Saturday, 31 January 2009

Julien Faubert

The most unlikely story of the year:

BBC Football Website

West Ham midfielder Julien Faubert is on the verge of joining Spanish giants Real Madrid on loan.

The Frenchman has been given permission to talk to Real after struggling to secure a first-team place this season.

Real must pay a £1.5m fee for the loan move, with the option of buying Faubert at the end of the season.

Faubert, 25, joined West Ham in 2007 from Bordeaux for £6.1m, but soon ruptured his Achilles tendon, which kept him out until January 2008.

Madrid have been searching for a right winger during the transfer window had been linked with Jermaine Pennant, Aaron Lennon and Antonio Valencia.

The Hammers signed midfielder Radoslav Kovac on a loan deal on Friday and have also signed striker Savio Nsereko during the transfer window.

West Ham chief executive Scott Duxbury: "I was first contacted by Madrid on Friday and after extensive negotiations, we have agreed in principle a deal that would see them paying us a £1.5m fee to take Julien until the end of the season.

"His long-term future would then be reviewed in the summer, with a significant transfer fee payable should Madrid want to take up their option.

"If Julien does go on loan, then we will look to quickly bring in a replacement.

"Julien has struggled to get into Gianfranco Zola's team this season and, despite the high hopes we had for him when he joined us 18 months ago, he has not had the best of times.

"He had asked the manager about a possible move and we felt it right to let him talk to Real Madrid. If it does not happen, then we will of course welcome Julien back into the squad.

Friday, 30 January 2009

West Ham v Hull (Player Ratings)

David Di Michele (8.5)

Carlton Cole (8.00)

Scott Parker (7.6)

Matthew Upson (7.3)

Jack Collison (7.3)

Mark Noble (7.1)

Herita Ilunga (7.0)

James Collins (7.0)

Rob Green (7.0)

Valon Behrami (6.8)

Lucas Neill (6.6)

Thursday, 29 January 2009

West Ham v Hull (John Simkin)

Francis Bacon once said that “hope is a good breakfast, but a bad supper”. After the game Zola and Clarke went into a two-man huddle and had a quiet chat. There was a look of satisfaction on their faces and it would seem that they are gradually producing a team that should provide a diet of success for the long-suffering Upton Park fans.

After the loss of Bellamy we feared the worse as he appeared to be at the heart of what was best about West Ham as an attacking force. On his performances up to then, David Di Michele did not seem to be an adequate replacement for Bellamy. However, in the last three games this Italian has been a revelation. He is clearly a much fitter player than he was when he first came to the club and he is now willing to do his fair share of running-back. The presence of Savio Nsereko on the bench clearly helped to motivate him and he had his best ever game for the club.

Di Michele and Cole caused the Hull defenders problems all night. After the game Phil Brown claimed that “the front two were the difference between the two sides.” Brown might want to believe this but in reality West Ham were better than Hull all over the pitch.

West Ham had three good opportunities to take the lead before Di Michele curled a lovely shot against the post in the 16th minute. Soon afterwards a mazy run by the Italian resulted in him being heavily tackled in the area. Di Michele’s claims for a penalty were turned down but three minutes later Cole was brought down by Ricketts. Cole made the most of the challenge but Howard Webb clearly made the right decision by awarding a penalty.

After going almost a year without a penalty, this was Mark Noble’s fourth spot-kick in as many weeks. The previous three had been successfully directed to the left of the goalkeeper but it seems that Duke had done his homework and was able to get his hand to the ball.

As recent games have shown, West Ham no longer get disheartened when things go against them. The team continued to press forward and first Cole and then Di Michele missed good chances. In the 33rd minute Cole found himself on the edge of the area and tried to curl the ball behind Duke. This time the Hull goalkeeper got a hand to the ball but only managed to push the ball to the feet of Di Michele and at last we had our deserved lead.

The highlight of the first-half took place in the 39th minute when a lovely exchange of passes between Cole and Di Michele ended in a shot from Collison hitting the post. This was followed by Cole escaping the offside trap but his shot rebounded off Duke and spun towards the goal-line before the goalkeeper, racing back, was able to push the ball out for a corner.

In the 51st minute Di Michele fired against the upright but the ball came out straight to Cole who reacted quickly and it was 2-0. Although his finishing still leaves a lot to be desired, Cole was scoring in his fifth consecutive league game, equalling the record previously held by Tony Cottee, who scored in successive games against Sheffield Wednesday, Leicester City, Manchester City, Nottingham Forest and Newcastle United in the 1985-86 season.

Hull made a better job of closing West Ham down in the second-half and in the 57th minute Bullard’s crisp shot was well saved by a fully stretched Robert Green. West Ham continued to make chances and substitutes Faubert and Boa Morte both missed good chances before Savio Nsereko was brought on for Di Michele in the 87th minute. The crowd called out for the team to pass to the youngster, but it was to be Cole in the 3rd minute of stoppage time who was given the final opportunity to increase the margin of victory over Hull. Once again he failed to hit the net but it was another impressive display by this vastly improved player. After the game Cole reflected on these misses and vowed to get better. With the help of Zola and Clarke I am sure he will.

The main concern is not with the first-eleven but the quality of the players on the bench. The idea of bringing on players like Faubert and Boa Morte does not give you too much confidence. In recent weeks they have come on to help hold onto leads but I doubt if they have the ability to win games for us. I note that Junior Stanislas has been recalled from Southend and maybe he will be on the bench in future. There is also the possibility of midfielder Radoslav Kovac, agreeing a loan deal for Spartak Moscow. I believe young James Tomkins can do a good job for us but feel we need more cover at full-back.

This was the ninth game on the trot that Zola’s team have played well. Parker and Noble have developed a great partnership in the centre of midfield and they are ably supported by Behrami and Collison. This has enabled the Hammers to dominate games and even though they did not get victories over Aston Villa and Newcastle, there was no doubting who was the better team on the day. The team is brimming with confidence and they rarely give the ball away.

The real test comes on Saturday. Can they perform at this level against Arsenal? If they can, then, as long as we don’t get too many injuries, we can really compete for a place in the top six.

Green: Very little to do but an excellent save from Bullard in the 5th minute (7)

Neill: As Hull played without wide men he had little to do in defence. Provided some good crosses in the first-half. (6)

Collins: Dealt competently with everything that came to him. (6)

Upson: Was not really tested but his defensive headers were impressive and he played an important part in the second goal. (7)

Ilunga: Never troubled in defence and spent most of the time going forward. (6)

Behrami: Hunted down the Hull midfielders whenever they had the ball. Another very impressive performance by this workaholic. (7)

Parker: At the centre of everything that went on in midfield. He is the player we must not lose in the transfer window. (8)

Collison: A player I love watching. His upright stance reminds me of Brooking. Has the potential to be as good as Carrick. Let us hope we keep this one. (7)

Noble: Developing a great partnership with Parker at the centre of midfield. Poor spot-kick but was unlucky with a delightful chip in the 78th minute. (7)

Di Michele: Hit the post twice and scored a simple tap in. More importantly, he worked hard for the team and provided some good passes to Cole. (8)

Cole: Scored in his fifth consecutive league game and therefore equalled the club record set by Tony Cottee in the 1985-86 season. Although he missed four other good chances, his all round play makes him one of the most difficult strikers to play against in the Premier League. (8)

Carlton Cole

The Guardian

Carlton Cole has thanked his manager at West Ham United, Gianfranco Zola, for helping him achieve the best form of his career and win over supporters who had been vocal in their criticism.

The striker's goal in Wednesday's 2-0 victory over Hull City was his 10th of the season and his fifth in five league matches, equalling a club record set by Tony ­Cottee. Naturally, Cole is in ebullient mood but he admits his success could not have been achieved without Zola's help off the pitch.

"I'm playing with more awareness now," said Cole of the effect of the man he used to play alongside at Chelsea. "That is because the manager has made an effort in trying to make me aware of what's going on around me on the pitch. Because of that I'm now in the best form of my career. I've just got to keep on going. I'm not letting it get to my head – I just need to get in the right positions."

Such is Cole's confidence that he was even able to smile after several glaring misses against Hull. That, he admits, is partly down to the more relaxed atmosphere he finds himself playing in now, specifically at home, where he was regularly the target of abuse from frustrated supporters.

"It's nice to have the fans on my side now," he said. "I've been there when the fans ain't been really great to me and that's been tough. But I have them on my side [now] and they are really helping me out with my goals."

Cole's next chance to score comes tomorrow at Arsenal, where victory would be the Hammers' seventh in eight matches and could take them seventh in the table, just five points off a Uefa Cup spot.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Scott Duxbury

Sky Sports

Scott Duxbury:

"The January transfer window is perplexing. You're in the middle of a race and then suddenly you've got to lose some of your players. You should be able to get to the end of the race with the squad you've got - and we're doing well.

We didn't want to lose any players because I think we can achieve something quite special this season. There is a change of philosophy at this football club; I keep referring to the football project, it's a business plan that we stick to [in order] to deliver success.

Part of that is that we need to be aware of our fans expectations, and we need to be aware who our local rivals are. There's a masssive rivalry between ourselves and Tottenham. As I've said, it's nothing against Tottenham but why on earth should we sell any player that would strengthen their team? It just makes no sense to me.

We're competitive, we're in a competitive league. I want to finish above Tottenham year after year and I want to deliver success - so I won't be selling any of our players to our local rivals, it just makes no sense to me."

Savio Nsereko

Sky Sports

West Ham United have completed the signing of Brescia striker Savio Nsereko on a four-and-a-half-year deal.

The 19-year-old has moved to England for an undisclosed fee, but it is understood to be a club record transfer in the region of £9million.

West Ham director of football Gianluca Nani revealed on Monday that Savio was expected to move as the Hammers looked for a replacement for Craig Bellamy.

The Wales captain joined Manchester City last week and Nani, who worked with Savio at Brescia, has now landed an ideal alternative.

Savio began his career with 1860 Munich, before he was snapped up by Brescia as a 16-year-old, and he has also represented Germany at youth level.

