Lucas Neill 8.08
James Tomkins 7.95
Mark Noble 7.20
Robert Green 6.85
Scot Parker 6.75
Herita Ilunga 6.53
Luis Boa Morte 6.41
Radoslav Kovac 6.35
Kieron Dyer 6.25
Jonathan Spector 5.87
Walter Lopez 5.65
David Di Michele 5.00
Diego Tristan 4.80
Lucas Neill 8.08
Click HERE to rate the players who played in the Blackburn game. Give them points from 1-10. Only vote for players who actually played at least 15 minutes.
And only vote if you actually SAW the match live or on a stream.
The result will be published tomorrow.
Sometime over the next few days, this blog is moving to a dedicated domain, which may mean there is an interruption of service. The new site willl be at…
When I started this blog a couple of years ago, I didn’t expect it to grow in the way that it has. According to Wikio it is now the fourth most popular football blog in the country. But using the standard WordPress system is increasingly unproductive and inflexible. A couple of months ago I commissioned Rouse Media to design a new look with new functionality. There will be a video box, a better system of links and much more besides, as well as the ability to take advertising.
All the previous blogpost here should be transferred across, but this process is never an exact science, so please bear with me over the next few days. Hopefully you will like the new design!
We have had a good record against Blackburn in recent seasons. And of course last year Freddie Sears scored against them. I suspect he won’t be in the starting eleven this afternoon, but a repeat performance from him would be very welcome, and some would say long overdue.
The good news is that Kieron Dyer is likely to play some part, as he now recovered from his latest injury setback. Diego Tristan is also likely to play, I’d say. Blackburn are a very big, physical side and I’m not sure a front two of Di Michele and Sears would work. Indeed, it may be that Zola opts for a 4-5-1 formation as Cole is still suspended.
In midfield, both Stanislas and Savio are said to have minor knocks. Personally, I’d like to see more of Stanislas but recognise it is very unfair to drop Savio after one start. But if he is likely to break down injured, then best not to start at all.
In defence I have no idea if Matty Upson is likely to have recovered or not. If not, as I suspect is the case, Lucas Neill will deputise in the centre, with Jonathan Spector continuing at right back.
This is very much a second string eleven, but Blackburn are in a bad place at the moment and there is certainly the potential to get something from this game. We need to keep a gap between us and Fulham, Man City and Wigan, so three points this afternoon would do very nicely. This would be the team I would pick…
Who should get the wide berth against Blackburn? Against WBA Savio disappointed, yet for the 25 minutes of his debut appearance Junior Stanislas greatly impressed. He showed skill, dexterity and pace. However, is it really fair to drop Savio after only one appearance?
Robert Green 6.96
James Tomkins 6.69
Scott Parker 6.27
Junior Stanislas 6.27
Radoslav Kovac 6.13
Lucas Neill 6.02
Matthew Upson 5.78
Jonathan Spector 5.17
Freddie Sears 5.14
Herita Ilunga 4.91
Mark Noble 4.50
David Di Michele 4.27
Rate the players’ performances HERE
I was very tempted to skip this match and watch it on TV. But you know me… Wrong decision every time. It was the worst match I have seen at Upton Park since, well, the last one – probably Spurs in December. Frankly, there are very few positives to pick out from this game, but I’ll do my best.
Firstly, the debut of Junior Stanislas promised much. He whipped in a couple of excellent crosses, which, had Cole been playing, he would have been on the end of. He also showed some neat trickery on the left and seemed at home from the word go. In fact, in 20 minutes he looked more dangerous than Savio had in the previous 70. Which wasn’t difficult. More on Savio in a moment.
The second positive was the solid performance of Radoslav Kovac. He seems to improve with each game. He won some excellent tackles and was the only West Ham player to win any headers. I’d say he was Man of the Match.
James Tomkins had a busy and solid game, as did Lucas Neill. Otherwise, dear oh dear. Upson was stretchered off – it seems we lose one player a game at the moment.
Ilunga had a complete off day, losing the ball on countless occasions. As did Mark Noble, who looks a shadow of his former self. Even Scott Parker had a spate of giving needless balls away, although otherwise he had a reasonable game.
Savio showed the occasional neat bit of trickery but far too often lost out when in possession. He is shoved off the ball all too easily. I still think he is being played in the wrong position, though. He needs to play behind the lead striker in the centre. I just don’t see him on the wing.
Up front Di Michele had a few mazy runs which amounted to nothing. He was busy but ineffective. Sears looked brighter than in previous games but didn’t have a serious shot in the whole game.
