After a day when we hear how he allegedly threatened to throw acid in his ex-girlfriend’s face, blow up her house and have her killed, followed by posting a picture of himself on Instagram wearing an Arsenal shirt, Ravel Morrison has finally worn out my patience. True, he has talent, but the baggage that goes with him is surely too much for anyone to bear. In a profession where team spirit is key, he can only bring discord into the dressing room. It looks like Allardyce was right, and I hope the owners swallow their pride and admit they were wrong. There should be enough buyers willing to give him yet another final chance elsewhere, so I say good riddance and let’s get on with talking about football.
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!
West Ham travel to Old Trafford tomorrow with their best chance in a long time of taking all three points from the game. With Rooney, Van-Persie, Nani and Carrick all absent through injury, and Manchester United playing below par post Ferguson, a buoyant West Ham side stand a great chance of getting the victory they so desperately need.
This season has been a major disappointment for the manager, owners and fans of West Ham. The Andy Carroll debacle has been widely documented, and Sam Allardyce has come under increasing pressure as the Hammers drift precariously close to the bottom of the table. The owners have publicly backed the manager (always a bad omen for managers!), although should the results not improve quickly it will take a lot for the owners to hold their nerve in face the inevitable calls for a change of leadership. Under scrutiny, the West Ham players seem to still be behind the manager with committment not currently an issue. Many argue that West Ham have just been unlucky this season, although you tend to make your own luck when you stick all your eggs in one large, leaky basket. Personally, I think that Allardyce should stay, as I think that results will pick up and we will finish comfortably mid-table at the end of the season. Allardyce’s man-management skills and unflinching confidence should see him through, although there will be an interesting end of season review between the manager and the owners.
The win against Spurs on Wednesday should hopefully serve to boost the confidence of the squad, and in particular Maiga, who is capable of good things when he has the confidence to apply himself. It will be interesting to see if Allardyce starts with Maiga instead of Carlton Cole who started the Spurs game. Tomkins returns from injury, but is likely to start on the bench, and Ravel Morrison returns to his former club with a point to prove. Diame and Noble should return in place of Collison and Diarra, with Kevin Nolan sitting out the last of his three game suspension.
With both teams playing mid-week, there are likely to be some tired legs out there, but I have a good feeling about this game and predict another 2-1 win, with Welbeck being the main danger.
After West Ham’s very surprising win against Spurs at the weekend, things have all gone a little crazy. True, it was great to get a win, and Ravel Morrison’s goal was sublime, but the hyperbole that followed was surely mind bogglng. Not only has Sam Allardyce become an Italian tactical maestro all of a sudden, but Ravel Morrison is also a genius who walks on hallowed ground.
Now, don’t get me wrong, Ravel is a serious talent and we are fortunate that he seems to have turned his life around and is realising his potential while at West Ham. But heaping such praise so soon on such a young, precocious talent is asking for trouble. Considering his past, I can only hope that the manager and fellow players manage to keep his feet firmly on the ground and don’t let things go to his head. If they can do this, and Ravel can keep working hard and learning, then we are in for some exciting times ahead. One gripe though – it grates with me that the person who has done most to get Ravel’s head sorted out is not getting any of the credit. Step up Lee Clark, who was Ravel’s manager while he was on loan at Birmingham. It would be nice if Allardyce publicly credited him for his part in turning the boy around, but so far there has been nothing. Shame on you, Mr Allardyce.
Now on to Big Sam and his tactical masterstroke. What exactly did he change? We have known that without Andy Carroll we have no decent strikers, yet Big Sam has persisted with Maiga up front on his own in the Andy Carroll role, week after week. Against Spurs the penny finally dropped, and we started with …no strikers. The tactics were generally the same though – defend in numbers and try and hit them on the break. This time, with no “big” man up front to hit, the midfield became the front line. And it kind of worked. We got a set piece goal from Reid, a flukey goal courtesy of a break from midfield from Vaz Te, and Morrison’s goal. We defended well, but Spurs could have had a couple of goals, and they played quite poorly overall. A hangover from their midweek trip to Europe? Who knows. But what I am saying here is this. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We had a good day, a fair sized portion of good fortune, a great goal from Ravel and a strong all-round performance. We have the visit of Man City up next, no Andy Carroll again, and the likelihood of a repeat of the formation and tactics. If we get beaten at home by City playing 4-6-0 again and trying to just hit them on the break, I’m sure that that will be the last we will hear of Big Sam Allardicci.
