of their club

BRIAN WILLIAMS @BrainWill26

W

est Ham supporters the world over had smiles as wide as an Olympic running track when referee Jonathan Moss blew the final whistle to cement our 3-0 demolition of Southampton. Suddenly, relegation looked a lot less likely than it had after the previous home game. What’s more, we had been served up a performance to be proud of. But, off the pitch, the tensions that sparked such ugly scenes three weeks earlier were still simmering away as the two main supporter groups who had talked about a protest march before the Burnley game separately went about their business – al-

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Family man: Mark Walker beit in rather different ways. Before that crucial encounter with Southampton, a group which began life as the Real West Ham Fans Action Group (aka RWHFAG) and then renamed itself Real West Ham Fans staged a short march from Stratford station to the London Stadium, loudly calling on the board to sack itself and demanding

to know where the money had gone. Meanwhile, the West Ham United Independent Supporters’ Association (WHUISA) was meeting in a nearby café debating its next course of action in rather more measured tones. With abbreviations such as WHUISA and RWHFAG to make sense of it’s easy to think you’ve stum-

bled into an East End episode of Countdown. Only the stakes are considerably higher. Joint-owner David Sullivan has met representatives of both groups and demonstrated that he’s prepared to do business with WHUISA. The man at the helm of the Independent Supporters’ Association is Mark Walker. Aged 35, he is married with two young children and lives in the Woodford area. He worked for the Labour Party for 10 years before moving to a public relations company. More to the point, he is a dedicated West Ham fan who follows the Hammers home and away – at least he did, until he was advised to stop going to games for his own safety. WHUISA was formed in 2013 and is sanctioned by the Football Supporters’ Federation, which gives it the authority to talk to organisations such as the Premier League


and the Met Police when necessary. Walker was one of the early members. He says: ‘I wanted to get more involved last season, I was frustrated at how the match-day experience was turning out and as I had a campaigning background I thought I could help. So I stood for office.’ After nearly two seasons at our new home, no-one can pretend that the move from Upton Park has been trouble-free. A growing number of fans are looking to WHUISA to help resolve the problems – membership has trebled in recent weeks – but it’s a tough ask. Can Mark Walker persuade the owners to make going to watch West Ham at the London Stadium more enjoyable for us all? I wanted to find out: BW: Mark, it is becoming increasingly clear that many supporters no longer have any faith in the owners. You met David Sullivan face-to-face. Do you think he understands the fans’ frustrations? MW: Honestly, I think he does, how could he not? But I’m not sure what can be done to rebuild that faith. He is open-minded to ideas, like our suggestion of a proper elected fan on the board, and there is a difference between the man and the myth. This is

Co-owner: David Sullivan going to sound like a crazy thing to say but I think the club might be better off if he was more involved in its day-to-day running. Without naming names I think a lot of issues are caused by how the club is run by other members of the board. BW: The WHUISA has passed a vote of no confidence in the owners and is planning a series of protests.

What exactly are you trying to achieve? MW: The WHUISA position has always been Pro Fan, not Anti Board. However, it was felt by the membership that there now has to be a clearer definition of where we stand as an association. We are still keen to work with the board, but we now want to make sure they start to deliver on the promises they have

made. BW: What sort of campaign have you got in mind? MW: As always, it will be guided by our membership. But the thinking is a series of smaller, more targeted campaigns similar to those carried out at Charlton and Liverpool. And some of us want to try to repair the fractures within our support. I have been

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on the front line of that and if I’m prepared to put that behind me, my hope is that some other groups will do the same, but that’s up to them. BW: There are a number of fan groups, many of which came together in an effort to bring about change. That alliance split publicly and acrimoniously. Why can’t the different factions work together? MW: I think they can, I hope they can, but there has to be trust and respect for other people and other views. It’s not helped in the social media era where often a lie goes around the world while the truth is still tying up its shoes. Hopefully groups will come together, particularly when there are issues that we all agree need to change. If we can work with supporters of Chelsea – and, dare I say it, Spurs – to lobby Sky and the Premier League, we should be able to unite as a fan base. BW: Is it true that you received threats of physical violence from members of other fan groups?

Big beast: Mark Walker with Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson

MW: Sadly, it is. Accusations were made about me and my political beliefs and that they were reflected by the whole of WHUISA. People who don’t like the Mayor, or the Labour Party, were very aggressive towards me and still are to this day. The ironic thing is, my views are closer to Cameron than Corbyn and I have many critics in the Labour Party for still being a Blairite. BW: If there is to be

Longstanding: Opposition to leaving Upton Park

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just one group representing supporters’ interests, why should it be yours? MW: Because we are advocates more than representatives – all the big decisions are made by our members. Even the questions we put to David Sullivan were voted on by our members, the most popular ones we asked. We would never attend a meeting we couldn’t report back on and records of all our meetings are available on the WHUISA website. WHUISA belongs to supporters and the committee is re-elected once a year. The best way to have the loudest voice is to be part of WHUISA. BW: Were you in fa-

vour of the move from Upton Park? MW: No – 100% not. I felt the ground was an integral part of our DNA. There was something special about that place. Lots of things change in our lives – jobs, partners etc – so you need somewhere you can return to week after week. The Boleyn Ground was where I had stood with my granddad and then in turn my son. I felt it was too much to give up and none of the reasons given I felt justified the sacrifice. BW: Following the move, the club set up the Supporters’ Advisory Board as a forum to discuss fans’ concerns. It has been


suggested that we should have a supporter or former player on the board instead. How would that work? MW: It’s a massive step for the club and though it happens further down the football pyramid it’s unheard of in the top flight. As I said, David Sullivan is open-minded and we will set up a working group of WHUISA and non-WHUISA members to consider the proposal. Will the final candidate be elected by the fans or do the fans draw up a shortlist and let the club decide? How long would they be allowed to serve? How are they made accountable to the supporters? Lots of questions – it’s an exciting debate. BW: Some of us believe the only way to improve the stadium is to bring in the bulldozers and start from scratch. That isn’t going to happen, of course. So what improvements would you like to see? MW: Because of the complexity of the deal there is little the club can do. The regulations imply that seats have to be covered and even if you do move them forward you are simply creating a bigger void between the upper and lower tier. Personally, I would like us to build a new purpose-built stadium out on the land by the river in

New home: London Stadium Dagenham, combine it with some flats and a new train station. A boy has to be allowed to dream. BW: You, along with other fan groups, were planning a protest march before the Burnley game. Many people felt that if the march had taken place we wouldn’t have then had people on the pitch and a major protest inside the ground – both of which may

yet still have disastrous consequences for the club. How do you feel about the idea of life bans for the protestors? MW: I have to be careful what I say because there is still a legal case but I think blanket life bans don’t help relations. Each has to be judged on a case-by-case basis. In no way do I, or WHUISA, condone illegal behavior such as

throwing missiles. But some of the people banned are WHUISA members and we will work with them and support them if it’s appropriate. BW: After the Burnley game, you were invited to meet David Sullivan and his son Jack to discuss the growing rift between the owners and the fans. What can you tell us about that meeting? MW: David reached out to us. We were happy to meet him because we had struggled to get meetings with the club on various issues, most recently ticketing. There were a hundred and one things the committee wanted to say but it’s not our association and that’s why we got the members to decide the questions. I was full of anger – about giving up Upton Park, about Stratford, about the team. But I want a constant dialogue between the club and WHUISA and needed to make sure that this was the first chapter rather than a one-off. The meeting took place at his home and he was frank. We made it clear that we would report everything that was said and that members would still meet before the Southampton game to discuss the way forward. BW: Apart from the off-the-pitch problems, did you touch

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on footballing matters at all? We can all see the team needs to be improved in just about every area. Has Mr Sullivan got a plan to deal with that? MW: The strategy is that a director of football will arrive to become a middle-man between the board and the manager. This process has begun, but will depend on where we finish this season. There will also be a greater scouting network. My concern is anyone with the latest game of FIFA knows where the best players are: it’s how big your chequebook is, not how big your scouting network is. Ultimately, the frustration the majority of fans feel is down to the lack of investment in the squad. It will be hard for David Sullivan to put that right without acquiring additional funding. BW: It’s pretty clear that there’s no love lost between London Mayor Sadiq Khan and West Ham United. Is that a major factor in our present troubles, or simply a way for the owners to pass the buck? MW: The deal was signed by a Tory Mayor and we now have a Labour one. The stadium is a burden on the taxpayer as it was never designed to be used as it is now. Unless the stadium is sold to West Ham,