Subject to international clearance, Savio will make his debut in the Premier League clash against Hull City at Upton Park on Wednesday night.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Scott Parker and Mark Noble

Quotes from today's Guardian:

Scott Parker: "Bellers hasn't been on the phone asking me to go up to Manchester and that wouldn't be welcome... Until anyone says any different I see my long-term future at West Ham. I'm playing some really good stuff, I'm in a passing team and it's really pleasing and enjoyable. We've got something really good under the new management. The manager is a really confident person and that's reflected in the way we're playing. We're not scared. Gianfranco Zola's been great for us. I honestly think that, given time, this manager can do something really good with the players we've still got here. We are going to sorely miss Bellers, but we have to forget about Craig now. Other people will come to the fore."

Mark Noble: "I don't think we could do without Scott. He's very important. He gets the play going, makes great tackles and takes responsibility.The gaffer and his staff are fantastic, we work really hard and are much more resilient than before. We've sold a few players but the manager has accepted that and we've pulled together as a team. We're not a massive squad but we are a team."

Sunday, 25 January 2009

West Ham v Hartlepool (John Simkin)

In the press conference before the game Zola made it clear that he was going to play his first-eleven against Hartlepool as he was “desperate to take West Ham all the way to Wembley.” The fact, that Faubert and Tomkins replaced Neill and Upson is therefore highly significant. Although the manager, who had himself won two FA cup winners’ medals in 1997 and 2000, insisted they players were being rested, it was not hard to deduce that Neill and Upson, who had not played against Barnsley in the previous round, were being prevented from being cup-tied. Zola will have difficulty off-loading Neill but there must be a good chance that a Champions League club will make an offer for Upson before the end of the transfer deadline.

The game also provided another opportunity for Zola to put Faubert in the shop-window. In the second minute Faubert raced down the right-wing and crossed a dangerous ball into the area that a Hartlepool defender deflected on to the crossbar. That was as good as it got for Faubert and for the rest of the game he was more likely to put over a dangerous cross in front of his own goal.

For most of the first-half West Ham made a reasonable job of containing a Hartlepool side that treated the game if it was the cup final itself. In the 8th minute Green missed a cross from a corner and after hitting Michael Mackay, the ball trickled towards the goal-line and Parker had no difficulty clearing it upfield.

The Hammers remained in second-gear and other occasionally appeared to be trying to score a goal. In the 16th minute Collison showed great control before curling a shot narrowly wide of the post. Just afterwards, Cole just failed to get to a cross from Illuga.

The first real alarm came in the 36th minute when Faubert inexplicably headed the ball across his own goal to the feet of Joel Porter, who was obviously taken by surprise by this appalling defending, and showing little composure, blasted the ball wide.

This incident persuaded the Hammers that they probably needed to get a couple of goals if they were to win the game. In an effort to reach Di Michele’s through-pass, Cole collided with the goalkeeper, Arran Lee-Barrett. The Hartlepool team immediately surrounded Cole and got so close to him that it was impossible for him to get off the ground. This reaction guaranteed that Cole got a yellow-card for what was a 50-50 ball.

The booing of Cole by the home-crowd galvanized him into action and in the 40th minute he hit goalkeeper with the ball rather than a boot. Soon afterwards Tomkins shot wide after a free-kick. It was all West Ham now and when a Collison run into the area was blocked, the ball rolled into the path of Behrami and he drove the ball into the net.

In stoppage time of the first-half, Cole attempted to flick the ball on to Di Michele, Nelson reached up and clearly tried to stop the ball with his hand. The referee ruled that the ball was inside the area and gave a penalty. Television replays showed this was a mistake but Noble took advantage of this lucky-break by scoring from the spot.

Hartlepool made a valiant attempt to score in the second-half but they lacked the quality to really trouble the West Ham team and Green only had one decent save to make throughout the game, a header from Gary Liddle in the 61st minute.

Before the game, the Hartlepool manager, Chris Turner, had argued: "In terms of pure football ability, there's often not a lot between many Premier League players and those in League One. The real difference is that Premier League footballers are mentally, and sometimes physically, far stronger, with much better powers of concentration. Quite a few of this Hartlepool team could play for West Ham in the Premier League, no problem – but only on a one-off basis. I think you'd find they wouldn't have the consistency and concentration to do it week-in week-out. Those are the qualities which give top-level players their edge."

The game showed why Turner has never managed at the top level. Not one of their players showed any of the “pure football ability” that is required in the premiership. Although, it has to be admitted that none of them did anything as bad as Faubert’s header across goal.

Scott Parker controlled the middle of the park and Cole, Collison and Noble made the odd penetrating run. Behrami worked manfully protecting the hapless Faubert and after a nervous start Tomkins helped Collins to snuff out any danger in front of goal.

Overall, a very competent performance and once again Zola and Clarke showed they can prepare their players for a match. This is apparently what John Terry and Frank Lampard have said has been missing from Chelsea since Clarke left the club. It was very noticeable that it was Clarke and not Zola who gave the substitutes such detailed instructions before they entered the fray.

Chris Turner was right about one thing. Good premier league players are not only skillful, they are consistent and do not make many mistakes. That appears to be the type of team that Zola and Clarke are building, and I am more optimistic about the club’s fortunes than I have been for 20 years.

Green: Missed one punch and made a reasonable save from Gary Liddle. (6)

Faubert: Another hapless display that will probably guarantee that we are stuck with him to the end of the season. (5)

Collins: Commanding performance from this much improved player. (7)

Tomkins: Started nervously but settled down to play his part in this comfortable victory. (6)

Illunga: Found a lot of space in advanced positions in the first half but failed to provide good enough crosses. (6)

Behrami: Another all action performance from this extremely hard-working player. Was always a threat going forward and still found the time to protect Faubert. (7)

Parker: Completely controlled the mid-field and was the most important player on the pitch, and provided an excellent captain’s performance. (8)

Noble: Did not have to be at his very best today. Looks to be a competent penalty-taker. (6)

Collison: A few nice touches but generally a fairly quiet afternoon. (6)

Cole: Made some good runs and with a little more luck would have scored to keep his run going. Was rightly substituted when Zola made the assessment that the referee might give his robust play a second yellow card. (6)

Di Michele: Too easily knocked off the ball but he did make a couple of good defence splitting passes to Cole. (6)


Boa Morte: Made no impression on the game except for making himself look very foolish during a short-corner routine (64 minutes)

Sears: Held the ball up well and went close with his own chance of a shot. (78 minutes)

Mullins: Helped to close the game down when he was brought on for Di Michele. (75 minutes)

Video Highlights

Saturday, 24 January 2009

West Ham United: Daily News Report (7)

"Concentration, concentration and more concentration." According to Chris Turner it is the elixir of FA Cup giant-killing and the mantra he has been hammering into his Hartlepool United players as they prepare for the visit of West Ham United on Saturday.

"In terms of pure football ability, there's often not a lot between many Premier League players and those in League One," said the former Manchester United goalkeeper turned Hartlepool caretaker manager. "The real difference is that Premier League footballers are mentally, and sometimes physically, far stronger, with much better powers of concentration.

"Quite a few of this Hartlepool team could play for West Ham in the Premier League, no problem – but only on a one-off basis. I think you'd find they wouldn't have the consistency and concentration to do it week-in week-out. Those are the qualities which give top-level players their edge. A lot in League One can definitely play but are way too inconsistent." (The Guardian)


Sligo Rovers full-back Seamus Coleman is hopeful of sealing his move to British football very shortly. The right-sided defender is reported as being close to a deal to join West Ham United, though it is believed that several other British clubs, including Everton, Championship sides Burnley, Ipswich Town and Birmingham City, as well as the Scottish Premier League's Celtic, are also keeping close tabs on the promising 20-year-old.

Known as an attacking right-back, the player has won four caps at Under-21 level for the Republic of Ireland, and one at Under-23 level. It is unclear as to what sort of fee Sligo might be able to command for the player, whom they snapped up from amateur outfit St Katherin's of Killybegs after he performed well in a friendly against the League of Ireland side.

Coleman himself was revealing nothing when speaking to Irish media earlier though, and was clearly trying to keep his feet on the ground as speculation mounted about his future. (Goal)


Bryce Moon claims to be a target for West Ham United Football Club.

It was reported earlier this month that Gianfranco Zola was keen on the Panathinaikos defender, and the South African has revealed he is aware of the interest from the Premier League side.

"I know about the interest of West Ham but I have nothing official yet in my hands," Moon told the Greek media. "My agent Mike Makaab is working on it.

“I will hear from him soon. I am a Panathinaikos player now. I don't know what is going to happen in the near future, but now I am focused on Panathinaikos." (Fans FC)


West Ham United Football Club are looking to bolster their back four.

Gianfranco Zola may be willing to let Calum Davenport leave Upton Park this month, but he is also keen to sign another defender before the end of the month.

Reports in the Daily Mail suggest the Italian coach has turned his attention to Algerian defender Antar Yahia, who is currently contracted to German club Bochum.

The 25-year-old is an important member of Marcel Koller’s side, but the Hammers hope they can make an offer the Bundesliga club can’t refuse. (Fans FC)

Friday, 23 January 2009

West Ham United: Daily News Report (6)

West Ham have turned down an £8m offer from Spurs for Carlton Cole.

That bid came at the start of the January transfer window, but Harry Redknapp is ready to revive his interest after his failure to snap up Craig Bellamy.

Tottenham failed in an attempt to sign Cole last summer after they lost Dimitar Berbatov to Manchester United.

A number of other clubs also asked about Cole in December, which is why the 25-year-old striker was given a new deal until 2013.

Cole has flourished under the guidance of new boss Gianfranco Zola, scoring nine goals this season.

He has also reached England manager Fabio Capello’s radar, although it is considered ‘premature’ by the England camp to suggest that he is in line for next month’s friendly against Spain.

