Tottenham 3 v 2 West Ham

Too good to go down? Haven’t we heard that somewhere before?

Embed from Getty Images

So we have an experienced Premier League manager in charge. He has kept us in the top flight when many thought we might struggle. Many are happy that he has done his job, but some believe that a change is needed. So at the end of the season the experienced manager departs, and the board bring in someone who has not managed at the top level in English football. Some think it is a risk. He probably wasn’t the first choice of the board but he gets the job. All new managers have a honeymoon period where the fans will allow some dodgy early results. And we do have some unexpected defeats at the beginning of the season.

But the performance of the club improves, and as the season progresses we have some great results. We do much better than most would have expected.

On October 24th we beat Chelsea 2-1 at Upton Park. We have some unexpected victories away from home. A seventh placed finish at the end of the season exceeds West Ham’s usual position in the Premier League.

So hopes are high for the season to follow. We have a talented squad, and a star player idolised by the supporters. But the season doesn’t quite go to plan. Early on we are playing a game at home and hold a two goal lead, but we don’t hold on to it, and fail to win the game. How the season might have been different if we had we won that game.

The early season results continue to fail to meet the high expectations held by the fans, and everyone associated with the club is disappointed with the start we have made. We visit White Hart Lane to play our arch enemies from North London. It’s a typically competitive derby and we lose the game 3-2 to a last minute goal. And one of our centre backs is sent off.

We are in the month of November, and after twelve games of the season have been played we have just eleven points. Not in the bottom three, but only just outside of it. That is less than a point a game. Relegation form many believe. Many will argue differently. Our team is a good one. Too good to go down. It will all come good soon.

Now most of you will think that I am writing about our current predicament. But I am not. Going back to the start of this article, the experienced manager is Harry Redknapp. The new manager is Glenn Roeder. In Roeder’s first season in charge in 2001-2002 we did beat Chelsea 2-1 on 24th October. We did have some unexpected victories away from home. We did finish seventh in the Premier League. Hopes were high for the season to come. In 2002-2003 we did have a talented squad. Di Canio was our star player and was idolised by the fans. We were leading Arsenal 2-0 but failed to win the game. How the season might have been different if we had held on to that lead and picked up three points. We did lose 3-2 at Tottenham to a last minute goal, and Ian Pearce was sent off. After twelve games we had eleven points. But most weren’t worried. Most believed we were too good to go down.

For Harry Redknapp read Sam Allardyce. For Glenn Roeder read Slaven Bilic. In Bilic’s first season we did have some unexpected defeats at the start (Leicester, Bournemouth) and we did beat Chelsea 2-1 at Upton Park on 24th October. We did have some unexpected victories away from home. We did finish in seventh place in the Premier League. We went in to the new season (this one) with high hopes. We did hold a two goal lead in an early game (Watford) but failed to win the game. How might this season have been different if we had picked up three points then? We did just lose 3-2 to a last minute goal at Tottenham, and for centre back Ian Pearce being sent off, read Winston Reid. And we have got just eleven points after twelve games of the season. And we are not in the bottom three, but just above it.

The parallels when comparing 2001-2, and 2002-3, are uncannily like 2015-16 and 2016-17. But of course 2016-17 isn’t over yet. We are just twelve games in. But for those who believe that history might continue to repeat itself, shall we look back to what happened at the end of 2002-3?

We finished in eighteenth place and were relegated despite some improved performances towards the end of the season. But how could it have happened? We were too good to go down they said. After those first twelve games in 2002-3 we then didn’t win a single game in our next nine league matches. It won’t happen this time will it? We are too good to go down. Aren’t we?

This Week in Hammer’s History

The week 21 – 27 November in Hammer’s History features defeats at Spurs and Millwall and victory at Old Trafford.

This Week Hammers HistoryIt is not often that you score 4 goals away from home but still end up losing but that was the case in the Second Division game against Blackburn Rover on 25 November 1989 where goals from Dicks, Brady, Slater and Ward could not prevent the Hammers suffering a 5-4 defeat.  In the Hammer’s lineup that day was Justin Fashanu making one of just two of his starts in the claret and blue as he attempted to resurrect his career.