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Influential: London Mayor Sadiq Khan and it would be a brave politician to do that given the level of public money invested, it will remain a political issue. As fans, we can’t take a position on our own ideological grounds. West Ham may end up paying more rent but that shouldn’t come without concessions to make the ground more like a home. We have to be pragmatic and not get drawn into the political rhetoric. As a fan base we are a massive stakeholder

in the future of the stadium and through the club we need to have a strong voice in this debate. Personally, I think David Sullivan should have a bigger role in this area as there is now too much bad blood around Karren Brady. BW: I’ve seen allegations that you are some kind of stooge for Mr Khan. Is that true? MW: Ha ha! I worked hard like many other Labour Party members to get Sadiq elected

and I’m very proud to have him as the Mayor of London. But the fact is my sons’ names are on a brick outside the London Stadium, not City Hall. BW: It’s been reported that a disabled supporter was asked to move before the Southampton game so protective barriers could be put up in front of the directors’ box. Is that the sort of thing you take up with the club? MW: Of course – and we did. We were happy to help get the supporter in question a good outcome for the rest of the season. That’s exactly what WHUISA is for. BW: What else does WHUISA do? MW: We want to be a critical friend to the club. To have open and constant dialogue so we can best represent our members. We have no agenda as our wishes change all the time. It might be the Champions Place Stones one day or the away allocation at Arsenal the next – it’s whatever our members deem to be the priority. And, because we are affiliated to the FSF, we are able to sit down with whomever we need to sit down with to do the best for supporters of our great football club. BW: If anyone wants to join, what do they have to do – and what do they get as a


member? MW: Membership is just £1 and if you join now it will be valid until the end of next season. You can join for a suggested donation of £3 and get a badge (both available at whuisa.org/join). You get a vote on everything and anyone who has six weeks’ membership can stand for election to the committee. A pound isn’t a lot but it’s symbolic, we’re not a forum or a Facebook page. We want to engage and make things better for supporters. BW: Finally, the 64,000-dollar question: where does the club go from here? MW: Dagenham?

Failing that we need to regroup over the summer and work out what we all agree needs to change and if that is deliverable. WHUISA will be lobbying hard for the introduction of a fan on the board, plus whatever else our members deem to be the priority. We don’t just want to be a protest movement, we want to be there to complain about the price of tea and the difficulties of being an away supporter at Newcastle in calmer times. * Brian Williams is the author of the best-selling Nearly Reach The Sky. His new book, Home From Home is out now. BBM

Unhappy: West Ham fans make their point

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Your shout

Email: editor@blowing-bubbles.co.uk

West Ham do their bit and throw cash-strapped Daggers a lifeline

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uring the threeweek break between our games against Burnley and Southampton, I attended the fundraising friendly with Dagenham and Redbridge. They have recently fallen on tough economic times, despite a decent season so far and 2017’s failed playoff run. This fixture was the culmination of the #SavetheDaggers campaign and highlights an issue common to several small clubs. This season’s trouble began when major benefactor Glyn Hopkin resigned as a director and stopped funding the club. Dagenham needed £250,000 for running costs until the end of the season, and it is hoped that a home friendly with Premier League opposition would buy time to find an investor. The friendly came at a fortunate time for the Hammers, a welcome distraction from the unpleasant turmoil witnessed at London Stadium during the

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On target: Jordan Hugill

Who will be in goal for West Ham next season? Joe Hart and Adrian have split time between the sticks this season but will either of them want to be here next year if they aren’t guaranteed to be the number one and start each week? The club need to sort this out as soon as possible as if not we will be held to ransom in the transfer market in the summer. Clive Rose

Calling all West Ham collectors!

LETTER OF THE MONTH Burnley defeat. With many players on international duty and the large gap between first team activities, West Ham named a strong team. We saw two well-taken goals from Michail Antonio - who could have had a hattrick - and Jordan Hugill scoring his first for the club. Sir Trevor Brooking and his wife were in attendance at the game, and local West Ham fan Gary Singh

Who will be in goal next year?

took charge of Dagenham from the dugout, adding to the relaxed vibe. The near sell-out 4,515 crowd was awash with Hammers talk speculating about whether Jordan Hugill was the answer to our problems and whether we’d stay up. Here’s hoping! The East London football community turned out to give their support and I was proud to be a Hammer. Jack Kavanagh

I have a number of programmes from West Ham matches from between 19891992 that I hope might be of interest to a fellow fan. I have supported the club since I was a lad and was a season ticket holder until the Bond Scheme was introduced. I’m now approaching 70 and would like to see these go to a good home. Peter Naylor *If you are interested in these programmes please email editor@ blowing-bubbles.co.uk and we’ll put you in touch.


GEORGE

PARRIS

THE HAMMERS’ HERO PULLS NO PUNCHES IN HIS EXCLUSIVE COLUMN

Can Collins still do it?

Prospect: Declan Rice

West Ham are the perfect club for young Rice to shine B

efore the Southampton game, it just felt like a good game on paper to try and stop the rot after the defeats to Burnley and Swansea. But the way we played in the first half was incredible. It was the best we’ve played all season. We needed a strong performance and we got it. One player who stood out for many was Declan Rice. He looked comfortable - as he has for

many appearances - and I’ve been really impressed with him. He’s worth his place in the side at the moment that’s for sure. I saw Jamie Redknapp said Declan is going to be the next John Terry and likely to attract serious interest from other clubs this summer. Jamie rightly pointed out that aged 19 he plays with maturity, is brave and comfortable on the ball but I don’t think Declan - or the

club - will agree that they will be fighting off bids this summer. He looks happy and clearly loves the club. With all due respect to him, which club is going to come in for him right now and offer him more than we can? I don’t think it’ll be from anyone in the top six or seven. Even if it was one of them, he’d get more game time at West Ham, more time to build on his potential and improve his stature in the game.

Whether or not West Ham should give James Collins a new contract is another talking point as we near the season’s end. But I think we need to wait until the final whistle has blown on the final game before James and the club think about what’s best for both. He’s been a great servant to the club but the question both will need to answer is whether or not he is still able to do it in the Premier League. It’s a tricky one but James may have better idea himself. The emergence of Declan Rice may make steer the club against it. But offering James a coaching role would be a fantastic idea. He’s got vast experience and if that’s something he wants to do, it would make sense to do this awith us.

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Pub talk

The Blowing Bubbles team settle down to put the world to rights...

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eavy defeats at Swansea and at home to Burnley were followed by a comfortable 3-0 victory over Southampton, how will March go down in the history of West Ham United? Emily Pulham: Interesting that you used the phrase ‘go down’. I don’t think we’ll remember the teams we played, or the goals we conceded, or even the goals we scored. We will remember the unrest. We will remember the pitch invasions. The March we remember will be the protest march that never was. Lucy Woolford: It’ll forever be recorded as a ‘weird one’. There’s not always a case for an international break, but this one seemed to give the squad a

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Protest: Fans invaded the pitch against Burnley chance to regroup and the fans a chance to move on from the unpleasant scenes of the Burnley fixture. The Southampton game saw everyone coming together and hopefully the story of the season

will be completed with a strong finish. Meirion Williams: March has to go down as one of our poorest on record but not just for the results on the field but also the PR disaster off it. We

ended the month with a great result but the performances earlier in the month were simply embarrassing. Brian Penn: This month will stand out more for the crowd trouble during the Burnley game. It was a low spot in the club’s recent history. The win against Southampton was a great result but came against poor opposition. It won’t mean anything unless we build on this result. This is the month we gave ourselves a chance of avoiding relegation – nothing more, nothing less. It’s hoped Andy Carroll will return to action before the end of the season, does he get into your starting XI? Should we try to off-load him this summer?


