Thursday, November 30, 2006

Just a quick thought. If the FA are
going to charge John Terry about what he said then what action is the FA going to take over El-Hadji Diouf's comments?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Was reading the comments page on BBC ceefax page 359 today and a good suggestion for a special mention at the BBC sports personality of the year awards was made.

Tells you what you need to know here over at the BBC

Great example of sportsmanship.

And just to add to my previous posts about refs and about a Mr Rennie:

The Football Association are to look into the Preston stadium announcer's comments about referee Uriah Rennie.

It has been claimed that Deepdale announcer Adam Catterall said "welcome to the second half of the Uriah Rennie show" as Preston and Crystal Palace took the pitch after half time on Saturday.

It is unclear what action could be taken but The FA have confirmed they will speak to Preston about the incident.

"We are aware of the situation and we will be contacting Preston for more information on what happened," said an FA spokesman.

Preston, who drew the match with Crystal palace 0-0, have so far refused to comment on the matter.

Taken from here.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Hot media topic of the week: The Ref.

The Tuesday of this week, the ref was announced for today’s game between Man Utd and Chelsea at Old Trafford. Howard Webb was chosen as the official in the middle of the park and Sky Sports News greeted the news by “reminding” people of Webb’s past decisions, meaning red cards and individual “mistakes”. To me, SSN is at times like a tabloid paper with its own TV channel (considering SKY and The Sun are owned by Rupert Murdoch) and this focus on the refs past decisions are just an indication of the amount of scrutiny officials are under. Saying the ref got something wrong and going through the chant of “You don’t know what you’re doing” is one thing but to try and systematically undermine the guy in the press before the match has even kicked off is a dangerous step. However on the flipside of saying that, there are refs out there who seek the limelight and canter round the pitch as if they are a show pony (Hint: Uriah Rennie). Refs that try and make a spectacle of themselves deserve criticism. It is however those refs that go about their duty and then when they are given a match are criticised or have the attention of the media thrust upon them, then there is a problem. Even up to kick off today, the question was put to players and managers about Howard Webb. What do you think? Will he be able to cope?

While watching BBC London’s news broadcast on Friday, they showed a press conference from Frank Lampard. He was asked the question about the ref. He said that the ref should not be disrespected and that he was there to do a job. He then went on to say that Webb was not a good ref and he would prefer someone else. Thanks for the contradiction. Even his other manager, Steve McClaren said before kick off that Webb was a good official.

This is not a rant posting against Lampard so getting off that point, the game today was not the cleanest of games and in my opinion but the ref handled the game well. Tension never boiled over in mass pushing and the ref made sure players never crowded him by sending away those who were not involved in incidents. Speaking of crowding the ref, in yesterday’s game between Sheffield United and West Ham (have to add, Sheffield’s lack of a cutting edge saved us at times), a decision went against Sheffield in the second half. The players were not too happy and four players started to approach the ref. He blew his whistle straight away and booked the two players closest to him. It was not a straight away thing and the ref let the players come to him rather then him approaching the players. Now I think he dealt with the matter in the correct way and I don’t type that because I am a West Ham fan. This is the way it should be every time.


It’s a shame really refs have become a centre of attention again.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Some small bites today rather then one long rant like the last couple of times. First off the Ashes starts tonight. In my time of following cricket (I am not going to pretend I have followed it 100% in my life but I do keep an interest in Essex and England and know a little about Essex in particular but as I said, I am not 100% upon my knowledge) this is the biggest test series that I have personally known. The pressure on both sides is immense with an Australian nation expecting to regain the Ashes on home soil and the raised expectations on England after winning the Ashes in the summer of 2005. The injuries and withdrawals of players from the England side have hindered preparation but the mindset that the England side will be in is one of complete focus on the task at hand. Last Ashes series in Australia, England lost but it was the series were Michael Vaughan really came to the fore with three 150+ knocks. This series many people have tipped Monty Panesar to be the one who ups his game but for me it will have to be a collective effort from everyone. This whole post has been clich├ęs and sound bytes but I think they ring true. Bell and Cook have a lot of pressure and expectation to handle high up the order and Anderson with the ball could be a real star if he remains consistent. However I feel that with such a partisan crowd and the strength of depth they have available to them, I think Australia will regain the ashes but not without a fight.