From a long list of games played in the week 21 – 27 November there were not too many stand out games and so it is the high scoring ones that catch the eye.

Starting with the most painful memory first it is a year ago tomorrow that Harry Kane scored two as West Ham slid to a humbling 4-1 defeat at White Hart Lane (at least the manner and margin of defeat were different this time even if the pain is the same).  It was the same score when Glenn Roeder took his doomed eleven to Villa Park in November 2002 to reclaim bottom spot in the league.

High scoring successes include 5-2 against Coventry in 1981 (Stewart, Martin (2), Neighbour and Brooking); 5-3 against Oxford in 1992 (Breacker, Dicks (2), Morley and C Allen); and 4-3 against Sheffield Wednesday in 1999 (Foe, Wanchope, Di Canio and Lampard).   Extended highlights of the last of these matches, an incident filled encounter in what was Wednesday’s last season in the top flight to date, can be seen below and includes Marc-Vivien Foe’s solitary league goal for the Hammers.

In European competition, West Ham opened their defence of the ECWC on 24 November 1965 with a routine 4-0 first leg victory over Olympiakos of Greece with goals from Brabrook, Byrne and Hurst (2).    The return leg the following week ended all square at 2-2 as the Hammers progressed to a third round tie with FC Magdeburg.

A rare, although not high scoring, phenomenon was victory at Old Trafford on 27 November 1976; the match which had a West Ham debut for Anton Otulakowski saw the Hammers win by 2 goals to nil (Jennings and Brooking).  What chance a repeat exactly 40 years later?

Finally a return to a painful derby defeat this time against arch-villains Millwall in 2004 when Danny Dichio grabbed the only goal of the game against 10 man West Ham.  In a typical fiery encounter at the New Den Marlon Harewood was sent off for a second bookable offence just after the hour with the score at 0-0.  It was a largely uninspiring Hammer’s team at the time and this game featured the one and only Mauricio Taricco appearance; a career which lasted just 27 minutes before a torn hamstring led to his retirement from professional football.  Strange to think now that the season eventually ended with promotion through the Play-Offs; it was a classic scraping through the back door in a campaign where we were never a threat for automatic promotion.

Manager Alan Pardew comments on the Millwall match make interesting reading “I am not so stupid not to realise that (the fans) were unhappy with my substitution (taking Luke Chadwick off when Harewood was sent off).  But I will always be strong enough to make the decision that I think is right.  Our fans want promotion at all costs. There is not much room for sympathy: we are desperately trying to get up, we have had a tough week and we are still missing some key players.”

So missing players and poor substitutions are nothing new.  Bywater, Taricco (A Ferdinand ), Chris Powell, Darren Powell, Repka, Reo-Coker, Lomas, Fletcher, Etherington, Chadwick (Zamora), Harewood 

Notable birthdays during this week:

22 November  Frank McAvennie (57)
24 November  Dean Ashton (33)
25 November  Ted Hufton (d. 1967)
26 November  Junior Stanislas (27)
27 November  Freddie Sears (27)

5 Things We Learned From Broken Heart Lane

Where do I begin, to tell the story………..?

5 Things WHUFrom the Jaws of Victory

There is never a good way to lose to Tottenham but if you were to write a script to illustrate the totally worst case scenario it might be one where your team is desperate for points, are playing away to your fiercest rival (the league’s only unbeaten team), are leading with just two minutes of normal time remaining only to end up conceding two late goals and having your captain sent off.  Disappointed, deflated and dejected.  A neutral may well have enjoyed the game which in the first half had the hallmarks of one of last season’s famous away victories at unlikely venues.   West Ham had taken the lead and Tottenham looked short on ideas.  Early in the second half, however, sloppy play allowed the hosts back level and for a while it looked like the floodgates might open; but the ship was steadied and a penalty saw the Hammers restore their lead and recover their composure.  It stayed that way until the the frantic finale and a West Ham implosion in the final act that turned a potential thriller into a tragedy.