EP: At the moment his style of play doesn’t suit what works for us, but that’s not to say it’s not useful to have him on our books in order to make a change to our game. The problem is that I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw him play, and he’s expensive to pay to sit on the bench. If we get an offer like the one that was reported to have come in from Chelsea in January, we should probably take it. But you just know he’ll come good for any team he signs for; it’ll just be the West Ham way. LW: He does get in, yes. To the opposition, he’s a nightmare. He might not be polished and he may be lacking game time, but he starts in my eyes. He causes problems for defenders and if he can actually net some goals in the opening minutes, then it leaves the whole team in a much better place for the remainder of the game. MW: I see Andy Carroll as simply an impact substitute and have done for a while. I would prefer to see Hernandez partner Arnie up front and then Carroll come on late against a tiring defensive unit. As for off loading him in the summer, yes but only if the money is reinvested in the playing staff. BP: With such an

In training: Andy Carroll could soon be fit important run-in we can’t risk starting him; he’ll be nowhere near match fit. You can blame the manager, coach, physios and doctors for his general level of fitness but he just hasn’t taken proper care of himself. I agree with Meirion and Emily, we should try and off-load him in the

summer, but honestly who would want him? We reportedly tried to sell him to Chelsea but understandably they only wanted him on loan. Nobody wants a crock. Michail Antonio pulled up with yet another injury during our Southampton game, do you think

his injury-plagued season will be a one-off or is it the beginning of the end for him? EP: I have concerns over this. It’s the same injury over and over again and while I can remember what he looks like in a West Ham shirt, it’s difficult to recall the last time I saw him put in a proper shift in one. He’s not match fit - not even close - and gone are the days when he relentlessly drove the ball down the pitch and cut it back perfectly in the box. I hope he recovers, I really do - but I equally hope his fitness improves. LW: It’s hard to think of too many examples of players who have had ‘one-off’ seasons where they’ve been hampered by injuries. He’s very unlucky and maybe he was rushed back into action to face the Saints before he was really ready. I’m very sorry to say it, but I think he might just be one of those unfortunate players who can’t keep fit and well. MW: I agree with Emily, Antonio worries me. He could have a great future at the club but he seems unsettled. On his return he scored two goals but at no time did he celebrate with his team mates. He seems to be isolated and I wonder if this nagging injury

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is more mental, as Julian Dicks has said about some of today’s footballers, rather than a physical one. BP: I don’t think it’s the beginning of the end for Antonio. Yes, he’s had a poor season and been plagued, mainly, by a hamstring injury. It happens. Time will tell whether it’s a one-off or indicates a deeper problem. Let’s give him time to recover and take medical advice on the injury then we’ll see. He’s too important a player to discard because of a niggling injury. This month ends with games against Arsenal and Manchester City, do you have any confidence that we will pick up points in either game? EP: Have you seen Manchester City this season?! LW: I know Southampton were a poor team to play against but a win’s a win and it spreads confidence throughout the squad, the fans and the management. Obviously, we need to pull together a better run of form than one win, but I feel more positive about results to come than I did a few weeks ago. We’ll at least win one of them and I think I know which! MW: It all depends on which West Ham turns up. I personally do not think we will

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Gunner: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger get anything against Arsenal but can see a draw against City. They will already have wrapped up the league and will be looking to rest players. But then again City’s reserves are probably better than a lot of our starters. I would be happy with just a solitary point from both those games as long as we beat Stoke. BP: Manchester City will have secured the Premier League title by then. Similarly, Arsenal will be focus-

sing on the Europa League as a means of qualifying for the Champions League. Yes, I’m clutching at straws hoping they’ll be distracted by more important matters. But seriously, if we take one point from those two games I’ll be pleased. What was your take of the headline figures from our accounts? EP: I was frustrated, but I don’t think there was anything in there I found surprising.

There is a lack of financial investment that is painfully visible on the pitch. LW: It just confirms my long-standing belief that football is a business, not for the fans. There’s money aplenty for transfers and the club should be spending, or rather investing, available funds on improving the squad to fit the magnitude of the stadium and the dream, not moving sideways. It’s frustrating but not surprising. MW: It was no real surprise regarding director loans, interest charged and our transfer savings. What did surprise me was the total revenue from the sale of the Boleyn Ground and I am still at a loss over the missing £10 million from that sale. BP: We are the world’s 17th richest football club as per Deloitte’s Football Money League published in January 2018. That is a fact. We are richer than Napoli and within shouting distance of Inter Milan. This has been due mainly to the increase in broadcast and matchday revenue following the move to Stratford. Profits stand at £43 million and net debts have been reduced by £21 million. We are in reasonable shape; let’s argue about the detail later. BBM


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We looked a different team against Southampton but the fight goes on T

he Southampton game was the biggest game we’ve had for a few years. The difference between this game and Burnley and Swansea was that we had a go. Right from the start we were at it. Southampton have been woeful so it was important to get at them because it unsettled them. And it could have been a lot more. I’ve only seen the highlights but my son watched it live and said we had so many more chances. We aren’t out of trouble yet but it was a pleasing performance. It will have taken a lot of pressure off the players and given them a confidence boost. Joe Hart got his first clean sheet in his second Premier League game since the end of November but in all fairness, I probably could have

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At the double: Marko Arnautovic scored twice kept a clean sheet as the Saints didn’t cause many problems. Having said that, he was still there, what he did, he did well. It’s all about confidence and it’s tough coming back into the side after such a long time out. He also made a mistake for one of the goals against Burnley so that would have been on his mind com-

ing into the game. When you are playing week in, week out shots like that are picked up quicker but coming in from the cold and being out of action for such a long time, these are the mistakes that can happen. I believe there’s not a lot between Adrian and Hart - either of them could be in goal

between now and the end of the season. I don’t know what this season has done for his England chances. He might not go - he was excluded from the recent England friendlies - but goalkeeper is the position that is probably causing Gareth Southgate more headaches than previous England managers. Hart has the experience. He’s been to World Cups and Gareth won’t want to take three unexperienced ‘keepers to Russia. He might start with Butland but I think he’ll have Hart there in case anything goes wrong. I don’t have any issue with Butland having played for a struggling Stoke side that’s conceded lots of goals. When you play for a side where you’re not conceding a lot of goals or not doing a lot of work during


matches, you could argue you are not at the top of your game. But just like Pickford at Sunderland last year, they were getting battered but he was putting in good performances and pundits were saying if it hadn’t been for him, they would have conceded even more goals. It’ll be interesting to see what happens this summer - especially in light of the reports that Adrian could move back to Spain. We’ve got two very good ‘keepers at the moment but Hart is only on loan and could see himself back at Man City unless we want to make it a permanent move.

As for Adrian, does he bite the bullet and stay or look to get a move? The obvious move for him would be back to Spain. Adrian was in a similar situation last season with Darren Randolph and after Hart’s arrival, it was more of the case of who could get out first. Neither Adrian or Hart has stamped themselves as our undisputed number one and this is why this situation is difficult. When I was playing, you’d have one goalkeeper who was the main man and a stand-in but today most clubs have two goalkeepers who can do the job. BBM

In doubt: Will Joe Hart go to Russia?

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West Ham’s accounts

How Gold and Sullivan ‘trouser’ £50k-per-week from West Ham Blowing Bubbles reviews the club’s latest accounts and finds a few surprises...

SEAN WHETSTONE @westhamfootball

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est Ham’s financial accounts for 2017 show a record turnover and record profit but mostly due to the new TV deal which came in last season. The accounts published at companies house in March this year show figures for last season up to 31 May 2017. The main areas show a turnover increase of 28.9 per cent (£41.2m) from £142.1m to £183.3m and that TV income grew by 37 per cent (£32.6m) from £86.7m to £119.3m This is in line with many other Premier League clubs when the new Sky/BT deal came into effect last season. Most clubs have also increased their turnover by a similar amount so it could be argued it is a level playing field.