Next up, the Olympics. The whole thing is 6 years away but the whole process of delivering the games has got completely bogged down in politics and spin. London’s esteemed mayor has already dismissed the spiralling cost of the games while the Culture sectary Tessa Jowell has said to a committee of MP's that the cost of the Olympics set to go up by 40%. The euphoria of winning the Olympics dried up a long time ago and now Londoners and Londoners alone that are facing an even higher council tax bill. The money sure as hell is not going to come from the lottery as diverting lottery fund money into the Olympics will take away from the other causes it donates money to. People who said the Olympics would overrun when we won were dismissed as pessimists but that particular view has rung true. However this is not the time to point fingers of blame, nor is it the time to hide behind the fact of winning the Olympics is a wonderful thing like politicians have tended to do. Now is the time to be straight up with people and to show exactly what costs are incurred where and if there is any potential for any more major increases in cost.

Now onto West Ham news. Anton Ferdinand has been arrested on charges of assault leading to ABH and violent disorder. The charges stem from an incident outside an Ilford nightclub. In hindsight, it was a good thing that I kept the original article from when Anton was involved in the incident. It’s from the London Lite newspaper on the 3rd of October. It reads:

“West Ham footballer Anton Ferdinand was caught up in a nightclub brawl after someone tried to steal his £10,000 watch. The 21-year-old defender, younger brother of England and Manchester United star Rio Ferdinand was at Faces nightclub in Ilford when a clubber made a grab for his Jacob & Co watch, sparking a fight involving up to 20 people. Ferdinand, who was still sporting a bruised lip yesterday, was questioned at the scene by police as a potential witness or victim. No arrests were made.”

Now if that report from the 3rd of October was proved to be wrong previously then I apologise but if someone makes a grab for your property then you have a right to defend it, don’t you? Anyway, Hayden Mullins has signed a new contract until 2010. I am very pleased for him as he has had to overcome a lot of stick from the fans (mostly for being played out of position) and was pivotal last season in a top half of the league finish. Also Alan Pardew today has said that he wants West Ham back in Europe by the end of the season through either a good cup run or a strong league finish as he put it. Well we have already lost out on our best chance of getting into Europe (The Carling Cup) so to me it’s basically impossible.

To end, if Gary Neville knew Saha was going to miss the penalty against Celtic Tuesday night (according to Neil Lennon) then why didn’t he pipe up and say something to his manager or his team-mates?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

To Eggert Magnusson

Hello. Congratulations on taking over West Ham United Football Club. Note the last two words of the previous sentence, football club. I am in no doubt that you have purchased this East London club with the intention of improving on field fortunes but obviously you have to make some money out of it all. However I do hope that your wage from the club will not be as high as Terrance Brown’s (don’t forget he deferred payments after relegation and then paid himself in full while being one of the highest paid chairmen in the topflight) was but that’s most likely wishful thinking from me.

I have read that in you’re statement on taking control of the club you said that you want to preserve the tradition and style of West Ham play. Good. Keep to this and you will not go wrong with a lot of the fans. I am however unsettled by talk of the Olympic stadium. The heart and soul of the club is at the Bolyen Ground. It is the ground I want to take my children to (if I do have them) so that they can continue the legacy of supporting West Ham. I do not want to go to a new ground that will for the most part be devoid of an atmosphere and its own history. Also retractable seats that will go over the running track and then be moved back afterwards to me does not sit well. I hope the £100 million that was quoted by a government minister about changing plans to the Olympic stadium is true. No malicious intentions however towards the new regime.

I would also like to be assured of transfer funds for the future. The quote I have been reading is that Alan Pardew will have money to spend but how much? I would like to know the rough ballpark figure but that’s a long shot as you would not want rival clubs knowing your business.

Speaking of Alan Pardew, I am pleased to know that his services are being retained and that as you have said you have full confidence in him. I do hope that this proves to be true.

In conclusion, welcome to East London but make sure the club is run in a way in keeping with our tradition. Do not hike ticket prices and do not turn us into another Chelsea.

Thank You.

Paul

(P.S – Please sack the Public Announcer)

Monday, November 20, 2006

Fighting for the Hearts and soul of a football club.

Boom boom on the on the pun there. Updating the site seems to take place everyday but the next couple of days I really have to get on with my uni work so will leave off the long-winded pieces here.

