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Monthly Archives: August 2012

Tactical View: Swansea v West Ham

Nathan Dyer’s dribbling will give George McCartney problems

Two sides won 5-0 on the opening day of the Premier League season – and West Ham are facing both in the next two weekends. A home game against Fulham awaits, but first Sam Allardyce must travel to the Liberty Stadium, where Swansea only lost four times last season.

In basic terms, this is short passing football versus long ball football. But the situation is slightly more complex than that, and it’s important to note that Swansea seem to have evolved from the way Brendan Rodgers had them playing last season. It may have only been one game, but in the 5-0 win over QPR last weekend, Michael Laudrup had Swansea playing more quickly and purposefully in possession – it was still need and tidy, but only Newcastle attempted more long balls last weekend.

Though Swansea have lost some key men, the signing of Michu has already proven one of the shrewdest moves of the summer transfer window. He was prolific from an advanced midfield position with Rayo Vallecano last season, and he plays an intriguing role. He often seems like a forward played out of position – he likes working with his back to goal, and he takes every opportunity to storm into the box. He won’t score a brace every week, but last weekend’s goals are a taste of things to come.

His goalscoring potential has been recognised already – the odds reflect his threat – but he can also be in danger of picking up bookings. Last season he collected nine yellows and one red card, a high number for an attacking player, and last weekend at Loftus Road he conceded five fouls, more than any other player. Against a physical West Ham side, I think he’ll get stuck in – perhaps going against the stereotype for a Spanish Premier League newcomer, and quite fancy his chances to be shown a card at 5.04/1.

It’s worth noting that Laudrup’s side  scored four of their five goals after the ball was played from deep, central positions towards the ‘D’ on the edge of the box – West Ham will be much stronger in that zone than QPR, who were very open with Park Ji-Sung in a central midfield role. Swansea may have to look wider.

Allardyce’s side is as you’d expect – they’re direct, they hit long balls towards Carlton Cole, and they get midfield runners into the penalty box. Mark Noble has improved his goalscoring ability, while Kevin Nolan has hit double figures in the past three seasons (admittedly, twice in the Championship). With Matt Taylor on the left and Ricardo Vaz Te on the right, West Ham have an unspectacular attacking department, but they’re solid, consistent, and all played together last season. Matt Taylor against Angel Rangel should be an interesting battle, while Leon Britton must watch Nolan’s runs.

I always worry about George McCartney playing left-back against a quick winger, having seen him torn apart by the sheer pace of Theo Walcott a few years ago at the Emirates. Here, he’ll be up against Nathan Dyer, a very tricky customer, and I think he might struggle. McCartney committed three fouls against Aston Villa last weekend, while Dyer won five fouls against QPR, getting Fabio da Silva booked in the process. Back McCartney to be booked at around 4.03/1.

I wouldn’t usually back two separate players to be cautioned in the same game. However,  this match will be refereed by Martin Atkinson, who produced more bookings per game than any other Premier League official last season, and started his campaign with four soft ones at St James’ Park last weekend. The stats indicate cards, and Michu and McCartney seem good candidates.

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Posted by on August 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

West Ham Focus – Nolan the man to beat the drop

 

 

Kevin Nolan was once on the brink of an England call-up, and while at the age of 30 that chance has come and gone, he still possesses all of the qualities that turned heads all those years ago and is putting them to use for West Ham.

 

He played most of his career at Bolton Wanderers under Sam Allardyce, and although they went their separate ways for a while they soon found themselves back together recreating the good times in the claret and blue of West Ham. Nolan spent 10 years at Bolton in a successful team that qualified for the UEFA Cup twice, both times reaching the knockout phase. After the departure of Jay-Jay Okocha in 2006 he was appointed captain by Allardyce and excelled as Bolton cemented themselves as a Premier League side.

In January 2009 he signed for Newcastle for a £4m fee but due to the unrest at the club, they were relegated in May. Nolan however played an integral part of the Newcastle side that bounced straight back to the Premier League in style, winning the championship with ease. He was voted Championship player of the season and appointed Newcastle captain soon after.

Back in the Premier League under Allardyce once more, but now at West Ham, Nolan is again club captain and an integral part of the team. If the Hammers are to survive this season he will need to produce match-winning performances week in and week out, whether that includes scoring goals or getting involved in the midfield scraps to protect a lead.

After the victory over Aston Villa on Saturday Allardyce likened Nolan’s ability to ghost into the box to former England captain David Platt. This ability in a footballer is rare – it cannot be coached or moulded and it is hard for the opposition to stop.  It is an attribute that many players long to acquire and while having natural ability and technique is all well and good, finding the time and space on the pitch to use those skills is the challenge all footballers face during a match.