All in all, you have to give credit to West Brom. They came to do a job and they did it with relative ease. They shut us down brilliantly and allowed our midfield very little time on the ball. They won everything in the air. Their only problem was that they had nothing up front either. They squandered two golden chances. It pains me to say it, but they were the better side. But let’s put it in perspective. We were without our leading striker, two of our three best midfielders, our first choice centre back and played half the game without the other one.
It’s two points lost, but I can remember many similar games when we’d have lost a game like this.
Di Michele 5
Rate the players’ performances HERE
Tonight a win is vital if we are to keep up the pressure on sixth placed Everton, who pulled nine points clear of West Ham with their win at the weekend. If form is anything to go by, we should do it, but West Brom have won three of their last five visits to Upton Park, so we shouldn’t be counting any chickens. We’re also going to have a very unfamiliar front two, with Sears and Di Michele most likely playing alongside each other. Best not put in too many high crosses, then!
In midfield Savio may get his first start on the left due to the injuries to Collison and Behrami. However, it appears that Boa Moarte might be fit again, so I wouldn’t put it past Zola to start with him. Kieron Dyer could feature too, although most likely from the subs bench. A more negative formation would be to put Jonathan Spector into midfield alongside Kovac, Noble and Parker.
In defence, the usual four of Tomkins, Upson, Ilunga and Neill will play.
Ihave been out of radio contact today so I have only just caught up with the news that West Ham and Sheffield United have reportedly agreed an out of court settlement over Sheffield United’s claim for damages over the Tevez affair. It seems that we will be paying them £10 million over five years.
I suppose a deal of this sort was inevtiable but it creates a very bad precedent and leaves a terrible taste in the mouth. It cements Sheffield United’s reputation as our most hated team, I guess.
I think the main thing is that the settlement of this dispute means that it will be easier for the club’s owners to seek a sale. No one was going to buy us until this was resolved. I suspect that a deal will now go ahead sooner rather than later.
What’s your view?
The injury news gets worse. The official site has confirmed that Jack Collison is out for six weeks, but there is clearly hope that he will return by the end of the season. So, the question now is what our strongest midfield four is. I would submit that it should be Parker, Noble, Kovcas, Savio.
What do the rest of you think?
The club website has a news item today which says that Valon Behrami will be out for up to six months. This means he is unlikely to be fit for the start of the 2009/10 season. I don’t think any of us should underestimate what a bitter blow this is. Behrami has been a revelation in the last few months and his work alongside Scott Parker has been a major reason for our climb up the table.
Let’s all wish him well and express the hope that he will be back to spur us on to European glory next season!
By Gerry McCarthy
I am not sure what my exact age was but I think I must have been 11 or 12 when I and a couple of friends ventured over to Upton Park one Sunday morning in the hope of collecting autographs. All of us lived within 15 minutes walk of Upon Park in those days, like so many other supporters of that generation and off we trotted with all of our scrapbooks in great anticipation of getting some of our heros’ signatures. We knew that there would not be that many first team players turning up at the ground but we did expect one or two would be there because they may need some treatment or something. After hanging around outside the ground for what seemed many hours we were eventually approached by ‘Paddy the Groundsman’. He was the one who always used to retrieve the ball whenever it went over the Old Chicken Run Stand and he used to walk along to the touchline to great cheers from the crowd whenever it happened. He listened to our reason for being there, but sympathetically told us that there was not much chance of any first team players being there as it was a Sunday, but there might one or two from the youth squad as they had to sweep the terraces and generally clear up.
That was not much use to us even if it may have included a budding Sir Trevor Brooking in the squad at the time. So we eventually we went over across the road to the ‘Bobby Moore Sports shop’ in Green Street to gaze into the window and eye up the things which we or our parents just couldn’t afford. I particularly longed for a pair of football boots under the label Chasseur’s OURS which I believe were a Hungarian brand and had always wanted since I saw them in Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly. Anyway there I was with my nose pressed up against the window when to our amazement we saw a Jaguar Mark 2 in the British Racing Green colours pull up outside the shop. My jaw dropped to my knees as out stepped Bobby Moore with his wife Tina. We immediately surrounded him pleading for his autograph but he only wanted to make his way into the shop and said he might sign for us later. He then obviously realised how disappointed we all were and invited all three of us into the shop where he promised us he would sign as many autographs as we wanted provided we helped him sort out some of the shelves. Well, of course, we did not need to be asked twice. In those days the shops were not allowed to open on Sundays so we knew we would not de disturbed.
