Tag Archives: Andy Carroll

Big Sam

Why so glum, chum?

As the current season draws to an unsatisfactory close, West Ham are all but safe from relegation and look to have secured another season in the top flight. But there is not much celebrating going on, not much smiling. What would bring a broad smile to the face of, say, a Cardiff fan, has left the West Ham faihful grumbling and fed up with the goings on at Upton Park Towers.

With continuing calls for the manager’s head, the Hammers approach the final 3 games needing the odd point or two to make sure of survival. But why is everyone one so miserable? And what can be done?

It is a matter of public record that the West Ham chairmen view financial stability, and thus Premier League survival, as the only item on the agenda prior to the move to the Olympic Stadium in 2016. That’s why they employed Sam Allardyce in the first place, and that’s why he will remain our manager until then. Yes, there are managers available out there who could bring more attractive football to the club. But they also bring risk. Risk of it all going pear-shaped. Allardyce is the safe bet in financially uncertain times. He took us up from the Championship, and he’s kept us in the Premiership (God willing) for 2 years on the trot. He has done what has been asked of him, and he has done it under difficult circumstances (albeit some of his own making).

But yes it is dull. Boring. It is football by numbers. As I sit in my chair watching the game, I feel no passion. I feel numb. Depressed. I see a game plan that is the same every week. Don’t give anything away, defend for 80 minutes, and maybe we’ll pinch one at the other end. A nil-nil draw is “good” result. It is knock the ball up to Andy Carroll. He’ll knock it down for someone else to try to get on the end of it. Except we’re pretty crap at knocking it up to Carroll. Jarvis is in and out. Downing is just generally rubbish at crossing. The rest are just as bad. When Carroll needs an angled ball with pace on it, he gets a high floated effort that is as useful as a chocolate fireguard, or they chicken out altogether and knock it sideways. They paid how much a week? And they can’t even cross the ball very well? Sheesh. And that is Plan A. Plan B doesn’t exist (with Carroll in the team, anyway).

I was thinking the other day, that I would actually not mind us getting relegated if we played some decent football along the way and played with a bit of passion. But that’s not what it’s all about any more, football. It’s now all about money, fear, survival. Football is now a business. It matters not that it’s boring to watch. The fans will always turn up. It’s balance sheets and calculators. But that’s the way it is for everyone. We had better get used to it. The good old days are gone, never to return. If you have loads of money to spend you’ll be fine. It will even be fun to watch. But those of us scrabbling around at the bottom of the barrel will have to make do. (Financial Fair Play? What a crock of shite!)

I can see Allardyce going in a couple of years. Once he has done his job. Maybe the next chap will bring some flair and excitement, who knows? But for now, mid-table security is the best we can hope for. I suppose we ought to be grateful. The Davids have saved the club from finanical ruin and the club is now being run properly. They have spent a lot of their own dosh on the club, and I guess they have the right to do as they see fit. To be honest we should all be a bit grateful. I know it’s a bit crap at the moment, but I actually feel maybe we should just put up with it for a bit longer. Until the Olympic Stadium. We might even win something on the way. As they say, better safe than sorry.

Now where’s my medication?

Cheato Flores

Why Carroll’s red card won’t be overturned

It’s enough to make your blood boil, those diving, cheating football players who writhe around in agony at the slightest physical contact with the sole intent of getting an opponent sent off. That is undoubtedly what Chico Flores did yesterday in the Swansea game, and it worked. Had Flores not fallen over, or even fallen over without the histrionics, it is fairly likely that Carroll would have stayed on the pitch. The fans (probably of both sides), the West Ham players (and probably most of the Swansea players apart from Flores), the managers, the media – everyone has said that the red card was harsh and should not have happened. West Ham have, of course, stated their intention to appeal. But what is the likelihood of the red card being rescinded? Rather slim, in my opinion, and rather gets my goat.

In order to get the red card overturned, there has to be no evidence of intent to harm/injure the opponent. Yes, Flores was climbing all over Carroll and yes, Carroll should probably have got a free kick. But looking at all the evidence in the cold light of day, Carroll looked to have flung his arm back in Flores’ direction in frustration. Look at the video here:


I know he only brushed the top of his head, but in the law of the game there only has to be intent. The powers that be will look at the evidence and the referees report, and obviously a lot depends on what Howard Webb puts in it. It is clear though that Webb consulted his linesman before reaching a decision, and I am guessing that the lino was asked if he saw any intent. He obviously thought he did and I think that is what swayed Webb’s decision too, as well as Flores’ disgusting behaviour.

I don’t agree with this and it makes me angry, as without Carroll, West Ham seem to lack any potent attacking whatsoever. Three games without him means not many points when we need them desperately. The law is an ass and needs to be changed. Christ, Norman Hunter would be turning in his grave! There is no room for common sense in the laws these days it seems.