Spurs are desperate to sign new strikers, with Redknapp believed to be ready to use £17m hitman Darren Bent in part-exchange for Cole. (Daily Star )


West Ham United are close to agreeing a deal to sign Brescia's Savio Nsereko for a fee that could total £10m after club executives spent the past two days in Italy holding talks. The club hope to make an announcement soon over the 19-year-old German, who decided to miss training yesterday and is well known to West Ham's technical director, Gianluca Nani, who was previously with the Serie B club, and manager, Gianfranco Zola.

The investment would be a club record for West Ham, beating the £7.5m spent in July 2007 for Craig Bellamy, who was sold earlier this week to Manchester City for £14m. West Ham hope that if they sign Savio it will demonstrate the commitment given to Zola that, beyond a number of fringe players, the proceeds of any sales would be reinvested.

Savio, an Under-19 international, has been interesting other Italian clubs, including Milan and Napoli, but West Ham hope that the size of their bid will prove successful. One of his agents, Dieter Hamann, confirmed that the club were in the race to sign Savio, who can play in a variety of attacking roles and is on a list of potential signings drawn up by Zola, Nani and chief executive Scott Duxbury. (The Independent)


Cardiff City have reportedly slapped an £8m price tag on skipper Joe Ledley.

Reports emanating from London suggest that is the sum West Ham would need to pay to prise him away from Ninian Park.

The Hammers have money to spend after off-loading Wales captain Craig Bellamy to Manchester City for £14m.

And Ledley, who turns 22 today, is thought to be at the top of Gianfranco Zola’s shopping list.

Bluebirds chairman Peter Ridsdale has denied suggestions in London that there has already been contact between Cardiff and the Hammers.

However, sources within Upton Park insist a deal could still be on and, while they have balked at paying £8m, West Ham are set to proceed with a £7m bid next week. The Bluebirds have already turned down a £6m offer from Stoke for Ledley.


New Bologna signing Pablo Daniel Osvaldo has claimed he rejected the chance to move to West Ham United.

The 23-year-old former Fiorentina striker was hevaily linked with a move to London earlier this week following the departure of Craig Bellamy but instead completed a move to Serie A strugglers Bologna yesterday.

And in a statement confirming his switch Osvaldo claimed that he opted for a move to the Rossoblù over West Ham - despite having been offered the chance to move to England.

My options were West Ham or Bologna," he told the Italian club's website. “Both were interesting, but I chose Bologna.

“I know that the club and the fans expect a lot from me. I want to show my worth and score a lot to lend the team a hand. Bologna is a great opportunity for me.”

Gianfranco Zola had been tracking the former Italian under-21 star for some time, but Osvaldo becomes the second transfer window target the Hammers have missed out on following Giampaolo Pazzini's move from Fiorentina to Sampdoria last week. (KUMB)

Alan Dawson on Steve Clarke

Great article in Goal today by Alan Dawson:

What has been Chelsea's biggest loss this season?

Could it have been the relinquishing of their astonishing home record when Liverpool beat them 1-0 at Stamford Bridge due to a tenth minute Xabi Alonso effort in late October?

What about the 3-1 away defeat against AS Roma in the Champions League, where the Blues always looked second best?

Chelsea were leading London rivals Arsenal for half an hour, only for Dutch forward Robin van Persie to steal a win with two exquisite strikes, so that may come close.

The recent humbling at Old Trafford - when Nemanja Vidic, Wayne Rooney, and Dimitar Berbatov all converted their chances - may top the lot.

If one thinks outside the box then the axing of 15 of Chelsea's scouts could be worthy of mention, but considering the lack of exciting and dynamic youth talent (barring a promising and prolific young striker called Fabio Borini, who joined the club from Bologna in 2007), what exactly did those scouts contribute to the Stamford Bridge outfit? Perhaps we will not know for another few years.

Roman Abramovich has been hit by the credit crunch. Russia's economy has been at least as hard hit as the United Kingdom's, the stock markets and oil prices in Roman's homeland having plummeted, even prompting stories that the Chelsea owner would have to choose between selling his London SW6 club or his £200,000,000 yacht in an attempt to cut his losses.

Yet notwithstanding all of this, what about the loss of the only prominent remnant of the pre-Abramovich era in west London? The middle-man; the go-between; the link between the players and the manager; the good cop to former boss Jose Mourinho's bad cop; the paternal Scot who'll put his arm around you and motivate you to buck up; and the defensively astute tactician, trainer, and coach, who can spot a leaky rearguard and find the perfect prescription. Yes, I'm talking about Steve Clarke.

Clarke, a right-back during his playing days and a Chelsea legend, having accumulated 421 first-team appearances (the fifth highest total in the club's history) left Chelsea to join former Blues team-mate Gianfranco Zola in November - on the other side of London, at West Ham United.

A brief role at Newcastle United as a caretaker manager followed his retirement as a player, before he took on coaching roles at Chelsea's youth set-up. He then worked his way up to the rank of assistant boss in 2004.

The role of the assistant is oft-overlooked, but their contribution is significant, especially when a foreign manager comes into the game who is unaware of or inexperienced in the rigours, the physicality, and the pace of the Premier League. Jose Mourinho relied on Clarke during those early years to wise him up on who was who on the opposition rosters. Even Arsene Wenger had Pat Rice when he first arrived at Arsenal.

Luiz Felipe Scolari could have done with Clarke for a little while longer.

Is it a coincidence that Chelsea have looked increasingly weaker in the weeks that have followed Clarke's departure? Is Chelsea's biggest loss West Ham's biggest gain?

The Blues have been exposed at the back with their inability to stifle set-pieces, their midfield has lacked potency, and the fluency all round has dissipated.

Contrast that with Clarke's arrival at West Ham.

Prior to his appointment at Zola's side, the Hammers had not kept a clean sheet in over 1,500 minutes of football - a record that stretched as far back as February in the previous season. Yet since he arrived at the Boleyn Ground, they have gone on to deny three sides a goal, one of these results being a shut-out at Anfield against then-League leaders Liverpool.

The statistics provide a telling story.

In Clarke's last 17 league games with Chelsea, he helped oversee 11 wins, and six draws.

Since his resignation, the Blues have contested 18 league games, have won ten, drawn five, and lost three.

During the four games that he was present at Chelsea this season, they conceded just twice, which is a ratio of 0.5 per game. Since leaving for the Hammers, Chelsea have conceded at a ratio of 0.6 per game.

Not the most drastic of increases, but combined with the average points gained then the results are more noticeable. With Clarke, Chelsea gained 2.5 points per game, but without him they have only mustered 1.95 points per game.

It could even have been Mourinho's vengeance on the club that fired him that he rang Gianfranco Zola and recommended that the Italian tactician hire Clarke as his assistant as a matter of urgent priority.

We have seen teams suffer defensively in the past due to a backroom changearound. When Carlos Queiroz left Manchester United for the first time, after assisting Sir Alex Ferguson to the title, United then went on to slip out of the top two, handing automatic qualification to the Champions League to Chelsea and Arsenal.

Not only has Steve Clarke left, but after Mourinho's departure, Chelsea also lost Baltemar Brito (an assistant); Rui Faria (a conditioning coach); Silvinho Louro (goalkeeping coach); and finally Andre Villas Boas (chief scout).

With Mourinho, Rui Faria, and Clarke all gone, Chelsea have lost their rigidity, and the rigorous regimes that they imposed seem to have been replaced with routines that are yet to bear fruit. If Scolari is going to achieve anything from this season then he better hope Ray Wilkins - who never really hit it off at QPR - starts to make things tick in the background, while he takes care of the foreground; a task that is also one of the highest order.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

West Ham v Fulham (Player Ratings)

Carlton Cole (8.3)

Scott Parker (7.3)

Jack Collison (7.2)

Valon Behrami (7.2)

Mark Noble (7.0)

David Di Michele (7.0)

James Collins (6.7)

Matthew Upson (6.7)

Herita Ilunga (6.6)

Lucas Neill (6.6)

Rob Green (6.2)

West Ham United: Player Ratings

I use the ratings from 13 different newspaper and websites to get an average player-rating for every West Ham game. After 22 games this is the current table of West Ham players:

Craig Bellamy (6.93)

Freddie Sears (6.64)

Matthew Upson (6.64)

James Collins (6.61)

Rob Green (6.60)

Scott Parker (6.58)

Dean Ashton (6.46)

Jack Collison (6.43)

Carlton Cole (6.31)

Mark Noble (6.23)

Calum Davenport (6.23)

Herita Ilunga (6.14)

Matthew Etherington (6.12)

Lee Bowyer (6.10)

Valon Behrami (6.09)

Hayden Mullins (6.08)

Lucas Neill (6.07)

David Di Michele (6.04)

Luis Boa Morte (5.76)

Julien Faubert (5.65)

West Ham United Ratings

West Ham United: Daily News Report (5)

Fulham and West Ham want to hijack a move by Middlesbrough for Ben Watson.

The Crystal Palace midfielder had been due to seal a switch to Teesside on Thursday after Boro's £2million offer was accepted by the Championship club, but both London sides have now matched that bid.

Watson, 23, had gone to the north-east for a medical and talks over personal terms last night, but is believed to have a preference for staying in the capital. Palace hope to use any transfer fee to fund a bid for Cardiff defender Darren Purse.
Meanwhile, West Ham have asked about Panathinaikos right back Bryce Moon and Bochum's centre half Antar Yahia as manager Gianfranco Zola looks to strengthen his resources in defence.

Brescia winger Savio Nsereko's agent also claims the Hammers are interested in clinching a deal for the 19-year-old.

Midfielder Julien Faubert has confirmed he wants to leave Upton Park and return to France with Lyon. (Daily Mail )

Zola on the January Transfer Window

No one, he knew, was going to pay much attention and, still less, do anything about it, but Gianfranco Zola said it anyway. He said it would be very nice if they got rid of the January transfer window. Then you could judge how well a manager worked with his players, how he could develop a team from the optimism of late summer to the realities of the spring.

