Tuesday, November 21

In defence of Andy Carroll

I'm not sure the away fans at Watford should have had a go at Andy Carroll, with chants of "Andy Carroll we left 'cos you'e shit!" and "You'e not fit to wear the shirt!" (though this was more against the team as a whole). Big Andy has wound up some fans after the Liverpool match by suggesting that the empty seats at the end of games don't help the players. It's never wise to pick a fight with your own fans, and yes, you can understand why fans left at 4-1 down against Liverpool, but generally he has a point. Banks of white seats add to the air of pessimism and personally I stay to the end of the match whatever happens. 

The other point is that unlike some players, when Carroll plays he always puts in a shift. If anything he tries too hard and gets booked and sent off for silly offences because he's too hyped up, as at Burnley, when he did deserve criticism. He had no need to lead with his elbow in the first minute at Watford either and he needs to calm down. 

His injury record hasn't been helped by his tendency to throw himself at everything in the box, but he's certainly up for it. At Watford Carroll was completely isolated up front and up against three big centre backs in Mariappa, Britos and Kabasale, but always kept battling for scraps. It's easy to come out with statements that might sound bad after a game, but what he said was only words and fans can be over-sensitive. Carroll is an easy target because he's injury-prone and married to a Towie star, but he tries and on his day he can also be unplayable. We're going to need him if we're to get out of trouble.

Monday, November 20

Emergency! Emergency!

So who was it who phoned 999? West Ham fans have been urged not to dial 999 by the police because losing to Watford is not a genuine emergency. Though presumably the police will accept Tony Pulis being on the market as a valid reason for calling them up…

Sunday, November 19

Hammers miss chances as Watford make it a miserable start for Moyes

Watford 2 West Ham 0

It’s off to Watford Junction with Matt, where we trek across a sleepy Watford and home fans offer us directions rather than trying to attack us. Well, they say it;s a family club. We enjoy a cup of Rosie Lee in Domenic’s CafĂ©, before meeting my old school pal Mark at the stadium and taking our place among the Hornets’ nest in the Graham Taylor Stand.

The isolated Andy Carroll gets booked early on for using his elbow, much to the displeasure of the home fans. Arnautovic is playing wide right, which is mystifying when he’s left-footed, though Moyes is presumably stating that system comes before individuals. “Sack the board!” comes from the away end even when it’s 0-0.

Watford score with their first real attack after 11 minutes after Richarlison charges down the left, as Hughes lashes home a rebound after Gray’s blocked effort falls rather luckily in his path. We have a great view of mascot Harry The Hornet banging his bloody drum. Watford almost make it two when Hart parries the ball out only for the chance to be sliced wide. "You're nothing special we lose every week!" chant the Irons fans.

Generally Doucoure out-powers the disappointing trio of Kouyate, Noble and Obiang in central midfield. Though the Hammers do almost come back into it before half-time. Noble finds Kouyate who has an effort pushed wide by Gomis. Then Zabaleta gets in a great cross and Gomis makes a fantastic save from first Arnautovic's header and then a brilliant block with his foot. A key moment in the game.

Arnautovic is working much harder and pulls back a cross for Kouyate to blast over when he should score at the start of the second half. The Austrian later leaves the pitch after being inadvertently stamped on, writhing in agony in the turf and suffering what is suspected to be a broken thumb.

It’s over when Hughes controls with his hand and then finds Richarlison in lots of space, who bursts into the box to power a shot through Joe Hart, who seems to have developed “soft hands”. Though to be fair he has made a brilliant stop a few minutes earlier, but Hart is too much of a mixed bag at present. Watford frequently look like making it three and impress on the break against a slow West Ham side.

At least sub Arthur Masuaku has a go with some late runs and crosses. His low cross finds Lanzini, whose effort is cleared off the line with the aid of a hand.