I hope I am wrong but I just can’t see the decision being reversed. Maybe Webb will change his mind about his decision and state so, but I can’t see it happening myself. In an ideal world it would, and Flores would get a two match ban for simulation. Here’s hoping!

West Ham in meltdown

With the news that Johnny Heitinga has rejected a move to West Ham in the January transfer window, it seems that the club’s grip on Premier League survival is loosening day by day. Heitinga said “You have to be convinced that you are taking the right step and I was not.” Whether he is referring to the owners, the manager or the club’s precarious league position is not clear, but it further emphasises the problems the club has in attracting new talent and nurturing the talent it currently has.

With Sam Allardyce’s preference for experience over youth and his reliance on statistics over flair, it is no surprise to see the inestimable talent of Ravel Morrison floundering amongst the predictable and turgid tactics that the manager employs. A complete absence of any youth players emerging from the academy and playing regularly in the first team over the last few years is another indictment of the current regime. The likes of Elliot Lee and Dan Potts should surely have been given more of a chance, especially considering the number of injuries the club have racked up over the season.

The alarming behaviour of captain Kevin Nolan is another indication that things are not right in the heart of the club. Having now been sent off twice in a month for completely random acts of violence, it is an obvious sign that things need to change, and despite the public backing of the board it seems that the manager’s job is now up for review. The owners will obviously have memories of the Avram Grant tenure in mind, when they procrastinated over have sacking him until it was too late, and so if a decision is to be made it is likely to be made soon.

The fans themselves have been patient so far. When the manager was getting results it was ok for the team to be playing precentage football. But when you are paying good money to watch boring football and you are losing most of your games as well, then the natives become restless and start revolting.

Personally I expect the owners to wait until Carroll returns. If then after a few games things have not improved, then I expect Sam to get the heave-ho. We shall see. In the meantime with Nolan out again and Noble now injured, I cannot see any prospect of a change in fortune, so keep on taking the tablets people!

Swansea City v West Ham

Swansea preview and the merits of 4-6-0

The merits of the infamous 4-6-0 formation came crashing down to earth last week at Upton Park against Manchester City, where we were soundly dispatched with the minimum of fuss. Granted, the opposition that day was of a higher quality than provided by Spurs in the previous game, and the silky skills of Silva and Aguero were a delight to watch. But the fact of the matter is, we need a goalscorer – even in a 4-6-0 formation, and we simply did not have one on the pitch that day. We need a Suarez or a Michu, and Vaz Te – despite his endeavour – does not compare. What we do have to choose from are Carlton Cole, Petric and Maiga. Carlton is approaching the required fitness levels, but he is surely not going to improve on his form from last year, which led to West Ham taking the decision not to renew his contract. He is the type of striker that fits most comfortably into the Allardyce Plan A formation though, so may get some time on the pitch to wards the end of the match. Petric is the most obvious choice if continuing with the 4-6-0 formation, and surely he must be fit enough by now to give Vaz Te a run for his money? I would not be surprised to see him start. But I fear it will be a case of “Play it again Sam”, and the same formation up front as last week.

In midfield, Nolan seems a shadow of his fomer self, and I would imagine that if he were not the skipper, he would have been given a rest already. He is probably still one of the first names on the team sheet though, and I would very surprised if that were to change.

Against Man City, the defence were lambasted by Allardyce for some simple mistakes in giving 2 goals away, and as well as Tomkins has been playing, I would expect him to make way for James Collins today who has been generally outstanding this season. Rat should keep his place now he has forced his way into the team, and Demel and Reid should complete the lineup.

Today’s match against Swansea should be interesting, as they do play attractive football along the ground like we used to many moons ago. They have had two managers – Laudrup, and Rogers before him – that have a similar view on how the game should be played. I must admit to feeling a little envious of both teams’ supporters, and have a hankering for a manager like that at West Ham one day. Still, we have Big Sam for now and we must all get behind him and the players he has at his disposal. Carroll is unlikely to be back on the pitch before Christmas, so we may struggle with results. The January transfer window will be interesting, and a chance to fill some holes in the squad (assuming we can offload Maiga and AN Other), but despite all the current problems, I am still hopeful of a mid-table finish at the end of the season.


David Sullivan

Has David Sullivan made West Ham a laughing stock?

I’m sure it is not just me. I’m fed up of being the laughing stock of the Premier League. Again.
Since the Davids took over the pattern has been clear. David Gold is the wise old bird with a love of tweeting. David Sullivan is the brash, hands-on fanatic, like a kid with a brand new toy.

To be fair, they have pumped a substantial part of their personal fortune into the club, and for that they are to be thanked. They have (along with Mrs Brady) negotiated a move to the Olympic stadium for peanuts, which could be a masterstroke or the end of the club as we know it. But that’s all fine. What I take issue with is the manner in which certain things are done.

