Man United 1 v 1 West Ham

And it’s live!………. Not it’s not!

Embed from Getty Images

After spending a pleasant late autumnal Sunday afternoon doing some of those jobs in the garden that need to be done at this time of year, I was looking forward to listening to the radio commentary of our game at Old Trafford. So I came indoors shortly before 4.30 p.m., took my seat in the lounge, and switched on the TV and tuned to Sky. I was going to watch the Southampton v Everton game “live” on Sky with the sound turned down, whilst simultaneously listening to our game on the radio on my i-pad.

I tuned into the normal radio stations, Five Live and Talk Sport, and was surprised that our game wasn’t on either of them. As I was searching for Radio London, who I discovered were actually broadcasting our game, I was initially listening to the commentary of the Southampton game, and heard Charlie Austin scoring a goal in the first minute. Looking up at the TV screen to see the goal I noticed that the players were still in the tunnel!

Then as the players were coming onto the field I heard the commentator telling us they were going to a break, and suggesting that we stay tuned to Sky for the game, finishing with the words “and it’s live”. Well according to the radio the game was already well underway. By the time they kicked off on TV, the game had been going for more than five minutes. The top right hand corner of the screen had the word “live”. How can Sky get away with this?

Anyway, back to the radio commentary. Whilst still waiting for Radio London to kick in on my i-pad, I heard the dreaded words from the commentator at Southampton, “goal at Old Trafford.” Oh no, how can we have conceded this early? As they went over to the reporter at our game, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that we had, in fact, taken the lead. What is more, one of our forwards, Sakho, had scored the goal. This was the first goal scored by a West Ham forward since last May when Sakho opened the scoring in the thrilling last game at Upton Park. It was his third goal against United in four games and his second at Old Trafford. Apparently it was also the second quickest goal that United have ever conceded at home in the Premier League.

I listened as the half wore on and we seemed to be playing quite well. Then, once more, according to the commentator, we conceded a goal because of a defensive mistake. How can we keep doing this? Then, yet another surprise (not)! A Pogba dive after Mark Noble hadn’t touched him, and United’s costliest ever player was booked for simulation. Mourinho did his pieces on the touchline, kicking a water bottle, and was sent off by referee, Moss. If I remember correctly Moss was the referee who sent Mourinho to the stands when we beat Chelsea 2-1 at Upton Park a little over a year ago.

By all accounts we were well worth the draw, despite United doing more attacking and having greater possession, but you would expect this at Old Trafford. Darren Randolph vindicated his selection in goal with some magnificent saves. I look forward to watching the game later on Match of the Day 2.

At the end of the match I had a look at the league table, and had a few “if only” thoughts. How many points would we have had at this stage of the season if we had held on to win games that we were winning? How many points have we dropped? Watford (3 points), Stoke (2 points), Tottenham (3 points), and Man United (2 points). Three of those four games have been in the last three matches we have played. And how many points have we retrieved from a losing position? Just one I think, from the Middlesbrough game.

So despite having what most people would describe as a poor season, the loss of points from a winning position has been crucial. With those ten points we would now be sitting in fifth place in the league with 22 points. Tottenham would be sixth with 21, and Man United seventh with 19.

It is no good really looking back and saying “if only” because we can’t change history and what has happened. It makes you think though. We still have two tough games to come against Arsenal and Liverpool, before a run of four easier (on paper) games to take us up to the end of 2016, and the half way point in the season. Although we have risen to sixteenth in the table, we are still only one point above the drop zone. Every game is vital of course, but the next six games are critical. The table is very compact with only nine points separating Man United in sixth and Hull in eighteenth. Even Swansea and Sunderland have not been tailed off after their recent improved results.

Thirteen league games played now (and only five of them were Saturday 3pm kick offs!) Next Saturday’s game at home to Arsenal is at 5.30 pm, adding to the proportion of games played at a non-traditional time. Now that we have no more international breaks for a while, the games will come thick and fast with the EFL cup quarter final on Wednesday, followed by the six league games mentioned above all taking place in December. Wednesday’s game is “live” on TV. Well they say live but ………….