A Formation Too Rigid

I have strong reservations about 3 at the back as the default formation.  It can work in some instances and against some oppositions.  From the outset I thought it was high risk against a team like Tottenham who do much of their attacking down the flanks, particularly through their full-backs.   Having said that the set-up worked well enough in the first half and Antonio and Cresswell were able to get forward in support of our uncharacteristically swift counter attacking play.  After the break though Rose and Walker were pushed further up leaving our own wing backs neutralised as an attacking force and ultimately exposing Antonio’s defensive limitations.  If the wing backs effectively become full backs then the 3 centre- backs are surplus to requirements and leave the midfield shorthanded.  It would seems obvious but a formation cannot be so rigid that it is unable to adapt to changing circumstances.  That is a sign of a good team and good coaching.

Oh No, Angelo!

A game of two penalties and you couldn’t really argue about either.  Tottenham could well have been awarded a penalty earlier in the game when Ogbonna was all over a Tottenham player in much the same way that Janssen impeded Reid for our own penalty.  I have lost a lot of patience with Ogbonna and the goodwill from the last minute goal against Liverpool has almost run out.  He mixes sound defending with all too often inexplicable casualness as he did when giving the ball away in the build up to the first Tottenham equalizer.  He can also be seen grappling at almost every defensive corner or set piece.  A shame that Reid was sent off as I though he had an excellent game.  The backchat interpretation has become as inconsistent as the grappling and simulations one.

Bizarre Substitution Watch

The first substitutions after the hour mark were well timed and helped to stem the threatened Tottenham tide.  Ayew has continued to disappoint so far both in effort and contribution and his replacement by Fernandes, who was unfortunate not to start, was the correct move.  It was no surprise to see Sakho replaced after 60 minutes in what was his first start of the season.  He did a lot of good work without the ball but not much with it.  His replacement Zaza did nothing with or without it apart from playing the most delayed pass of all time when Payet was well placed.  Quite why Bilic perseveres with the Italian is a mystery as he serves no purpose as either a short or long term option.  Fletcher would have been a far better choice.  The final substitution was nonsensical in terms of both player coming on and player going off.  Without the presence of Payet there was no threat for Tottenham to worry about and they were free to press forward en masse.  Nordtveit has done nothing to promote any confidence in his abilities and coming on cold at that point contributed significantly to our ultimate undoing.

A Nod’s as good as a Winks

I don’t understand why Tottenham didn’t give Winks the number 40 shirt.

I Wouldn’t Bet On It 17

High rolling it down Tottenham High Road looking for value in a West Ham win.

Fancy A Bet

A fortnight ago I placed some bets on our game at home to Stoke. They were:

20 points on a win @21/20 (41)
10 points on a draw @13/5 (36)
1 point Mark Noble to score the first goal @12/1 (13)
1 point on Noble 1st goal and we win 1-0 @60/1 (61)
1 point on Noble 1st goal and we win 2-1 @60/1 (61)
1 point on a 1-0 West Ham victory @15/2 (8.5)
1 point on a 2-1 West Ham victory @15/2 (8.5)

Total stake 35 points, reducing our balance to 65.

We drew the game so our return of 36 points took our balance up to 101.

This week, we’ll have some fun bets on our game at Tottenham (odds as per Paddy Power):

10 points on West Ham to win or draw the game @7/5 (24)
1 point on West Ham to win the game @11/2 (6.5)
1 point on there being two goals or less in the game @Evens (2)
1 point on West Ham to win 1-0 @16/1 (17)
1 point on West Ham to win 2-0 at 35/1 (36)
1 point on a 1-1 draw @13/2 (7.5)
1 point on West Ham to win 2-1 @18/1 (19)
1 point on West Ham to win 1-0 and Obiang to score the goal @300-1 (301)
1 point on West Ham to win 1-0 and Payet to score the goal @100-1 (101)
1 point on West Ham to win 1-0 and Antonio to score the goal @100-1 (101)
1 point on West Ham to win the game and Obiang to score anytime @70/1 (71)

Total stake = 20 points, reducing our balance to 81.

