Tag Archives: West Ham

Free Agent Jack Wilshere Pay Per Play Deal Could Fill Leeds No.10 Gap – by Rob Atkinson

Come in, Number Ten

Straight after his release by West Ham, former Arsenal star Jack Wilshere – still only 28 – has taken to social media to stress that he’s been fit and ready to play top level football for months. All he’s been lacking, according to his statement tonight, is the chance to prove his worth. So it’s quite obvious that what Wilshere is looking for is a club at the top level who will give him that chance. Could the club be Leeds United?

Naturally, there are doubts. We don’t know what the issue has been at West Ham, if there’s no chronic injury or lack of fitness or desire. Hammers fan Jack’s not saying. But maybe, in his particular circumstances, he’d be willing to accept a pay per play deal, as the chance he’s been craving to prove that he’s still able to do a job at the top.

This blogger thinks it’s worth a punt. A fit and firing Wilshere would be a quality addition to any EPL squad. I’m sure some enterprising outfit will give him a go and, barring any other CAM option presenting itself, I’d like Leeds to show a bit of faith, which Wilshere could then perhaps repay.

Wilshere – ready and willing

Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything thinks that this would be a chance we’ll worth taking. Your (polite) thoughts?

Marching On Together

Would Cellino Be a Better Bet for West Ham Than Porn Kings Sullivan & Gold? – by Rob Atkinson

Hammers Porn Barons

One of the least salient facts about Massimo Cellino, allegedly on the brink of a multi-million pound buyout of Leeds United, is that he has previously attempted to get hold of West Ham, currently clinging on to their precarious Premier League status. That move failed though, leaving the gorgeous, pouting Hammers ripe for acquisition by Messrs Sullivan and Gold, highly successful in the business of making soft porn available across the breakfast table in thousands of low-IQ British households.

The Hammers will doubtless be content with how they emerged from that transaction and have gone on to break new ground and establish new records under the leadership of their walrus-like manager, Fatuous Sam, the Allardyce man. One of these records was set just the other day when the ‘Ammers completed a 0-9 reverse over two Capital One Cup semi-final legs against Manchester City. It is thought that a nine goal margin of defeat at the last stage before Wembley is comfortably a record. West Ham did make a previous attempt at the biggest semi-final defeat over twenty years ago, losing the first leg 0-6 at mighty Oldham, but reverted to the mundane in an anti-climactic return encounter.

Time was of course that the ‘Ammers boasted a more positive cup pedigree, even ascending to the heights of World Cup victors in 1966, or so the fable has it in the desperate back streets and alleyways of Plaistow and Mile End.  And of course, such conceits do afford the rest of the football world a gentle chortle or two, which really is what West Ham are there for in the first place.

It remains to be seen what will become of the proposed deal for Cellino’s purchase of Leeds, but some Hammers may ask themselves if this may not have been a better option than the stewardship of the porn barons. Only time will tell and the best basis for comparison may well be next season when the ‘Appy ‘Ammers and Leeds will once again be competing in the same division.

Leeds One-Two Beats West Ham as the Canaries Sing Again – by Rob Atkinson

Man of the match – ex-Leeds hero Rob Snodgrass

This relegation six-pointer at Carrow Road was always going to be a tense, tight affair with both teams having their problems lately. West Ham have been racking up the 0-0 draws by ignoring the old Academy of Football tag, eschewing strikers so the midfield can be packed out and generally boring the arse of everyone from Alf Garnett downwards. Norwich have had a dire run, culminating of course in last week’s 0-7 capitulation at Manchester City.  A draw seemed a likely enough outcome to this meeting of mediocrities, the ‘Ammers being impotent up front but tighter than a gnat’s chuff in defence, where only one penalty goal had been conceded away from the Boleyn all season.

Given West Ham’s ineptitude in front of goal, it was somewhat of a surprise when they took the lead after 32 minutes, Nolan keeping the ball in play on the goal-line before turning it back across the six yard box for Morrison to finish close in.  At this point, you might have wagered some decent money on the away side prevailing; it’s not exactly unknown for a team who’ve just been whopped 7-0 to let their heads go down if they then go on to concede the first next time out.  To their credit though, Norwich battled on where they might have surrendered – and the deficit at half time was still just the one goal.

