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Are there any summer bargains to be had? Warning to Gold & Sullivan: Don’t mess with our identity Five Championship players we should sign Why we shouldn’t take Palace lightly Looking back on a season of highs and lows & much more The Number One West Ham United eFanzine! Print • Mobile • Online


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

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News Editor Alex Shilling is partial to a bit of the 1980 FA Cup Final jersey, Lucy Woolford likes the 2000 shirt, and Tales from the Sandpit writer and myself love donning the 1986 top. What is your favourite retro West Ham United shirt? And, more importantly, do you love to be photographed in it as happily as I do? We have teamed up with Campo Retro to sell classic retro clothing from yesteryear and we are pleased to say to celebrate our partnership, we are giving you the chance to win your choice of shirt from our collection of classic West Ham United retro shirts from 1958 to 2000. All you need to do is find our “Retro West Ham Shirt Competition” page on our website and fill in the form to be in with a chance of winning. We will select the winner at random and email you asking for your choice of shirt, size and delivery address and Campo Retro will then send you your choice of vintage Hammers clothing. Our competition closes at 11.59pm on Saturday 26 April 2014 so don’t delay, enter today! Turning to this weekend’s clash and I am fearful of Palace. At the start of the season, I felt we would take six points from the Eagles but under Pulis, they have impressed me. Having said that, if we can take the game to them and play with a high tempo, I believe we will have enough to secure a 2-0 victory. Enjoy the game!

David Blackmore Editor


Matt Santer

Bargain Basement: Who would be worth snapping up? It’s a nice feeling to essentially be home and hosed this season with a few games to spare, particularly having had such a lacklustre start to the calendar year. Discontent with our achievements can perhaps now become a distant memory, with everything now seeming to be on the verge of rosy. Being in a fortunate enough position to be

planning for another term in the Premier League, all attention will now be turning to who we can bring in to strengthen the squad for next season. Big Sam will also be mindful that more of a purposeful finish to 2014/15 is vital in preparation for the much anticipated (or dreaded) stadium move.

So where can we look and what sort of players do we need? The obvious initial ports of call would be those clubs in immediate danger of relegation, with Sunderland being a fairly good place to start. Adam Johnson just cannot seem to settle anywhere since leaving Middlesbrough, but for a handful of inspired periods for Manchester City

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and this year for the Black Cats. He has recently been mooting his worth in the England set-up, but this has been beaten down by some as a delusion of grandeur having mostly been a nonstarter for Gus Poyet. There is, however, absolutely no doubting that Johnson has talent in abundance. Perhaps he has been lacking a manager with the tenacity to bring it out on a regular basis. Steven Caulker was a bold purchase for Cardiff City once promoted and the defender was immediately given the captain’s armband at the tender age of 21. A reported price tag in excess of £8million, the towering centre-half has been part of a well-financed Cardiff side this season. He has the attributes to play a major part at a midtable club, which is why he could provide yet more excellent cover at the back for us with a footballing brain beyond his years. Bradley Johnson is a player I think fits the mould of a player favoured by Big Sam; hard working, adventurous with the ball and powerful. His performance at the weekend was outstanding,

with a Hollywood pass over the Fulham defence being a highlight. His Norwich team was not rewarded with a win, but he is doing his market value no damage whatsoever should they not avoid relegation. His game oozes energy, and having entered the world in Hackney he might just be tempted with a move to East London. Wilfried Bony has done everything humanly possible to help Swansea stay away from the drop, notching an impressive 17 goals. The Swans should have been well out of sight by now, but a dip in form and a sacked manager has left them dangerously close to the bottom-three. Would he provide a good enough strike partner for Andy Carroll, or does our towering, long-haired Geordie prefer cutting a loan figure? Regardless, we need serious reinforcements in attacking positions, so the Ivorian could be a decent option. Diego Poyet, son of the famous Uruguayan Gus, was rumoured to be a target for us on the back of his displays for Charlton in the Championship this season. The Spanish-born 19-year old is a creative and