So, West Ham scraped through against Cardiff last night, after nearly throwing the game away. Cardiff should have been dead and buried by half time, but the usual curse of the Hammers not taking their chances allowed Cardiff to draw level and nearly spoil Sam Allardyce’s 100th game in charge.
West Ham’s winner was scored by wantaway striker Ricardo Vaz Te, who clearly has demonstrated by now that his best position is up front and not stuck on the wing. Whether Big Sam will realise this is another matter. The cross for Vaz Te’s goal was provided by Jack Collison who, by all accounts, had a good game. Collison has become the forgotten man lately, and since his knee injury a while ago he has seemingly failed impress the manager enough to warrant a place on the pitch. Perhaps now Mark Noble has to serve a suspension for his recent sending off, Collison could have a chance to show Allardyce what he is missing.
Modibo Maiga started up front again last night, and surely by now the manager must realise that he is never going to be good enough, especially when playing the favoured (by the manager at least) tactics of one up front. Mladen Petric has shown promise but is still a way of being completely match fit, and likewise Carlton Cole is still attempting to prove his fitness before any decision is made about his future. That leaves the youth, and I feel it must be really frustrating for the likes of Elliot Lee who has shown promise in his limited amount of pitch time, but seems to be unfavoured by Allardyce.
Ravel Morrison had another good game and scored a great goal. I just hope that now he has sorted his head out and is doing the business on the pitch, West Ham manage to hold on to his precocious talent, as I can see a host clubs being interested in him in the near future.
These days, games against Newcastle United are a bit special for Sam Allardyce. After being unceremoniously sacked by the Barcodes and leaving a big stain on his CV, you can be sure that getting one over on his old club gives the big man an extra little bit of satisfaction. He must have been disappointed, therefore, that Andy Carroll was still not fit enough to make the first team, and instead, Modibo Maiga was given another chance to prove his worth.
In all honesty, it was not a game that will live long in the memory, and Big Sam will feel satisfied with a point. But I’m sure he will feel that all three points were there for the taking, and West Ham’s failure to do so is indicative of a lack of ruthlessness that West Ham need if they harbour any notions of a top six finish.
In the first half Newcastle were poor, and their chances were limited to long range efforts that were closer to the floodlights that the goal. They were nervy and West Ham were comfortable without being very threatening. Noble and Diame bossed the midfield, Collins, Reid and O’Brien were resolute in defence, and Downing and Jarvis played ok. But it just wasn’t happening in the final third. Maiga was irritatingly slow at getting back from offside positions again, and Nolan had a bit of an off day.
The second half saw Newcastle come into it a bit more, but the Hammers were still coping well. Downing started putting in some better crosses for the visitors before being hauled off to be replaced by Joe Cole, but there was still a lack or urgency around the box. Maybe it was the torrential rain that ensued in the second half, but it looked like the Hammers were always going to be happy with a point. In fact it could have zero points as Newcastle hit the post near the end, by which time Big Sam was probably anxious for the final whistle. Today showed us that we still need a new striker in my opinion. Maiga does ok, but is not enough competition for Carroll. Let’s see what the last embers of the transfer window bring.
Ravel Morrison came on as sub today sporting a pair of gloves and “Ravel” on the back of his shirt. He showed some nice touches without having the time to really get in to the game, and as far as I’m concerned he can wear what he likes as long as he does the business on the pitch. After all, this is the guy that would only drink West Ham branded bottled water in his first stint at West Ham. He has had a lamentable start to his career (and life) it would seem, but by all accounts his has grown up in the last year. This could be a big year for him, if he can keep on the straight and narrow, and by implication a big year for the Hammers too. Let’s hope so.