All the early team news and background for Saturday's third league match of
the new 2008/09 season
Barclays Premier League
West Ham United v Blackburn Rovers
Saturday 30 August
Referee: Mike Riley
WHUTV - Full audio commentary
* Alan Curbishley welcomes back a number of players to the squad that beat
Macclesfield Town 4-1 on Wednesday night for the visit of Paul Ince's
Blackburn Rovers. West Ham United are looking to make it three home wins in
three in all competitions while Rovers are aiming for their second away win
of the campaign.
* Curbishley said: "Paul has had a decent start and I am pleased that
someone has been promoted from the lower leagues into the Premier League.
Finishing as a player, going into the lower leagues to cut your teeth and
then get moved up. That used to be the route. I think it is hopefully a
positive move and we are going to get some more young managers coming
through. He has had a decent start and we look forward to the game."
* Ince, speaking to Blackburn's official website, said: "It isn't about West
Ham and Paul Ince and what reaction I get; it's about my players going out
there and putting in a performance and coming away with some points. I
started there as a player and it will be a proud moment going back there as
a manager. I was at the club from the age of nine so of course I want them
to do well, but not this Saturday."
* Both teams go into the match having put four past lower-league opposition
in the Carling Cup second round in midweek. United saw off the challenge of
Macclesfield Town after extra time while Rovers beat Grimsby Town by the
* A win for the home side on Saturday would take them to six points from
three games and be their best start to a top-flight campaign in nine years.
If Rovers triumph it would take them to seven points and be their best start
to a league season since 1997.
* In the teams' two meetings last term, United came out on top, winning 1-0
at Ewood Park in December followed up by a 2-1 win at the Boleyn Ground in
* Dean Ashton enjoyed a good return against Rovers in those games. He scored
the only goal in the away win and then notched the first in the 2-1 victory
in east London.
* West Ham United have enjoyed recent good fortune against the Lancashire
club, winning the last five meetings between the sides in all competitions.
* That run included the 2-1 at victory at Ewood Park in March 2007 that
kick-started their season and saw them go on to win six of their last eight
remaining matches to dramatically avoid relegation.
* However, Blackburn Rovers have also enjoyed playing United in recent times
and have scored more Premier League goals against them than any other club
* Both teams enjoy a break next week for the international fixtures, so the
next match West Ham United face is a trip to the Hawthorns to play West
Bromwich Albion on Saturday 13 September. Rovers will face Arsenal at Ewood
Park on the same day.
Last time out
Wednesday 27 August - West Ham United 4-1 Macclesfield Town
West Ham United: Green, Behrami (Hines 27), Davenport, Upson, McCartney
(Reid 55), Faubert, Mullins, Bowyer, Boa Morte, Ashton, Sears (Cole 58).
Subs not used: Lastuvka, Spence, Widdowson, Parker
Goals: Bowyer 74, Cole 100, Hines 105, Reid 117
Wednesday 27 August - Blackburn Rovers 4-1 Grimsby Town
Blackburn Rovers: Brown, Simpson, Khizanishvili (Judge 67), Treacy, Emerton
(Gallagher 70), Mokoena, Tugay, Pederson (Marshall 77), Villanueva,
Subs not used: Robinson, Santa Cruz, Kane, Hodge
Goals: Villanueva 18, Derbyshire 32, Emerton 39, Derbyshire 55
* Lucas Neill, Scott Parker, Matthew Etherington and Mark Noble, after his
one-match midweek ban, are all back in starting contention. Neill is set to
face the side he used to captain, before his move to east London. Craig
Bellamy could also be set to face his former club with Curbishley admitting
the striker is "looking sharp".
* This could mean the manager has plenty of options up front as Dean Ashton
and Carlton Cole both featured in the side's midweek win, with the latter
having recovered from the knock he received last weekend at Manchester City.
* At the back, Valon Behrami should also be fine after coming off against
Macclesfield Town with a broken tooth. Behrami has been playing at
right-back so far this season with Neill filling in at left-back, although
George McCartney is also available after recovering from a virus.
* Luis Boa Morte will also be pushing to keep his place in the team after an
energetic display in the Carling Cup on a night when Lee Bowyer proved key
to the victory. Despite being out for more than six months, he played for
the full 120 minutes.
* Curbishley should have James Collins and James Tomkins back in contention
after the international break.
* Jonathan Spector is due back at Chadwell Heath next month to continue his
rehabilitation from hip surgery with Danny Gabbidon (abdominal), Kieron Dyer
(double leg break) and Jack Collison (knee) the only other absentees.