composed holding midfielder, perhaps not quite ready for the Premier League but certainly a strong prospect for the next few years. I think a lot of our success will depend on the approach taken by both the executive and footballing management towards youth development, with a view to creating a strong and preferably English squad for our move to Stratford. Signings from relegated clubs can go either way for the purchaser, either a deflated player with his energy spent or a hungry winner, determined to prove himself despite his side dropping out of the league. The danger with recruiting from beneath the top flight can present the same problem, with time needed for them to find their feet. In any case we are not exactly renowned for pulling in show stoppers, a pattern which needs to change and fast if we have any hope of ambitiously broaching the European spots. What good is a 55,000seater stadium with more empty seats than fans inside it? Follow me on Twitter @MattSanter

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Julian Shea

Hammers and Tigers take note: Don’t mess with a club’s identity Talk about knowing how to start rumours. On the morning of April 9, West Ham co-owner David Gold tweeted his views on the Hull renaming issue: ‘If the fans and owner of Hull wish to change there name, on what basis does the FA refuse? After all the club belongs to the fans not the FA.’ Given that vice-chairman Karren Brady had previously

said that she ‘loved the idea of calling the club West Ham Olympic’ after the Olympic Stadium move – a suggestion promptly shot down by the powers that be – Gold’s comment provoked a flurry of replies. Although he did not expand on his tweet with further discussion, the strength of opinion generated showed the importance of a club’s

identity in the eyes of many fans. With many teams a century or more old, their modern-day incarnations have left most of their roots long behind, so badges, names and colours are among the few remaining significant connections with the past, hence being such touchy subjects.

For more articles like this, read Julian’s column for Club Metro at Metro.co.uk/author/JulianShea


The way Vincent Tan decided that Cardiff’s blue and white kit, worn since 1910, was merely an accessory which could be changed for the Malaysian (I hate using this word in a football context) market showed he might as well be from Mars as from Malaysia, for all his understanding of fan culture and thinking. The fact Bluebirds (for that is what they are) fans display their blue and white scarves as a gesture of dissatisfaction sums up perfectly how wrong he has got it. The case of Assem Allam in Hull is slightly different, but has descended into similar acrimony. Taking over and supporting his adopted home town’s club was the latest in a series of frequent philanthropic

gestures, but the way he has tried to railroad through the name change by threatening to withdraw his support has caused huge ill-feeling, overshadowing the team’s build-up to their first FA Cup final appearance. Badges, colours and emblems are not just bits of decoration like wallpaper, to be altered whenever people get the urge. They matter, they are key to a club’s, and a fan’s, identity. Imagine that the Icelanders who owned West Ham prior to Gold and David Sullivan had, in their brief tenure, changed the name to West Ham Vikings, or altered the colours to those of the Icelandic national team. You can bet that their first acts would have been to

restore the club’s proper name and colours, as a sign that true fans were at the helm once again. Many things change over the course of our lives – jobs, houses, relationships – but one thing that remains permanent in the life of a football fan is their choice of team. Even if you’re backing a loser, you don’t walk away. Logic defying? Yes – but since when has the head had anything to do with something that is as much from the heart as football? That’s why the trappings of a club’s identity matter so much. Meddle with them at your peril. Follow me on Twitter @JulianSheaSport

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Thomas Johnson

A glance at Crystal Palace It’s almost been two seasons for the boys from Selhurst Park with the fans enduring a confusing first few months to their return to the top tier of English football. Manager Ian Holloway was rumoured to be leaving after bringing in a plethora of new faces in the summer transfer window and the club were looking like they were in for a season of struggle. After Holloway left, it took a month for the club to search and deliberate but they finally settles on the man with Tony Pulis. The capture was heralded as a top signing

from pundits after the manager’s work at former club Stoke and despite many discussions about the style of play Pulis implements into his team, there’s no doubt that since his arrival, Selhurst Park has become a tough place to visit. In fact the job that Pulis has done since his arrival has seen many call for him to be manager of the year but that accolade will surely go to Liverpool’s Brendan Rodgers or the impressive Roberto Martinez of Everton. Crystal Palace pose a difficult task when they head

to the Boleyn Ground, with both teams mainly opting for similar styles of long balls to target men. That’s not to say either team can’t mix it up at points during the game, the likes of Puncheon for the visitors and Diame for the home side give each an exciting option in attack. One Palace signing that Hammers fans would’ve been interested by last summer was the arrival of Chamakh from Arsenal. After a difficult time at the Gunners, the centre forward arrived on a loan at Upton Park last season for the end