I think we spent about an hour helping him doing things which I can’t really remember because I really was so star struck, and he then sat down and signed every autograph we required and chatted to us about our individual aspirations. He even gave us some glossy photos which he signed for us individually. Tina then ushered us out of the shop because I think she was a bit more interested in him doing some other type of work! So off home went three very happy boys to tell their stories which of course nobody believed until we showed them all the evidence.
Many years later, I was propping up a bar in Liverpool Street one evening when a bloke whom I vaguely knew came in with tears in his eyes and informed us that Bobby has just died. There was a strange hush in the place but people then started to remember the good times and stories about Bobby and by the end of the evening the whole pub which included many non West Ham supporters gave a full chorus of ‘Bubbles’.
The following day I just felt I had to go over to Upton Park and pay my respects and spent the whole day there just people watching and looking at all the flowers and momentos that people were bringing and laying. It really was an eye welling experience. I also remember that somebody overnight had already placed a plaque up on the old gatepost in tribute to him. I went back the following Sunday with my brothers to show them and just could not believe the scene it was just a mass of tributes from all over the world.
We eventually made our way on to the main forecourt when somebody tapped my on the shoulder. I turned around to see who it was it was – Alan Sealey whom I had become friends with over the years through his connection with Greyhound Racing. He of course played with Bobby in the final of the ECWC in 1965 in which he scored the two goals that lead us to that great triumph. He just stood there shaking his head in sorrow. Alan also tragically died a relatively young man of a heart attack at the age of 53.
A few years later I was helping my parents move house from East Ham to Hornchurch when I noticed one of the last items to be loaded into the van was an old black sack. When I asked what was inside my dad replied it was those old programs that somebody had given me when I was a kid. As they were mainly Arsenal & Chelsea ones I did not really have much use for them, but I do remember the driver asking me if they were going in but I said to him that he could have them if he wanted, as he was an Arsenal supporter. To my horror many months later I discovered that not only were those old programs in there but also all of the West Ham programs and my old autographed scrapbooks & photographs which included the ones signed by Bobby and one which was signed by all three of our world cup winning team. I contacted the removal company but not surprisingly they were unable to trace them. I can’t bring myself to look on eBay to see if they ever made it there.
I have been a supporter of West Ham for nearly fifty years now, and a season ticket holder for at least 30 of them, and to me Bobby Moore was the greatest player ever to represent this club and maybe even this country. In an a society where words are over emphasized these days the term “Legend” is a fitting and true description of a man who will always be close to the hearts of people from West Ham. It’s a shame that the club did not ever recognise this in the past and they certainly missed out in not employing him an ambassadorial role. Just think of the kind of esteem and respect throughout the world he would have brought to the club.
BEST OF THE HAMMERS
10.00pm, Monday, March 9, Sky Sports 1
Guests: Frank McAvennie, Phil Parkes and Tony Gale West Ham were title contenders during the 1985-86 season, eventually finishing third, four points behind Champions Liverpool with Frank McAvennie scoring 26 goals.
Harry Redknapp’s standard excuse for losing a match has always been that he has been reduced to the bare bones through injury and suspension. In West Ham’s case, this may soon be a very realistic excuse for Zola to make.
With Carlton Cole missing two matches we may have to field a strikeforce of Di Michele and Tristan. With Behrami out for the rest of the season and Collison out for three weeks, and Boa Morte not yet fit, our midfield picks itself – Parker, Noble, Kovacs and Savio. But Parker is, I think, one booking away from a suspension and Noble picked up yet another booking at Wigan having only just returned from suspension.
Alan Curbishley, in one of his ‘helpful’ comments told a newspaper recently that he didn’t think West Ham’s squad was deep enough if they encountered a run of injuries. And it looks as if he had a point. Just at the time we are challenging for a European place, we face are starting to look very fragile in attack.
But the great thing is that I suspect Zola will be able to cope with all that’s thrown at him and pull a rabbit out of a hat. At least we won’t be reduced to playing Ian Pearce as a striker – which was Harry Redknapp’s solution, I seem to remember.
Scott Parker 8.13
James Tomkins 7.59
Matthew Upson 7.33
Carlton Cole 7.25
Robert Green 7.20
Jack Collison 7.06
Herita Ilunga 7.05
David Di Michele 6.88
Radoslav Kovac 6.88
Mark Noble 6.84
Lucas Neill 6.55
Click HERE to rate the players who played in the Wigan game. Give them points from 1-10. Only vote for players who actually played at least 15 minutes. And only vote if you actually SAW the match live or on a stream.