* Blackburn Rovers could have two players making their debuts at the Boleyn
Ground; Australian international Vince Grella has received clearance and
could play alongside fellow new boy Keith Andrew, who has signed from Ince's
previous club, MK Dons.
* Another new face, Chilean Carlos Villanueva will look to continue his
goalscoring form from their midweek Carling Cup win.
* West Ham United took the spoils in both last season's fixtures. The Ewood
Park game on 9 December 2007 ended 1-0 with Dean Ashton, on as a half-time
substitute, grabbing the only goal of the game on a chilly Sunday evening in
* Saturday 15 March 2008 saw a slightly more open affair at the Boleyn
Ground. Ashton equalised Roque Santa Cruz's early strike with a goal from
the edge of the area in the 39th minute. That game, however, may be
remembered by many for a slightly different reason as 18-year-old Academy
graduate Freddie Sears marked his debut appearance with the winning goal.
The substitute followed up his own shot to score with a diving header past
Brad Friedel in the 81st minute.
* The lineups for the last meeting were:
West Ham United: Green, Neill, Ferdinand, Spector, McCartney, Solano (Sears
75), Parker (Noble 75), Mullins, Ljungberg (Pantsil 88), Ashton, Zamora
Subs not used: Wright, Tomkins
Goals: Ashton 39, Sears 81
Blackburn Rovers: Friedel, Emerton (Khizanishvili 46), Samba, Ooijer,
Warnock, Bentley, Reid, Dunn (Derbyshire 71), Pedersen (McCarthy 90),
Roberts, Santa Cruz
Subs not used: Brown, Mokoena
Goal: Santa Cruz 19
Head to head (last six meetings, league unless stated)
15 March 2008 - West Ham United 2-1 Blackburn Rovers
09 December 2007 - Blackburn Rovers 0-1 West Ham United
17 March 2007 - Blackburn Rovers 1-2 West Ham United
29 October 2006 - West Ham United 2-1 Blackburn Rovers
28 January 2006 - West Ham United 4-2 Blackburn Rovers (FA Cup)
10 December 2005 - Blackburn Rovers 3-2 West Ham United
Overall record v Blackburn Rovers (all competitions): W 40, D 16, L 45
Barclays Premier League fixtures (all 3pm unless stated)
Saturday, 30 August 2008
Arsenal v Newcastle United (5.30pm)
Bolton Wanderers v West Bromwich Albion
Everton v Portsmouth
Hull City v Wigan Athletic
Middlesbrough v Stoke City
Sunday, 31 August 2008
Aston Villa v Liverpool (4pm)
Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur (1.30pm)
Sunderland v Manchester City (3pm)
For ticket information, click here. For details of getting to the Boleyn
Ground, click here.
Weather: The forecast is for a sunny day with some cloud. The temperature is
set to peak at around 27C.
Watford next in Carling Cup - WHUFC
West Ham United have been drawn with Watford in the Carling Cup third round
to be played next month
West Ham United will face Watford away in the Carling Cup third round in the
week beginning Monday 22 September. Alan Curbishley's side reached this
stage by winning 4-1 at home against League Two outfit Macclesfield Town on
Wednesday 27 August.
Curbishley ready for Rovers - WHUFC
The manager cannot wait to get back into league action with the visit of
Blackburn Rovers on Saturday
Alan Curbishley hopes his side can continue their goalscoring exploits from
midweek in the Barclays Premier League on Saturday when Blackburn Rovers
visit the Boleyn Ground.
After his side eventually clinched a 4-1 extra-time win against Macclesfield
Town, the manager is aware Paul Ince's men will offer a sterner test and is
looking for an improvement from his team. "I was looking for a better
performance against Macclesfield, but certainly we have got to look for a
better performance against Blackburn," he said. "They have demonstrated over
the last three or four years they have been a steady, really competitive
side in the Premier League. I think we have got a big game for all sorts of
reasons at the weekend."
After the youngsters impressed on Wednesday, several senior players could
return on Saturday. George McCartney and Craig Bellamy are in contention and
Mark Noble is available after sitting out midweek with a one-match
suspension. The manager was also delighted to see Carlton Cole show his
fitness after coming off in last Sunday's 3-0 defeat at Manchester City
while Scott Parker, Matthew Etherington and Lucas Neill will be fresh after
being rested against Macclesfield.
While no doubt being pleased to key players available again, Curbishley was
keen to acknowledge impact of Academy products Zavon Hines and Kyel Reid
during the second-round Carling Cup win. "In all fairness I think the young
lads pulled us out [on Wednesday]. They came on with fresh legs and fresh
minds if you like and I was pleased for the two boys getting their goals. I
thought Coley coming on looked sharp so we move on and it will be a totally
different game at the weekend," he said.