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of season run in. It’s safe to say he was mightily unimpressive when Big Sam gave him his very few chances. The Moroccan international has endeared himself to the Selhurst Park faithful with his work rate and has notched five strikes, but has become an important player for the Eagles with his hold up play and linking the ball to the likes of Puncheon and Cameron Jerome. Palace were tipped to struggle this season after losing star player Wilfried Zaha to Manchester United but as Pulis did so successfully at Stoke, he has created a great team ethic that must be admired as he pulled the club out of the relegation battle and on their way to safety. The January transfer window was vital for the Eagles, bringing in Joe Ledley, making Puncheon’s loan permanent and bringing in quality competition for the goalkeepers’ position by signing Wayne Hennessey from Wolverhampton Wanderers to challenge club number one Julian Speroni. It might not be the prettiest game of football when Palace arrive at the Boleyn Ground but it will put both team’s fight and spirit to the test.

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Daniel Ford

Next season’s team With West Ham essentially securing safety with the win at Sunderland, I find myself thinking more about what next year might look like. I feel, and have felt pretty strongly all year, that if the right decisions are made we have a potentially strong team going into next season. The biggest decision that needs to be made is what to do about Ravel Morrison. He is a brilliant talent and has the mercurial nature that all such talents have. I understand the hesitance of the team and of the fans

to embrace that but the reality is that part of moving forward as an organisation is going to be learning how to handle such personalities. The next decision that has to be made is what to do in the transfer market, both in terms of who to buy and who to sell. Recent reports seem to suggest that Jarvis is on the way out. I understand this sentiment but I am not sure it best serves the team unless a better winger is to be had. Our team is flush with talent in the centre of

the midfield and Big Sam already has a habit of playing Diame out wide when that is not his game. There is also the matter of getting one more striker, unless Elliot Lee is ready for the big time. Andy Carroll is a world class talent and I love Carlton Cole but an injury to either puts us in the same kind of bad place we were in earlier this year. Getting one more Premier League player at that position is necessary to reach a higher level of success next year. One place to look for solid additions to the team would be with the teams that are likely to go down. Many have talked about Sunderland’s Adam Johnson and he would be a great addition to our midfield. If West Ham were able to sign Adam Johnson, a quality striker and perhaps one more defensive stalwart as well as bring back Ravel Morrison, we could be in a position to push on and even challenge for a spot in the Europa League next season. With one more year before moving to Olympic Stadium, it is key that this be the sort of track the Davids decide upon.

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Lucy Woolford

Looking back on 13/14

I don’t like the word ‘penultimate’. It makes me feel like something sad is about to happen. Well, this is the penultimate home game of the season ahead of the penultimate season at Upton Park, so I guess I’m justified in my dislike. As near the end of the 13/14 season, I thought it’d be a good time to look back at West Ham’s campaign from a footballing and personal perspective, as well as take a quick look at what has been another fascinating Premier League season.

Let’s start with what we’re most interested in, how the Hammers have fared out so far. It’s been a bit of a disappointment when we compare it to last season’s 10th place, which had us all amazed and excited for the year to come. I guess that common “Second Season Syndrome” kicked in after all. We haven’t failed this year, which is the important thing. Yeah, all right, we all want to see nicer football, but especially for this season, I’m content to have sacrificed that to stay in the Premier League.