Anyway as you would have already read/heard the Icelandic takeover of West Ham is one step closer as the period of due diligence is over and the monies are being counted after a look at the finances. £75 million to buy the club and the promise to take on the reported £22.5 million worth of debts (loan taken out to build the Rio Stand among other things). Now back on the 1st of September after the transfer window had closed and two players from Argentina players had unexpectedly turned up on the doorsteps of the Bolyen Ground, the news came that West Ham were in takeover talks for the second time with a Mr Kia Joorabchian.

Now my head was still trying to get around the new arrivals but then an announcement to the stock exchange? Things were getting very interesting. Palermo fans on their main website were conducting a poll which resulted in them thinking the upcoming games against us in the UEFA Cup were going to be very tough indeed, due to the signings. Optimism was very high. And then we could not buy a win. Playing well in patches was all right but in a lot of those games during that consecutive run of losses, the side never looked like it would get back into any game once it had gone 1-0 down. Fingers started to point. Was it Pardew? Was it the players? The two Argies? Was it the extended takeover talk and speculation?

No, yes, yes and yes.

Alan Pardew was not blamed due to the simple fact that by sticking with him, he had got the club to heights in the previous season that was not expected at all. The players were blamed due to a perceived lack of interest and the lack of quality in their play. The two Argentineans were labelled as a negative influence on a squad that was tight. The takeover was protracted and uncertainty grew about the short-term direction and long-term future of the club. Kia Joorabchian turned up to many of the home games and was making the news as much as results and play on the pitch were. And then news of a second potential take over came from Iceland. The posters of West Ham fan forum KUMB.com based in Iceland and the Scandinavian countries broke the news (and translated websites and newspaper reports) that a Mr Eggert Magnusson, the president of the Icelandic FA and a member of UEFA’s executive committee was the figurehead of the second approach. This is getting a bit long winded so to cut the story short, Kia was given first glance at the books and Eggert was given short shrift, apparently over a lack of funds. After a West Ham imposed deadline passed on Kia’s group making a formal bid, attention turned back to Eggert was given permission to commit due diligence.

And we are now in the situation were people are now coming out and promoting the guy and saying how much of a nice bloke he is and how impressed the fans should be with his words. Now consider the takeover a done deal and Magnusson is the new chairman, replacing Mr Brown (for everyone that went on the Brown out protests and handed out flyers and raised questions at the shareholder meetings in which fan groups were banned and threatened with court action this is a moment they have been waiting a very long time for) then where do you want West Ham to go? Obviously you want to win something once in a blue moon but how do you want West Ham to go about business?

One way I do not want things to go at all is the way of Heart of Midlothian.

Brief background provided by Wikipedia.

Yes it was a bit lazy by me but I have to get this done quicker then I am doing it in. In the time period since being taken over, Hearts have had 5 Different managers in 2 years. This, coupled with a massive influx of players being bought in from former Eastern Block countries and the interference of the chairman in which he selects the team from time to time (and cost one manager his job when he raised the question of who picks the team) and the fans have got to a stage where they can not take anymore. The catalyst has been the recent dropping at first from then squad and then to a place on the bench of popular player Paul Hartley. Paul’s crime? To question the chopping and changing of managers and the ethos of the club. Hence his dropping and an outcry from the Edinburgh club’s fans. After this past Sundays 1-0 home loss to Rangers, a director of the Hearts board has accused the clubs own fans of racism after they booed the squads Lithuanian players.). That’s stupid to accuse the fans of racism because tome they booed and jeered because those particular players to me anyway represent the ownership and the way in which the ownership has imposed its will on the club and not in a productive way. The club is fighting its own fans as well as being cut further adrift in the league and who is to blame? You guessed it, the owners

Now would this happen to West Ham? Would the team be full of Icelandic players who would play regardless of their quality? You never really know until it happens right in front of you but in my opinion, it wont happen like that and for two main reasons. To start off, Eggert is billed as a football man. Over on his page on UEFA’s site (link provided above) it discuses his past roles within football clubs and his involvement with different UEFA comities like the woman’s division. The Hearts owners are businessmen first and then football people. Tome it just seems that they dangled a knife over a map of Europe and let it fall where it may and the knife fell on one half of Edinburgh. Secondly, Eggert has already given his backing to Pardew and indicated that he wants no part in team selection. Vladimir Romanov has already given his backing to many managers.