He wasn't railing against how money wields such influence in football. Zola is from Sardinia, a place which is well versed in the iniquities of life. This is why quite a number of Sardinians still arm themselves to the teeth when they go about their daily business.

No, Zola was simply saying that if the game has never been so transparently a rich man's world there is still no reason why, without even attempting to close fundamentally the huge divide which, say, separates, the recently colonised Manchester City and his own club, we might still be able to restrict the plutocrats to one spending spree per year. As it works, said Zola, the January window permits the rich clubs to top up their resources, correct mistakes, and wipe out at least some of the effects of injury. It means that his West Ham United lose a player as talented as Craig Bellamy at a pivotal point in a remarkable recovery to eighth place in the Premier League after being locked in the jaws of relegation.

This, Zola further contends, builds in still more imbalance between those with generous resources, as West Ham had, relatively speaking, before the Icelandic economy descended to the value of not much more than a packet of fish fingers, and those who are obliged to live within their own self-generated means. "No one will listen," said Zola with a shrug, "and no one will do anything about it, but it is still true. The January transfer window is only for the rich. For those who are not rich it is just another handicap." (The Independent)

Joe Ledley

Cardiff City's midfielder Joe Ledley has been the topic of much debate during this January transfer window with a host of Premiership clubs interested in the Welshman.

Stoke City were one of the favourites but were told they must increase their previous £6m bid and deceided to look elsewhere, instead swooping for Matty Etherington from West Ham Utd.

The loss of Etherington, possibly Boa Morte and now Craig Bellamy has left the Hammers short of options and given boss Gianfranco Zola some room to maneuver in the transfer market. There has been some (stronger than usual) speculation that Joe Ledley is one name under serious consideration and West Ham could be set to make a bid.

There is no indication that Cardiff City would accept, but with Joe out of contract in the summer, and only preliminary talks over a new deal underway - the Bluebirds would be foolish not to consider bids above £5m. (Cardiff Football)

Julien Faubert

Lyons are expected to complete a deal to sign Julien Faubert from West Ham United this week. The winger has failed to impress since he joined from Bordeaux for £6.1 million in the summer of 2007. Chelsea are looking to sign a winger on loan to replace Joe Cole, who is out for the season. (The Times)

Savio Nsereko and Daniel Pablo Osvaldo

West Ham United are closing in on a record £10m fee to sign Brescia's German striker Savio Nsereko as they move quickly to bolster their squad following the departure yesterday of Craig Bellamy to Manchester City for £14m, with the club vowing never to sell one of their leading players to Tottenham Hotspur ever again.

The scale of the deal for Savio will cause some surprise, given that he is only 19 and is currently playing in Serie B, but he is highly rated by the West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola and technical director Gianluca Nani, who was previously at Brescia. The fee beats the previous club record, of £7.5m, paid for Bellamy in July 2007.

West Ham have also been in talks to take another young striker, 23-year-old Daniel Pablo Osvaldo, on loan from Fiorentina until the end of the season, with an option to acquire the former Italian Under-21 international, who was born in Argentina, for around £7m in the summer. He has worked with Zola previously.

West Ham face competition to sign both players, mainly from Italy, but hope to conclude deals in the next 48 hours. They decided to move for Savio and Osvaldo after also considering Mario Balotelli, who is unsettled at Internazionale, and Giampaolo Pazzini before he moved from Fiorentina to Sampdoria earlier this month. (The Independent)

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

West Ham v Fulham (Match Reports)

BBC Sport: Defensive errors proved costly for Fulham as West Ham eased to victory at Upton Park to go eighth in the table.

Sky Sports: West Ham proved they can cope without Craig Bellamy as they recorded a 3-1 victory over capital rivals Fulham at Upton Park without the striker's services.

Hammers Mad: West Ham United moved above Fulham into eighth place in the Premier League table after comfortably beating Roy Hodgson's side 3-1 at Upton Park.

Hammer's Diary: My three nominations for MOTM would be Valon Behrami, Jack Collison and Carlton Cole.

Daily Telegraph: Fulham’s strength this season has been their resilience but, as manager Roy Hodgson admitted honestly, they produced a full quota of errors in one Sunday afternoon.

The Times: “Who needs Craig Bellamy?” was the question sung with gusto by the Upton Park crowd as West Ham United hit three goals against a defence that, until yesterday, had been one of the most miserly on its travels in the Barclays Premier League.

Monday, 19 January 2009

West Ham v Fulham (John Simkin)

Gianfranco Zola appointment as West Ham’s manager caused me and a lot of fans some concern. The historical record shows that top players rarely make great coaches. It is argued that naturally gifted players find it virtually impossible to understand how to coach someone to greatness. What is more, Zola’s only experience was of coaching the Italy Under-21 team.

Zola’s chances of success as a manager were improved dramatically by the appointment of Steve Clarke as his assistant. Insiders at Chelsea had been claiming for sometime that he had made a significant contribution to the club’s achievements under José Mourinho.

Three wins in the first nine games was not a great start and the insistence of selecting players such as Julian Faubert and Luis Boa Morte raised serious questions about his judgement. I also did not agree with his reluctance to play Jack Collison and Freddie Sears. Although I suspect some of his team selection has been influenced by the need to sell players on high-wages.

The turning-point was the game against Chelsea. This saw the emergence of Collison, Noble, Parker and Behrami as a formidable foursome that could ably protected the back-four. These players also have the energy to support Bellamy and Cole when the team has the opportunity to go on to the attack.

On recent form, Fulham unbeaten in their last nine games, gave the Hammers a chance to show how far they have improved since the 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge. The main problem was the absence of Bellamy who has been such a dynamic force in recent weeks. His replacement, David Di Michele, is not the same sort of player, however, Zola could have argued that the kind of skills he does possess, would be useful against a packed midfield that is not known for its hard-tackling.

West Ham kept the ball well in the opening exchanges and was rewarded when in the seventh minute John Pantsil tried to show the Upton Park crowd that he was a skillful full-back who should not have been sold by calmly chesting Neill’s cross back to his goalkeeper. However, the gap between the two players was too wide and Di Michele nipped in to give us an early lead.

With the home side dominating the midfield, Fulham appeared to pose no danger until Paul Konchesky went on a run in the 22nd minute. Lucas Neill, motivated by a knowledge that the full-back had not scored since the FA Cup final against Liverpool, backed off and allowed him to shoot unhindered from 34 yards. It was a beauty and it curled just inside the post.

Despite this set-back, West Ham refused to panic and continued to play their short-passing game from the back. This was sensible because the occasional long clearance up to Cole was being won by the impressive Brede Hangeland.

The second-half was more open and although Fulham attacked more often, they never posed a real threat and Green did not have to make a save. The same could also be said of Mark Schwarzer but it was the Fulham defence that always looked like they would make a mistake that would give the home side an opportunity to score. This is what happened when Konchesky dwelt on the ball on the hour mark and Cole robbed him and headed for goal. A few weeks ago the defender would have allowed Cole to go on and shoot over the bar or into the midriff of the goalkeeper. Given his recent form, Konchesky decided he could not take this risk and brought him down from behind. Noble coolly dispatched the penalty and West Ham had a lead that they never looked like loosing.

Dickson Etuhu was the next Fulham defender to make a serious mistake. He sliced the ball to Collison who provided a nicely weighted pass to Di Michele, who slipped it through to Cole, who applied a confident touch past the goalkeeper.

The newspaper reports on the game will no doubt concentrate on the three mistakes by Fulham defenders that resulted in three goals for the home side. However, this was an impressive performance by the Hammers that gave an in-form Fulham side a lesson in how to play football. All the players seem comfortable on the ball and had no difficulty in finding a teammate with an accurate pass. They also play as a team, each player being fully aware of the role they are playing.

The Upton Park crowd chanted: “Who needs Craig Bellamy?” It is true we did not need him against Fulham but a player of his ability will be required for the rest of the season. We especially need a player who makes Bellamy-type runs in away games. Zola tells us he is going to be given the money for Bellamy to buy new players. Hopefully, he will use it to bring in talented youngsters who have already shown they can do it in the Premiership rather than European players who are past their best.

Robert Green: Had little to do but some would argue that no goalkeeper should be beaten from that distance. (6)

Herita Ilunga: Another assured performance from a player who makes very few mistakes. (7)

Lucas Neill: His distribution was better today but his forays into the opposition half always make me very nervous. His slow jog back to his position is unacceptable and is lucky to retain the faith of Zola. (6)

James Collins: He is developing a very good partnership with Upson. So far his lack of speed is not causing him any real problems. (7)

Matthew Upson: Commanding performance from this talented player. Hopefully, he will not be tempted to join a team playing in the Champions League. (7)

Scott Parker: The quality of the Fulham midfield meant that Parker did not have to be at his very best today. However, it was still a highly competent performance. (7)

Valon Behrami: Another all action performance from a highly valued member of the team. He only just failed to close-down Konchesky for Fulham's goal. (8)

Jack Collison: My man of the match. His promotion to the first-team has been a tremendous difference to the side's performance. Has the ability to go to the very top. West Ham's ambition will be tested by the offers that will come from the top clubs for this highly promising player. (8)

Mark Noble: He gives the midfield a sense of urgency. As with Collison, his youthful energy makes a great deal of difference to our midfield. (8)

Carlton Cole: Kept fairly quiet in the first-half by the impressive Hangeland. However, he proved a real handful in the second-half and showed that he is now full of confidence in front of goal. (8)

David Di Michele: His best game since he joined the club. His style of playing was suited to a packed midfield. However, I am not convinced he has the necessary abilities to be successful in the premiership. (7)

Sunday, 18 January 2009

West Ham v Fulham (Gary Loughran)

The latest game in a series of improving performances. West Ham gave arguably their best, winning, performance of the season to easily dismiss a hardworking Fulham side 3 - 1.

Fulham came to Upton Park with 3 ex-Hammers in their starting 11. Fortunately for West Ham all of Konchesky, Zamora and Pantsil were woefully off the pace of the game. First Pantsil miscontrolled a hopeful punt into the box to allow Di Michele to nip in and expertly open the scoring. West Ham continued to dominate proceedings and were unlucky to concede an equaliser to a wonder strike from Koncheskey, his first for Fulham.