Matchday: West Ham at Old Trafford

Is there to be any relief for the beleaguered Hammers and their manager at Old Trafford this afternoon?

Man Utd West HamThe West Ham fixture list of death rolls onto Old Trafford today for the first of two games in a week against Manchester United; a Premier League clash followed by the League Cup quarter final tie on Wednesday. When points are at a premium any old straw is suitable for clutching and a Sunday game against opponents recovering from Thursday night European action can offer a glimmer of hope. Disappointingly this was no many thousand mile round-trip to an outpost in far-eastern Europe and a bruising encounter with uncompromising opposition but a stroll in the park at home against Feyenoord. In many ways the worst possible result for West Ham’s hopes that will give an unconvincing Manchester side renewed sense confidence before returning to today’s league action. The Hammers on the other hand have had a whole week to dwell on the late, late surrender of three points at White Hart Lane last weekend.

There were some positives to take from the Tottenham game even if there was no reward at the end of it. As a minimum we need to see the same level of intensity, organisation, pace and energy that was shown for much of last week’s performance. Otherwise it is likely to end up as just another frustrating and barren trip to this particular north-west graveyard of dreams. Playing two games at Old Trafford in four days the chances of getting something from both would look to be very slim. In different circumstances I might be happy to trade defeat today for victory in the cup clash but the desperation for points, in a game where an 8-0 defeat would see the Hammers drop into the bottom 3, leaves the league game as the top priority.

Head to Head

Although West Ham’s record at Old Trafford is quite poor it is nowhere near as unprofitable as visits to Anfield have been and there have been some notable victories over the years; the most recent being the Tevez match on the last day of the 2006/07 great escape season. Before that there were two wins at either end of 2001 including the famous PDC/ Barthez goal, a memorable victory in the opening week of the 1986/87 season and exactly 40 years ago today West Ham ran out 2-0 victors with goals from Trevor Brooking and Billy Jennings.

 

P

W

D

L

F

A

Sequence

Home

62

26

21

15

103

90

WLDLDD

Away

65

13

11

41

60

148

DDLLLL

 

127

39

32

56

163

238

 

Team News

Winston Reid is suspended following the late sending off at White Hart Lane and there is a rumour that Andy Carroll is fit, although this is likely to be more of that fake news that we have been hearing about lately. Of course, Andy is our joint top scoring striker with 0 goals to his name and so the bar is not set too high for his return. I imagine that Sakho will start up front again following his energetic performance last week and maybe Carroll will be on the bench with Fletcher. It will be very disappointing if West Ham have bothered to pay Zaza’s train fare up to Manchester as surely even the most blind optimist knows by now that he is a lost cause; it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to continue to involve him.

“But I see the improvement. Against Spurs I saw a team hungry and alive, the points were there for us in a difficult away game, so that’s what I’m confident about.”

Slaven Bilic

With no right back available it is probable that the 3 at the back experiment will persist with Collins coming in for Reid and meaning that Antonio’s defending will open again to scrutiny this time by Mourinho’s men. One of the positives from last Saturday was the speed with which we broke but that is all likely to change with the re-introduction of skipper Mark ‘Sideways’ Noble into the midfield.

Bailly and Smalling are out for Manchester United who otherwise have no further injury or suspension concerns. Wayne Rooney requires two more goals to overtake fellow baldy Bobby Charlton as all-time Manchester United top scorer and who better than West Ham to oblige in such circumstances.

Man in the Middle

The referee today is Jonathan “Jon” Moss from West Yorkshire (why do so many referees seem to come from Yorkshire?). This is West Ham’s second encounter with Mr Moss this season; the first being the 3-0 home defeat by Southampton in September. Moss has officiated is 12 games so far this season issuing 57 yellow cards and 2 reds. Guaranteed that he will award Manchester United a penalty today (probably for some Ogbonna grappling).