Very simply, if we win or draw the game then we are up on the day. The best result for us with these bets is a 1-0 victory with Pedro Obiang scoring the goal. That would give us a total return of 421.5 points, with six of our eleven bets winning. Not really likely, but it gives us a bit of fun whilst watching the game, especially if it remains goalless for some time. If we lose the game then we lose our total stake of 20 points.

In any event I am hoping for a win, and at the very least a draw. Optimistic as ever, I know.

What are the chances?

Matchday: Spurs versus West Ham

Preparing the sparrow’s wings and the crow’s arse for the annual visit to White Hart Lane.

Tottenham West HamTo the combatants and the committed a West Ham versus Spurs derby is one of the biggest games of the season. To the outsider it is simply another Premier League fixture. Tottenham may pretend that it is not so important to them but losing to their noisy neighbour always hits them hard. They regard West Ham with the same self-appointed conceit and arrogance that Arsenal view them with; as the Gunners pursue their main London rivalry with Chelsea.

In wider footballing circles the two clubs meeting in today’s late kick-off are, at best, part of the chasing pack that occasionally threaten but ultimately disappoint. They are like two old actors who love to reminisce about past glories and the good old days. If you took the combined trophy room silverware from the last 50 or so years to a car boot sale then it would barely fill a couple of carrier bags.

Against all the evidence, however, both clubs have lofty ambitions; a future where super-sized stadia thrust them into the big time of perpetual Champion’s League qualification. That both sets of owners and supporters see themselves as pretenders to the crown of ‘top team in London’ ensures that tensions are kept on simmer and that success in this fixture remains a priority of the highest order.

They are solid, they are electric, but we have improved and if we play good, we have a chance.

– Slaven Bilic

Tottenham’s unwarranted and overblown opinion of themselves has frequently been the source of great amusement but the fly in that particular ointment is current manager Mauricio Pochettino. The Argentine has elected to follow a build an effective team route of management over the long standing tradition of assembling a squad of expensive misfiring prima donnas. The sooner that Mauricio is poached by a proper big club the better.

Head to Head

One of our longest running rivalries, the following statistics exclude meetings in the Southern League and war-time cups. Our record at White Hart Lane is not good with only one league win in the last 14 visits. Slaven Bilic made his West Ham debut at White Hart Lane in February 1996 – a 1-0 victory courtesy of a Dani goal.

 

P

W

D

L

F

A

Sequence

Home

66

27

19

20

97

88

WLWLWL

Away

66

15

17

34

85

120

LDWWLD

 

132

42

36

54

182

208

 

Team News

No fresh injury concerns reported for West Ham although Mark Noble is suspended. Winston Reid has recovered the hamstring injury that prevented him travelling to play in New Zealand’s world cup games with New Caledonia and supposedly Diafra Sakho is finally fit, at least physically, and may well find a place on the bench.

I guess it will be 3 at the back again with Antonio and Cresswell as wing-backs, Fernandes coming in for Noble and Ayew up front. This formation raises concerns given the way Tottenham like to get their full-backs forward.

Every time we play and compete in the Premier League, the opponent takes the game like a derby or a final. That is good. This is another derby, another final for us.

– Mauricio Pochettino

Tottenham have a number of injury concerns with Alderweireld and Lamela out and late fitness tests for Alli, Denbele, Rose and Eriksen. A Champion’s League fixture on Tuesday may influence how many are risked today.

Arguably a good time to play them and end their unbeaten start to the season as Tottenham do not have strength in depth but similar injury-hit opposition situations have worked against us in the past.

Man in the Middle

A first encounter of the season today with referee Mike Dean from The Wirral. Dean has 49 Yellows and 2 Reds from 11 games in this year’s account and was most recently involved with West Ham in the final Boleyn Ground match against Manchester United.

The Lawro Challenge – Week 12

Showing Lawro how predictions should really be done!

Lawro Crystal BallEleven rounds of games in the Premier League have now been completed. That means we have now predicted the results of 110 matches. Lawro has narrowed the gap at the top of the prediction league once again this week.