The second half went much the way of the first until Koncheskey dallied on the ball, which was stolen from him by a determined Cole. As Cole bore down on goal, in an obvious goal scoring opportunity (note to referees everywhere - this was much more than a 'promising attacking move') - he was unceremoniously upended by Koncheskey. The resultant penalty, the first West Ham have been awarded in the Premiership in a year, was cooly slotted home by Noble.

As Fulham tried to get back in the game they lost their shape and West Ham duly punished this when a great move ended with Di Michele sliding a delicate pass to the on rushing Cole to convert. A great, flowing West Ham move.

The whole team deserve acclaim for this performance, the defence was outstanding with Neil and Ilunga looking the perfect complement to the steady Green, Upson and Colins. In midfield Behrami had his best game in Claret and Blue, Collison, Parker and Noble were excellently energetic as they won and kept possession better than at any time this season. Up front Di Michele is still a liability. Despite his goal and some nice touch play his overall game is not solid enough for us at this level.

Which leaves Carlton Cole. Quite often I have lambasted Cole as poor, having no touch, being a weak header of the ball and for primarily not being able to score. However, after recent performances (and especially this one) I am coming around to the belief that Cole might well be a consistent threat for us for years to come. Today he was simply outstanding. He worked hard and unsettled the Fulham defence, he distributed the ball well, he tackled well. Most of all he was a genuine threat as demostrated with some great first touches leading to better goal bound strikes. I am delighted that he is proving so many wrong, most of all me.

If Cole and West Ham continue with such solid hardworking team performances then we should easily find ourselves in the top half of an extremely finely balanced league.

Gary Loughran

Billy Barnes: West Ham’s First Star Player

On 29th June, 1895, Arnold Hills, the chairman of the Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company, announced in his newspaper, the Thames Ironworks Gazette, that he intended to establish a football club. Charlie Dove, an apprentice riveter with the Thames Iron Works, was one of those who paid an annual subscription of 2/6 (12.5p) to join the club. Other employees who played in the team included Thomas Freeman (ship's fireman), Johnny Stewart (boilermaker), Walter Parks (clerk), Walter Tranter (boilermaker) James Lindsay (boilermaker), William Chapman (mechanical engineer), George Sage, (boilermaker), George Gresham (ship's plater) and William Chamberlain (foreman blacksmith).

Billy Barnes was only 16 years when the club was formed and was considered too young to play in the first game, a friendly against Royal Ordnance, on 7th September, 1895. However, at the training sessions on the fields in Hermit Road, Canning Town, Barnes showed that he was a talented young winger.

Barnes had been born in London on 20th May, 1879. His father was a foreman at Victoria Dock and his mother had a coffee shop in Silvertown. The family were involved in local politics and William’s brother, Alfred, eventually became the Labour Party MP for East Ham.

It was not long before Barnes had forced himself into the first-team. Thames Ironworks had not yet joined a league but they did take part in the West Ham Charity Cup. The club reached the final against Barking Woodville. The first match ended in a 2-2 draw with Robert Stevenson and Johnny Stewart scoring the goals for the Irons.

The replay took place at the St. Lukes ground at Beckton. Watched by a crowd of 3,000 people, Thomas Freeman and George Sage missed some good opportunities to open the scoring. After 20 minutes, Langford, one of Barking's forwards was forced to go off with a bad injury.

In the second-half Johnny Stewart with his "mazy runs" continued to cause Barking problems. Thomas Freeman was injured and both sides were now down to 10 men. Near the end of the game, William Chamberlain had a shot deflected for a corner. George Sage took the corner and the 17 year old Barnes, fired in a low, fast shot, scoring the only goal in the game.

In 1896 the Thames Iron Works entered the London League. It was not long before clubs in the First Division of the Football League began sending scouts down to the Hermit Road ground to watch the talented Barnes. After considering several offers for his services he eventually signed for Sheffield United in 1899. The team had recently won the FA Cup and the First Division title and was considered to be the best side in the country and included English international players such as William "Fatty" Foulke, Ernest Needham, Walter Bennett and George Hedley.

Sheffield United had a good cup run in the 1901-02 season. They beat Northampton Town (2-0), Bolton Wanderers (2-1), Newcastle United (2-1) and Derby County (1-0) to reach the final of the FA Cup against Southampton. Unfortunately, Barnes was not selected for what became a very dramatic final.

Sheffield took an early lead but Southampton scored a controversial equalizer and the game was drawn. Fatty Foulke, who weighed over twenty stone, was furious that the equalizing goal had been given and after the game he went searching for the referee. The linesman, J. T. Howcroft, described how Frederick Wall, secretary of the Football Association, tried to placate the goalkeeper: "Foulke was exasperated by the goal and claimed it was in his birthday suit outside the dressing room, and I saw F. J. Wall, secretary of the FA, pleading with him to rejoin his colleagues. But Bill was out for blood, and I shouted to Mr. Kirkham to lock his cubicle door. He didn't need telling twice. But what a sight! The thing I'll never forget is Foulke, so tremendous in size, striding along the corridor, without a stitch of clothing."

Billy Barnes was selected to play in the replay. The game was only two minutes old when a massive clearing kick by Foulke reached Jack Hedley and Sheffield United took an early lead. Led by the outstanding Ernest Needham, Sheffield dominated play but Albert Brown managed to score an equalizer. Southampton began to apply pressure but according to the Athletic News, "Foulke was invincible". With ten minutes to go, Needham took a shot that the Southampton goalkeeper, John Robinson, could only block, and Barnes was able to hit the ball into the unguarded net. Sheffield won 2-1 and Barnes had won a cup-winners' medal, the greatest achievement in football at the beginning of the 20th century.

Barnes had found it difficult to settle in Sheffield and at the beginning of the 1902-03 season he returned to the club that had been renamed as West Ham United and were now playing in the Southern League. Unfortunately, a succession of injuries meant he was no longer the player he was when he was a teenager.

Barnes played 54 games for the club before moving onto Luton Town. He also played for Queen’s Park Rangers and Southend United before retiring from the game. He had developed a reputation as someone who thought deeply about the game and was invited to coach the Spanish club Bilbao.

His brother also achieved great success in politics and served in the government of Clement Attlee as Minister of Transport (1945-51).

Billy Barnes died in 1962.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

West Ham United: Daily News Report (4)

Several sources are reporting today that Craig Bellamy has effectively gone on strike after refusing to play against Fulham tomorrow.

Bellamy, who was the subject of a bid worth around £10million plus incentives from Tottenham yesterday [Friday] is said to have stormed out of Chadwell Heath on Friday morning after he was told that Spurs' bid had been refused, and that he was therefore denied permission to speak to them with regards to a move.

The Welsh international - who also remains strongly linked with Manchester City - is reported to have refused Scott Duxbury's offer of a two-year contract extension before leaving the ground having told Hammers staff that he would be not be playing in tomorrow's Premier League clash. (KUMB)

Craig Bellamy was in confrontation with West Ham United last night after he was refused permission to talk to Tottenham Hotspur. The Wales forward made a verbal transfer request and said goodbye to staff after a meeting with Scott Duxbury, the chief executive, yesterday. Bellamy, who did not train and cleared some items from his locker at the training ground, has refused to play against Fulham tomorrow.

West Ham have turned down three bids from Tottenham – the latest being an initial £10 million, rising to £12 million – and say that they have offered Bellamy a new long-term deal. If forced to let him go, the East London club would probably prefer to sell him to Manchester City, who have also had three bids turned down. However, the player does not appear to want to move his family again and he may also believe that Mark Hughes, whom he is close to, will not be City manager beyond this season.

West Ham believe that Bellamy, 29, should honour his commitment to play for the club after they helped him through stomach and groin injuries last season. West Ham have serious concerns about Tottenham’s pursuit of Bellamy after a media report said that the player had met a representative of Spurs on Thursday night.

Harry Redknapp, the Tottenham manager, denied tapping up any players, but his club have been criticised by Middlesbrough, for their pursuit of Stewart Downing, and by Sunderland, for their interest in Kenwyne Jones. If proved, it could embarrass Tottenham, who complained about how Liverpool and Manchester United tried to sign Robbie Keane and Dimitar Berbatov respectively in the summer. (The Times )

Craig Bellamy has gone to war with West Ham in a bid to force through a move to rivals Tottenham and is refusing to play in tomorrow’s Premier League game against Fulham.

But the Hammers are furious with Spurs’ pursuit of Bellamy and would prefer to sell the striker to Manchester City.

At the same time as making a world-record bid to sign Brazilian star Kaka from AC Milan, City matched Tottenham’s latest offer of £10million – rising to £12m – for Bellamy that was rejected.

Bellamy, 29, met West Ham chief executive Scott Duxbury yesterday and told him he wanted permission to speak to Spurs.

Duxbury rejected Bellamy’s request and offered him an extension to his contract that would have kept him at Upton Park until he is 35.

Bellamy was also reminded in the clearest possible terms that the Hammers stuck by him through his injury problems and when he was not scoring earlier in the season. But Wales international Bellamy turned down the offer, refused to train with the rest of the squad and is understood to have cleared his locker before leaving the training ground. (Daily Express)

While West Ham have remained true to their pledge not to cash in on their best players during this transfer window, the situation with Bellamy may force their hand and they can expect further bids from both Tottenham and Manchester City. West Ham have also turned down offers for Scott Parker from Manchester City.

Manager Gianfranco Zola also admitted that he had no idea whether Bellamy would be available. "What can I do about it? As far as I am concerned I want to keep him and the club want to keep him," he said. "If a player wants to go it is difficult. At the moment he is a West Ham player and he will stay a West Ham player. I don't know if he will play on Sunday.

"The club wants to keep the player and I want to keep him. It's difficult to keep players who are unhappy at the club but we'll see what happens."