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Under-pressure: David Sullivan Another area highlighted was ticket income grew by 6.3 per cent from £26.9m to £28.6m The modest increase might be a surprise and disappointment to many but with 10,000 Under 16 season tickets for £99, 8,000 Band 5 season tickets for £289, and prices frozen, the only way to increase revenue in this area is to increase ticket pricing, which would not go

down well with fans. We can’t have it both ways. Commercial and sponsorship, including corporate hospitality sales, were also up by 35.7 per cent from £19m to £25.8m. This area includes the corporate hospitality called Club London which increased to 3,200 members and better sponsorship deals in the new stadium. Moving on and retail

and shop sales grew by 2 per cent from £9.3m to £9.6m, which again was a rather small increase but there are some mitigating factors here. The last year in the Boleyn Ground saw record revenue from retail from dedicated merchandise and the new club shop currently lacks a car park and has limited footfall or passing trade outside of match days. Still it’s disappointing growth for the new mega store and online trading arm. Overall, the club published a gross profit of £64.4m but this reduced to a net profit of £43m after playing trading, taxation and interest. While the profit is impressive the club remains relatively cash poor as many transactions are paid for upfront but accounted for (depreciated) over many years in the accounts. Excluding player disposals, West Ham’s earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) profit was £11.4 million but still an improvement on the previous


season’s EBIT loss of £3 million. Adding back the non-cash expenses in the form of depreciation and amortisation gives an EBITDA profit of £58 million, which is 77 per cent higher that the previous year’s £33m. It is this profit figure that many analysts use when valuing a business. What else do the accounts show? They confirm the Boleyn Ground was sold for £38m. West Ham had already received £10m up front in previous years so the balance of £28m was paid in July 2016 by the developers. This was used mostly to pay off bank loans of £14.7m and London Stadium upfront fee of £15m. Wages also increased by 12 per cent from £84.6m to £95m which means wages account for 51.8 per cent of turnover. The highest paid director wages, believed to be West Ham Vice-Chairman Karren Brady, reduced her salary from £907,000 to £868,000. David Gold and David Sullivan did not draw a wage or claim any expenses. The wages are only half of the story as we account for transfer fees over the life of their contracts. So when Marko Arnautovic signed for West Ham in 2016 for £24

Loaded: David Gold at London Stadium million on a five year contract, this works out as an amortisation cost of £4.8 million (£24m/5 years) a year. The amortisation charge increased too, and if the two elements of player costs (wages and amortisation) are added together then West Ham have doubled their player running costs over the last five years from £70 million to £140 million. Turning to West Ham

loans and external bank loans totalling £14.7m to shareholders CB Holding ehf (Icelandics) and (GC Co 102 Limited) David Sullivan were repaid on 15 July 2016 to make West Ham externally debt free of long-term non-shareholder loans. Interest was charged at under 5 per cent. The club re-paid their £30m short-term loan to Media Rights and Funding secured

against TV money on 14 July 2017. In August 2017 they took out two new short-term loans with Media Rights and Funding totalling £25m secured against the training grounds and stadium lease to help with cash flow. These loans are due for repayment in July 2018. The shareholder loan balance was reduced from £49.2m to £45m in August 2016 after David Gold and David Sullivan were repaid £4.2m of their loans plus £2.2m in interest. Interest on shareholder loans totalled £12.7m in May 2017 but £10m of this was later paid back to David Gold and David Sullivan on 18 August 2017. The interest on the remaining balance has reduced from 7 per cent to 4 per cent from 1 April 2017 with the shareholder loan balance due for repayment on 1 January 2020. The club’s interest cost worked out at £97,000 a week in 2017. Whilst this is a lower figure than the previous season, half of it went to shareholders, in the form of loans from Gold and Sullivan. This does mean that they strictly are correct in claiming never to have taken a penny as a wage from the club but do trouser around £50,000 a week in interest instead. BBM

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Marko Arnautovic With Marko Arnautovic leading the fight against relegation we ask if he is now..

The new Di Canio?

Star: Marko Arnautovic is having a superb season

LUCY WOOLFORD @lucy_whufc

W

est Ham face Stoke this month, which isn’t a fixture that would usually catch the eye. But these days, we have a former Stoke City player on our

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hands and things are hotting up nicely between him and his former club. Yes, Marko Arnautovic is speedily becoming a fan favourite having settled nicely into life at the London Stadium under David Moyes, and he’s about to face his old club at his new home stadium. This isn’t the first time Arnie has faced the Potters having visited his old haunt before Christmas, a game during which he

faced inevitable jeers from the home crowd. Marko took it in his stride and used the negativity from the crowd to fuel his hunger to put in a memorable performance and score the Hammers’ second goal of the afternoon. Cue ‘crossed Hammers sign’ directed at the home crowd. Cue smug grins on the faces of West Ham fans. We love a bit of crossed arms and as a player who was start-

ing to endear himself to us, it only furthered the bond. And then, of course, we start to draw comparisons with other fiery favourites. Paolo Di Canio, anyone? It’s a similarity that David Moyes was asked about following the game at Stoke. It’s something that is also really nice for fans to get a feeling of. Finally, a player we can enjoy watching as much as Di Canio, despite his unpredictability.


It’s pretty hard to get excited about players in the current football climate. Transfer windows, high player demands and nonsensical transfer fees make it impossible to know what each half-season will deliver. So when the chance comes along to run away with ourselves, we do. And so we should. Can Arnautovic be as prolific as Di Canio? In five years (118 league appearances), Paolo netted 47 times. We all know though, it was his charismatic ways that left an imprint – to us he could do little wrong. Arnie’s current goal tally stands at nine and he’s also scoring for fun on the International stage, so his form is strong. He’s making good strides to being as creative in front of goal as Di Canio was. Going back to that afternoon in Stoke, Mark Hughes sourly dished out angry words towards his former forward as he was substituted in the 79th minute. Following the game, Hughes added: ‘I think he should have risen above any criticism or abuse that he had.’ This set the scene nicely for the Hammers to face another of Mark Hughes’ relegation projects this season, Southampton, with tensions high between Arnie and

Icon: Paolo Di Canio was a fans’ favourite Sparky. That underlying red mist spurred Arnautovic on to put in another memorable performance at the London Stadium against the Saints, one for which he was heartily applauded off the field with the fans on their feet. His manof-the-match performance was the silver lining to the cloud over current woes. His reaction to scoring was clearly aimed at Mark Hughes standing on the sidelines.

It’s the kind of reaction that as a fan, you feel guiltily pleased about. It’s nice to see a player outwardly displaying passion and hunger when he plays for your team. Again, the crossed arms were on display and the shouting this time came from Arnautovic towards his former boss. This was the confirmation that the Austrian has the upper hand in this battle. Altogether, he’s made

up for his ridiculous sending off against the Saints back in August, for which he had a lot of groveling to do at the time. Scoring three times in one season against his former clubs with such a thirst to impress bodes well for the clash with Stoke City. Are we to conclude from this season that Marko responds well to criticism? Yes, it seems so. Cast your mind back a few months to when Arnie was displaying the characteristics of someone who wasn’t particularly comfortable and could potentially cause unrest in the dressing room. Moyes called on Arnautovic to be ‘a team player’ and warned that even a man of his talent can’t walk into a starting position without putting in the effort across all aspects of his game. This public warning did the trick. It was almost as if Arnie was determined to prove everyone wrong, to be at his best and to allow himself to be happy to train and to play. I’m loving watching Arnautovic play, it’s a pure joy. His charisma, his confidence, his style – he’s enjoying himself, and it’s all adding up for Marko to be a Hammers hero. Let’s hope we can keep him for a long time. BBM

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FROZEN IN TIME

Sunday, April 8 2018: West Ham United’s players celebrate Javier Hernandez’s equaliser as the Irons hold Chelsea to a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge. The result boosted the club’s survival hopes. 22


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The big interview: David Cross

‘I didn’t think we could win until 15 minutes to go, then I panicked’ West Ham legend David Cross on his life at the club and the Cup win over Arsenal