Having played for and now managed West Ham United, Curbishley knows how
passionate the Boleyn Ground fans can be and wants his team "to give them a
bit more". He added: "I have come to watch games at Upton Park and at West
Ham when the fans are behind you they are fantastic. I look at some of the
times, especially in that [2006/07] run-in, where the crowd were fantastic;
absolutely on a different level. They are West Ham fans, they want to see
their team do well and win. So we have got to give them a bit more."
Former Hammers midfielder Ince returns to the Boleyn Ground as Blackburn
manager - meaning Curbishley will have gone head to head with a trio of
former Manchester United players in the first three top-flight games this
season. "It is quite interesting the three teams we have faced, Wigan, Man
City and now Blackburn are all managed by three old Manchester United
players. Perhaps they are three similar characters in the way they set about
it and you know that he [Ince] will be learning every day. He has had a
decent start and we look forward to the game."
West Ham v Blackburn - BBC
Venue: Upton Park
Date: Saturday, 30 August Kick-off: 1500 BST
Coverage: BBC Sport website, BBC Radio Five Live, Score & highlights on
Match of the Day
West Ham skipper Lucas Neill should return after being rested in midweek and
midfielder Valon Behrami is set to play despite breaking a tooth.
George McCartney has made his comeback from a virus and Craig Bellamy may be
in contention after a hamstring injury.
Blackburn are set to be without David Dunn after the midfielder missed
training with an Achilles injury.
Stephen Warnock returns to the squad, but new signing Keith Andrews is short
of match fitness and unlikely to start.
West Ham (from): Green, Behrami, Davenport, McCartney, Upson, Neill,
Faubert, Parker, Noble, McCartney, Etherington, Ashton, Cole, Bellamy,
Lastuvka, Reid, Bowyer, Spence, Boa Morte, Mullins, Sears, Widdowson, Hines,
Blackburn (from): Robinson, Ooijer, Samba, Nelsen, Warnock, Emerton, Reid,
Mokoena, Pedersen, Santa Cruz, Roberts, Andrews, Brown, McCarthy,
Derbyshire, Villanueva, Simpson, Tugay, Villanueva, Treacy, Khizanishvili,
West Ham defender Matthew Upson:
"Once things settle down behind the scenes and stabilises then I think the
players will be pleased.
"But we're here to do a job and all that stuff is not really any of our
business to be honest.
"It's happening at the club we play for but it's not a lot to do with us and
we just have to focus on what we're doing."
Victory for West Ham United would give them six points after three games and
make it their best start to a Premier League campaign in nine years.
Should Blackburn Rovers prevail over their bogey club, they would have seven
Premier League points out of the first nine; a total last achieved in 1997.
Both these clubs struck four home goals past their League Two opponents in
the Carling Cup on Wednesday night, but while Blackburn breezed past
Grimsby, West Ham needed extra time to see off Macclesfield.
Blackburn have scored more Premier League goals against West Ham than any
other club (38).
West Ham have secured more points (38), gained more wins (12) and scored
more goals (36) against Blackburn in Premier League matches than against any
Blackburn recorded a club record highest scoring away league victory, and at
the same time inflicted on West Ham their biggest ever home league defeat;
2-8 in the top-flight on Boxing Day 1963.
Distance between the clubs: 241 miles (388 kilometres)
WEST HAM UNITED
16th 3 points
Last season finish: 10th 49 points
2008-09 Premier League performance
1. Never eclipsed their best ever start of seven points after the first
three matches of a Premier League season in 1999; courtesy of a home win
over Tottenham, a draw at Aston Villa, and home maximum against Leicester.
2. On the longest current run without a clean sheet in the Premier League of
3. Conceded 31 goals since last registering a league shut-out; 0-1, away to
Fulham on 23 February.
4. Undefeated in four home league games; won two and drawn two at Upton Park
since losing 0-1 to Portsmouth on 8 April.
5. Scored two goals in each of their last four home league games.
6. Not scored in excess of two in a Premier League match at Upton Park in 15
attempts since a 3-1 victory over Sunderland on 21 October 2007.
7. Won their last four home Premier League matches against North-West
opponents; Manchester United, Liverpool, Blackburn and Wigan.
3rd 4 points
Last season finish: 7th 58 points
2008-09 Premier League performance
1. Aiming to match the seven points posted from the first three games of the
1997-98 campaign, which came via a home win over Derby, an away victory at
Aston Villa and home draw with Liverpool.