Zola, though, admitted that West Ham were already considering replacements. "If Bellamy goes we will need to replace him and that's why we're looking," he said. "I respect Craig and I am disappointed he doesn't want to stay. He has done very well for me and I hope he stays and if he doesn't then I hope he does as well for someone else as he did for me.

"You need to have players who are committed to what you're doing. I've been told he's still our player and I'm confident he'll change his mind. [The] priority is to keep Bellamy. We have no commitments with anybody so that's most important.

"He is important for us but I am prepared to deal without him. I was hoping to have him until the end of the season. I think highly about him but it's his choice. He knows what he can get here but if he thinks he can't get what he wants here then that's up to him.

"He's a good player and gives us a lot on the pitch. I have no doubt that he is an important player as are many of the others. He's an important piece of a mosaic." (Daily Telegraph)

West Ham have rejected two previous offers from Spurs for Bellamy – a £6m offer on Christmas Eve and a straight swap deal for Darren Bent on Tuesday evening.

They have also declined three previous offers from City – a £15m offer, which would also have included Scott Parker, a bid of £8.5m plus £1m in add-ons and a £9.5m offer that was made on Wednesday. But Spurs manager Harry Redknapp, shocked by his team's defeat away to Wigan Athletic last Sunday, has convinced chairman Daniel Levy that Bellamy is the kind of player who can save the club from the threat of relegation and is likely to offer even more money.

Importantly, Spurs are believed to be prepared to smash their wage structure to land Bellamy who is understood to currently earn around £70,000-a-week at West Ham, more than any Tottenham player.

After his meeting yesterday, Bellamy asked for permission to be excused from training because he was not in a fit state of mind, and this was granted by Zola who is keen to keep the striker, but only if he has a change of heart and wants to stay.

Bellamy, the former Liverpool, Blackburn Rovers, Newcastle United, Coventry City and Norwich City striker, arrived at West Ham for £7.5m in 2007 and is regarded as a key player at the club.

Yesterday, Zola said: "What can I do about it? As far as I am concerned I want to keep him – and the club want to keep him. But if a player wants to go, it's difficult. At the moment he is a West Ham player and he will stay a West Ham player. However, I do not know if he will play on Sunday. We will see what happens."

Meanwhile, Redknapp said of Bellamy: "Someone has told me that he wants to come here and play. If we can do a deal, good."

If Bellamy is sold, West Ham will re-invest the funds to find a replacement and are understood to have a list of potential targets in addition to, according to sources in Italy, taking 23-year-old striker Pablo Daniel Osvaldo on loan from Fiorentina. (The Independent )

Pablo Daniel Osvaldo

Friday, 16 January 2009

West Ham United: Daily News Report (3)

Newcastle united last night abandoned a seemingly muddled and one-sided attempt to sign West Ham United captain Lucas Neill after the east London club said they were "astonished" by talk of any move.

Just hours after Joe Kinnear, Newcastle's manager, had spoken of taking the Australian full-back on loan until the end of the season, a Newcastle spokesman said: "With regards to Lucas Neill, West Ham United have made it clear he is a player they value as a highly important member of their squad and who they have no desire to sell. Newcastle United respect West Ham's position and will therefore not be pursuing this matter."

This was all news to West Ham, who released a statement on the club's website, saying: "West Ham would like to make it clear that Lucas Neill is a contracted West Ham United player and that we have received no approach from any club for his services, including Newcastle United.

"We are astonished by reports that a Premier League manager has claimed contact with one of our players."

Earlier Kinnear had spoken of the move as if it were well under way. "It would be a loan until the end of the season," he said. "Being happy to match his wages would probably be one of the reasons why we are taking him, or probably one of the reasons why they want to get rid of him."
(The Independent)

West Ham have reacted angrily to Premier League rivals Newcastle's interest in captain Lucas Neill. The defender, 30, is out of contract in June, with Magpies boss Joe Kinnear saying he had spoken to Neill's agent.

A Hammers statement said: "We'd like to make it clear Neill is a contracted player and we've received no approach from any club, including Newcastle.

"We are astonished by reports that a Premier League manager has claimed contact with one of our players."

Neill joined West Ham in January 2007, helping the club avoid relegation that season.

"West Ham have made it clear he is a player they value as an important to of their squad and they have no desire to sell," said a Magpies spokesman.

"Newcastle United respect West Ham's position and will therefore not be pursing this matter." (BBC Sport)

Craig Bellamy

Manchester City are in danger of missing out on Craig Bellamy after it emerged last night that Tottenham have stepped up their interest in the West Ham striker. Spurs are understood to have proposed a £12m deal for Bellamy, below, and that could well be accepted by West Ham, one of whose executives said yesterday that the Wales international will leave if the club is offered 'a substantial amount'.

City, who have had several bids turned down, may now match or even exceed Tottenham's offer in the hope of landing Bellamy but the player favours a move to White Hart Lane.

Officially, none of West Ham's best players are for sale as they seek to trim their squad by offloading the fringe members. Yet the club are conscious Bellamy is keen to move and, although Gianfranco Zola wants a smaller squad, there could be money available for the manager if Bellamy goes. (The Guardian)

Matt Upson

Arsene Wenger is ready to admit a £9m mistake on Matt Upson - and offer Nicklas Bendtner to take the West Ham defender back to Arsenal.

Wenger is desperate for a centre half and midfielder in January and Upson fits the bill even though it would mean an amazing U-turn.

Arsenal boss Wenger sold Upson to Birmingham for just £3m in 2003 and now hard-up West Ham want at least £12m for the England defender.

Wenger, who is also “hopeful“ of signing Andrei Arshavin, does not have limitless funds and may be willing to offer Danish striker Bendtner as a £5 million makeweight in any Upson deal.

Bendtner is a bit-part player at Arsenal and Wenger also has Eduardo coming back from injury and therefore may be willing to let him go to strengthen his central defence which is a major area for concern.

West Ham have knocked back bids from Tottenham and Manchester City for Craig Bellamy and are hoping to survive January without having to sell one of their prize assets of Upson, Robert Green and Scott Parker.

Upson is also reluctant to move to a club without Champions League ambitions and has been holding out to see whether Aston Villa or Arsenal would be interested. (Daily Mirror )

Luis Boa Morte

Luis Boa Morte has rejected the chance to join Hull City after failing to agree personal terms at the KC Stadium.

The Tigers had concurred on a fee with West Ham for the Portuguese international but Phil Brown conceded earlier on Thursday that the deal was close to collapse.

West Ham are eager to offload a number of their fringe players in a bid to reduce both overheads and the size of Gianfranco Zola's squad, but it would appear Boa Morte is to stay at Upton Park for the foreseeable future. (Sky Sports)

Tyler Rix

Tyler Rix, who has played for West Ham's Academy, signed the deal with Universal Music on the turf at Upton Park.

The 16-year-old saxophonist, from London, was discovered by record executives when he took part in BBC2's Classical Star TV talent programme.

Bosses at Universal Classics and Jazz offered him the chance to join a stable which includes Amy Winehouse, Take That and Jamie Cullum.

Tyler had a tough decision of his own to make – whether to pursue football or music.

By the age of 15 he had experienced a string of successes as a footballer.

Snapped up on the day of his trial, he played several times at Upton Park and was prominently featured in Junior Soccer, a coaching guide produced in association with West Ham United.

Tyler said: "I always knew that one day I would have to choose between my music and my football commitments.

"I could never have dreamt of making that choice in such a spectacular way."

"Tyler Rix is a sensational talent," said Dickon Stainer, managing director of Universal Classics and Jazz.

"We're very glad he chose music. It's better than playing at left back."

Tyler began playing the saxophone at the age of nine.

The deal comes at a busy time for Tyler, who is taking his mock GCSE exams.

His debut album, Ascent, is released on February 2. (Daily Telegraph)

Thursday, 15 January 2009

West Ham United: Daily News Report (2)

West Ham United have rejected two new bids for Craig Bellamy, with Tottenham Hotspur offering Darren Bent in a straight swap deal for the striker on Tuesday evening and then Manchester City upping their offer for the Wales international to £9.5m yesterday afternoon...

However West Ham are adamant that Bellamy is not for sale having already rebuffed three other offers for the 29-year-old. They rejected a bid of £6m from Spurs on Christmas Eve and then had two offers from City which they turned down. The first was a £15m bid, which also included City buying Scott Parker, and the second, which was also immediately rejected, came on Monday morning when City offered £8.5m for Bellamy, plus another £1m if he scored 25 goals in a season or the club won the Champions League. They have since offered £9.5m cash.

City are now set to move on to other targets, with Roque Santa Cruz remaining their number one choice ahead of Bellamy, although they would have liked to buy both players. The Paraguayan is expected to move to Eastlands for £20m from Blackburn Rovers before the end of the month. If West Ham were to receive an offer of £15m for Bellamy they have promised that they will then put it to manager Gianfranco Zola who, ultimately, will decide which players are bought and sold at the club.

West Ham are determined to hold on to their best players and have also rejected overtures to sign Valon Behrami – who was wanted by Roma – and Matthew Upson who has attracted inquiries from several Premier League side, most noticeably his former club Arsenal, Aston Villa and Newcastle United, although no formal bid has been received because all suitors were told the central defender is not for sale.
(The Independent)

Interview with Julien Faubert: "Zola has said he relies on me, but I don't see any opportunities coming... I didn't play against Newcastle and I don't know what he is up to. Right now my agent is discussing with clubs. Playing for a club such as Lyon is my priority to re-launch my international career. But the problem is that my selling price is very high." (Nigel Brown, Sport)

"Sheffield United chairman Kevin McCabe's intriguing silence on the latest twist to the Tevez affair was yesterday followed by the sale of top-scorer James Beattie for less money than the Yorkshire club paid for him seventeen months ago. This afternoon they released a statement confirming that the decision to sell Beattie to Stoke was made because of a need to cut costs, which doesn’t sound like the actions a club confident of landing £30-50 million in compensation would make." The Spoiler

West Ham have rejected a third bid from Manchester City for striker Craig Bellamy... On Monday West Ham turned down an improved £9m offer for the 29-year-old Welshman with the new bid again higher. City are keen to bring both Bellamy and team-mate Scott Parker to Eastlands but have so far failed to land either. (BBC Sport)

Herita Ilunga, the 26-year-old Congo international is currently on a season-long loan at Upton Park from French club Toulouse. At the end of the campaign, West Ham hope to make the switch permanent in a £3 million deal. However, Rafael Benitez has been impressed with how Ilunga has adapted to the pace and physicality of the Premier League. So much so that the Spaniard is reportedly ready to enquire over the terms of Ilung's contract and the possibility of signing him. (Daily Telegraph)

Luis Boa Morte

Luis Boa Morte's proposed £1m move from West Ham to Hull City has fallen through after the forward failed to agree personal terms. (Daily Express )

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Gianfranco Zola to replace Luiz Felipe Scolari?