Style and performance is something that can be worked on but facing gritty challenges in the Championship every week is both losing money and failing to progress. We had a decent League Cup run this year, which seemed to do confidence the world of good for a while. We did similar to what Manchester United have done in the Champions League and played with less pressure and expectation, and it seemed to pay off. Until we were unlucky enough to be drawn against Man City.

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I had City down as firm title contenders from the start. In fact, I quite wanted them to win it. They still might, but without my well wishes any more. We were absolutely played off the park at the Etihad in the first leg of the League Cup semifinal, and even then I wanted our opponents to lift the Premier League trophy. I thought it’d be lovely to watch their silky smooth play and to have lovely football win the league. But then they got a bit, well, boring. So we all know the nature of our humiliating dumping out of the League Cup, and the FA Cup wasn’t that different. I won’t say the defeat to Nottingham Forest was more embarrassing, because we did something that the fans had been urging Big Sam to do for ages, and that was play the youngsters. It was televised as well, so we all had the pleasure of watching an abysmal 90 minutes against the Championship side. Our league run hasn’t quite offered the heartache of either cup runs. Our biggest league defeat so far has been by three goals (albeit on more than one occasion), and a few performances have been worthy of actually watching, unlike shipping five goals

against Forest. It’s hard to look back at the season for me, because I’ve not been to many games, which is unusual for me. But next season, regardless of the end to this one, I’ll be back! But I have to say in years to come, it won’t be a season I remember. I won’t look back and think about all of the memorable games, not like the last few years. If I could sum it up in a word, I’d probably use “meh”! Although the highlight of the season was most definitely the whole month of February, in which we didn’t actually have Andy Carroll at our disposal. but I got such a buzz from those four wins. That month pretty much saved our season, and gave us something great to smile about. I might remember the 13/14 Premier League in general for its incredible title race, one more open than I’ve ever seen. Add to that the most scrappy bottom half with at times only a few points separating 11th from the relegation zone, then you’d have to say it’s been a pretty interesting few months. The biggest change this year has been the lack of Fergie. I wish David Moyes well at Man Utd, simply

because I want him to prove that the club wasn’t all about Sir Alex Ferguson, and that someone else can bring those players to their potential. But for this year, the lack of Red Devils at the top has been a welcome change. We might see Liverpool win the league, something that I couldn’t have predicted from the start, but they have just got the most unbelievable strike force. Any team would pay any money for that kind of skill and consistency. But it’s not over yet. There are still scores to be settled at the top, bottom and middle of the Premier League, and from a footballing perspective, that will make for a brilliant end to the season. Then following that, at least we have a World Cup to look forward to, hopefully with at least one West Ham name in there. With poor ol’ Jay Rodriguez laid up for the summer, big Andy Carroll might get his call up after all. This season has done it’s job. It might not be a pretty job with cherries on top, but West Ham look to have sealed their Premier League status for next season at least, the penultimate one at our beloved Boleyn. Follow me on Twitter @lucy_whufc

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Dear Sam

Dear Sam, Now that restraining order you had taken out against me has been lifted, I thought it was about time we got back to exchanging a bit of good natured banter. Sorry about that last email, I didn’t realise there was such a fine line between constructive criticism and threatening behaviour. Still, no hard feelings, eh? I’m can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to Saturday. To be honest, I’m surprised the ticket prices haven’t been doubled for this one. Spain may have its Il

Classico, but how’s that ever going to compare with West Ham v Crystal Palace? Goals, glamour, glory – my mouth is watering at the prospect. Messi and Ronaldo? Forget ‘em. Who needs a bunch of one-trick ponies like that when you can go to Upton Park and marvel at the silky skills of one of the world’s all-time greats. I’ve got to hand it to you mate, you are one shrewd old fox! You certainly knew what you were doing when you signed Stewart Downing. And for the knock-down price of just £6m! You must have

needed a big stick to fight off the competition for his moniker. That boy really is a special talent. Trouble is, those around him just aren’t on the same wavelength. There’s poor old Stew, flogging his guts out trying to supply a constant stream of crosses, and no one seems to be able to get anywhere near them. That’s the trouble with genius – the people around you never seem to understand what you’re all about. Downing is clearly attempting to put the ball into