After the interval, Norwich again showed an inclination to roll up their sleeves and redeem themselves from last week’s shame.  At one goal down, there are always possibilities, and Norwich were destined to find those possibilities and realise them.  The comeback was started after 54 minutes by some uncharacteristically nervous jitters in the Londoners’ defence, Jaaskelainen first gathering an innocuous high ball, then dropping it unaccountably at Hooper’s feet.  In the subsequent scrimmage, the Hammers keeper fouled Hooper to concede a penalty, converted by the former Celtic striker to level matters.  This was only the second away goal West Ham had conceded all season – both penalties – but things were about to get worse.

It was the old Leeds one-two that saw West Ham go behind after 72 minutes. Johnny Howson had nicked possession in midfield and advanced unchallenged to unleash a shot that beat Jaaskelainen all ends up, hitting the crossbar and rebounding outside the penalty area.  In the scramble to win the ball, a foul was committed by Nolan, who was booked for his trouble.  The free-kick gave Rob Snodgrass his chance and he took it brilliantly, curling the ball over the ‘Ammers wall to nestle in the goal at the near post. The awful reality was dawning on West Ham that – having performed above all expectations to score once, they’d now have to do it again.  But not a lot was ‘appening for the ‘Ammers, and really Snodgrass should have extended the lead on 85 minutes when he was unable to keep a fairly simple volley down with the net gaping.

It was all over in stoppage time when Leroy Fer rode a weak challenge just outside the West Ham box, worked his way into the left hand side of the area and then planted a low cross shot into the far corner for 3-1.  That was it; the whistle blew and the ‘Ammers had contrived to lose to last week’s whipping boys, demonstrating who really has the problems at the moment.  Norwich have climbed from their relegation-zone berth to fifteenth on the back of this win, but West Ham now hover uncomfortably over the trapdoor, as unproductive as ever and now with the previously tight rearguard starting to fail them.

For Norwich, there are glimmers of hope.  A response like this to the humiliation City inflicted shows reserves of character that may yet see them through.  West Ham, on the other hand, will be conscious that at 1-0 up against a team so demoralised as the Canaries must have been, they missed a great chance to capitalise.  Worrying times indeed for Fat Sam and his punchless charges.

West Ham Crumble Against the Might of the City – by Rob Atkinson


Well, I was right in predicting that Manchester’s Finest would cruise to victory at the ‘Apless ‘Ammers, and I was correct in predicting four goals too – although in the event, a suspiciously offside-looking Vaz Te notched one for the ‘Ammers to briefly haul them back into a game that City looked like running away with.

So, an unexpected entry in the “goals for” column in the Eastenders’ attacking third then but, at the other end, all was class and quality as Citeh scored three purlers, two for Aguero and a sublime third from Silva.  Fat Sam will be worried about the ease with which the diminutive Aguero soared above his lumpen defences to head his and City’s second, but in reality it was not so much how these goals were going to be scored that mattered.  It was always a question of when and how many as the City team did pretty much what they liked against opponents unable to deal with their quicksilver movement and con brio tempo.

The bottom line is, as I have said previously, it doesn’t really matter too much how the ‘Ammers do in games like this, just so long as they prey efficiently enough on the other bottom-feeders of the Premier League’s nearly men.  It’s dog eat dog down there, so if Allardyce can somehow mastermind wins against the likes of Cardiff, Sunderland, Norwich and the like, then they may yet be OK.  A few more fluke results as against Spurs would help, too.

You never know – it may just be that there will be three or four teams who end up demonstrably worse than the ‘Ammers, so another top-flight season is not impossible.  Just – on this showing – somewhat improbable.

4-6-0 The Way to Go for Strikerless Hammers at Hapless Spurs – by Rob Atkinson

Anyone who believes that playing without a recognised number 9 leaves you short of attacking options should have been at White Hart Lane on Sunday to see West Ham, having gone into combat sans spearhead, blag three points from a Tottenham side utterly unable to cope with such a departure from orthodoxy: four at the back, a stifling six in midfield and an echoing void in attack for the once-upon-a-time “Academy of Football”.

West Ham manager “Fat” Sam Allardyce was understandably ebullient after this smash and grab raid against one of the Premier League’s more fancied sides. Said the walrus-faced tactician extraordinaire: “I thought, if Jose Mourinho does it against Man U then so can I”.