Last night Chris Evans suggested on BBC Radio 2 that if Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari is sacked he will be replaced by Gianfranco Zola and Steve Clarke. According to the report the club has been very impressed with what Zola/Clarke have done at West Ham.

One of the first things that Clarke did when he arrived at Upton Park was to improve the fitness of the players. He had noticed that West Ham had a habit of losing goals in the last quarter of games. It is interesting that this is now what is happening at Chelsea.

It is claimed that John Terry and Frank Lampard have complained to Scolari about the quality of the training at Chelsea. They claim that the level of physical preparation for games has declined since the departure of Clarke.

West Ham United: Daily News Report (1)

Birmingham could move for West Ham's Calum Davenport after his £3m move to Bolton collapsed. (Daily Mail)

Hull City manager Phil Brown has said he is hopeful of completing the signing of Luis Boa Morte by the end of the week. (BBC)

If Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari is sacked he might be replaced by Gianfranco Zola and Steve Clarke (Chris Evans, BBC)

City are expected to agree a deal to sign Craig Bellamy for about £12m this week after preparing an improved bid for the Wales striker. (The Times)

Manchester City will not allow Valeri Bojinov to be used as a make-weight in any possible deal to sign Craig Bellamy and Scott Parker from West Ham. (Sky Sports, 1215GMT)

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Arnold Hills: The Founder of West Ham United

In 1880 Arnold Hills joined the board of his father's company, Thames Ironworks & Shipbuilding. He initially lived in the East India Dock Road in Canning Town. He became concerned about the living conditions of the local people. Hills commented that "the lack of recreational facilities was one of the worst deprivations in the lives of West Ham residents". He added "the perpetual difficulty of West Ham is its poverty, it is rich only in its population."

Thames Ironworks & Shipbuilding occupied 30 acres of land at West Ham on the Essex side of Bow Creek and was London's last surviving major shipbuilding firm.In 1860 it had employed 6,000 men, but by 1895 it was half that number, and was suffering from serious competition from companies based on the River Clyde and in the North East of England.

On the death of his father, Hills became the managing director of the Thames Ironworks & Shipbuilding Company. Hills established the Thames Ironworks Gazette in 1895. It was a combination between a local newspaper, popular history magazine and company newsletter.

On 29th June, 1895, Hills announced in his newspaper that he intended to establish a football club. The information appeared under the headline: "The importance of co-operation between workers and management". He referred to the industrial dispute that had just taken place and insisted he wanted to "wipe away the bitterness left by the recent strike". Hills added: "Thank God this midsummer madness is passed and gone; inequities and anomalies have been done away with and now, under the Good Fellowship system and Profit Sharing Scheme, every worker knows that his individual and social rights are absolutely secured."

The article asked workers interested in joining the Thames Iron Works Football Club to contact Francis Payne, a senior clerk at the company. Charlie Dove, an apprentice riveter with the Thames Iron Works, was one of those who paid an annual subscription of 2/6 (12.5p) to join the club. He was joined by about fifty other colleagues in this new venture. Training took place on Tuesday and Thursday nights in a gas-lit schoolroom at Trinity Church School in Barking Road. Training mainly consisted of Army physical training exercises. They also went for runs along the Turnpike Road (Beckton Road).

Other employees who played in the team included Thomas Freeman (ships fireman), Johnny Stewart (boilermaker), Walter Parks (clerk), Walter Tranter (boilermaker) James Lindsay (boilermaker), William Chapman, George Sage, and William Chamberlain.

The club was financed by members' subscriptions and a generous contribution from the Thames Iron Works. It was run by a club committee made up of "clerks, foreman or supervisors at the Ironworks". As over 50 men had joined the club, it was necessary to find enough matches for two teams.

Home games took place at Hermit Road, Canning Town. It had previously been used by Old Castle Swifts, a company club sponsored by Donald Currie, the owner of the Castle Shipping Line. Old Castle Swifts had been the first professional football club in Essex but it went out of business at the end of the 1894-1895 season.

Francis Payne was appointed as club secretary. The local newspaper praised Arnold Hills for forming a football team: "If this example were only followed by other large employers, it would lead to much good feeling."

Robert Stevenson became captain of the team. He was the Thames Ironworks most experienced footballer and had previously played for Woolwich Arsenal. Other players included John Woods, who also played cricket for Essex and George Gresham, who had been a regular scorer with Gainsborough Trinity. However, the star player was the 17 year old William Barnes.

Thames Iron Works pioneered floodlit football. The pitch was surrounded by light bulbs attached to poles. The football was dipped in pails of whitewash to make it easier to see. The first night match took place on 16th December, 1895. It was later reported that "the occasion was a success". It went onto the say that the generator "met the requirements and worked well" and "ten lights each of 2,000 candle power gave a good view to those present".

Their fourth floodlit game was against Barking Woodville. In his book, Iron in the Blood, John Powles quotes a report in the West Ham Herald: "Boys were swarming up over the fences for a free view when I put in an appearance. And what a smart man the Ironworkers have at the gate. He seemed to think my ticket was a real fraud until he had turned it upside down and inside out, and smelled at it for a considerable time. But he graciously passed me at last." The Irons won 6-2 with Charlie Dove getting a hat-trick.

On 20th March, 1896, Thames Iron Works played a night game against the famous West Bromwich Albion. The club committee arranged for the erection of canvas screens round the moat-ringed pitch, and charged the public for watching the game. WBA won 4-2.

By the end of the season the Thames Iron Works had won 30 of its 46 games. The team also defeated Barking to win the West Ham Charity Cup. The 17 year old, William Barnes, scored the only goal in the deciding game.

Hills continued to take a close interest in the fortunes of the club. In 1896 he sent a message to every member of the team: "As an old footballer myself, I would say, get into good condition at the beginning of the season, keep on the ball, play an unselfish game, pay heed to your captain, and whatever the fortunes of the first half of the game, never despair of winning, and never give up doing your very best to the last minute of the match. That is the way to play football, and better still, that is the way to make yourselves men."

Soon after the start of the 1896-97 season Thames Iron Works were evicted from the Hermit Road ground for violating their terms of tenancy by erecting a perimeter fence and charging admission to matches. Arnold Hills arranged to lease a piece of land in Browning Road in East Ham. This was only a temporary measure and after purchasing land at Canning Town, Hills built what became known as the Memorial Grounds. It cost £20,000 to build and was considered to be one of the best stadiums in the country. Hills claimed it could hold 133,000 spectators and applied to hold an FA Cup Final at the Memorial Grounds. This only allowed 16 inches for each person and the Football Association turned the idea down.

As well as a football arena, it also had a cinder running track, tennis courts and an outdoor swimming pool. According to one report, the 100 feet (30.4m) long pool was the largest in England. The Memorial Grounds was opened in June, 1897.

Hills used to organize a New Year party for the children of his employees. For example, this is how a local paper reported the party that brought in 1898. "Professor Anderson gave a few conjuring tricks and the young people were much amused by the comical actions of some of the Thames Ironworks Minstrels. Mr Hills gave a short address, and after nearly two hours had been spent in an enjoyable manner the children were marched out of the hall, each receiving a bun and an orange." The newspaper also reported that members of the Thames Ironworks football team were in attendance.

On 21st June, 1898, a 6,000 ton warship Albion became the first ship to be launched by a member of the royal family at the Thames Iron Works and Shipbuilding Company. The Duke of York, the future George V, and his wife, arrived for the launching ceremony in the early afternoon. Around 30,000 local people also competed to get a good view of this historic event. Over 200 people stood on a workmen's slipway alongside the uncompleted warship. At 2.50 pm the Duchess of York broke a bottle of champagne over the hull of the Albion. The ship entered the water faster than intended. This caused a massive backlash of water like a tidal wave that knocked people standing on the workmen's slipway into Bow Creek.

A total of 38 people died in the accident. This included a brother and sister, Ernest and Kittie Hopkins. Probably the saddest case was of Isabel White. When her body was recovered, her children, Lottie 5, and Queenie 2, were still clinging to her frock.

Arnold Hills was devastated by the accident and arranged to pay all the bereaved families' funeral expenses and personality visited the homes of the victims. Although the coroner criticized the organization of the launch (he recommended that in future accommodation should be provided by specially erected stands) Hills that he "met with no shadow of bitterness, no tone of complaint".

Soon afterwards two other terrible accidents had an impact on the people who lived in the area. An explosion onboard the Manitoba moored in the Albert Dock killed five workmen. This was followed by the loss of the 7,000 ton liner Mohegan on the Cornish coast. An amazing 34 members of the crew who died in the accident lived in West Ham.

It was hoped that the new 1898-1899 season would help take the workers' minds off these terrible events. That season Hills reluctantly accepted the proposal of Francis Payne that the club should recruit some professional players. Although a strong supporter of amateur football he argued it was "necessary to introduce a little ferment of professional experience to leaven the heavy lump". Payne's main argument was that better players would attract larger crowds. With attendances averaging 2,000, the club was being run at a loss and Hills was constantly being asked to subsidize the venture.