2. Lost only one of the opening 11 league matches last season.
3. Failed to score in one of their last 14 Premier League matches; the
goalless draw with Reading at the Madejski on 29 March.
4. Lost the last two matches on their league travels to London.
5. Won only one of their last 12 league trips to the capital; 1-2 against
Tottenham on 28 October 2007.
6. Gained only three points out of a last possible 21 against London
opponents; 2-2 away to Fulham, 1-1 home to Fulham and 1-1, home to
KEY PLAYER NOTES
WEST HAM UNITED
Ins and Outs
Dean ASHTON scored the quickest goal of this Premier League season so far;
the first of his pair against Wigan on 16 August was timed at two minutes 59
ASHTON scored in both Premier League meetings with Blackburn last season.
Lee BOWYER is a double shy of 50 career Premier League goals (Leeds,
Newcastle and West Ham).
James COLLINS will be making his 100th career league appearance (Cardiff and
Craig BELLAMY will be facing a former club. The 29 year old Wales
international forward made 32 appearances (27 in the league) and scored 17
goals (13 league) in one season for Blackburn from 2005.
Lucas NEILL will also be opposing former club mates. The 30 year old
Australia international midfielder made 227 appearances (188 in the league)
and scored eight goals (five league) for Rovers between September 2001 and
his move to Upton Park in January 2007.
If on the field from the outset:-
George McCARTNEY will be making his 200th start in a West Ham shirt.
Ins and Outs
David DUNN is a double shy of 50 club career goals.
Andre OOIJER and Christopher SAMBA will be making their 50th Premier League
career appearances - all for Blackburn.
Tony KANE will be playing the day after his 21st birthday.
HEAD TO HEAD
West Ham have done the double over Blackburn in each of the last two
seasons, and are vying for a fifth straight victory over them, and sixth in
succession in league and cup.
Blackburn have lost their last eight Premier League visits to Upton Park and
have not gained a point off them since a 1-1 draw on 21 October 1995.
Rovers have conceded at least one goal in each of the last 18 league visits
to the East End club. Their only Premier League victory there was 1-2 on 27
April 1994; Henning Berg and Ian Pearce were on target in Rovers' first
Premier League visit.
There has been 44 goals in 12 league and cup matches between these sides,
and there has not been a goalless draw for over 28 years.
Blackburn were one of three clubs West Ham did the double over last season;
West Ham was the only club to do the double over Blackburn.
Home and away
League (inc PL): West Ham 37 wins, Blackburn 42, Draws 11
Prem: West Ham 12 wins, Blackburn 8, Draws 2
at West Ham only
League (inc PL): West Ham 25 wins, Blackburn 14, Draws 6
Prem: West Ham 9 wins, Blackburn 1, Draws 1
LAST SEASON'S CORRESPONDING GAME
West Ham United 2-1 Blackburn Rovers
15 March 2008 - Ref: Martin Atkinson
West Ham scorers: Ashton 39, Sears 81
Blackburn scorers: Santa Cruz 19
Mike Riley (Leeds, Yorkshire)
Premier League referees' table
Mike Riley's 2008-09 Premier League card count
Bellamy back - KUMB
Filed: Friday, 29th August 2008
By: Staff Writer
Craig Bellamy could feature against former club Blackburn Rovers after
recovering from a hamstring strain sooner than expected. The welcome news
from the physio room came this afternoon when it was announced that the
Welsh striker was back in Alan Curbishley's squad for the first time this
season, having sustained an injury against Ipswich a week ahead of the
beginning of the 2008/09 campaign. Bellamy is joined in the squad by Carlton
Cole and Valon Behrami, both of whom suffered minor knocks in the last two
games. Full-back George McCartney, who looked some way from full match
fitness against Macclesfield in midweek is also set to be included in the
18. Definitely ruled out however are central defenders James Collins and
James Tomkins - both of whom are said to be close to regaining full fitness
- whilst there is still no sign of Nigel Quashie. Meanwhile Kieron Dyer
continues to work towards a return in late October/early November whilst Jon
Spector is still aiming to return by the end of the year. There was more
bad news however for Danny Gabbidon this week when Welsh boss John Toshack
claimed that the defender's long-standing problems will keep him out until
West Ham v Blackburn preview - SSN
Ince returns to Upton Park for first time as a manager
Last updated: 29th August 2008
Skysports.com prediction: 1-1
SKY BET odds: West Ham 6/4, Draw 9/4, Rovers 9/5
Saturday's game at Upton Park could manifest the somewhat unique event of
both managers being booed by the home supporters as West Ham host Blackburn.