Whatever Allardyce lacks in the Special One’s charisma and top-rank winning ability he may well, on this evidence, make up for in good old-fashioned luck. Both of the Hammers’ two opening goals came from pinball deflections and rebounds falling in the visitors’ favour. The breaks they got adequately justified the undoubted gamble Fat Sam had taken, and anyway, something fortuitous was always going to be needed to improve on a blank scoring record for the ‘Appy ‘Ammers on the road this season.

Having ridden their luck in the first half, and then capitally gained on two strokes of fortune in the second, London journeymen West Ham finally sealed matters against the cockney aristocrats with an individual goal of real quality. Ravel Morrison did just as he liked on his way through the Spurs defence before his subtly-dinked finish over the despairing efforts of home keeper Lloris put the earlier, flukier goals from Reid and Vaz Te distinctly in the shade.

For Spurs, it was a sobering demonstration that they have proved themselves unable to deal with party tricks such as the Hammers pulled on Sunday, and that they need to wise up fast. As it turned out, they lost valuable ground by failing to adapt to Fat Sam’s shock formation of packed midfield and zilch up front. Spurs couldn’t create anything, having been denied space in the middle of the park and they were undone by the Hammers’ runners from wide – and by their fruitful relationship with Lady Luck. Spurs will rightly see this as an opportunity thrown away and will worry accordingly about what better teams than West Ham – and there are plenty of those – might do to them.

For the Hammers though, it’s party time. 3-0 wins at old enemies Spurs are as rare as a Millwall defeat without a riot, and they have much to celebrate going into an international break. Whether they can pull off such a stunt again must be open to doubt; the rest of the Premier League will have taken note of Spurs naïveté.

But maybe Fat Sam has other dodges up his sleeves. If he does – then West Ham’s mission to secure another Premier League season in what is nosebleed territory for them, may yet succeed. Stranger things have happened.

Will West Ham “Pull It Off” at Southampton – Or Will the Clean-cut, Virtuous Saints Prevail? – by Rob Atkinson


In a rare look at the no-hopers’ stratum of the Premier League, “Life, Leeds United, the Universe and Everything” will focus today on that most archetypal of mid-table fixtures, tomorrow’s clash of mediocrities at St Mary’s, as The Saints face sinners West Ham.

What? Sinners?? I hear you ask, probably with a bemused look on your face as you think of the ‘Appy ‘Ammers’ “World Cup Winners” and of course the Most Holy Sir Trevor Brooking Himself.  Well, I mean no real criticism of the traditional playing habits of The Academy of Football (Finishing Third Or Lower Since Formation).  Give or take Julian Dicks and Paolo di Canio, they’ve generally been one of the less offensive clubs around, and certainly my own beloved Leeds United have usually found West Ham to be a pleasantly soft touch down the years.  No, it’s the somewhat less savoury figureheads at the top of the club who tend to give the lie to any perception of the Irons as a tasteful family outfit.  The embarrassing fact of a pair of former soft-porn barons as co-chairmen rather shatters any such cosy image.  It’s perhaps ironic that these two share the Chairman title whilst the formerly scrumptious Karren Brady has to put up with being Vice Chairman.  It’s an incongruous contradiction that will not be lost on anyone who used to drool over the non-textual output of the Daily Sport.

In any event, misty-eyed memories of the likes of Brooking, Alan Devonshire, the Hurst/Peters/Moore triumvirate, Patsy Holland (Patsy??  Yes, Patsy, for crying out loud) and even more recent alumni such as Frank Lampard Jr. and Rio Ferdinand, have tended to disappear under the more muscular style favoured by one-time Fergie lapdog Sam Allardyce.  Fat Sam, as he is fondly known, is a realist.  He went for the most direct route out of the Championship, gaining a promotion that, while it offended the eyes of the old-timer Upton Park purists, nevertheless elevated them to the level of top-flight strugglers, the usual high-water mark of their less than spectacular history.  Fat Sam knows that, in this company, survival is all that can reasonably be expected of him, and he has accordingly taken the pragmatic approach to recruitment and tactics.  The abandonment of the old “Academy” tradition is mourned by many, but it’s all about money these days and the ‘Ammers need to cling on to their Premier League nose-bleed status for as long as possible.  Historically, this has tended to mean a few years of struggle among the game’s big boys before inevitable relegation and the start of a struggle to get back.  Such has been the pedigree, for want of a better word, of West Ham United.