Week 11 turned out to be one of the more unpredictable weeks in which Rich scored a forgettable 5 points, Geoff an embarrassing 3 points, while Lawro had the best total again with 6 points. In this challenge we award one point for a correct result, and a further two points (making three in total) if the score prediction is spot on.

 

Rich

Geoff

Lawro

Total after 10 weeks

80

58

76

Score in week 11

5

3

6

Total after 11 weeks

85

61

82

 

 

 

 

Predictions – Week 12

 

 

 

 

Rich

Geoff

Lawro

SATURDAY

 

 

 

Man U v Arsenal

1-1

1-2

1-1

Palace v Man City

1-2

1-3

0-2

Everton v Swansea

2-0

2-0

2-1

Southampton v Liverpool

2-2

2-2

1-2

Stoke v Bournemouth

2-1

1-1

1-1

Sunderland v Hull

1-0

2-0

2-0

Watford v Leicester

2-1

1-1

0-2

Tottenham v West Ham

0-1

3-3

2-0

SUNDAY

 

 

 

Middlesbrough v Chelsea

1-2

0-3

0-2

MONDAY

 

 

 

WBA v Burnley

2-1

1-0

2-0

Tottenham v West Ham preview

‘Twas The Night Before Tottenham

Tottenham West Ham

With Christmas approaching fast I was reminded this week of the famous Christmas poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” which later became more famously known as “Twas The Night Before Christmas”. It was reputedly written by Clement Clarke Moore who was an American professor of Divinity and Biblical Learning in New York in the early nineteenth century, although it is still debated as to whether or not he actually wrote it.

Last season when I wrote a regular column in the fanzine Over Land and Sea, I was inspired to try to emulate his writing suitably adapted for the Chelsea game, which we won 2-1. You remember the one where Mourinho was still in charge and sent off at half-time. There was a picture of a forlorn looking Chelsea manager (although for not much longer after the game) standing in the directors’ box area as his side were comprehensively beaten with goals from Zarate and substitute Carroll. It seems a long time ago now, but it was only just over a year ago. The poem actually ended with the 2-1 prediction for the game, which won me some money on the day when I placed a small wager at 16/1.

I also included the poem in my book, Goodbye Upton Park, Hello Stratford, which incidentally is available in paperback or Kindle on Amazon. So if you are looking for a Christmas present for a West Ham fan, and don’t want to shell out megabucks for a piece of the Upton Park turf in a glass case, or a plastic seat from the Betway stand, then look no further. I have been a regular at Upton Park for almost sixty years, and the book chronicles the last famous season there.

51tht5c1y0l

Anyway, as we won the game, I was once again motivated to write a similar poem for the visit of Everton. We drew that game, so my record of adapting this famous poem was an unbeaten one. In view of the potential difficulty of this week’s visit to White Hart Lane, I decided to try once again, and the resulting effort of my preview to the game is below.

‘Twas the night before Tottenham when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring not even a mouse;

In our last game, the visit of Stoke;
Another home draw, the table’s no joke;
In seventeenth place, after Adrian’s error;
We need some more points, we must play much better;

The game’s at the Lane, with tough games to come;
Just one year ago, they ‘Kaned’ us 4-1;
Revenge came in March, our tactics were clever;
We beat them 1-0 with Antonio’s header;
Going for the title, it was really absurd;
They faded away, and fell down to third;

This season unbeaten, a close title race;
But too many draws, they’re down in fifth place;
Our record at their place is generally poor;
But remember ’81, when Psycho scored four;

In 2013 we were close to the bottom;
We went there twice, you can’t have forgotten;
Morrison’s goal was one of the best;
Vaz Te and Reid, you know the rest;
And then in the League Cup there was never a doubt;
A Maiga header, and Tottenham were out;

93-94 was not our best season;
A very poor start was part of the reason;
They beat us at our place, 3-1 was the score;
But when we went there we managed four;

About ten years ago, I remember it well;
Last game of the season and we gave them hell;
They were close to the top and well in the reckoning;
A win against us, and Europe was beckoning;

They stayed at the Marriott, their pre-match hotel;
But a dodgy lasagne had left them unwell;
Carl Fletcher scored first, Defoe made it 1-1;
But then up popped Yossi, and Tottenham were done.