The Hammers faithful made clear their feelings towards Alan Curbishley in
Wednesday's night Carling Cup game against Macclesfield, but he can at least
draw consolation from the fact Ince - persona non grata in East London - is
even less popular.
Ince's posing in a Manchester United shirt when still a West Ham player was
not his finest hour, but then he has never been a man to let the opinions of
others unduly concern him.
His meteoric rise to the highest managerial echelons has been met with
scepticism from some quarters but Rovers' bright start to the new campaign
has hushed the doubters for now.
For Curbishley, though, it is a case of riding out the storm and he will be
well aware a second win from three league games would make a mockery of
those that feel a change is needed in the dugout. Although, another display
in the manner of their hapless defeat at Manchester City will raise the
pressure up a notch further.
Captain Lucas Neill was rested in midweek but should return against his
former club while new boy Valon Behrami is expected to play despite breaking
his front tooth against the Silkmen.
George McCartney has made his comeback from a virus, but the game could come
too soon for Craig Bellamy - who is struggling with a hamstring injury.
Kieron Dyer (broken leg), Jonathan Spector (hip), Danny Gabbidon (stomach),
James Tompkins (leg) and James Collins (knee) remain more long-term
A number of Blackburn's fringe players, in particular Carlos Villanueva and
Matt Derbyshire, impressed in Rovers' 4-1 defeat of Grimsby in midweek but
Ince has already made clear he will stick with those that have taken four
points from six to date.
New signing Keith Andrews will have to content himself with a place on the
bench at best, with Benni McCarthy to keep him company, as Jason Roberts and
Roque Santa Cruz look to further fine-tune what looks to be a bright
David Dunn will hope to continue his impressive early season form as he
lines up alongside Aaron Mokoena, another player who has looked rejuvenated
under Ince's tenure.
Ince has been typically bullish in insisting a white hot reception will not
faze him, as has Curbishley, but beneath the steely facades both will be
privately praying jeers turn to cheers come 4.45pm.
Possible starting XIs
West Ham: Green, Neill, Upson, McCartney, Bowyer, Parker, Noble, Behrami,
Faubert, Cole, Ashton.
Blackburn: Robinson, Ooijer, Samba, Warnock, Nelsen, Reid, Dunn, Mokoena,
Pedersen, Santa Cruz, Roberts.
West Ham v Blackburn Correct Score: Draw 1-1 6/1
Aston Villa up bid for Dean Ashton - The Mirror
Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill is prepared to take his summer spending over
the £60million mark after bidding for West Ham striker Dean Ashton.
Ambitious O'Neill has already splashed £48m on eight new players after
signing James Milner yesterday and now wants the Hammers' England hitman
Ashton. O'Neill has had a bid of £12m rejected by the cash-strapped London
club but has tabled a new offer after missing out on Blackburn's Roque Santa
Cruz. Former Norwich ace Ashton, 24, signed a new five-year deal in June but
the Hammers' cost-cutting measures have since increased. The striker is only
keen to leave Upton Park for a top-four team but could be a shock casualty
of West Ham's financial problems. Bobby Zamora, Anton Ferdinand, and Freddie
Ljungberg have all been offloaded recently to balance the books and O'Neill
wants to exploit the club's woes further. If O'Neill fails to get Ashton, he
is considering a move for Paris Saint-Germain's 29-year-old French striker
It's all dark at Upton Park - The Mirror
By Kevin Price & John Curle 30/08/2008
It's 1994, the Premiership has been decided, Man Utd taking the title with
Blackburn runners-up. Wimbledon/MK Dons are in the top six and West Ham
finish 13th - above Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City and Everton.
Ah, those wacky days of old!
Something else happened that season that made people shake their head in
amazement .. Blackburn actually beat West Ham at Upton Park. Well, okay
we're dramatising it a bit but Blackburn's recent record in East London is
Since the Premier League started, Rovers have only won once and drawn once
in 11 visits.
As one Rovers fan said in a 'things you can guarantee about your club'
piece: "We always lose to West Ham at their place no matter how well we're
playing and how badly they're playing."
Now, normally we like stats like these. Some teams do seem to hold an indian
sign over others and that seems to be the case here.
Yet .. while history is telling us one thing, our eyes are telling us
Walking out of Upton Park following the opening day win over Wigan was a
strange experience. Normally we would have been happy seeing our team get
off to a flying start.
Yet our mood mirrored that of most other West Ham fans that day .. a grim
realisation that we had somehow 'got away with it' and that our confident
expectations of a 'decent' season were no more than pipedreams.