The atmosphere turns pretty toxic in the away section towards the end with chants of “Sack the board!”, “Karren Brady you’ve f**ked up our club!”, “You’re not fit to wear the shirt!” and “Andy Carroll, we left ‘cos you’re s**t!” Followed by a ditty about Gold and Sullivan to the tune of Slade’s Cum On Feel The Noize. So at least something positive has come out of the game — a mini glam rock revival.

It’s disappointing, but West Ham have made four clear chances they should have scored, even if Watford have looked the better side. "At least we won't have to come here next season," I tell Mark as we leave. "And playing Millwall should be fun in Westfield," he adds.

As for the chants, we’re all frustrated, but the old stadium isn’t coming back. For all their faults the board backed Bilic with signings (though maybe the wrong ones). Whatever most fans think of Moyes, it’s time to get behind the manager and the team. Leicester becomes yet another must win game and things have to improve, but let’s go into it as a united club.

PLAYER RATINGS: Hart 5; Zabaleta 6, Reid 5, Ogbonna 5, Cresswell 5; Arnautovic 6 (Masuaku 6), Noble 5, Obiang 5, Kouyate 4, Lanzini 5; Carroll 5 (Sakho 5).

Friday, November 17

Hungry like the Wolf

Congratulations to Andy Carroll and Billi Mucklow on the birth of their second child, who has been given the entirely sensible name of Wolf Nine Carroll. Is the lad's first name a tribute to Wolfie from Citizen Smith? Or a hint that he might go on to play for Wolves? His second name of Nine is thought to be a nod to the Beckhams, who named their daughter Harper Seven after David's shirt number. Which is all very well as a principle, but it does mean that if Declan Rice has a child he'll have to give it a middle name of Forty One.

Thursday, November 16

Hammers Home From Home at East Ham

Thanks to all the 40-odd punters who came to see Brian Wiliams and myself talk about our Goodybye To Boleyn and Home From Home and Nearly Reach The Sky books at East Ham Library on Tuesday night as part of the Newham Word Festival

Great to have readers arriving from as far afield as Southend and Benfleet. Enjoyed hearing Brian Williams' description of the fan behind him who divided the 1990s sides into two classifications of "has-beens" and "wankers." 

The audience seemed to appreciate our reminiscences about the Boleyn and there was still a palpable sense of anger about the stadium move. So good to have Cecilia from the Save Our Statue campaign there too. Let's keep the World Cup Statue at Upton Park. And enjoyed a post-gig drink in the Miller's Well with Brian, Di and Jackie, where we somehow got on to Peter Grotier's moustache, Johnny Ayris and Harry Redknpp's thighs. Here's a picture of the Newham Bookshop's display of our tomes and thanks to all who bought copies.

Wednesday, November 15

Psycho returns: plenty of experience in Moyes' back-up team

David Moyes has announced his back-up team and although it's the usual suspects, the positive is that there's a lot of managerial experience in there. Stuart Pearce is a good appointment because he was a popular figure at West Ham when he arrived in his late thirties and was utterly committed. He should improve motivation and has managerial experience with Nottingham Forest, Man City and the England Under-21 side. Maybe not a top-class manager but a good assistant to have. 

Alan Irvine has managed Preston, Sheffield Wednesday, West Brom (very briefly) and been assistant manager at Norwich. While Billy McKinlay has coached extensively and has managed at Watford, Stabaek in Norway and Sunderland (as caretaker).

We never heard much from Slaven Bilic's assistant Nikola Jurcevic or the rest of his back-up team and he was reluctant to change them when it was suggested by the board. At least the new assistants should have enough managerial experience to be more than yes men. If Moyes is making mistakes they will hopefully tell him.

Sunday, November 12

Literary Irons at East Ham Library

It's the literary event of the year on Tuesday, Nov 14 at the East Ham Library where Brian Williams and myself take West Ham to the next level (possibly) while talking about our books Goodbye to Boleyn and Home From Home. As double acts go it should be somewhere between McAvennie and Cottee and Bonds and Brooking (or on a bad night Saint and Greavesie). Tickets — it's free! – from Newham Bookshop or Newham Word Festival websites.