EMILY PULHAM

@makingthemarrow

M

idway through the 1977-78 relegation season probably wasn’t the best of times to join West Ham United football club. We were going through a difficult period and struggling to find form and results but fortunately, it didn’t deter 27-year-old striker David Cross from leaving West Brom for a fee of £180,000 in December 1977 to try to make a name for himself in east London. He made his debut in claret and blue a week later, and in an odd turn of fate, his first match for the Hammers was against former club West Brom. It wasn’t the easiest switch to make for Cross. ‘Leaving West Brom on the Wednesday and playing against them

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Proud Hammer: David Cross at Wembley on the Saturday was very difficult, as I had played with that set of lads for so long,’ says Cross, ‘So it was very difficult to go there on my debut and play, but once you’ve got that out of the way, you know I settled in very well at West Ham.’ He certainly got off to a strong start for the Hammers and scored his first goal, against Leicester City, a few

weeks later on December 31. After that, there was no stopping the goalscorer as he went on to score nine goals in 20 games - but it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Cross and West Ham in his first season and, despite his best efforts, the Hammers were relegated in 1978. ‘The season was difficult, we hadn’t won

a game until mid-December, then we had a decent little run and it looked as though we might stay up and just at the last minute we couldn’t do it. We lost the last game of the season and went down.’ Relegation is a difficult situation for a football club, but Cross remained an optimist about the situation the club found themselves in - and was sure the future remained bright for the Hammers, even though it took three years to get back to top-flight football. ‘This sounds a bit harsh, but going down meant John could get rid of the players he wanted to get rid of. ‘He was able to buy who he wanted to buy to fit those positions. We thought we’d go up straight away. We were really disappointed as a group that we didn’t go up - it took us three years to go up.’ Even though promotion took a few years, there was plenty to keep David Cross busy in the meantime. Naturally, the FA Cup win of 1980 is a treasured


memory of his - even if the cup run didn’t quite go as planned. ‘I remember the cup run as when we were coming back on the coach, listening to the cup draw. We got West Brom away and we all thought “crikey that’s a hard game” as West Brom were a good side, and you want to get a home draw.’ But Cross wasn’t going to be able to feature in that match - and in fact, he wouldn’t get involved in the FA Cup until April that year. ‘It didn’t start great for me as I had injured my knee before Christmas and I didn’t play again until March. I was listening to the games in a cafe. My first game back was the quarter final of the FA Cup.’ Fortunately, missing the build-up didn’t dampen Cross’s enthusiasm for the experience. ‘The big thing about the FA Cup run for anyone, and any professional will tell you, is that after the semi-final, whatever else happens, you’ve played at Wembley in the Cup Final. ‘If you ask any young player what their ambition would be, I think most would say that to play in the FA Cup final would be the height of their ambition. ‘If you listen carefully to that, they don’t say to win the FA Cup, it’s

Boss: John Lyall led West Ham to two FA Cup finals and a promotion during his time as manager to say you played in the FA Cup final. So to play in the cup final, to walk out there at Wembley was a marvelous experience - to win it, was almost an icing on the cake and a bonus for me.’ West Ham beat Arsenal 1-0 in the FA Cup final on May 10, 1980. This was the last time a lower division side would beat a higher division side until 37

years later - making it a colossal achievement for the Hammers. ‘We probably never truly thought we’d beat Arsenal. We were a second division side; they were doing really well in the top division. ‘I think we had a slight advantage because of the nature of their semi-final, because I think they played about four times against Liver-

pool, didn’t they? That would take the edge off a little bit - those games must have drained them. ‘I never really felt that we would win it, until about fifteen minutes from time. That’s when I started panicking, that’s when it becomes difficult because that’s when you realise you’ve got something to lose because we were 1-0 up.’

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It was also an unfamiliar formation to be playing in - something which didn’t help Cross’s nerves. The day started with a last minute change to tactics - and the tried and tested 4-4-2 formula was scrapped in favour of Cross playing on his own up front. The change was so last minute, Cross had just a few minutes to prepare for it. ‘I didn’t know we were going to do that until 15 minutes before kick-off!’ says Cross. ‘We were a 4-4-2 team and we worked on the 4-4-2 all that week. At 15 minutes before the game, John took me aside and said “you’re going to play upfront on your own, we think that’ll bamboozle Arsenal for a little while” and sure enough, it worked - we scored after 13 minutes.’ He continues: ‘The Arsenal centre-back didn’t know what day it was, who was marking who; so John’s tactic that day was spot on. ‘I realised I wasn’t going to get many

Hero: Sir Trevor Brooking scored the only goal as West Ham beat Arsenal to win the FA Cup in 1980 chances to score, and that I was just going to do the donkey work up front - but I was playing in the Cup final and I wasn’t going to argue with that. To win the FA Cup and to have an FA Cup winners medal means everything.’

Happy moment: The boys with the FA Cup

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The following year, the Hammers had a chance to play in Europe - and push for promotion back to the first division. Cross had a fantastic year; he scored goals for fun that year and won the golden boot. It was a huge result for the striker. ‘It was a big thing for me as I relied on goals. I lived and died on goals and I was always prepared to say that. ‘I wanted people to judge me on the goals I scored. I regarded myself as a number 9, and a number 9’s job from when I was a little

boy, had always been to be the goalscorer. ‘I think throughout my career I was always the leading goalscorer in every club I played in and that was something I wanted to be.’ It wasn’t enough to be a part of the winning side for Cross, his goalscoring obsession was paramount when he stepped onto the pitch - and he had to see his name on the scoresheet. ‘If anyone said to me, the team’s doing well, you’re not scoring, but you’re making it for other people, that was no good to me - I didn’t want to hear


that. I had to score goals, I wanted to score goals to justify myself as a player. Stuart - we’re great pals, Stuart and I, we still are - would often say “I don’t care who’s scoring the goals as long as the team wins.” ‘Well I wanted the team to win but I wanted to score the goals as well.’ Fortunately for both of them, the goals were coming in that year and the team were winning. ‘We got a lot of goals, and so we should have done. We were playing in the second tier of English football. We should have been better than that - we should have gone up a couple seasons earlier than we did. ‘But it was the catalyst of winning the cup to get us to go up. If we didn’t go up after winning the cup, it was going to look pretty shabby.’ There were still highs and lows to negotiate, and another key match in Cross’s West Ham history was the League Cup Final against Liverpool in 1981 - this one with a hotly contested and controversial goal from Liverpool to open the scoring in extra time. Liverpool defender Alan Kennedy scored in the 118th minute but as the ball sailed towards the goal, his teammate Sammy

Offside! Sammy Lee got away with one in the League Cup final Lee was in an offside position, obstructing the view of the West Ham goalkeeper, Phil Parkes. Incredibly, referee Clive Thomas ruled that Lee was not interfering with play and allowed the goal to stand. So, was the goal offside? ‘Definitely offside!’ says Cross, incred-

ulous to this day. ‘I mean, we couldn’t believe the goal was allowed to stand. When Alan Kennedy took the shot, Sammy had to duck his head down so the ball could go over him, so to say he wasn’t interfering with play was ridiculous.’ It was a moment that also ended up with

manager John Lyall in hot water for his alleged comments to the referee. ‘Clive was such a stubborn man, and once he’d given the goal nothing was going to change. ‘I know John got in a bit of trouble - he was called up in front of the FA for the words he said to him. Because they’d got a photograph of me right next to John and Clive - I was listening to it - they asked me what John had said. ‘ John Lyall was accused of saying that “Thomas had cheated”, but he maintained he said that he felt cheated. So what, according to Cross, was the truth? ‘He said “I feel cheated”. He did say that.’ He pauses. ‘But I also said that’s all he said.’ Although the Hammers pulled a goal back a few minutes later, it wasn’t to be a happy ending for them at the replay. Instead, it was a crucial lesson for Cross. ‘The replay was probably the worst game I played. I hadn’t been well that day; I’d had a really bad ear infection. ‘I probably shouldn’t have played; but because it was the replay of the cup final I was too selfish and I didn’t mention to anyone how ill I felt. ‘I didn’t carry my weight. I apologised

