Thursday, December 8

Clyde Best signing at Newham Bookshop

West Ham legend Clyde Best will be signing copies of his excellent autobiography The Acid Test at the Newham Bookshop on Dec 17 at 11 am before the Hull City match. The bookshop is at at 745-747 Barking Road, E13. Clyde's book is an interesting and at times sad read about the 1970s and the racism early black players suffered. Best made his breakthrough at 19 and was soon starring alongside Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst while lodging with Clive Charles' mum Jessie. I remember watching him bag a couple against Sheffield United in the League Cup and he was exactly the sort of strong target man that West Ham need now. Do check out the earlier review of The Acid Test on this blog too. Should be a great signing.

Wednesday, December 7

Is Fellaini the answer?

The Daily Telegraph suggests West Ham are going to try to sign Marouane Fellaini on loan from Manchester United for the rest of the season. He 's certainly a big lump who would have a physical presence and always plays well against West Ham (but then most players do). He tends to slow down play in midfield though and we surely need to sped things up when you have Payet and Lanzini breaking and wing-backs overlapping. 

Another problem is that no-one seems to know his best position. Is the big Belgian a defensive shield, an attacking midfielder or a striker? I don't like Fellaini's use of elbows but on the other hand he's difficult to play against and he does have great chest control. If he could rediscover the goalscoring form he showed for Everton he might help save WHU and let's face it we're desperate. 

Though one alternative would be to sign the ghost of the late Italian filmmaker Fellini, who would at least make West Ham TV a lot more artistic.

Tuesday, December 6

Sullivan backs Bilic

Quite a sensible announcement from David Sullivan backing Slaven Bilic and pointing out, "We cannot forget the amazing job that Slaven did in his first season at the Club. With a bit more luck he could have taken us into the top four." 

Sullivan makes a good point about sticking together and doesn't quite deserve all the flak he's got on social media for referring to "the West Ham family". Yes, Sullivan and Gold are businessmen who want to make money out of football, but they stepped in when the club was bankrupt and would have been accused of lacking ambition had they not gone for the Olympic Stadium. Football has been run as big business ever since the Premier League started in 1992 and for all their mistakes, we could do worse than have British owners with local connections. 

The Boleyn Ground has gone and we can't bring it back and now, for all its faults, we have to try and make the London Stadium work. The bad summer signings have happened and must be rectified in the January transfer window. We have as ever, to wait for the injury crisis to improve. Payet might have to go if he's unhappy. Slaven's coaching team needs re-considering perhaps, but there's no point in changing the gaffer yet. There will be lots of moaning as with any team near the bottom, but Sullivan is in essence right. The players need to look at themselves and we need to get behind the team — and stay to the end even if we're playing rubbish. COYI.

Sunday, December 4

West Ham humiliated at home by rampant Gunners

West Ham 1 Arsenal 5

Picked a good game to miss through visiting my daughter in Paris. Seems like West Ham were pretty merde and Matt's text agrees: "Tres tres merde. Nous sommes pathetique dans le defense, et malade en le attaque. Je suis inconsolable. Le beau Paris plus superiore choix."

There's an element of bad luck for West Ham in injuries to wing-backs Cresswell and Antionio, plus Kouyate, Sakho and early on in the game James Collins. But what's worrying is that Slaven Bilic is saying he feels "humiliated" and that in training and matches the players are not showing the required intensity or desire. 

It's not pretty viewing on Match of the Day. Arbeloa is not ready to return for such a big match and looks off the pace. Ogbonna gives away the first with a slack pass and Reid is outwitted by Sanchez. It's a brilliant piece of control and turn by Sanchez for the second but again Masuaku and Ogbonna are bamboozled, while the defence gives Sanchez and Oxlade-Chamberlain far too much space for the last three goals, even if the fifth was offside. Arsenal are a quality side, but the capitulation is very very worrying. Though credit to the Arsenal fans for their chant of, "Is this the Emirates?"

The only slight positive is that Andy Carroll headed in his first goal of the season after Payet's free-kick hit the bar (three different strikers have scored in successive games after none had netted for the whole season) and Fletcher played 90 minutes and had a rasping effort just wide. Payet is only playing at 90 per cent and looks dispirited, but is still our best player. He'll surely be off in January and we can't really blame him. He was promised a tilt at the top six and got a relegation fight. 

Assuming we lose at Liverpool, the home games against Hull and Burnley are now must-wins, as is Swansea away on Boxing Day and if not Bilic might be getting Santa's sack for Christmas with Premier League survival at stake and a new stadium to fill. He's got to prove he can motivate this group and the players have to show some spirit. As the Stranglers once sang, something better change. 

Friday, December 2

Keep the World Cup statue at Upton Park

Moore Hurst and Peters win the World Cup
There's a very worthwhile campaign to have the Moore, Hurst and Peters World Cup statue listed by Historic England and kept at Upton Park. Came across Bike For Boleyn and several local councillors campaigning by the statue while signing Goodbye to Boleyn at the Newham Bookshop last week. To sign the Save Our Statue petition click on the link here. Bike From Boleyn are also having having a Christmas Social at the West Ham United Supporters Club in Castle Street from 6-7pm on Dec 1 and a big bike ride to the Everton match on April 22. Check out their Facebook page for details.

Thursday, December 1

Concentrating on the League…

Ken Lucas, Pete, Fraser and Matt
Manchester United 4 West Ham 1 (EFL Cup)

The best part of the evening is the pre-match drinks to celebrate the launch of Goodbye to Boleyn upstairs at the Freemasons Arms. Selected WHU fans are present and we're graced by the presence of Ken Lucas, the owner of Ken's Cafe, along with his son and grandsons. Speech over, it's on to the live match on Sky.

United's incisive football causes West Ham instant problems and the Reds take the lead after two minutes as Rooney finds Mkhitaryan whose clever back heel plays in Ibrahimovic. The big Swede skips past the falling Antionio and prods past Adrian, getting clattered in the process. 

The West Ham keeper has to make a fine double stop, then tips away Rooney's free kick and stops a Martial shot. But slowly West Ham get back into it and on 35 minutes Obiang finds Payet on the left. Dimitri's shot is parried by De Gea straight to Fletcher, who scores his first Hammers goal. "Ashley Fletcher he left 'cos you're shit!" chant the loud Hammers contingent.

Worryingly Cresswell has to go off injured at half-time and West Ham again concede an early goal after the break. Valencia back heels to Mkhitaryan on the left and his pull back is dispatched by the unmarked Martial as the West Ham defence ballwatches. It's 3-1 after 62 minutes as Ibrahimovic dissects the West Ham defence with a superb pass to find Valencia who crosses for Martial, again unmarked, to stroke home. 

West Ham effectively give up on the game by taking off Payet as Feghouli fires over when he should score and sub Zaza hits a shot into touch. Adrian keeps the score down with a great save from Ibrahimovic. The exiled Schweinsteiger comes on gets a big cheer from the home fans and shoots just wide before Herrera sets up Ibrahimovic for the fourth with the last kick of the game.

United have played really well, but it's a deeply disappointing second half from West Ham. We've certainly missed the rested Mark Noble in midfield. Admittedly Sunday's point at  Old Trafford is more use than a cup run in our position, but had West Ham progressed we'd have played Hull in the semi-final. So we'll just have to win the FA Cup now…

Wednesday, November 30

Goodbye to the East Stand

Had a look at the Boleyn Ground while signing at the Newham Bookshop on Saturday. The ground is still intact but the roof of the East Stand has gone. Just wish they'd get it over with quickly now. RIP Upton Park.