I Wouldn’t Bet On It 18 – So near and yet ….

Looking to plunder some profit from the visit to Old Trafford.

Fancy A Bet

Last week we had 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.

If the score had stayed the same as it was at half time then our return would have been over 150 points. If the score had stayed the same as it was after 88 minutes then we would have had a return of 49.5 points. The odds on a Tottenham victory after 88 minutes would have been massive. Even if the game had ended 2-2 we would still have shown a profit on the day. But the madness of those last few minutes not only cost us three points, but it cost us what would have been an excellent return on our gamble.

It was not to be – if we had been participating in the in-play market then a late cash-out would have been advisable.

This week we’ll have some fun on our game at Manchester United. We had a good run for our money at Tottenham and will aim for a similar run and hopefully, profit, at Old Trafford.

16 points on West Ham to win or draw the game @13/8 (42)
4 points on West Ham to win the game @13/2 (30)
1 point on West Ham to win 1-0 @19/1 (20)
1 point on West Ham to win 2-0 at 40/1 (41)
1 point on a 1-1 draw @7/1 (8)
1 point on West Ham to win 2-1 @19/1 (20)
1 point on West Ham to win 1-0 and Obiang to score the goal @375-1 (376)
1 point on West Ham to win 1-0 and Antonio to score the goal @125-1 (126)
1 point on West Ham to win the game and Obiang to score anytime @75/1 (76)
1 point on HT score 0-0 and West Ham to win 2-1 @80/1 (81)
1 point on HT score 0-0 and West Ham to win 2-0 @100/1 (101)
1 point on HT score 0-0 and West Ham to win 1-0 @25/1 (26)

If we lose the game then we are 30 points down on the day, and our balance will fall to 51 points. If we draw or win the game then we are up on the day. With the right score and goalscorer then our profit could be greater. And in the extremely unlikely event that it is 0-0 at half time, and then Obiang scores and we win the game 1-0, then our return would be 570 points. It’s all a bit of fun and adds interest to the game. I fancy we’ll get something out of the game, even if the bookies don’t think so.

What are the chances?

Man United v West Ham preview

‘Twas The Night Before Old Trafford

51tht5c1y0l

Before last week’s visit to White Hart Lane, I wrote a poem based on the famous ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. It almost, although not quite, brought us a famous victory, so this week I am inspired to try once again.

I included similar poems 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 spend big money for a piece of the Upton Park turf in a glass case, or a plastic seat from the stands, 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.

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

In our last game, we went to the Lane;
It was going so well, damn Harry Kane;
Still seventeenth place, we visit Man U;
In need of three points, though one might just do;

We need to improve, be faster and bolder;
Another defeat, we’ll look over our shoulder;
‘Cos Hull are at home, with West Brom in town,
If they win their game, we’ll fall further down;

But remember last May, our last Boleyn game;
They turned up late, by coach they came;
They let us in late to take up our seating;
Man U lost the game, a hell of a beating;

We drew up there twice, Van Gaal was in charge;
And now it’s Mourinho, giving it large;
They’re not really that good, they’re run of the mill;
I reckon today we’ll beat them to nil;

Our season to date, there’s no valid reason;
To think we can win to kick start our season;
Optimistic as ever, we’ll get out of the jam;
‘Cos we are the mighty, the mighty West Ham.

One of my first memories in life was the day after my fourth birthday when the Manchester United plane crashed during take-off in Munich, and so many of their players were killed. Quite rightly there was a lot of sympathy for the club at this time, and they were a popular club throughout the country. In the years that followed, players like Charlton, Law and Best were revered as great footballers, and admired by many.