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to the lads after the game. ‘It was a big disappointment to me and I felt fairly responsible for the fact that we lost. I just didn’t pull my weight at all. That was a big mistake. It’s a big blot on my career that we lost that one.’ He’s still apologetic about his performance to this day - but it wasn’t just his performance on the pitch he was sorry for. He also felt terrible for his actions after the game. He got an earful from Lyle for heading straight down the tunnel while his teammates acknowledged and applauded the fans at the final whistle, saying he “couldn’t face the fans after the way I played”. It was a lesson learned for Cross. ‘That was one thing I learned, if I wasn’t fit and wasn’t able to play, then I would be honour bound to say something - and I never ever played again if there was something seriously wrong with me.’ Of course it was a different scenario for a player to take time off for being injured in Cross’s day. ‘If you got a bit of a niggle - you played! Otherwise the money wasn’t as good. If I played and we won I could double my money that week - that was a big difference

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Top keeper: Phil Parkes was an icon at West Ham in the 1980s in what my pay packet could be - so we wanted to play. It was only after [West Ham] that I got injuries. Then I had an injury playing for Bolton that ended my career, I fractured my skull. That actually knocked the stuffing out of me.’ All in all, it was an incredible career for David Cross. In his time at West Ham, he scored an outstanding 99 goals in over 200 games over four

and a half seasons although he remains disappointed to this day that he didn’t hit 100 goals for the Hammers. But even more incredibly, one of West Ham’s best strikers almost didn’t play up front at all! ‘Until I became a professional football. I had never played up front. I had never been a striker. I was always a right winger.’ He wasn’t sure what to do in the first game

that he got placed upfront, but fortunately he was given a piece of brilliant advice by then-teammate Bobby Downs - advice he would live by for his entire career. ‘Wherever the ball is on the pitch, whoever’s got the ball, make sure they can hit you with it. ‘Make sure they can get it to you. When the ball gets to you. Hold the ball up, give it to one of us, and then get in the box to get on the end of it.’ It was good advice - and he certainly put them away as a result. Not content with hattricks, he once scored four against Tottenham and four against Grimsby in a 5-1 win for the Hammers - but the match balls aren’t sitting on his shelf. He regularly gets asked if he still has the match ball from the Tottenham game, and he laughs as he explains why he didn’t keep a hold of that piece of memorabilia. ‘I actually gave it to Phil [Parkes] because after the Grimsby game when I got four and walked away with the ball, he said “I’ll never get one of those. However well I play, save as many shots as I possibly can, I’ll never get a match ball. It’s you goalscorers who get the hattricks”. So I said “the next time I get a hattrick Phil, I’ll give you the ball”.’ It was an illustrious


time for West Ham and Cross, but like all good things, it eventually came to an end. Cross married a woman up North, and became tempted to move - but it was his fear of letting down the West Ham fans that led him to decide to move to Manchester City in 1982. ‘Towards the end of that season, I felt I might have peaked and gone over the top and back down the other side as far as the West Ham fans might have thought. ‘I didn’t want to have a disappointing season where I wasn’t the player the fans thought I had been for

the previous five. I just thought maybe it was the time to go. ‘If I go on my own terms, it’ll be the first time I’ve ever done that. I’ll leave the club when I’ve done what I’ve done. In retrospect, maybe I should have had another season.’ Fortunately for Cross, West Ham remain grateful for the seasons he gave us. The passion, goals and hard work he gave to West Ham live on the memories of the fans - and he will always be appreciated and valued for his time scoring goal after goal for the east London faithful. BBM

In his pomp: David Cross goes on the charge for the Hammers

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Joe Hart

Who on earth is going to be West Ham’s No 1 next season?

On-loan goalkeeper Joe Hart has left the club with more questions than answers Going? Joe Hart has struggled to establish himself at West Ham

LUC BAILEY

@luc_bailey1

P

remier League and FA Cup winner, former England number one, Champions League experience; on paper, the signing of Joe Hart to West Ham was a no brainer. However, in reality, it’s been a far from glamorous relationship. With the sale of Darren Randolph in the summer, we looked to Hart to replace the Republic of Ireland number one. Many speculated, due to Hart’s pedigree, he would be the starter by default over Adrian and those speculations were correct. After our poor start to the season, Hart found himself on the receiving end of criticism from the fans, which hasn’t stopped from some even to this day. Due to Joe’s ineli-

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gibility to play away to his parent club Manchester City in the league, Adrian replaced him as starter as he had done during the League Cup campaign. After making vital saves in the game and receiving a huge amount of support from the Hammers fan base, the Spaniard

replaced Hart for a good while. Hart started cup games but now that the club is no longer participating in them, he was recently thrust into the current relegation fight. Although he suffered in the defeat to Burnley, he kept a clean sheet against Southampton and I hope he

can now be a vital part in the club’s battle to avoid the drop. So where does that leave his career? He’s still in contention with the England number one spot but Hart wasn’t picked for the recent England friendlies. And Stoke’s Jack Butland and Everton’s Jordan Pickford look like safer bets to be the man that starts in goal at the upcoming World Cup As for Hart and West Ham, it’s not clear what lies ahead. If we choose not to make the loan deal permanent, we’d need to find a replacement, possibly even replacing Adrian as starter depending on the pedigree of ‘keeper they bring in. But would Adrian stay next season if again a replacement immediately strolled in taking his starting place? Perhaps investment in a young player for the future is what is needed. Nathan Trott is waiting in reserve and perhaps will get his chance to shine


next season. It would hardly seem likely that the club, in its current situation, would clammer for a ‘keeper of a world class standard, so targets in the summer need to be realistic with substance and not just panic buys or a name purely to sell shirts and tickets. An English goalkeeper such as Butland who currently looks likely to be relegated with Stoke would be a huge buy considering potential and age but his price tag may prove too high. Unless he pushes for a move himself, though it’s unlikely we would be the only bidders for him. Tom Heaton may struggle to regain his place at Burnley with Nick Pope currently in form under Sean Dyche, so perhaps he could be enticed to battle Adrian, providing the Spaniard is still with us. Perhaps we should try our luck at Championship level? A good, budding and ambitious ‘keeper who won’t cost too much is surely bet-

Going? Adrian has been linked with a move back to Spain

ter in some ways than just buying a random goalkeeper to fill the void? Maybe the route we went down with Adrian should be reconsidered? A hungry foreign goalkeeper who wants to impress in the Premier League, providing

Gone: West Ham sold Ireland’s Darren Randolph last summer

we stay up, is a good option to look at, and they shouldn’t be too expensive either. The nightmare situation would be if we get relegated then our options will be even more limited. Would Adrian want to stay, despite his loyalty to us, with the potential that his career could suffer at the same time? If Hart had a huge surge in form, we may be enticed to offer him a permanent deal but that would only be under special circumstances. Many fans would still side with Adrian and

perhaps the club generally should be loyal in any case to Adrian by default. The former Real Betis man has become a cult hero with the West Ham faithful and has a special connection with the fans. Is that enough to warrant a contract though? Whatever happens, the main priority is the Premier League survival of the club and whoever is between the sticks on matchdays needs be as helpful as possible in our efforts to stay up. That is something all fans will surely agree on. BBM

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Arthur Masuaku

Masuaku’s return could be vital in Irons’ battle to avoid the drop The wing-back put us in spitting distance of relegation with moment of madness

GREG RICHARDSON

I

@rakis14

t seems difficult to remember now, but December and January were good months for us as a club. David Moyes had got to know his squad and found a formation that had led to an impressive display against runaway league leaders Manchester City. In that game we played 3-5-1-1, with Aaron Cresswell playing as a left sided centre back and Arthur Masuaku as a left wing back for the first time. Whilst it ended in a plucky, well-contested 2-1 defeat, there were signs of promise that this new set up made us more solid, whilst still offering some threat. As such Moyes persisted with the same set up for the following visit from Chelsea, and we put in our best

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Back: Arthur Masuaku returned to the West Ham team against Southampton performance of the season thus far earning a well-deserved 1-0 win. During the nine games, from the Chelsea win on December 9 and our final league game in January, we won four and lost just once in the league. And throughout that time the same basic line up played. Then, in the FA Cup game against Wigan on January 27, Masua-

ku decided to lose his head and any sense of professionalism and spat at Nicky Powell. He would serve a entirely justified six game ban, during which time we lost four and won only once. His re-emergence against Southampton was both timely in terms of the season but also acted as a reminder of what it is that he brings to the side.