From the start Sullivan has been overly vociferous. In the days of Zola he was openly commenting on how pathetic some performances were. He also stated at one point that the entire West Ham squad were up for sale (apart from Scott Parker). Whether that was to deliberately undermine tha manager because they wanted their own man in (who laughably ended up being Avram Grant), or whether he just got over-excited with his new toy, the end result was cringing embarrassment and yet another face-palm of the highest order. Over the months that followed Grant’s appointment, Sullivan did manage to keep his comments to himself somewhat more, and when Avram Grant was rumbled for who he really was (just a randy old bloke who hangs around football clubs pretending to be a manager), the two Davids seemed to make the right decision (despite initial concerns) when appointing Sam Allardyce.

But things have slipped again since then. Sullivan’s teenage son, Jack, has a Twitter account. It must be with his father’s blessing, and perhaps it sometimes is his father in disguise, but some of the comments that get tweeted are not just unhelpful, they are unprofessional and damaging to the club. When Chamakh was signed on loan from Arsenal, young master Sullivan tweeted how disappointed he was, and that the player would not have been his choice. Many other tweets have followed, some saying uncomplimentary things about players we were hoping to sign. There was even a spot poll on whether we shouls sign a convicted rapist. Enough! What other clubs have to sput up with this complete lack of professionalism? In my opinion Sullivan senior shows a lack of class allowing this foolishness to perpetuate.

And finally, we have the lamentable business that was the recent transfer window. Carlton Cole turned down a new contract at the end of last season (if what we are told is correct), and despite just having Andy Carroll (who was out long term injured), Modibo Maiga (who has been unimpressive since his arrival) and a couple of unproven kids, we neglected to attempt to sign a second striker until the very last day of the window (and they were long shots at best). When Carroll got crocked again and we were left with nothing, we tried to re-sign Carlton Cole again who was now out of contract (having spectacularly failed to find a new club over the summer). Unfortunately for both parties, Carlton had spent too much time on the beach and was nowhere near fit enough. Doh! So West Ham scoured the remaining pile of out of contract players and managed to sign Croatian international and former Fulham striker Mladen Petric on a season long deal. On the face of it that sounded like good business, and a good stop gap until Carroll’s heel finally mended. But wait! It seems Petric is also unfit and needs a few weeks to get up to speed! Amazing! But wait, isn’t there that Carlton Cole chap? He was half decent. Let’s sign him again. And so it goes on.

So there we have it. I’ve had my rant. I’m grateful to the current owners for saving the club from financial peril. I grateful to them (and the manager) for guiding us back to the Premier League so quickly and keeping us there. I even think that moving to the Olympic stadium is a good move. Just please start showing a bit more class and professionalism. It would be much appreciated.

The Curse of Andy Carroll

If reports are to be believed, our saviour is returning! Andy Carroll is training hard, apparently, and is likely to play a part in the forthcoming match against Southampton.

With our attempts to sign a second striker seemingly akin to a West End farce, it would appear that the success of our season rests solely on the ability of the West Ham back room staff keeping Mr Carroll fit and playing. Despite rhetoric from the chairmen claiming that they are glad they did their business early, the failure to sign a half decent backup to Andy Carroll could consign our season to the toilet. But therein lies the problem. Any striker that we would wish to buy would know from the outset that he would probably only get a game if Carroll was out injured, or if we were losing with 20 minutes to go. We have all our eggs in one basket, and because we blew all our money on the big man, the hen has gone off lay. So instead of being our saviour, the fragility of Andy Carroll could well be our curse. Let’s hope it is not so.

Step up Modibo Maiga

The Hammers first game of the season saw new boys Cardiff City visit Upton Park, and they were duly despatched in a workman-like perfomance by West Ham. With Andy Carroll still injured and no more Carlton Cole, it was left to Modibo Maiga to fill the striker postion and although he didn’t set the world on fire, I think he did pretty well. He is a different type of player to Carroll. He needs the ball to his feet and is not that great in the air. But he played well in pre-season and scored a few goals, and deserves his chance to show what he can do.

He arrived at the club in July 2012 from French side FC Sochaux-Montbeliard for an undisclosed fee believed to be in the region of £5 million, and to be honest struggled quite badly with the pace of the game. He was a yard or two slower than everyone else, but showed enough promise with a couple of great goals not be shown the door. He made relatively few first team appearances after his uncertain start, but has shown this summer that he is coming to terms a bit more the hurly burly of Premiership football, and the injury to Carroll and the dearth of other strikers has given him the opportunity he certainly been waiting for. He still appears to be a bit lazy at tracking back, but a few choice words from Kevin Nolan will hopefully put that right. He seems to me an “arm around the shoulder” kind of player though, and no doubt Big Sam has been giving him a squeeze in the right places at the right time!