After going two-up in ten minutes and playing okay in the first half, West
Ham were made to look second rate by Wigan in the second period and, but for
a hatful of missed Wigan chances, would have gone down to a heavy home
Sunday's TV hiding by Manchester City just added to the gloom. The Hammers
looked ponderous at the back, like headless chickens down the flanks and
lightweight in the centre of midfield. Strikers Carlton Cole and Dean Ashton
never had a chance.
After taking in Match of the Day on Saturday and then watching the Eastlands
debacle we've come to the conclusion that West Ham are in serious trouble.
We've tried not to be kneejerky and we know it's early days.
But teams like Sunderland, Fulham, Middlesbrough and even Hull and Stoke
look quicker and stronger than West Ham.
The Carling Cup performance against Macclesfield was also poor. It's
difficult for big clubs playing small clubs - especially if they find
themselves one down early. The fact that West Ham came through the tie
reflects well on ever yone .. but that air of despondency got worse with
Alan Curbishley coming under fire from the fans.
Factor into the mix selling Anton Ferdinand - another of West Ham's famed
Acadamy - to Sunderland over Curbishley's head. No wonder the wagons are
being circled and the bookies are making Curbs favourite for the axe.
Blackburn, buoyed by strike star Roque Santa Cruz signing a new deal,
surprised a few people with their opening day win at Everton and looked a
bit unlucky not to beat Hull last time.
Paul Ince must be well pleased with life in the Premier League. He's sure to
get rough treatment from Hammers fans - posing in Man Utd shirt while still
a Hammers player was not the smartest thing Incey has ever done!
- but we've a feeling he might have the last laugh.
The men West Ham fans love to hate - The Mirror
Paul Ince (Pic:DM)
February 26 1994: Paul Ince had been pictured wearing a Manchester United
shirt before the deal went through. He finally made an appearance at Upton
Park and was the target of vitriol. But Ince had the last laugh by
equalising in the dying seconds.
August 29 1998: David Beckham ran the guantlet on his first game in England
following his red card against Argentina at the 1998 World Cup. Bottles and
stones were thrown at the Manchester United coach when it arrived.
October 21 2001: Frank Lampard was jeered by the Hammers' fans on his first
return to Upton Park following his £11m move to Chelsea. He is still booed
for scathing comments made about the club in his autobiography.
May 12 2003: A day after their heartbreaking relegation from the Premier
League, Jermain Defoe handed in a transfer request to ensure him a lifetime
of jeers every time he returns to Upton Park.
September 17 2006: Brain tumour victim Glenn Roeder was taunted with chants
of "tumour boy" by a handful of West Ham fans on his return with Newcastle.
Roeder was manager when the Hammers were relegated in 2003.
The fans may hate me but I will always love them, says Alan Curbishley - The
By Neil Mcleman 30/08/2008
Paul Ince returns to Upton Park today admitting he is on a mission to turn
the fire of the West Ham fans onto Alan Curbishley. The former England
midfielder is still a hate figure in East London after infamously posing in
a Manchester United shirt while still a Hammer back in 1989. And the
Blackburn boss is expecting a rough reception on his first visit back to the
Boleyn Ground as a manager this afternoon. But Irons manager Curbishley is
just as unpopular among sections of his own fans for his drab style on and
off the pitch. And they chanted: 'You're getting sacked in the morning'
while West Ham trailed to League Two Macclesfield in the Carling Cup on
Wednesday night. Ince reckons an early Blackburn goal would start the home
boo boys again this afternoon. And the Rovers boss admitted it would be
music to his ears. "If you are doing well at West Ham, they are the best
fans in the world," said the former Macclesfield and MK Dons manager. "If
not, you know what you are going to get and I'm sure Curbs is aware of the
situation. "I didn't want to say that he'd be glad to see me there today,
but I have been thinking that might be the case! "It all depends how the
game goes. If we score early, we could turn the crowd against West Ham and
that's what we are trying to do. But if West Ham score first, the fans will
be chanting his name. That's what can happen."
Ince knows he will get the same raucous reception today as when he faced
West Ham as a player with United or Liverpool. "I know the reaction that I
am going to get because I have been back to Upton Park nine or ten times
now," he said. "But at the end of the day, West Ham will always have a place
in my heart because I started there as a kid when I was ten or eleven. "I
love the club and I love the fans and that will never change, irrespective
of the reaction I get this afternoon. "I don't know whether the intensity
has changed over the years since I left United. It's difficult to gauge.
"But I'm a big man with broad shoulders, so it never really affected me, no
matter what level the reaction. "It won't affect me when I go back with
Blackburn either, although as a manager, it will be different because I
can't affect the game out on the pitch. "But it will still be a proud moment
for me to go back there, 20-odd years down the line, as a manager. "Am I
looking forward to it? Yes I am, although it helps that we are going there
with a bit of momentum."