After typing all that, who knows really what is going to happen. The only thing I know is if the takeover does go through, I am posting an open letter to the new owners on this blog.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

We played well but lost 1-0. Reminds me of a lot of games from this season but we can keep our heads up after the levels of commitment we showed. Also I made MOTD because I was behind the goal when Chelsea scored, leaning on the wall with a Cross of Saint George flag. Beyond that the journey home was interesting.......

Anyway, onto something that got me thinking. The commentator on MOTD to describe Reading player Stephen Hunt (the guy who collided with Chelsea goalkeeper
Petr Cech) said that his performance was showing everyone, and I quote:

“What a genuine little player he is”

At first I thought it was a bit of a strange way to describe someone. If he is out on the pitch, kicking the ball then what the hell is he meant to be? Be then if you engage the brain he was referring to Hunt as a player who had been overshadowed by the Cech incident and was now showing people that he has much more to him then the infamous event. Seeing as I have started on Hunt, I may as well continue on this theme and take a look at Reading.

They came to Upton Park and won 1-0. Well most teams during that run of bad results were but it was through having one or two shots on goal the whole game in which they got the 3 points. The South Korean forward Seol Ki-Hyeon was a tormentor of the crowd all game (who in return were chanting DVD) and Sidwell was playing out of his skin, especially when he rescued the win in the final minutes with a goal line clearance. But from watching Reading in that game you could tell that they were going to be safe this year. The way they played through runners out wide and counter attacking but not exactly sitting back for 90minutes was very reminiscent of Wigan last year, and Bolton before them (well… half and half) and so on. It is a trait of teams that gain promotion nowadays that at least one team will stay up through their hard graft and determination. The Wigan and Reading link is painfully obvious but it rings true in other ways then just style of play. There are the untested group of players in the topflight, the buying big (in a lower league sense) of immerging talent like Lita joining Reading for £1 million. There are the managers of both sides who have had previous experience of managing in the top flight.

Oh and having a wealthy backer (speaking of which, it’s a bit ironic to me that Dave Whelan, Wigan chairman company and owner of JJB, the sports clothes store is kit maker for Leciester City. Now whenever a fan buys their team shirt, they are funding Wigan Athletic) always helps. Then there is the movement from old grounds into new homes. I have been to both the JJB Stadium and the Majdeski Stadium (funny that both are named after their owners) and to not be bias but all the times I have been to these grounds, the atmosphere has been lacking from the home fans. True you could say that home fans for the majority are usually very quite but at a Championship (old first division, old second division) level, when you have to give away a whole stand running along side the pitch (7000 at Wigan) and the whole end behind the goal (5000 at reading) then you have to wonder about fan base. As you can see already I have got a bit sidetracked from Reading by involving Wigan more so I shall leave Wigan alone and get back to Reading.

The first time I was there me, my brother and dad were in among the home fans close to the West Ham fans. A dire performance from us resulted in a 2-0 loss. After a blunder from Dailly and Bywater for the first goal I could not stay quite and after everyone had finished celebrating I stood up and shouted myself stupid. Not the best idea really but you are not going to get any trouble at Reading. Like Charlton it is very much a family club. I would have to check but swearing is possibly an offence and being thrown out is the consequence. Anyway second time round it was just me and my dad and this time we got free Easter eggs and seats with the other Hammers. Freddy Ljungberg missed an open goal in the FA Cup game that day away to Bolton and after watching that game and taking in the leaflet we had been handed. Sit down if you love your club said the leaflet in bold and it was Reading telling us that by standing, West Ham will get less tickets next time round. Well everyone stood so it will be interesting to see if there is a reduction in allocation for the game on the 1st January. Anyway we lost 3-1. Biggest mistake was to play Mullins out of position on the right and have him mark Dave Kitson at set plays. Kitson scored two headers from two set pieces. Elliot Ward came on for the final 10minutes for his first appearance in the claret and blue but by then it was all over. Going back to my point about atmosphere, there was a drumbeat played around the ground for the Reading fans to clap along to. The only problem is you could not see a drum anyway. Were Reading playing a drum beat through the tannoy system to get people going? I wouldn’t put it pass them. Now compare that to this season. The “big” games have been on TV but the crowd has been buzzing and the ground is now full for every game, a vast difference from 2005.

What does the future hold for Reading? Survival this season and then a very interesting summer transfer window.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Want to take over West Ham?