Kane has been injured, he’s been in the wars;
But Son has come in and sometimes he scores;
But now Kane is back, there’s no time for flapping;
With Walker and Rose, full backs overlapping;

Eriksen and Lamela are always a danger,
And Dele Alli can be a game changer;
Lloris is in goal, the keeper for France,
I’ve looked at the odds, they give us no chance;

Our season so far, a brief aberration?
I wonder if Bilic will change the formation?
Lanzini and Payet have not been their best;
And Tottenham away will be quite a test;

We need to start quickly, incisive and fast,
Be first to the ball, and not be the last;
Play a high tempo, and keep up the pace;
Hustle and chase, and look for a space;

I know they’re our neighbours, but there’s no love lost;
We must raise our game or lose to our cost;
The optimist in me says go for the kill,
Obiang to score and we’ll win it one-nil.

More Statistics!

Crunching the numbers to unravel football’s cause and effect.

Football statistics

At the beginning of the season we questioned the use of statistics in football, and challenged their increasing use. Is there any meaningful relationship between the plethora of statistics available these days and the actual outcome of games? Or are they just an interesting addition to our football watching experience?

I am indebted to the website WhoScored.com, plus other resources, when considering the statistics widely available in respect of football these days. I have looked at a variety of statistical data whilst we are in the third international break after eleven games of the season, some of which is reproduced below.

League (Points)

 

League (Home Pts)

 

League  (Away Pts)

1

Liverpool

26

 

1

Chelsea

15

 

1

Arsenal

13

2

Chelsea

25

 

2

Liverpool

13

 

2

Liverpool

13

3

Man City

24

 

3

Burnley

13

 

3

Man City

12

4

Arsenal

24

 

4

Man City

12

 

4

Tottenham

10

5

Tottenham

21

 

5

Leicester

11

 

5

Chelsea

10

6

Man Utd

18

 

6

Everton

11

 

6

Man Utd

10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

17

West Ham

11

 

12

West Ham

8

 

17

West Ham

3

Shots per game

 

Goals Scored

 

Possession %

1

Liverpool

19.1

 

1

Liverpool

30

 

1

Man City

61.1

2

Man City

17.9

 

2

Chelsea

26

 

2

Liverpool

57.9

3

Tottenham

17.7

 

3

Man City

25

 

3

Arsenal

56.4

4

Man Utd

17.4

 

4

Arsenal

24

 

4

Tottenham

56.0

5

Chelsea

16.9

 

5

Man Utd

16

 

5

Man Utd

55.0

6

Southampton

16.5

 

6

Crystal Palace

16

 

6

Southampton

54.6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9

West Ham

14.5

 

15=

West Ham

11

 

11

West Ham

50.7

Pass Success %

 

Yellow Cards

1

Man Utd

86.0

 

1

West Ham

30

2

Man City

85.3

 

2

West Brom

29

3

Chelsea

85.2

 

3

Watford

28

4

Arsenal

84.0

 

4

Man Utd

24

5

Liverpool

83.2

 

5

Sunderland

24

6

Southampton

82.6

 

6=

Several Clubs

23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9

West Ham

81.0

 

 

 

 