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the sort of areas that the opposition aren’t expecting. Trouble is, our lads clearly aren’t expecting it either. You’ve got to sort this out in training, Sam. Any idiot can pass the ball directly to a team-mate, but opponents can see that coming. That’s why Stew tries to put it 10 yards behind (or 10 yards in front, or 10 yards over their head); no defender can live with that. Just let our boys in on the secret of where he’s going to pass it next, and the goals will flow like honey off a warm spoon. I particularly like the way you’ve taken the weight off his shoulders by freeing him of the worry of scoring goals himself. That was a real masterstroke. I can imagine the conversation in your office at the beginning of the season: “Don’t you worry about bursting the onion bag, Stewart my old son – you stick to what you’re best at and leave that to the others.” And hasn’t he followed those instructions to the letter? Not a single goal all season! Now there’s a team player for you. I have to tell Sam, me old china plate, that lad is different gravy. It’s going to be a real old tactical tussle when you and

Tony Pulis go head to head on Saturday – I’ve been licking my lips in anticipation of that for weeks. What have you got up your sleeve? Honest, you can let me in on the secret – I won’t tell a soul. My brother-in-law reckons you’re going for a diamond, but my money’s on a flat back nine with Mark Noble holding in midfield. I do hope you’re not planning on throwing caution to the wind now we’re clear of the relegation places. You can’t underestimate a team like Palace – with the sort of talent they possess they can hurt you from all over the pitch. That Jason Punchdrunk is a goal machine and his mate Jeremy Cameron is a bit tasty as well (my brother-inlaw reckons he’s related to the prime minister; is that right?) I always enjoy a visit from the Palace boys – not that it happens all that often! The last time they were in the top flight my mate who supports them reckoned they’d be in the Prem for three seasons. He was right, too. They stayed up for autumn, winter and spring. You always get a good singsong with Palace, though. What with their Glad All Over and our Twist and Shout, it’s

like being back in the Sixties again. They were good times, eh Sam? I can just picture you on Brighton seafront on a bank holiday Monday with your Parka and Lambretta, whistling a bit of Who and looking for the local Wimpy Bar. We might even have bumped into one another! Of course, if we had, I’d have probably wrapped a bicycle chain round your earhole cos I was a Rocker and I hated you Mods. But, as I said at the beginning, no hard feelings. Oh, while I think of it, the next we all start booing, I’d just ignore it if I were you. You shouldn’t take these things too personally. And I’d advise against cupping your ear in our direction again; we once had a useless little prat called Nigel who tried a stunt like that – and it didn’t win him any friends in E13, I can tell you. Just laugh it off and think about your retirement plans for 2016. We certainly are. Go get ‘em tiger! Your mate behind the goal Dear Sam is written by Brian Williams. Follow him on Twitter @BrianWill26

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Tales from the Sandpit: Andrew Hosie

Faded hopes and revived dreams

It’s hard to believe we are rapidly approaching the end of yet another season – a season again of a few highs and quite a lot more absurd lows which is par for the course for a West Ham fan. It never ceases to amaze me how football can create extremes of emotion week in week out, thinking back to watching in disbelief as we turned over Tottenham at White Hart Lane and then watching in equal disbelief across the Christmas period. Safe to say I think there has been a lot more low points this season than high

points and looking back on things I actually think it’s more of a relief that the argument between BEIN Sports and the Football Association meant that I was shielded from some particularly miserable Saturday evenings. As we go in to the last four matches, though, we can at least be satisfied that we will be playing Premier League football again next season. This may not have been the season we had hoped for back in August and again questions must be asked as to how we suffer a perennial

injury crisis that dashes our hopes of achieving some sort of silverware in a season, or a better league placing than the previous season, which I’m sure has to be the goal for any club. Indeed, I had a sneaky thought that this year we could have won the Capital One Cup and even placed a wager before the start of the season that this would be the year we would do so. For a while it appeared that this could happen and, in fact, there were worrying signs that our season was beginning to mirror that of