Then click the link and download the club's results for the financial year ended 31 May 2006. Find a backer and away you go. Good luck.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Hello there. I had been thinking about making a blog of my own for some time and here it is. Over the coming weeks (as over a month or so I will possibly lose interest in this blogging lark) I will comment on events in the world of sports. Well when I say sports I mean football. From time to time there will be a token sport for the politically-correct idiots like Cricket...... or Rugby. Anyway onwards and upwards. Well I say upwards but now is as good a time as any to mention the team I support.

Hi my name is Paul and I support West Ham United.

There. Now I can get on with the business of posting bias stuff to do with the footballing world in general. First up, this weekends game between West Ham, the club from a working class background vs Chelsea, the club in the upper class stretch of the capital. Times change though and this is no longer the obvious clash of classes in society. Ever since a certain Russian invested in our West London rivals, this fixture has taken on an even bigger meaning. Since the creation of the Premiership, everyone has played catch up to Manchester United. Now Chelsea have overtaken Man Utd and that in turn has led to the old stereotypes being banded about by rival fans and Chelsea fans alike. Fickle fans, glory hunters, jealously, bitterness etc. The truth is however and this is a point that Chelsea fans have to concede is that with the success does indeed come the fair weather fan. In my experience of being at Stamford Bridge when we got spanked 4-1, the middle tiers on both sides of the pitch emptied at half time completely to get back into the corporate boxes. This is obviously where a football club makes a lot of money but to have 10,000 or so people as corporates? Speaking of fair weather fans, even Mr Mourinho has said that the Chelsea fans are too silent

Before I continue I am going to be lazy and take all the links to news stories from skysports.com today. Carrying on, Chelsea have made the news for a couple of reasons. Apparent death threats against Reading players Stephen Hunt and Ibrahima Sonko for their parts in the injuries to Chelsea goalkeepers Petr Cech and Carlo Cudicini. Chelsea have promised to help if needed by the police and have distanced themselves from the actions of those who wrote the letters. Good.

and the former Manchester United "player" John Obi Mikel. His attitude in training has gone over like a Paul Ince plea to the West Ham fans for forgiveness. Showdown talks today with Jose and the agent in tow have produced no further news but looking at Jose's past stance on people with poor attitudes within the Chelsea squad (IE Glen Johnson) it could be a long spell on the sidelines for the former Manc.

But enough about Chelsea, its time for my beloved Hammers. Well what can I say? The season has been........head scratching to be honest. It would have been a good idea to start this blog at the start of the season so I could look back and see my thoughts on everything that has happened. Starting with a win against Wasps on the first day of the season up to two Argies coming out of nowhere, to takeover talks and a trip to Palermo. Take all of that and then factor in an 8 match losing streak, out of the Carling cup and the bother (and win don't forget) against Arsenal. And to think it’s only November. Still I have not mentioned West Ham this coming Saturday and now I will. The most interesting aspect for me is who is injured and who is not. Reo-Coker, Ferdinand, Collins and Gabbidon all did not play for their countries this week and Benayoun played through the pain barrier and scored for his country. Plus the reserves lost 4-1 away to Fulham on Tuesday. Now you might think that is not important but there is one name missing from the team that has played the last two reserve games, Javier Mascherano.

For once its not skysports! Anyway that could signal a start or at least a place on the bench (again) against Chelsea. My opinion is that he will start and West Ham will flood the midfield but not in the way we did against Arsenal. Against the likes of Ballack and Essien, West Ham will have to stifle the creativity with more then one central holding midfielder. My team would be:

Green

Spector
Ferdinand (if not fit then Collins)
Gabbidon
Konchesky

Bowyer
Mascherano
Mullins
Reo-Coker
Etherington

Zamora

Bench: Carroll, Paintsil, Benayoun, Harewood, Sheringham

If we are to have any chance, stifle the Chelsea midfield. Let Jose trot out the old "parked a bus in front of the goal" comment after the game but to be honest I would be very happy with one point. Well this post has gone on a long time. So much more to go into but its taken up enough of my time to get to where I am at the moment so with a bit of wishful thinking and a bit of praying to something or someone, we shall play with a bit of dignity.

Prediction? 3-1 to Chelsea.

Oh and here is a first mention of Lampard.........

Wanker (now wasn’t that predictable?)