Yet Nolan’s qualities do not solely lie with his attacking attributes. He has the desire and passion to get stuck in with the best and come out on top. His work rate is second to none and it is for these reasons he has become such a favourite with the fans. His experience of playing in Premier League dog fights will be a huge boost for the Hammers over the course of the season. He will guide the younger players as well as the new signings through the tougher months and his knowledge will be invaluable to his team mates.  

Nolan is a special talent and although he never did get that England cap he arguably deserved, his efforts at club level will continue to be cherished by those he played for. And should he manage to keep West Ham up, he will surely be remembered as one of the club’s Premier League greats.

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

West ham boss Sam Allardyce still keen on pursuit of Liverpool FC’s Andy Carroll

WEST HAM boss Sam Allardyce has not given up hope of signing Andy Carroll – despite spending £10.75m on Wolves winger Matt Jarvis.

Reds manager Brendan Rodgers said he would be a ‘nut case’ to let Carroll go – but that has not deterred Allardyce.

The Hammers boss said: “Many things in the final week of the transfer window  emerge and should it be the case that we would be able to do something then I  think it would probably only be a loan.

“My problem is there may not be funds available for Andy now.

“If Andy became available or anybody became available and they wanted to join  West Ham I would ask the owners. At the moment that is not the case and we just  have to wait and see if and when that situation arises.

“If we play Carlton Cole, Nicky Maynard, Ricardo Vaz Te, (Modibo) Maiga – they are all players that play in the front three wide positions.

“What isn’t there is a proven Premier League goalscorer, apart from Carlton  Cole who can get 10 or 11 goals a season. Nicky, Ricardo and Maiga are not  proven so you hope it will be all right, but you cannot tell until you get eight  or 10 games in.”

The Hammers agreed a loan fee with Liverpool this month with a view to a  permanent deal, but the 23-year-old did not want to move to Upton Park.

England-capped Jarvis is likely to be involved at the weekend against Swansea  provided the deal is completed in time and Allardyce did not hold back in his  praise of the 26-year-old. “Certainly from an attacking sense this is one of the  best final-third crossers in the Premier League,” he said.

“His stats are extremely good and he delivers in the business end of the  field.

“When you are trying to create in the Premier League and score goals, he is  one of those players who can certainly give defences a really hard time and that  is what we are hoping he can do for us.”

Last season’s facts do seem to back up Allardyce’s claims, as Jarvis  attempted the most crosses in the top flight and had the highest cross  completion rate.

Those statistics are even more remarkable given the fact the former  Gillingham man was playing in a side that finished bottom of the table and  Allardyce said: “This is a player of dribbling skills, pace, trickery, that not  only provides chances but also relieves pressure on your  defence.”

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Is Olympic move the best option for the Hammers?

Is Olympic move the best option for the Hammers?

Football comment: It is no secret that the owners of West Ham United, David Gold and David Sullivan, want the club to move into the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, east London.

The deal looked done and dusted 18 months ago but was then abandoned amid threatened court cases from other clubs. At the moment the stadium does not have a new tenant to take over once the Paralympics are completed next month.

West Ham still look the most likely new tenants, though neighbouring Orient have also expressed an interest, along with two other bidders.

Yet there remains substantial opposition from Irons supporters, many of whom want to stay at the Boleyn Ground where the club has been for the best part of the last century.

The ground is modern, with three new stands built since 1993. The capacity is just over 35,000, which the club has managed to fill most weeks over recent seasons, whether in the Premier League or Championship.

The old ground also carries all the great tradition of the club with it. Two of the stands are named after legendary players Bobby Moore and Trevor Brooking. There is a lounge in the Bobby Moore stand, named after the club’s two most outstanding mangers Ron Greenwood and John Lyall. Then there is the hallowed turf that has been graced by the likes of the World Cup winners Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters, as well as Paolo di Canio, Alan Devonshire, Alvin Martin and Rio Ferdinand.

The two camps, for and against the move, represent two distinct visions for the future of the club.

A move to the Olympic stadium will require more than a team that spends most of its time at the wrong end of the table.

The Olympic stadium once scaled down will take a capacity of 50,000 to 60,000. In order to fill that arena West Ham will require a team on a level with the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea. That is, a top four, Champions League team.

As recent history has proved, money is required to create such a team — big money. Co-owner Sullivan admitted as much prior to West Ham’s Championship play-off victory against Blackpool in May.

He indicated that the present owners could be prepared to sell the club one day if someone with sufficiently deep pockets came along who could take it to the next level. A move to rent the Olympic Stadium would, of course, benefit Sullivan and Gold with the sale of the Boleyn Ground no doubt clearing the club’s present debts and providing the owners with a nice little dividend on top.

Remaining at the Boleyn would mean West Ham probably continuing along its present path.

The ground is filled to capacity for most home games. The present owners have brought a stability to the club. Manager Sam Allardyce seems in accord with the club’s board and has made all the right moves since coming in at the start of last season. And, after all, he got West Ham back into the Premier League.