It also begs the question - would we be out of spitting distance of the relegation battle had the Congolese international not been unavailable for nearly two months? Of course there are other factors at play in our loss of form over those six games. The disastrous January transfer window that weakened our squad undoubtedly affected performances. It was also the spark that lit the fuse of fan unrest that so destructively exploded against Burnley, which likewise affected the performances of the players and hastened our demise on that torrid day. But the way in which his return to the line up against Southampton coincided with our best display since his ban, at least gives cause for a further look. If we examine his statistics in comparison to two of the best in the league in similar roles, as well as our other wingback Pablo Zabaleta, he stacks up favourably in many


areas. Whilst he is often accused of lacking defensive work rate, he has made 29 successful tackles which puts him on par with both Marcos Alonso and Kyle Walker. Arthur also has over double the number of successful take ons as all three, with a whopping 66 against 13 for Alonso and 24 for Walker, the latter largely considered one of the best attacking full-backs in the league if not Europe. Arthur also has four assists, has created 15 chances and played 12 key passes. All which suggests as an attacking outlet at

HC

least, he is up there with some of the best wing-backs in the Premiership. In truth his defensive stats don’t measure up quite as well to either the aforementioned full backs or to our own Pablo Zabaleta. The Argentine has recorded over double the number of tackles, interceptions, blocks and clearances as Masuaku, so it is reasonable to argue that Arthur playing in the games he missed, such as Brighton, Swansea and Burnley, would have done little to shore up the leaky defence that conceded 15 goals in his absence. BBM

Natural defender: Pablo Zabaleta

Hammers Chat

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33


Declan Rice Big future: Declan Rice looks to have a bright future in the game after his breakthrough season with West Ham

Rice has proven he is up to it and deserves a long run in the team The young defender should be given every chance to establish himself at West Ham

JAMES JONES

@JJ2388

T

he Academy of Football has not been what it used to be for some time now. Not since the emergence of Mark Noble,

34

James Tomkins and Jack Collison in the Hammers first team have we really been able to boast about having exciting young talent coming through the youth ranks. We’ve had a few who have shown promise but none who have really been able to establish themselves in the first team for long periods of time. This season, though,

the emergence of young Declan Rice has given every West Ham fan hope that the Academy of Football will once again shine brightly on the English game. Following on from a relatively impressive cameo on the final day of last season, Rice has worked hard to force his way in to first team reckoning this term.

And while his game time will have almost certainly been boosted by a number of injuries to first team defenders, his rise this season can only really be attributed to him and his impeccable attitude and promising talent. It is fair to question whether Rice’s first team place can yet be a guarantee once the likes of Winston Reid and James Collins


return to full fitness. But if ever there were any doubts over his ability to step in and deputise at the highest level when needed, then they have well and truly been quashed. Rice is yet to have a bad game in a West Ham shirt and of the 24 first team appearances this season, the 19-year-old has impressed in every single one, even when coming off the bench. It’s testament to the youngster that even when David Moyes replaced Slaven Bilic, he remained in the first team and wasn’t sent out on loan like a number of other youth prospects. Moyes’ arrival will have benefited Rice’s development too, as the Scot does have a reputation for showing trust in young players – he is the man responsible for the emergence of the likes of Wayne Rooney and Seamus Coleman, after all. And the defender’s stock is only going to rise if he continues the way he is, even on an international level. His man of the match performance on his debut for the Republic of Ireland shows just how far he has come in such a short space of time and there have been a number of times this season where he has deserved the man of

Famous face: David Moyes gave Wayne Rooney his big break at Everton

the match award for West Ham. While the defender’s ability and calmness on the ball is so impressive for a youngster in his first full season, it’s his attitude that has impressed the most. He is rarely seen without a smile on his face and it’s clear all Rice wants to do is play football for West Ham and his country, at any level. He is enjoying himself and if a player is enjoying his game then that will always shine through in performances. During the inter-

national break, Rice came off the back of his MOTM performance for the Republic of Ireland first team and joined straight up with his country’s U21s for an important European Qualifier v Azerbaijan. Not because he had to but because he wanted to. He said in an interview with RTE: ‘I’m only 19, I can’t be making decisions where I’m only going to play for one. Where I can play for the 21’s and the first team, I’m happy to do just that.’ It’s that kind of attitude that we’ve

witnessed so much at West Ham this season and if Rice can keep that positive mind-set and continue to improve his game at the rate he is, then there is absolutely no reason why he can’t become a mainstay in claret and blue for many years to come. He is a player who other young players in the Academy should be looking up to and learning from, both as a player and a person. The Academy of Football is still alive and Declan Rice is the man who can give it the revival it desperately needed. BBM

35


David Moyes

Has Moyes done enough to stay as our boss for the long-term?

The former Everton and Manchester United manager was a shock appointment Progress? Are West Ham any better under David Moyes?

HOLLY WORTHINGTON @hollseey

D

ebates have been heating up amongst fans and pundits as to whether West Ham are better or worse off, since Slaven Bilic was replaced by David Moyes. An initially underwhelming appointment for most, Moyes joined us after Bilic had won only two of the first 11 games of the 2017/18 season. The ‘new manager effect’ was nowhere to be seen as the first three games under Moyes saw only one point taken from fixtures against Watford, Leicester and Everton. With the Hammers struggling to pick up points, relegation has been a very real concern. As the pressure continues and the end of the season rapidly

36

approaches, I’ve had a look at the 2017/18 Premier League stats behind the two managers. Under David Moyes, West Ham have improved defensively. As of West Ham’s 3-0 win against Southampton at the end of March, the Scotsman has seen an average of 1.7 goals conceded per match, an improvement

on Bilic’s 2.09 goals per game on average, but still not ideal. In addition, Moyes’ squad have made an average of 16.8 successful tackles per game, compared to Bilic’s 16.1. Something which has been particularly noticeable has been Moyes’ ability to make the most of a team Bilic had seemingly

lost control of. Scoring an average of 1.4 goals per game, Moyes has unlocked many players’ potential, most noticeably with Marco Arnautovic, who failed to score under Bilic but now boasts nine goals and three assists in 17 games under Moyes. As a comparison, under Bilic, West Ham scored an average of one goal per game, based on his 11 games in charge during the 2017/18 season. While these statistics present Moyes as the man for the job, others offer a different perspective. Interestingly, while our conversion rate has clearly improved, Moyes’ boys have only managed 9.05 shots per game on average, a significant drop from Bilic’s 10.5. When it comes to fluid gameplay, Bilic had the upper hand again. The Croatian averaged 48.7 per cent possession in his time at the club this season, a noticeable difference to Moyes’ 42.8 per cent possession so far this


season. The number of passes has also seen a drop from 406 with Bilic to only 363 per game under Moyes. Statistically speaking, Moyes’ results have been an improvement on his predecessor’s, winning 30 per cent of fixtures compared to Bilic who won only 18 per cent of Premier League games this season. Moyes also has the upper hand, losing 40 per cent of games in charge, whereas Bilic lost an enormous 54 per cent of fixtures he managed this season. So was Moyes the right appointment? Arguably, he was the best of few realistic options, stepping

in and improving us marginally when we were in dire need of a change. However, losing an enormous eight of 20 Premier League fixtures this season leaves me in no doubt that we should be on the lookout for Moyes’ replacement. Ultimately, I don’t believe Moyes is the man to take West Ham to the next level. Should we avoid relegation, some interesting names have been mentioned who I would be excited to see managing West Ham. Whatever happens, it is safe to say that the rest of 2018 promises to be exciting both on and off the pitch. BBM

Tough start: West Ham began the season under Slaven Bilic’s leadership

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Black Irons

West Ham should be proud of our history with black players

The likes of Clyde Best should not be forgotten as we hail the ‘Three Degrees’