Maiga’s good fortune however, has highlighted the predicament that West Ham find themselves in now, and the manager and owners have made it clear they need another striker before the transfer window slams shut at the end of the month. However, the new financial fair play rules mean that they deperately need to get someone off the wages bill before they can sign anyone else. Matt Taylor and Ricardo Vaz Te have been mooted as the two most likely to fit the bill, but time is running out. Should nothing transpire, everyone will be hoping that Carroll stays fit after his return, or else it will be a long haul till the next transfer window in January.

Finally on the subject of transfers, it was disappointing that Loic Remy ended up at Newcastle, but who knows what goes on behind the scenes. Perhaps a look at the baggage that comes with the player was enough to put them off. In Sam we trust.


Still Raining, Still Dreaming

As the British summer reverts to form and deludes us all with the wet stuff, there has been a serious lack of transfer activity, despite constant rumours involving a dozen or so players. Apart from the Andy Carroll signing, the only other additions to the squad have been goalkeeper Adrian and defender Razvan Rat. There was talk a month or so ago of a big clear out, but so far only Gary O’Neil has departed, and even he was offered a new contract only to turn it down.

Big Sam reckons that we only need one more signing (a striker) to make the team complete, and as I mentioned above, we have been linked with all and sundry. It seems that we nearly signed Marko Arnautovic, the Werder Bremen striker, who, if Jack Sullivan’s tweets are to be believed, opted for a Spanish club instead. My current favourite option is still Loic Remy, and Harry Redknapp recently hinted that he would consider sending him out on loan for a couple of million a year. The only worry is the impending court case that Remy faces that could conceivably end with a spot of porridge.

As time ticks on it is clear that Sam has quite a few irons in the fire, and despite the lack of any recent additions, I fully expect Sam to get his man eventually. Who that that might be is probably a job for the Wheel of Fortune.

Is Loic Remy to West Ham going to happen?

It was announced today that striker Gary Hooper has finalised his move from Celtic to QPR, and this is potentially good news for West Ham. QPR are now more likely to offload Loic Remy, who is bound to be on significantly more wages than Hooper. It is no secret that I think Remy is the ideal foil for Carroll and will bang the goals in until Carroll is fit, so let’s hope that the Davids and Sam can work some magic and secure his services. Go get him!!


Pre-season news round up – a summery summary!

After a well deserved summer break, it’s time for pre-season again and a chance to catch up with all the transfer news.

Well, the big man finally signed for us, and it is a definite statement of intent by the chairmen that they pushed the boat out to land Andy Carroll. He didn’t come cheap (although a darned sight cheaper than Liverpool originally paid). I do have a couple of reservations about him though; He seems very prone to injury, and it is a lot of cash to pay for someone who could be crocked for half the season. Also with the new financial fair play rules now in place it remains to be seen if we can actually afford anyone else who is at least half decent.

Along with Mr Rat (a great signing in my opinion), we also have a new goalie to push Jussi for the number one jersey. It remains to seen how good Adrian actually is, but Henderson is obviously not deemed good enough and will probably be sold or shipped off on loan again.

I’m glad that the Jonjo Shelvey deal didn’t happen. He’s not quite good enough in my books, but it seems we are after another Liverpool cast-off in the shape of Stewart Downing. I expect the idea behind it is to get another winger who can get the crosses in to Carroll, but I would have thought that Downing would be best played on the left wing, where Jarvis currently holds sway. Downing did quite well for LIverpool at the end of last season, but he has been an inconsistent player. Maybe Big Sam can get more out of him than others have.

Talking of cast-offs, we have that veritable accident-waiting-to-happen Titus Bramble training with us at the moment. Let’s hope he is just getting fit, but worryingly he did play for us in the pre-season friendly against Cork the other day!

Another surprising bit of news is that Gary O’Neil turned down a new contract with us. I’m not quite sure why. Perhaps he thought he wouldn’t get as much first team action this year with us, or maybe he is concentrating on his golf, but I wish him luck. He did a good job for us at the back end of last season.

Apparently, Big Sam says that we need one more quality signing before the new season kicks off. My guess is that he after a striker, and after we lost out on Bony to Swansea (he will be immense this season, mark my words), it begs the question ‘who else is there’? In my opinion we should be doing everything we can to prise Loic Remy away from QPR. He was superb last season and is a natural finisher. The would be the perfect compliment to Andy Carroll. Go get him Sam!

Finally, we have the possibility of Wilfried Zaha and Demba Ba coming on loan. Can’t see it myself, but it would be good if either one came. Also, Ravel Morrison has finished his loan spell with Birmingham and will be with us this season. According to some reports he has grown up a lot since we last had him and is now a lot more professional. If he has, he could be the ace in the pack. I only hope he doesn’t revert to his old ways. This could be the last chance saloon for him to make it in the Premiership.