The result will be published tomorrow.
I’m writing this a little earlier than usual as I will be driving down to Somerset and then Plymouth today.
Make no mistake, Wigan are a much more formidable team than they used to be. They haven’t lost at home since October, so if we sneak a win tonight it will be a mark of how far we have come. Wigan have tended to be one of our bogey teams, especially at Upton Park, although I think we did win up there fairly recently.
Clearly, the one enforced change will be the replacement of Valon Behrami. Conventional wisdom suggests that Mark Noble will come in as a straight swap, but after Savio’s bright showing on Sunday perhaps Zola might decide to give him his first start. No, to be honest, I don’t think so either.
Otherwise it will clearly be the same lineup that started against Man City.
I think the key to this game will be the performance in midfield. Wigan are a battling side so we need to have Scott Parker and Kovac at their best in the centre. They have Mido back, and he always gives us trouble, so Tomkins and Upson will need to be on their guard, especially as Zaki is also due a goal.
I’d be happy with a point, to be honest.
Scott Parker 8.47
Jack Collison 8.21
Valon Behrami 7.98
Robert Green 7.92
Carlton Cole 7.83
Lucas Neill 7.54
James Tomkins 7.52
Herita Ilunga 7.42
Matthew Upson 7.32
Radoslav Kovac 7.08
David Di Michele 6.93
Jonathan Spector 6.81
We got exactly what we deserved from this game. A victory. To bounce back after two less than inspiring performances was incredibly important, and we started this game with ambition, intent and commitment.
This was one of the most physical encounters I can remember at Upton Park, but we gave as good as we got. The referee, Mike Dean, was the worst we have seen at West Ham this season. He was totally inconsistent, failing to punish terrible fouls at all and then dishing out yellow cards when they weren’t warranted. I lost count of the times I saw him with his arm around a Man City player.
The great thing about this performance was that, again, as in January’s games, there was no weak link. There was a consistency of performance right across the team. The lowest mark I gave any player was a 7. One of the main differences to the last two games is that we managed to play with some width. Collison and Ilunga were superb down the left in the first half, and Savio really made a difference when he came on. The goal resulted from his shot from the left hand edge of the area.
The BBC gave their Man of the Match to Rob Green and it is easy to see why. He made two point blank saves which would have been certain goals – both from the otherwise anonymous Robinho. It was Green’s best performance of the year so far.
Defensively, we were awesome today. Lucas Neill had Robinho in his pocket and put in a very aggressive performance. He was just as good going forward and I’d say this was his best game of the season. James Tomkins had a fantastic game. His constant stream of clearing headers were Collins-esque.
In midfield Scott Parker was imperious again, and his early yellow card for bringing down Micah Richards seem to spur him and the rest of the team on. Kovacs was industrious and player far further forward than I was expecting. He’s not the quickest, but he was at the centre of everything. Collison, though, was for me the man of the match in the first half. He was all over the pitch and just as effective in defense as attack. Has he actually ever had a bad game for us? Maybe being left out at Middlesborough gave him an added incentive to do well. He faded a bit in the second half, but that should not obscure how well he took his goal. It was not an easy chance. I think that was his third goal of the season, which is not a bad return at all.
Up front David Di Michele had a good match. He combined well with Cole and had a couple of good chances. He also tackled back and buzzed all over the pitch in the first half. He tired towards the middle of the second half and was then replaced by Spector who, although he was only on for fifteen minutes, did superbly well in shoring up the midfield. Savio, who came on for Behrami, showed that he is going to be some player. The way he controlled a very difficult clearance and then ran half the length of the pitch with the ball was brilliant. The way he took his shot from the left forced Given into an instinctive save, which left Collison with the task of lobbing the ball home. I can’t wait to see Savio start. It can’t be long before that happens.
But I want to reserve huge praise for Carlton Cole. He was immense today. He didn’t have many clearcut chances, but the way he played others in and held the ball up contributed hugely to this performance. If anyone scored him at less than an 8 they can’t have been watching the same game as me.
So that puts us in 7th place. If Man U win today and a top 4 side wins the FA Cup,. 7th place guarantees a European spot. On this evidence, we can do it. We’ve now got matches against Wigan on Wednesday and then West Brom the following Monday. Six points would put some pressure on Everton, who at the moment are 8 point ahead of us. We can but dream!
Di Michele 7
Click HERE to give your own player ratings.
Click HERE to rate the players who played in the Manchester City game. Give them points from 1-10. Only vote for players who actually played at least 15 minutes.
The result will be published tomorrow.