A Few Observations

  1. Only one of the statistical tables is really important, and that is the total points attained at the end of the season. When we went into the third international break last season we were sixth, and eventually ended up seventh.
  2. The same six teams appear (though not in the same order) in respect of points attained away from home, compared to total points, so far this season.
  3. Five of the six teams at the top of the league have also had the most shots per game so far. The missing team is Arsenal, who, as we all know, tend not to shoot as often as some other teams, preferring to try to walk the ball into the goal. The team who have crept into the top six in this table is Southampton, although they only occupy eleventh place in the league at the moment.
  4. Once again, five of the six top teams in the league also appear at the top in the goals scored table. Tottenham are the missing team, but whilst they are just outside the top six in terms of goals scored, they have conceded fewer goals than any other team in the Premier League this season. Incidentally, there have also been the least number of goals scored (by both sides) in games involving Tottenham this season. So, statistically at least, we shouldn’t expect many goals on Saturday.
  5. The possession percentage also shows five of the six teams at the top of the league table, the missing team this time being Chelsea. Southampton, once again, creep into this table.
  6. The passing success percentage figures for the season to date also has five of the six teams in the league, Tottenham missing out once again, and Southampton appearing.
  7. I have added the West Ham data in the tables, and in virtually all respects, the statistical data suggests that we should perhaps be higher in the league? The fact that we are not is mainly due to our failure to turn shots into goals, and our defensive record, where only three clubs have conceded more goals than we have.
  8. The three teams who have scored the least goals, are the same teams who have conceded the most goals, and are also the same three teams that occupy the relegation positions at the moment, namely Hull, Swansea and Sunderland.
  9. I was determined to find a statistic where we appeared at the top of the league and found one. Yes, we have picked up more yellow cards (30) than any other team in the league after eleven games. There is very little correlation between yellow cards and league position, unlike most of the other statistical data.
  10. Whilst not claiming any meaningful relationship between the statistics in a particular match (after all Liverpool had 81% possession against Burnley and still lost the game), there would appear to be distinct similarities between a number of the statistical tables and league position over the course of several games. The amount of possession that a team has, how accurate it passes the ball, the number of shots and goals scored, all bear a striking similarity to the league position. Like all statistical data, there are exceptions to the rule, but these days it is big business, employing many people.
  11. I have only included a small selection of the statistics that are available. One that always makes me smile (that I haven’t included) is the distance covered by every player on the pitch. Quite how this is calculated cannot be an easy task, and you wonder how much relation it bears to the league table. But the last one I saw had Liverpool at the top for covering the furthest distance. Co-incidence?

England Expects

Can Aaaron Cresswell become the 40th Hammer to earn an England cap?

1962 World Cup Squad

If Aaron Cresswell earns his first international cap tonight he will become the 40th player to play for England as a West Ham player.  The odds have improved for a Cresswell cap with an injury to Ryan Bertrand adding to Southgate’s intention to rest Danny Rose so that he is fresh to face us on Saturday.

It would be a tremendous achievement by Cresswell to represent his country and it always provides added incentive for following an England game when there is a Hammer in the team.  Otherwise England matches have simply become a chore and an unwelcome interruption to the club season.

My first recollection of an England game was an international against Mexico in 1961.  The game played on a Wednesday afternoon was being shown live on TV and can remember excitedly hurrying home from junior school to watch the closing stages as England romped to an 8-0 victory.  I wouldn’t bother to cross the road and watch the game in Radio Rentals window nowadays.  There were no West Ham players in the England team at that time but starting with the 1962 World Cup finals Bobby Moore became a fixture in an England shirt for the next decade.  A fascinating newsreel report of the Mexico game below:

 

Of the 39 players winning England caps while at West Ham only 12 pre-dated  Bobby Moore and, of these, Len Goulden was the only player to win more than 10 caps.  Goulden had become established in the England team in the late 1930’s with  14 caps only for his career to be interrupted by the Second World War. Goulden featured in the infamous May 1938 friendly against Germany in Berlin in front of a watching Hermann Goering, Rudolf Hess and Joseph Goebbels (Hitler was due to attend but Ticketmaster messed up his booking!)    Despite Germany invading Austria in order to strengthen their squad and sending their players off for an unprecedented two week training camp (as the England players marked the end of the season with a pint of mild and 10 Woodbines) the game ended in a 6-3 victory for England.  Before the match the English players had been encouraged by the British Ambassador to give a Nazi salute during the German national anthem as a mark of respect.  Goulden broke the net when scoring the last of the six English goals and is alleged to have remarked “Let ’em salute that one!”  After the war Goulden moved to Chelsea and received no further international calls.