Thames Iron Works easily won the Southern League Division 2 in the 1898-1899 season. They obtained 9 points more than their nearest rivals Wolverton and Watford, who tied for second place. Outstanding performers that season included Charlie Dove, Tommy Dunn, Tommy Moore, Henry Hird, George Gresham, Walter Tranter, Jimmy Reid and Roderick McEachrane. The main star was David Lloyd who scored 12 goals in only 11 league appearances.

Arnold Hills, raised doubts about the wisdom of employing highly paid professionals. At the end of the season he wrote: "The committees of several of our clubs, eager for immediate success, are inclined to reinforce their ranks with mercenaries. In our bands and in our football clubs, I find an increasing number of professionals who do not belong to our community but are paid to represent us in their several capacities... Now this is a very simple and effective method of producing popular triumphs. It is only a matter of how we are willing to pay and the weight of our purses can be made the measure of our glory. I have however, not the smallest intention of entering upon a competition of this kind: I desire that our clubs should be spontaneous and cultivated expressions of our internal activity."

In 1899 Francis Payne, the club secretary, was given the task of finding good players for Thames Iron Works first season in the top division of the Southern League. According to one report, Arnold Hills, gave Payne £1,000 to find the best players available.

Payne employed an agent and former professional footballer named Charles Bunyan to obtain a player based in Birmingham. Bunyan missed his appointment with the player targeted by Payne. He then approached another player he thought might be interested in joining the club. However, this player reported Bunyan to the Football Association. The FA held an investigation into the matter and as a result, Bunyan was suspended for two years. Payne was also suspended and the Thames Iron Works was fined £25. George Neil, who had previously played for the Thames Iron Works, became the new secretary/manager.

In 1900 Arnold Hills decided to expand his business interests by acquiring the engineering firm of John Penn & sons. In order to raise new capital to finance the takeover, he decided to make Thames Iron Works a public company. This meant that in future he would be accountable to shareholders. Hills was no longer in a position where he would be allowed to pump company money into the football club.

As a result of this move, the football club was also reorganized. Thames Iron Works FC became West Ham United FC. Lew Bowen, a clerk at the Iron Works, became the new club secretary. Attendances at games, compared to their close rivals, remained disappointing. One reason for this was no nearby railway station. West Ham began to verge on the edge of bankruptcy and by the end of the 1903-04 season the club only had had the money to pay the wages of one professional player, Tommy Allison, during the summer.

Arnold Hills was also having financial problems and was unwilling to re-negotiate a rental agreement to use the Memorial Grounds that was acceptable to West Ham United. The club was forced to find another sponsor. A local brewery agreed to advance them a loan to help them purchase a new ground. A deal was arranged with the Catholic Ecclesiastical Authorities but the Home Office made it clear that they did not approve of the land being used by West Ham United. Syd King went to see Sir Ernest Gray, an influential Member of Parliament. As King later explained, "through his good offices, subject to certain conditions, we were finally allowed to take possession of Boleyn Castle".

In early 1900 Arnold Hills decided to expand his business interests by acquiring the engineering firm of John Penn & sons. In order to raise new capital to finance the takeover, he decided to make Thames Iron Works a public company. This meant that in future he would be accountable to shareholders. Hills was no longer in a position where he would be allowed to pump company money into the football club.

On 7th March, 1900, the West Ham Guardian reported that: "It is announced that the committee of Thames Ironworks FC are to consider some sort reorganization. A proposal is evidently on the table. For one who has it on authority says it will 'if adopted, undoubtedly be to the club's advantage'. This is good news. Supporters are tired of seeing the club so low down as fourth from the bottom".

A few weeks later the West Ham Guardian reported that the football would be sold. "With regard to next season however, a meeting will be called, and the Mayor of West Ham will be asked to preside, at which gathering the locals will be asked to take up 500 £1 shares. If this amount be raised Mr A. F. Hills will add to it another £500, and, in addition, grant the use of the Memorial Grounds. Another condition is that all members of the team must be teetotallers. It is probable too, that the name of the club will be changed to Canning Town." The newspaper was wrong about this and the new club was called West Ham United. The idea that all players should be teetotallers was also dropped.

It was hoped that over 2,000 supporters would buy shares in the new club. The West Ham Guardian urged local people to buy shares: "There is little question that the present question of managing small teams is not the right one. For so many clubs get into debt and finally are snuffed out... A shareholder will have everything to gain, by attending the matches, and inducing others to come with him, therefore it seems to me that the nail has been hit right on the head, and the problem of the football world of management is about to be solved."

Hills announced that anyone who purchased just ten shares would be allowed to join the Board of Directors of the club. Despite this offer, a large number of shares remained unsold and the the finances of the new club remained in a poor state. had trouble selling these shares to supporters.

In September, 1900, The Morning Leader reported: "The prospectus of the new limited liability company, to be known under the title of the West Ham Football Club Company Limited is at hand. The primary object will be to encourage and promote the game of football in West Ham and district, and powers have also been taken by the company authorising them at any time to acquire land and other property."

It was also announced that: "The directors propose to make the following charges, to shareholders only, for season-tickets for the football season 1900/01: admission to ground and open stand, 7s 6d, admission to ground, enclosure and grand stand 10s 6d and 12s 6d respectively.... Mr. A. F. Hills who will most likely to take up £500 worth of shares, is very keen on playing a teetotal eleven next season, and the experiment is worth trying if only to vindicate the rights of football employers to call their own tune after paying the piper."

The capital of West Ham United was £2,000 (4,000 shares at 10s each). Arnold Hills purchased 1,000 shares and remained the major influence at the club. However, he was unable to enforce the idea that all players should be teetotallers.

Hills now concentrated on the Thames Iron Works & Shipbuilding Company. Unfortunately, the business went into decline and between 1904 and 1910, the company only received £1 million of work from the Admiralty. However, the following year, the Thames Iron Works built the world's largest battleship, HMS Thunderer. Hills complained that most of the new orders were going to the northern shipyards of the Tyne and Clyde.

Hills became very ill and developed a wasting disease which left him almost totally paralysed. On 1st January, 1912, Hills attended a protest meeting in Trafalgar Square before visiting the offices of Winston Churchill, the First Lord of the Admiralty. Hills was carried in on a stretcher and the Daily Mail described him as the "invalid builder of Dreadnoughts".

The Thames Iron Works, the last great shipbuilder on the Thames, was closed down on 21st December, 1912. Although he remained in poor health, Hills did live to see West Ham United play against Bolton Wanderers in the F.A. Cup Final in 1923.

Arnold Hills died at his home "Hammerfield" in Penshurst on 7th March, 1927.

John Simkin

Tevez Case Reopened

It seems there is a power struggle between the FA and the League, leading to a reopening of the Tevez case. The immediate victims of this are the West Ham players, closely followed by the fans. Sheffield United, Fulham, Wigan, despite their protestations are not victims in this. I strongly believe that we have been punished enough in this matter. The club has been dragged through all sorts of mud slinging and accusation. Terry Brown and Scott Duxbury should bear the brunt of this. However, I believe that Brown has a clause that he cannot be implicated.

As disgraceful as this is, as difficult as it is to swallow, Brown will remain 'innocent' of all charges. Brown dealt with Joorabchian and his players Mascherano and Tevez behind Pardews back, primarily this is why Pardew never played them. Brown dealt with Joorabchian and his players Mascherano and Tevez in order to sweeten the sale of West Ham to a partner of Joorabchian. Brown then sold to someone else leaving them to pick up the pieces. Brown is still being paid in the region of £1 million a year from West Ham for his non-executive role at the club, allegedly. It is Brown and Duxbury alone who should be in the dock.

I noticed in the wording of the statement initiating the reopening of Tevez's case that the club or an individual might be charged as a result. This leads me to believe that Duxbury will be correctly identified and punished...alone. I am so frustrated that I am infuriated at our treatment in this case. It also reeks of double standards and double or is it triple jeopardy. West Ham United are not allowed to appeal the independent decision that went in Sheffield's favour due to the terms and scope of that inquiry which bound all participants to agree to the ruling without appeal. However, as a result of this inquiry, West Ham United are being tried again by the FA and League. This just doesn't seem fair, right or just.

Some dozy Lord (and I despise nearly all Lords eapecially those preceeded with the word law) deemed Tevez worth at least 3 points to West Ham, the main reason according to the resultant summary that West Ham were found guilty. How is that determined? I know for a fact that Tevez and Mascherano were the main cause of results going against West Ham when they first played. Was this considered? How on earth does someone deem the value of a player in terms of points. It seems so wholly arbitrary that it is ridiculous.

It also seems that a little he said/I said is at play. If Duxbury did indeed rip up and reconsitute the agreement with Tevez for the last 3 games then surely the Premier League sought evidence of this? Duxbury is alleged to have told Joorabchian that the 3rd party agreement still stood. If it didn't why did United pay us £2 million to get Tevez? Some paperwork somewhere must evidence a correct contractual agreement. Somewhere in all this Duxbury is lying.

Furthermore, United do not own Tevez at all. They are negotiating directly with Joorabchian to buy him for longer. This time it would make him United's sole property but would cost £20 million or so. I am not a dim person, yet I fail to see the difference in what Manchester United have with Tevez and what we had!!! I know it boils down to a 'form of words'...but semantics aside, the truth is that United are in all reality in no different a position than West Ham.

The timing of the FA and Leagues decision to reopen this case has 2 huge negative impacts on West Ham. The uncertainty will unsettle any potential bidders for the club. New ownership is something West Ham currently, absolutely need. It also creates further uncertainty for the players, coaches and fans. The outcome of this case seems likely to be known around April/May time, precisley the relegation period at the end of the season. What if we get points deducted as a result?

Despite all this, my optimistic side, says this case is being reopened to draw a line under the affair. To State wholly that everything was correctly done by West Ham for those last 3 games. If not, to then punish Duxbury as an individual. It might also have the added affect of reducing the payout to Sheffield United and any other ambulance chasers looking some compensation, through a weakening of their cases. That is my hope anyway.

Gary Loughran