Fat Sam’s current problems seem to revolve around the perennial injury problems of striker Andy Carroll, who is hors de combat yet again and therefore unable to provide the fulcrum needed for the Allardyce game plan to stand any real chance of success against all but the more inept of the Premier League roster.  The Saints’ own old-fashioned centre-forward, Ricky Lambert has looked a much better bet recently, thriving in international company for England where he has snapped up a couple of goal chances and shown a happy knack of threading an accurate pass through for runners into the box.  This key advantage, as well as a slightly healthier state of affairs surrounding the home side, leads me to conclude that the ‘Ammers chances of returning to Albert Square with anything other than a chastening defeat are quite slim.  My prediction is a comfortable enough 2-0 victory for Southampton, and the jellied eels to taste sour and as nauseating as they look in the Rose and Crahn tomorrow evening.

The ‘Ammers’ prospects for the season ahead would seem to be rather up in the air.  Fat Sam will stick to his script and he’ll hope that his more effective players can steer clear of injury for enough of the campaign to secure another year at the Top Table.  That’s a pretty encouraging prognosis for London’s paupers, who will be looking ahead at their move to the Olympic facility as a chance to elevate their status.  If West Ham can make that move still in possession of their hard-won Premier League status – well that’s enough to give even an aging porn baron’s libido a jolt and maybe even provide a suitable climax to what has been a less-than-palatable career.

Memory Match No. 6: West Ham 1, Leeds United 5 – 1.5.1999

It’s about time this Memory Match series featured loveable, chirpy cockneys West Ham United, usually obliging victims for Leeds teams of most eras, and notable as lenders of a helping hand towards the end of the title run-in of 1992 when they defeated Man U in a game that turned Alex Ferguson the deepest shade of exasperated purple I’ve ever seen. It’s fitting that I should write a little about the ‘Appy ‘Ammers; at least one irritatingly chirpy blog which claims to support them spends most of its time obsessing over our own beloved United, so perhaps here I can redress the balance a little.


Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink

This Mayday fixture in front of a packed Boleyn Ground crowd of 25997 found Leeds United in a rich run of form, ten games unbeaten since an early February reverse to Newcastle at Elland Road, after which they had reeled off seven consecutive league victories followed by three draws on the trot. The Whites’ determination to get back to winning ways after those six dropped points was exemplified by the fastest possible start. A mere twenty seconds had ticked by when the ball nestled in the West Ham net, put there emphatically by the ebullient Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink who ran at a retreating Neil Ruddock before finishing neatly with a left-foot shot past Shaka Hislop.

And then the game went ever so slightly mad.

Jimmy’s goal apart, the opening sallies had seen both sides engaging in tackles which verged on the thuggish side of enthusiastic. West Ham’s Eyal Berkovic was a victim early on, and Lee Bowyer was on the end of a clattering as the home side sought revenge. Then Ian Wright, no stranger to controversy and the disciplinary attentions of referees, led with his elbow when challenging for a high ball, and copped for a yellow card that looked a lot more justified than the second yellow he got after only 15 minutes, following an altercation with Ian Harte, Harte, Harte. So Wright was on his way back to the stand after a mere quarter of an hour, loudly protesting the injustice of the case and hell-bent, as it turned out, on venting his frustrations on the décor of the ref’s room.

For the next half-hour, leading up to the interval, Leeds proceeded to make a one man advantage look anything but as West Ham pressed them back, causing panic in the away defence as the promptings of Berkovic and Paolo di Canio created some decent chances to possibly level the game. Leeds had managed to be distinctly the poorer side in that first half, and yet – as if to prove once again what a daft game football can be – they hit West Ham with a sucker punch in stoppage time. David Batty appeared to have committed a foul in midfield which might well have justified a booking had the ref not totally ignored it and waved for play to continue. Harry Kewell obliged, picking the ball up wide on the left and mesmerising the overstretched Hammers defence before cutting the ball back from the by-line for Alan Smith to convert gleefully. 2-0 at half time and – for once – it had pretty much all gone Leeds’ way. They had been outplayed for most of the first forty-five minutes, but were somehow two goals and one man to the good; courtesy, it has to be said, of some not exactly even-handed refereeing.