Andrew is a member of the Dubai Hammers Supporters’ Club. You can follow them on Twitter @DubaiHammers


the Avram Grant debacle especially as we slid alarmingly into the bottom three so at least we can all be thankful that it has not turned out that way. So after the boos, the injuries, ‘four in a row’ February, the Carroll sending off, the 5-0 Forest defeat, the 6-0 Man City defeat, the 3-0 away win to Tottenham, the rise (and fall) of Ravel, the departure and return of Cole, the loan of a League 1 player so we could at least play a defender and our new goalkeeping hero, we reach the last four games in a far more secure position than many of us were envisioning after the Christmas period. I was always concerned as we languished in the bottom three not so long ago that our last two games of the season may have been incredibly important and worryingly difficult to get anything out of and doom us to a disastrous return to the Championship. Of course, at that time, I was not looking at the run-ins of the teams around us and now having seen what other teams are facing I can only be delighted that we are not fans of Norwich City. So how will this weekend’s match turn out? This is going to be an interesting one. When I looked at the fixture

list way back in July when it was published and saw the two teams we were playing at the end I spotted this game and marked it as a three point banker to take any pressure we might have been under off. Then when we played Palace away, Tony Pulis had just been installed as their manager and I did think we were going to be in for a tough time as it proved with our 1-0 defeat. Since he has come in, he has tightened up their defence immensely, and created a team that is tough to beat and fear no-one. Just ask Jose Mourinho what that’s like. Conversely, the fact that Crystal Palace have reached the position they are in could help us as subconsciously they will know they are all but safe too.

What I do hope though is that this does not mean we have a drab ‘end of season’ affair to mooch over and start wishing the season was over already. It would be great if for once we just handsomely beat someone, give a team a good hiding a la Tottenham to give us all a joyous Saturday night. I don’t think it will happen this weekend as both teams will continue with strong defensive performances but what we can do is attempt to secure ourselves in the top half of the Premier League because that sure looks a lot better than featuring in the bottom half. How many of us would have taken that in the dark days of January? I certainly would. Enjoy the game! Follow me on Twitter @hosiemon

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Opposition View: Crystal Palace

Tim Holland speaks to Selhurst Park regular Peter Roy

How do you rate Crystal Palace’s season? I think we’ve achieved more than most expected of us this season and we’ve overcome a very poor start to the season to climb up the table. It’s been a long season and I think the step up from the Championship is difficult for any club and Cardiff’s plight has shown that you can’t just throw money at it either. Since we lasted talked Tony Pulis has had time to mark his mark on the team. How have you rated him?

I did think he was an uninspired choice but he’s ground out results like the Chelsea match and we’ve become more resilient than we were under Holloway. He’s very much like Allardyce in that some fans aren’t overly keen on his style of play but for me I’m happy at the moment. Do you think you’ll avoid the drop? I think, like you, we’re not mathematically safe but in reality we are. As soon as we

reach 40 points I’ll breathe a bit easier. What are your expectations for next season? I’d be happy for mid-table security and a League Cup run. Don’t ask me why the League Cup – I just prefer it. What have you made of your signings this season? We made so many signings last summer that I think that was the reason for our poor early season form. Our January signings were

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good though and much more strategic and improve us in key areas. Scott Dann has added some strength to our defence with Ledley and Ince running the show in midfield. Jason Puncheon has been a highlight this season. Do you he’ll be at Selhurst next season? I doubt it. I only hope that Southampton either haven’t

been watching the last few games or really don’t rate him because I’d love to see him at the club next season. Who should West Ham fans be wary of in the Crystal Palace team when the club’s meet? Puncheon has been in great form of late. Tom Ince made an immediate impact

and I’d like to see us keep him after his loan finishes. What’s been your opinion of West Ham this season? I thought you’d continue to struggle once Andy Carroll came back but you’ve surprised me and I think Carroll has played his way into the World Cup squad in the process. Which West Ham players would you have in your squad? Diame is a player who’d fit in well at Palace along with James Tomkins at the back. Maybe he could partner Old Gabbs at centre back?! You predicted 17th and 18th for both clubs this season. Were you a bit pessimistic? I think I was a bit but it was impossible to tell how tight it would be at the bottom of the table and how poor some clubs would be this season. I’m pleased that both clubs will achieve mid-table obscurity. What’s your prediction for the match? I’ll go for 3-0 to Palace.