BRIAN PENN

@WestHamMagazine

M

uch was made of West Brom’s contribution to racial equality in the BBC’s recent Black and British season. The documentary told of Laurie Cunningham, Cyrille Regis and Brendon Batson’s time at the West Midland club in the 70s. They were predictably dubbed the Three Degrees as the trio burned an indelible image on the game. It’s widely believed West Brom were the first club to field three black players in 1978. But West Ham turned the trick a full six years before when Ron Greenwood selected Clive Charles, Ade Coker and Clyde Best for the home game against Spurs in April 1972. Admittedly, Charles and Coker were fringe

38

Tributes: Cyrille Regis players who only clocked up 24 league appearance between them. But Clyde Best was a first team regular, finishing top scorer in 1971/72 with 23 goals. In contrast, the West Brom boys were fixtures and Ron Atkinson’s fondness for a photo opportunity kept them in the public consciousness. Their impact was immeasurable and paved the way for all black

players that followed them. Even so, our boys deserve more than a passing nod. What about Clive’s older brother John Charles, who won five England youth caps in the early 60s; the first black player to gain representative honours for his country. He also captained West Ham’s FA Youth Cup winning side in 1963. He inspired a remarkable comeback when the Hammers

were trailing Liverpool 2-1 in the second leg, eventually winning the tie 6-5. That same year Charlo made his first team debut against Blackburn Rovers. Niggling injuries kept him out of the first team for the next two seasons. By the late 60s Charlo had nailed down the left back spot as his own. But he was again sidelined by a troublesome hamstring injury. A youngster called Frank Lampard stepped in and Charlo never made it back. His match fitness never properly recovered and succumbed to the drinking culture so prevalent at the time. Charlo’s England youth career should place him alongside Laurie Cunningham (first under 21 cap) and Viv Anderson (first full international cap) as ground breaking black footballers. But Charlo seems to be largely forgotten whenever black social history is presented. Whilst his story has been documented both online and in print, his achieve-


‘If anything can go wrong it will go wrong at West Ham’ BY MEIRION WILLIAMS

Irons’ legend: Clyde Best ments deserve to be celebrated on a much wider platform. Charlo subsequently retired and later worked in the family grocery business. He died of cancer at the pitifully young age of 58. Brother Clive later had a successful career, both as a player and coach in America. He coached the US soccer team at the Sydney Olympics and was inducted into the

Oregon Sports Hall of Fame. He died in 2003 aged 51. Ade Coker also enjoyed success stateside playing for the US national team. Clyde Best played for nine years in the NASL and coached the Bermuda national team. He was awarded an MBE for services to football and the community in Bermuda. Don’t Charlo and the original Three Degrees deserve prominence? BBM

Much has been talked about the so called West Ham Way and being a supporter entering my twilight years I think I finally understand just what that elusive statement actually means. Quite simply, the West Ham Way is that if something can go wrong at a football club it will go wrong at West Ham. My earliest recollection of the West Ham Way was the very first game I ever watched the Hammers play. It was the League Cup semi-final in 1972. This was a tie that took over seven hours to finally find a winner, and yes it was Stoke that came out victorious. Goal machine Geoff Hurst missed a penalty that would have seen the Hammers move on to a Wembley final. It was also a tie where Bobby Moore featured as a substitute goalkeeper and saved a penalty only for the rebound to be slotted in for the winning goal. Headlines on that next morning de-

scribed West Ham as ‘brave, suffering and heartbroken’ having lost the ‘longest and richest League Cup semi-finals on one of the greatest football nights of all time’. Since then we’ve had the Valentine’s Day Massacre at Boundary Park and the semi-final at Villa Park in 1991 when referee Keith Hackett sent off Tony Gale for an innocuous challenge. How about the infamous Manny Omoyinmi incident when we fielded the youngster in a cup game only to find he had already played for another club. I don’t want to even mention Tevezgate or the latest round of fines due to breach of anti-doping rules. The Bond Scheme; Olympic Stadium move, violence off the pitch, Sullivan and Gold, the “Eggman”, Terence Brown, The Cearns family. Have we ever had an owner we liked and didn’t embarras us? Perhaps the West Ham Way is alive and well after all!

39


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Getting to know you - #10

‘You can not beat seeing Henri Lansbury in goal at Blackpool’

Blowing Bubbles writer James Gavin on his highs and lows of watching the Irons First West Ham game It was an away match at Leeds United. My dad took me on what the first of many away days. Given our poor record against Leeds, there wasn’t a lot of hope but perhaps it was meant to be as we actually won 1-0, which as I learned the hard way, was a rare away victory. Favourite game This answer picks itself, as there is nothing better than seeing your team win at Wembley. Beating Blackpool in the Play-Off final is a fond memory, winning so late on was such a thrill, although at the time I thought it was earlier because the game seemed drag on! Worst game This has a lot of contenders unfortunately. I am going to go for last season’s FA cup match against City. The fact the stadium was nearly empty after 50 minutes says it all, a painful watch and Favourite goal The Andy Carroll

Best opposition player you’ve seen play against us I have to go for Hazard, perhaps this is swayed because I live with a Chelsea fan that never shuts up about him. But he is truly unbelievable on his day, the low centre of gravity he possesses is mind blowing and he’s surprisingly strong.

Big fan: James Gavin overhead kick will be the best goal I’ll ever see and I’m only 20! I was right behind it, and can only just about believe it after seeing hundreds of replays. The ball went like a bullet. Favourite player of all time This is tricky because I loved having Tevez, even though it was only short lived. Scott Parker was an inspiration, but I have to go for

Noble because he has played throughout the majority of my life, and has given everything to our club. Favourite player from the current squad Lanzini easy. He is an amazing player, his skill is unbelievable and it is so true that if he plays well the team plays well. Hopefully he will be here for many more years but unfortunately I doubt that.

Best team you’ve ever seen play against us This is a very small conciliation that the worst game I experienced was at the hands of the best team. Manchester City are a fantastic team and always seem virtually unstoppable in a game as unpredictable as football. Favourite away day Winning away at Blackpool on a cold Tuesday night 4-1. This game had it all, going down to 10 men, and then Henri Lansbury coming on to go in goal. Lots of goals, and chanting: ‘We are top of the league’. Good times. BBM

41


SIMON OSBORN’S

LAST WORD

The fans’ issues run deep but it will always be a results business

O

ne of the most annoying things about the coverage of West Ham’s recent protests has been having to listen to ill-informed pundits who claim the fans are only angry because the team is losing. It’s true that football is a results business, and if we were in sixth place in the table instead of hovering above the relegation zone you wouldn’t have marches or fans running on the pitch or stealing corner flags. Had it been the Irons, and not Burnley, who had taken the lead on that fateful afternoon the goal would not have sparked the first pitch invasions or led to a spontaneous gathering in front of the directors’ box. However, the way the club has been run over the last few seasons has created a tinderbox of frustration amongst the West Ham support and our recent dip in form has been

42

Passionate: West Ham’s away support the spark that has allowed the whole thing to go up in flames. Before the club left Upton Park for Stratford there wasn’t much in the way of organised protests against the move. Some fans were dead against it from the start but the majority were willing to give it a chance. It was seen as an opportunity to offer cheaper tickets, vastly improved transport links and the chance

to go to the next level and compete. We knew London Stadium wouldn’t be the same as Upton Park, but Upton Park itself hadn’t been the same as it was since the West Stand was re-built and the ground went all-seater. The move was a price worth paying to move forward. The problem has been that, while the fans did their bit and snapped up season

tickets in unprecedented numbers, the board have simply not invested the cash required to make the move a success. In the first transfer window after leaving the Boleyn the club spent all summer talking about Alexandre Lacazette and Carlos Bacca but signed Sofiane Feghouli on a free transfer. By January, Dimitri Payet had had enough and was replaced with Robert Snodgrass. We’ve since made a profit in the last two transfer windows. Yes, if West Ham are challenging for Europe next season most fans wouldn’t give two hoots that the owners are making £50k-perweek in interest from loans to the club. But the problem is that the club won’t trouble the top half unless they show more ambition in the transfer market. And so far the board have shown little desire to do that. BBM


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