While Blackburn remain unbeaten in three games so far under Ince, West Ham
capitulated at Manchester City last Sunday before their Macclesfield scare.
But Curbishley will have a strong squad available today with Craig Bellamy
back in contention to face one of his former clubs after a hamstring
In the only two games the Wales striker and Dean Ashton started together
last season, the Hammers won 3-0. With Freddie Sears and Carlton Cole also
available, the West Ham fans will be demanding goals. "Hopefully we can be a
potent strike force together whatever the combination the manager goes for,"
Cole said. "As long as it is all good for the team, the main thing is
winning games. Even if we are coming off the bench, we have got to all pull
in the same direction and help each other."
Villa line up £12m bid for Irons striker - Guardian Series
8:32am Saturday 30th August 2008
DEAN ASHTON is a £12 million transfer target for ambitious Aston Villa,
according to reports. The 24-year-old striker has been in good form for the
Hammers, hitting a hatful of goals during pre-season and scoring both goals
in the 2-1 win over Wigan on the opening day of the Premier League season.
Villains boss Martin O'Neill took his summer spending spree to £48 million
following the arrival of Newcastle's James Milner to Villa Park. But he is
eager to add another striker to his squad and former Crewe and Norwich
hitman Ashton fits in with his policy of buying young English talent. Ashton
- who signed a new long-term contract with the Hammers in May - was
reportedly linked with a move to Manchester United earlier in the summer,
while rumours persist that bitter rivals Spurs remain interested in the
Hammers keeper rules out England chance - Guardian Series
11:05pm Friday 29th August 2008
ROBERT Green has claimed his "face just doesn't fit" with England. The West
Ham United goalkeeper has earned just one full international cap - against
Colombia in the summer of 2005 - despite his consistent form for both the
Irons and former club Norwich City. Commentators have suggested that Green's
lack of recognition at the highest level is due to his choice of clubs,
while others claim he simply is not good enough to don the gloves for
England. But the 28-year-old has suggested that more sinister forces may be
at work. "I think it's got to the point now that it's clear that my face
just doesn't fit with England," the Chertsey-born stopper, who was handed
his only cap by Sven Goran Eriksson and would have gone to the 2006 World
Cup had he not ruptured a groin muscle in a 'B' international against
Belarus in May 2006, told Sport magazine. "You look at the guys who've been
involved, and they've been part of the set up for a long time "Obviously
Jamo (David James). But other than England youth teams, I've never really
been part of it. Scott Carson and Chris Kirkland have played a lot of
Under-21 football and have come up through the ranks – they've always been
involved. I never really have."
When asked how he could force his way back into the international fold,
Green admitted he was not expecting a phone call from new head coach Fabio
Capello. "To not concede a goal until Christmas would be a start, but it's
just one of those things, not being picked," he added. "I can honestly say
it's not something I'm looking towards this season. "Don't get me wrong –
I'd love it to happen. But to play for West Ham and for the first time in my
career to play for a team that wasn't fighting relegation is enough of a
motivation." Green also downplayed the suggestion that the fact he was not
playing for a so-called "fashionable" club was a major reason for him being
continually overlooked. "I don't know if that's the case. It's not like they
don't know who I am and don't know what I can and can't do," he added. "It's
just that some people rate me and some people don't. But I suppose that's
Blackburn manager Ince hopeful fans will look to curb abuse on return to
West Ham - Daily Mail
By Peter Ferguson Last updated at 11:05 PM on 29th August 2008
Paul Ince knew he would have to brave the abuse at West Ham as a manager
sooner or later, but he probably could not have picked a better time to run
the Upton Park gauntlet. Even after nearly 20 years, his controversial
transfer to Manchester United will make the former England midfielder a
target for supporters who still regard their one-time idol a traitor. But
Ince takes his Blackburn Rovers side to London on Saturday with his old club
in disarray and West Ham manager Alan Curbishley the focus of disillusioned
fans' anger. Curbishley harbours fears that he is being undermined from
within, but the struggle to beat lowly Macclesfield in the Carling Cup in
midweek only gave his detractors fresh ammunition. So if Ince had been
offered the chance to choose by the fixture compilers, this might just be
the perfect day to get the ordeal over. The fans might be too busy jeering
Curbishley to round on him. 'I wasn't going to say it, but I was thinking
it,' grinned Ince. 'Alot depends on how the game goes. If we can get at them
early doors and score, then we might be able to turn the crowd against their
team. 'We did the same at Everton on the opening day, silenced the crowd,
and that's what we're going to try to do on Saturday.'I feel for Curbs
because he's been unlucky and it's easy to forget what a fantastic job he
did at Charlton. He's still a fantastic manager. 'Yeah, he got some stick
the other day against Macclesfield, but they won the game 4-1. He'll be OK.