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Toby Fry Sam Allardyce reportedly flew out to Germany last Saturday to watch FC Nurnberg’s top goal scorer in their match against Wolfsburg. The man in question is Josip Drmic, the Switzerland international is in just his first season at FC Nurnberg since joining the Bundesliga outfit last July. Like most West Ham fans, I’d never heard of him, so just who is he? Josip Drmic doesn’t have the most Swiss of surnames, and that’s because he is of Croatian descent but was raised in Switzerland. He was spotted as a youth player by top Swiss side – FC Zurich. After spending eight years in the youth set-up, Drmic got his first chance to represent the club at senior level, playing for the FC Zurich II’s. It was here that Drmic’s goal-scoring nous came into effect as he ended his first season with 26 goals in his 26 appearances for the seconds. This prompted Drmic to get a call-up to the FC Zurich first team aged just 17. He scored his first goal for the first team two seasons later after a rather sporadic time and scored 13 league goals in his final season with FC Zurich before his move to Germany. Drmic also represented Switzerland for the first time

The goal machine who has captured Allardyce’s eye aged 17, making just one appearance for the Under18's. He swiftly moved onto the Under-19's and scored six goals in seven appearances. He scored another six goals for the Under-21's and recently earned himself a callup to the Switzerland senior team, and scored his first two goals against Croatia in March 2014. FC Nurnberg signed Drmic on a four-year contract last July, and in his first season Drmic has scored 16 league goals in 28 appearances, making him joint-second in the

league top scorers, just one goal behind Bundesliga “superstars” Mario Mandzukic and Robert Lewandowski. All that, and he is just 21 years of age, combined with the fact that he’s playing for a side sitting in one of the automatic relegation spots, will certainly create high interest around Europe. We are therefore certainly going to face immense competition. But we are in the fight for him and with the pulling power of London to hand - we always stand a chance.

Toby also writes for Forever West Ham. Follow them on Twitter @Forever_WestHam or read similar articles at ForeverWestHam.com


David Blackmore

Five Championship players Allardyce should sign for West Ham

There might be several games left of West Ham’s season but with our Premier League status almost assured for next season, supporters on social media are turning their attention to a whole host of players the Hammers could sign this summer. The biggest problem Sam Allardyce will face in the close season is not who wants to come to West Ham but if he has the wage and transfer budget to accommodate a new big signing. So rather than look at players from other European

clubs and leagues, I have selected five players from the Championship I hope Allardyce has on his summer wish list. Jordan Rhodes (Blackburn Rovers) There hasn’t been a transfer window go by in the last couple of years without me arguing the case for the signature of Jordan Rhodes. He was prolific with Huddersfield and scored 87 goals in 148 appearances. He has done remarkably well at Rovers too, bagging 50

goals in 85 outings. Aged just 24, surely now is the time to snap him up? Ross McCormack (Leeds United) He is the Championship’s top goalscorer and I don’t think it’s a huge secret Sam Allardyce will be hoping to sign McCormack after failing to land him in January. He has scored 27 goals in 39 games so far this season in an average Leeds Utd team and it is thought he is keen to have another crack at the Premier League. With the

For more articles like this, read David’s column for Club Metro at Metro.co.uk/author/david-blackmore


trouble Leeds are having at the moment, there may be a bargain to be had here. Will Hughes (Derby County)

pace and movement, allied to some deadly finishing, taking him to the 20-goal mark by the first weekend in January. The 21-year-old’s superb form has not gone unnoticed and he is also now a member of Gareth Southgate’s England Under-21 squad with two international goals to his name already.