Moore (108), Hurst (49), Brooking (47) and Peters (33) are the only players to have earned more than 20 caps while at West Ham while a further 9 players have won 10 or more caps: Martin (17), James (17), Goulden (14), Upson (14), Sinclair (11), Green (11), Byrne (10), Ferdinand (10), J Cole (10).  There have been 12 one-cap wonders and then there are the criminally overlooked Billy Bonds and Julian Dicks.

If Cresswell gets the deserved nod tonight in what is likely to be a fairly tame encounter I hope he gives a good account of himself and remains injury free.

It is looking increasingly like Gareth Southgate will be the uninspired  choice as England manager heralding a golden era of mediocrity.  It is a Roederesque appointment whereby those in charge appear to have no clue and so appoint the guy holding the parcel.  At least England can’t get relegated.

This Week in Hammer’s History

Plenty to jeer plus a little cheer from the week 14 – 20 November in Hammer’s History.

This Week Hammers HistoryDefeats to the teams you love to hate feature strongly in this week’s ‘Week in Hammer’s History’.  We start with a routine 2-1 reverse at White Hart Lane in November 1982 in a match where we started the day in 2nd place sensing that victory could have put us top of the pile with 11 games played.  Sadly that didn’t happen and, as with most of our opportunities to hit top spot, lines were fluffed and a collective freeze ensured that we would not reach the same dizzy heights again that season.

The West Ham team from the early 1980’s is one of my all-time favourites.  A side with Brooking and Devonshire at the top of their powers brought a famous FA Cup win followed by the runaway promotion winning campaign of 1980/81.  The league was won with a record points total and a meagre  4 defeats is an all-time West Ham record.  However, two of the four losses were at the hands of the same team – Luton Town.  Defeat in the first home game of the season was followed up by another in November 1980 to put an end to a 14 match unbeaten run and inflict a first away defeat of the campaign.  The final score 3-2 with two Trevor Brooking goals unable to save the day.

Some years later in November 1988 we were back at Kenilworth Road which now sported a new plastic pitch.  This was a surface that we have never appeared to be comfortable with and a halfhearted performance resulted in a painful 4-1 drubbing.  See for yourself in the clip below.

In November 1992, with the new Premier League underway, West Ham travelled south of the river to face Millwall in what would be their last visit to The Den.  The game was featured on ITV’s London Match and ended in a 2-1 victory for the hosts; Malcolm Allen and Phil Barber scoring for Millwall with Mark Robson replying for the Hammers.  If you are so inclined you can find the whole of this game on Youtube.

Raising the mood a little there have been the usual smattering of high scoring affairs during this week including a 4-0 demolition of Leicester City in 1968 (Peters, Dear (2), OG), a 5-0 League Cup massacre against the much loathed Blades in 1971 (Best (2), Robson (3)) and a 5-2 thrashing of Wolverhampton Wanderers in 1974 (Lampard, Bonds, Jennings, Gould, Brooking).  The win against Sheffield United (see below – the game was played on 17 November 1971) set up the epic League Cup semi-final quadrilogy against Stoke City either side of the new year.

Finally, we end with an 8 goal thriller against Charlton at The Valley in 2001.  Paul Kitson making his first start for almost 2 years opened the scoring after 3 minutes (his first West Ham goal for almost 3 years).  Defensive errors by Dailly and Repka saw Charlton take the lead before Kitson scored again to make it all square at half time.  Charlton regained the lead early in the second half, Scott Parker the provider for Jonatan Johansson, before West Ham equalised again as Kitson prodded home to complete an unlikely hat-trick.  Jermaine Defoe, on as a substitute for Kitson, fired the Hammers ahead before Johansson’s injury time equaliser evened things up for a final time.

Hislop, Schemmel, Minto (Lomas), Dailly, Repka, Foxe, Sinclair, Carrick, Kitson (Defoe), Di Canio, Hutchison (J Cole)  

This week’s birthdays:

14 November:  Alan Taylor (63)
15 November: Jimmy Neighbour (d. 2009)
15 November: Keith Robson (63)
17 November: Titi Camara (43 – 63)
18 November: Jimmy Quinn (57)
19 November: Tony Gale (57)