But the world has changed since those days. Fans no longer have any appreciation for the opposition, and with many it is a dislike or even hatred. United seem to be one of the teams that are most hated in English football. Perhaps it is their success which breeds jealousy, or is it those glory fans which latch themselves on to the club because of that success which so riles opposition supporters?

Are they a lucky team? Have more refereeing decisions gone their way than you would have expected? Have they attracted players that opposition fans just seem to hate so much? Keane, Cantona, Rooney, are just three examples. And for all his success over many years, and managerial achievements second to none, there was little warmth for Ferguson, among other clubs’ fans. And I suspect the same is true for Mourinho today.

But despite all the hatred they have been the most successful club in English football, and they have won more considerably more trophies, especially in the last twenty-five years, than any other team. We have been on the end of some heavy defeats by them in my lifetime, but we have also had many famous victories. The FA Cup semi-final in 1964 at Hillsborough, the FA Cup victory at Old Trafford when Di Canio was not put off by Barthez, the Tevez goal in the final game that staved off relegation, a 4-2 victory in 1977 which also kept us up, the great performance from Miklosko which denied them a league title, and of course, perhaps the greatest of all, and certainly the most emotional, the last game at Upton Park, are all examples of superb memories of matches against them.

We could really do with something from this game. The optimist in me is hoping for a victory. I’m certainly hoping that if we are leading in the 89th minute then we can hang on this week!

The Lawro Challenge – Week 13

In some cases out-predicting the BBC predictor is not as easy as it seemed.

Lawro Crystal BallTwelve rounds of games in the Premier League have now been completed. That means we have now predicted the results of 120 matches. In the couple of weeks prior to week 12 Lawro had narrowed the gap at the top, but Rich found his prediction touch again this week to pull further ahead.

In Week 12, Rich scored 13 points, Geoff 5 points, and Lawro 8 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 11 weeks

85

61

82

Score in week 12

13

5

8

Total after 12 weeks

98

66

90

 

 

 

 

Predictions – Week 13

 

 

 

 

Rich

Geoff

Lawro

SATURDAY

 

 

 

Burnley v Man City

0-3

1-3

0-2

Hull v West Brom

1-1

1-0

1-1

Leicester v Middlesbrough

2-1

3-1

2-0

Liverpool v Sunderland

3-0

4-0

2-0

Swansea v Palace

2-1

0-0

1-1

Chelsea v Tottenham

2-1

1-2

2-0

SUNDAY

 

 

 

Watford v Stoke

1-1

2-1

2-1

Arsenal v Bournemouth

3-1

3-0

2-0

Man Utd v West Ham

0-1

1-1

2-1

Southampton v Everton

1-1

2-0

1-1

Counting Sheep – 11 – The Letters R & T

Do You Remember A Keeper With A Surname Beginning With T?

Counting SheepFor the eleventh article in my feature selecting West Ham footballers that I have seen whose surnames begin with the same letter or combined letters I now move on to R & T. I have to admit that trying to remember players whose surname begins with T has been harder than I thought and despite thinking for some time I have been unable to come up with a goalkeeper. It is for this reason that I have combined R & T for my penultimate team.

So far I’ve picked ten teams, “B”, “C”, “D”, “F”, “S”, a combined “G” and “H”, a combined “J”, “K” and “L”, a combined “M” and “N”, a combined “P” and “Q”, and “Vowels”. So here is the result of my “R” plus “T” team:

Randolph
Tompkins
Taylor (T)
Reid
Ruddock
Reo Coker
Redknapp
Robson (K)
Robson (B)
Taylor (A)
Tevez

Players left out include Rhodes, Reiper, Repka, Rat, Robson (M), Robson (S), Rowland, Rush, Radford, Rosenior, Raducioiu, Thomas (M), Tihinen, Taylor (M), Tyler, Tore, Todorov, Tristan

I’ve probably missed someone who I should have remembered. Would you have selected any of the players that I left out of my final XI?

And who would manage the R & T team? My only choices would be Redknapp or Roeder.

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?