He was named the Football League Young Player of the Year earlier this month, beating Leicester City defender Liam Moore and Alex Pritchard, the midfielder on loan at Swindon Town Jamaal Lascelles from Tottenham Hotspur. (Nottingham Forest) Liverpool were favourites to capture this 18 year old Liverpool are reportedly playmaker ahead of Arsenal leading the race to sign this and Manchester United in January but with no confirmed deal during the last transfer window, there is a chance he might fancy playing regularly for West Ham rather than Capital One cup appearances for one of the title-chasing sides.

promising 20 year old centre back who is already on Arsenal’s radar and has risen to prominence with a string of eye-catching performances for the Championship promotion chasers. Having watched him a few times this season, there is no doubt in my mind he would link up brilliantly with both Tomkins and Reid at the heart of the Hammers defence. Follow me on Twitter @DavidBlackm0re

Danny Ings (Burnley) He was named the Sky Bet Championship Player of the Year at the Football League Awards 2014 and it hasn’t been hard to see why. He has made huge strides for Burnley this season and his partnership with Sam Vokes is one of the main reasons why Burnley are enjoying a successful campaign. Ings has been almost unstoppable at times this season with his

Do you agree with David? Let us know what you think about this piece by tweeting @WestHamFanzine


Opposition View: WBA

Tim Holland catches up with West Bromwich Albion fan Roger Francis

How do you assess West Brom’s season so far? It’s been a strange season for me. Going out of both cups early and being dragged into the relegation fight has been tough but we’ve had some good results along the way. I just want the season to be over now. Since we last spoke it’s been all change with Pepe Mel coming in. What’s your view on that? A strange decision for me. A lot of friends of mine liked

the sound of Pepe Mel but it’s more down to him being more exotic than Steve Clarke. Mel has done all right without impressing me that much.

next is never easy. But I suppose if I wanted an easy life I’d support Man United.

You wanted mid-table security and a decent cup run this season. Are you disappointed this season has gone to plan?

Scoring goals has been an issue. Our top league goal scorers have managed four this season which is pitiful. Changing managers in a season never helps matters for me. Neither does selling one of better players in Shane Long to one of rivals.

Not disappointed more despondent. Being a West Brom fan has never been easy but going from being in the hunt for Europe one season to relegation fight the

Where would you say it’s all gone wrong this season?

The Anelka situation probably didn’t help

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


matters. How have your other signings got on? I was pleased with all the signings on paper but paper doesn’t always tell the whole truth. Anelka was a quality striker in his day but he’s struggled with his attitude and with authority. His gesture in our last game has ultimately defined his and our season. I had high hopes Sessegnon, Anichebe and Vydra but ultimately they’ve all failed to impress. Do you think you’ll avoid the drop? I think we’ll just about make it. I think following Chris Hughton’s ridiculous sacking, Amalfitano has played well Norwich will need a miracle to recently and has been in the survive and will be joined by goals so he might surprise Sunderland and Cardiff. you. Dorrans has been Do you think you’ll be able to getting back some form as well. keep hold of Saido Berahino? What’s been your opinion of He had a great start to the West Ham this season? season but has faded. His offYou now look comfortable field antics have disappointed me as well and I think he’ll go in the league which is an enviable position although it at the end of the season. sounds as though the fans Who should West Ham fans want better football which is be wary of in the West Brom understandable. My advice for you lot is better the devil first XI when the club’s you know. meet?

Which West Ham players would you have in your squad? I was surprised that you let Ravel Morrison go out on loan especially as he looks to be destroying the Championship. Andy Carroll’s return from injury and suspension looks to have given your team a lift. What’s your prediction for the match and for the end of league standings? 1-1 for the match and West Brom 16th, West Ham 12th.

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


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Blowing Bubbles #37 (West Ham United v Crystal Palace 20/04/14)