If you do well at West Ham, they're the best fans in the world. If you
don't, you know what you're going to get.' Ince gets dog's abuse because he
was pictured in a Manchester United shirt before his £1million transfer to
Old Trafford in 1989 was completed, having posed for a favoured newspaper
photographer so he could go on holiday while the move was finalised. The
picture was not meant to be released until he signed at Old Trafford, but a
sister publication in shared offices discovered it and published.
Lou Macari, then West Ham's manager, opposed the move and has accused
Ambrose Mendy, then Ince's agent, of making threats if the deal did not go
through. Ince, 21 at the time, recalled: 'All hell broke loose. I came back
from holiday to find the fans going mad. It wasn't really my fault. I was
only a kid and I did what my agent told me to do, then took all the crap for
it.' But Ince, who joked earlier this week that he could feel a convenient
chest infection coming on, has long since learned to stick out that chest,
concentrate on the game and take his regular punishment. He insisted: 'I'm
looking forward to it. The last thing I want to do is make this about Paul
Ince going back to Upton Park, because it's not about me, it's about what my
players do on the pitch.'You know the reaction I am going to get - I have
been back there nine or 10 times now and it probably won't change. I'm a big
man, I've got broad shoulders, and the level of intensity never really
mattered. 'I started there at 10 or 11, so it's a proud moment to go back
there 20 years down the line as a manager. West Ham will always have a place
in my heart. I love the club, I love the fans, and that will never change
irrespective of what reaction I get.' Ince will probably never be forgiven
by the Upton Park hardcore, and as a manager he has experienced that
comparable sinking feeling of losing a top player, having watched David
Bentley pack his bags for Tottenham recently. He said: 'Of course, if people
want to leave they're going to leave, and you can't stop them nowadays.
That's the way football is - if someone wants to better themselves, then he
Hammers quintet set for return against Rovers - Guardian Series
8:07pm Friday 29th August 2008
WEST HAM should have Mark Noble, Scott Parker, Matthew Etherington and Lucas
Neill back in the squad for tomorrow's clash with Blackburn, while Craig
Bellamy could also make a shock return to action. The Wales forward has been
missing for three weeks with a hamstring injury but is said to have
impressed on his return to training this week. He could compete with Dean
Ashton, Carlton Cole and Freddie Sears for a place up front against his
former club. Noble, Parker, Neill and Etherington all missed the midweek
Carling Cup win over Macclesfield. Noble was suspended after his sending off
against Manchester City last week, while Parker, Neill and Etherington were
rested. Valon Behrami, who was substituted in the game on Wednesday evening
with a broken tooth, should also be available. George McCartney made his
first appearance of the season against the Silkmen and managed 55 minutes,
although he will probably have to settle for a place on the bench against
Fellow defenders Jonathan Spector (hip), Danny Gabbidon (abdominal), James
Tomkins (leg) and James Collins (knee), and midfielder Keiron Dyer (broken
leg), are still out.
West Ham (from): Green, Behrami, Davenport, McCartney, Upson, Neill,
Faubert, Parker, Noble, McCartney, Etherington, Ashton, Cole, Bellamy,
Lastuvka, Reid, Bowyer, Spence, Boa Morte, Mullins, Sears, Widdowson, Hines.
WEST HAM v Blackburn: Skipper Lucas set to return against former club -
By Dave Wood
Last updated at 5:20 PM on 29th August 2008
West Ham skipper Lucas Neill was rested for the midweek Carling Cup win over
Macclesfield and should return for the Barclays Premier League clash against
his former club Blackburn. Midfielder Valon Behrami broke his front tooth
against the Silkmen but should be fit to play, while George McCartney has
made his comeback from a virus. Craig Bellamy has been out with a hamstring
injury but was considered a possibility earlier in the week. Kieron Dyer
(broken leg), Jonathan Spector (hip), Danny Gabbidon (stomach), James
Tompkins (leg) and James Collins (knee)
are still out.
TEAM (from): Green, Behrami, Davenport, McCartney, Upson, Neill, Faubert,
Parker, Noble, McCartney, Etherington, Ashton, Cole, Bellamy, Lastuvka,
Reid, Bowyer, Spence, Boa Morte, Mullins, Sears, Widdowson, Hines, Spence.