Allardyce has been as keen as the owners to move to the Olympic Stadium. Yet the ex-Bolton manager, unpopular with some fans due to his favoured style of play, could become a casualty were there a change of ownership.

New owners like to bring in their own man — as Sullivan and Gold proved when they came in and appointed Avram Grant.

Much of this is speculation, but the decision must be coming soon as to whether West Ham do make the switch — one which could mark a whole new era for West Ham and their fans.

The club could become a winner, just like Team GB at the Olympics, but it could also lose its soul.

For better or worse, all Hammers fans can do now is watch this space.

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Defender James Collins believe West Ham are capable of finishing inside the Premier League’s top 10

Collins targets top-half finish for West Ham

James Collins believes West Ham can secure a top-half finish in their first season back in the Premier League following their opening-day win against Aston Villa.

The defender was outstanding in the 1-0 victory on Saturday as he made his second debut for the Hammers – against the club he left just a few weeks ago.

And after helping his new outfit to a confidence-boosting three points, the Welshman insists that West Ham can enjoy a very successful campaign with no worries about relegation.

Collins, 28, said: “If we play like we did against Villa, there’s no reason why we can’t aim for a top-10 spot.

“We’ve got some strong and quick boys in midfield, a great team spirit and a good mixture of youth and experience.

“We may not have passed the ball as much as Villa, but the fight and team spirit got us through.

“Our home form is going to be massive. And if we keep playing like that then we can have a great season.”

After leaving Cardiff City in a joint-deal with defensive team-mate Danny Gabbidon, Collins spent four years at Upon Park before making a £5m move to Aston Villa in 2009.

He enjoyed a successful three-year period in the midlands, making 109 outings for the Villans before returning to West Ham for a fee of £2.5m.

And the defender admitted it was “strange” facing his old club on his second debut for the Hammers – in which skipper Kevin Nolan bagged the first-half winner.

Collins said: “I’m not sure me knowing Villa so well helped me personally because obviously you don’t want to make a horrendous mistake against your old club.

“On the other hand, I do have an insight into their team which could have helped.

“It was strange. One minute you are playing with them and the next minute you are not. I still speak to a lot of the Villa boys on the phone because it was only two weeks ago that I left.

“But as soon as I got onto the pitch, I was just concentrating on getting three points for West Ham and playing well.”

Competition for places and various injury problems restricted Collins to just 65 appearances for the Hammers in his first spell at the club.

And the defender, who has 39 caps for Wales, insists he is a much better player than the one who left three years ago.

He added: “I’ve got a love for the club from when I was previously here.

“I left when I didn’t really want to, but I’ve come back and I’m a much better player now.”

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

HAMMERS SIGN MATT JARVIS AND GILLS EARN £1m+

Wolverhampton Wanderers have accepted a West Ham bid of £10m for former Gills and England winger Matt Jarvis landing Gills Chairman Paul Scally a substantial £1m+ windfall.

A clause in the terms of the original deal that sent the talented winger to Wolves from Priestfield stated that Wolves had to pay Gillingham up to 15 per cent of the profit if they ever sold Matt Jarvis.

The accepted West Ham offer equates to £1.5m on a £10m fee, some of which Paul Scally might use to further strengthen Martin Allen’s squad.

Wolves had rejected a number of bids from the Hammers over recent weeks including £9m just a few days ago as it wasn’t enough to tempt Wolves into selling, because Jarvis, who cost Wolves around £600k in 2007, having three years left on his contract and the club not needing to cash in on another of their star assets.

However, everybody has a price and the increased £10m bid was accepted when Matt passed a medical last night leaving Gills highly delighted with their unexpected early windfall. The terms of the Hammer’s deal is that around £3million of that figure is dependent on appearance-related clauses but the sum represents the highest transfer fee paid by West Ham in five years.

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

QPR looking for new goalkeeper after Green error

Queens Park Rangers manager Mark Hughes has responded to his side’s heavy opening day defeat by entering the transfer market for a new goalkeeper, the Daily Mirror has reported. The move comes after the new QPR custodian, England international Robert Green, allowed Swansea City’s first goal to tamely evade his dive on route to a 5-0 loss.

 

Former Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boruc, currently a free agent after leaving Fiorentina, is said to be the man Hughes has lined up. Green only moved to Loftus Road this summer after his West Ham contract expired. The former Norwich City stopper spent six years at Upton Park, but the Mirror suggests his position as the R’s No. 1 could be under threat after barely six weeks.

While the newspaper is not claiming Green will be dropped by Hughes for his part in the home defeat, it is thought that Hughes is keen to draft in someone to challenge Green for his starting spot. QPR’s only other senior goalkeeper is 38-year-old Radek Cerny.

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2012 in Uncategorized