The second half began much as most of the first had been spent, with Leeds on the back foot and defending precariously. Straight away, the dangerous Berkovic bamboozled Jonathan Woodgate, turning him inside out before supplying di Canio with the perfect chance to pull a goal back. 2-1 to the visitors then, but the balance of the play had been with West Ham, and maybe now the momentum was theirs too. None of us could feel over-confident despite a man and a goal advantage, because all of us could recall Leeds blowing such enviable positions many times in the past. This time, for once, we were not to be let down. A rare defensive slip just after the hour from the otherwise excellent Marc-Vivien Foé saw Hasselbaink sprint clear to round Hislop, who then brought him down. Penalty to Leeds and, despite the presence of defensive cover, Hislop was sent off. It was a slightly unfortunate second red card for West Ham, who felt compelled to replace star man Berkovic with reserve keeper Craig Forrest as the calamities mounted for the home team. Forrest’s first act was to pick Harte’s penalty out of the back of the net, and Leeds were 3-1 up and cruising against 9 men. Foé, we will remember, sadly died four years later at the tragically young age of 28, from an unsuspected heart condition whilst representing his country in the FIFA Confederations Cup.


Alf-Inge Haaland

Now at last Leeds started to dominate as a two-man advantage would suggest they should. The best goal of the game arrived on 78 minutes, Bowyer hitting an unstoppable right-footed shot from twenty-five yards, which curved slightly as it found the corner of Forrest’s net. Just a minute later, Alf-Inge Haaland sprinted on to a Hasselbaink pass into a massive amount of space on the right hand side. Unchallenged, he was able to advance into the penalty area and beat Forrest with an accurate shot just inside the far post.

The eight outfield players in claret and blue were clearly finding the pace too hot, and suddenly there was room aplenty all over the pitch for Leeds to exploit, and exploit it they did. Aided by the fact that the Hammers – to their eternal credit – were still trying to attack Leeds in spite of their depleted resources, our heroes were granted the licence to ping the ball about as they pleased, always able to find a man or two in space, making the tired home players work overtime to chase possession as the Upton Park faithful bayed their hate at the referee. Truth to tell, we could easily empathise with the ‘Arrassed ‘Ammers; far too many times down the years had we been in their shoes, watching impotently enraged as some git of a ref casually destroyed our afternoon. It was somewhat bizarre to watch the situation unfold in reverse – but what the hell. We made hay while the sun was shining, and happily the team was doing the same.

The game had long been over as a contest and, at 5-1 up with no credible opposition to deal with, Leeds seemed intent solely on playing out time. Smith still managed to miss a passable chance to make it 6-1 and Clyde Wijnhard contrived to get himself booked, eliciting gleefully ironic chants of “Who’s the bastard in the black” from the jubilant Leeds fans, displaying a gallows humour not altogether appreciated by the home supporters. Finally, hothead Irons defender Steve Lomas allowed his mounting frustration to get the better of him, launching an agricultural challenge in the direction of Harte and duly collecting his marching orders to reduce the hapless, helpless Hammers to eight at the death.


Dirty Den

It had been a strange game, a romp for the Whites on the face of it – judging by the lop-sided score line anyway. But it had never been quite like that; not that our awareness of having been outplayed for long stretches diluted our joy one tiny bit. 5-1 away wins do not come along every day, and we enjoyed this one to the full. We enjoyed it for the whole of the slightly perilous walk back to the tube station, and we were still enjoying it when we beheld the distinctly pissed-off figure of Leslie Grantham heading down the stairway to the platform where we were celebrating noisily. Leslie Grantham, soap-opera legend as Eastenders’ Dirty Den, Leslie Grantham who had done time for killing a German taxi-driver, Leslie Grantham, Hammers fanatic, who – despite being accompanied by his two young boys – bore a grim aspect which looked rather as if he wouldn’t mind adding a couple of Leeds fans to that record.

Tactful and understanding to the last of private grief, we wisely kept our distance and refrained from seeking autographs. It had been a memorably bizarre day for Leeds United and an equally happy summer evening awaited us in the sinful fleshpots of London, crap cockney beer and semi-hostile natives notwithstanding. Dirty Den 1, Dirty Leeds 5.

Next: Memory Match No. 7: Blackburn Rovers 3, Leeds United 4. Another game to give the lie to those who insist that George Graham’s reign at Elland Road was dour and colourless. This televised match at Ewood Park was a real roller-coaster affair, punctuated with some great goals.