All the early team news and background for Saturday's major meeting with
West Ham United v Wigan Athletic
Barclays Premier League
Saturday 23 April 2010
Referee: Alan Wiley
• West Ham United welcome Wigan Athletic for their penultimate home match of
the 2009/10 season knowing that a victory would put them firmly in the
driving seat for top-flight survival.
• Gianfranco Zola's head into the weekend three points clear of the drop
zone and four behind their opponents who will be confident of their own
safety with three matches to play. Hull City are the Hammers closest rivals
from the drop zone, although with a far inferior goal difference of -40
compared to -19.
• Wigan are the only club that West Ham have faced in each of the last six
seasons, as they were also in the Championship in 2003/04 and 2004/05 before
gaining promotion to the top-flight in May 2005.
• This is the 14th league meeting between the two sides. West Ham have won
six, Wigan have won five and there have been two draws.
• There has never been a goalless draw between the clubs.
• The Hammers are looking to secure back to back wins at the Boleyn after a
1-0 success against Sunderland a fortnight ago.
• Zola will welcome back Scott Parker after the Hammer of the Year - and the
SBOBET Player of the Month for March - was suspended for the matches against
Sunderland and Liverpool. It remains to be seen if Luis Boa Morte will get a
first outing this season since recovering from a serious knee injury
suffered back in July.
• Boa Morte's only goal for West Ham came against Wigan Athletic almost
exactly three years ago - on 28 April 2007 - when the Hammers won 3-0 as
part of a run of seven wins out of their final nine games that meant
survival was assured on the last day of the season.
• Wigan go into the match on the back of a tremendous fightback last weekend
against Arsenal. They went into the last ten minutes two down, only to
battle back and score three late goals for a 3-2 win.
• The last meeting at the Boleyn Ground came on 16 August 2008, when two
quickfire goals from Dean Ashton put the Hammers in front on the opening day
of the season before Amr Zaki set nerves jangling just after half-time. The
home side hung on for a 2-1 win.
West Ham United: Green, Behrami, Davenport, Upson, Neill, Faubert (Boa Morte
86), Parker (Mullins 72), Noble, Etherington, Ashton (Sears 73), Cole
Subs not used: Lastuvka, Reid, Bowyer, Spence
Goals: Ashton 3, 10
Wigan Athletic: Kirkland, Melchiot (De Ridder 83), Scharner (Koumas 83),
Boyce, Figueroa, Valencia, Cattermole (Sibierski 85), Palacios, Kapo,
Subs not used: Pollitt, Kilbane, Brown, Bramble
Goal: Zaki 47
Last time out
Monday 19 April 2010
Barclays Premier League
Liverpool 3-0 West Ham United
West Ham United: Green, Upson, Spector (Daprela 80), Da Costa, Kovac, Noble,
Behrami, Faubert, Stanislas (Franco 45), Cole (McCarthy 72), Ilan
Subs not used: Kurucz, Gabbidon, Diamanti, Mido
Sunday 18 April 2010
Barclays Premier League
Wigan Athletic 3-2 Arsenal
Wigan: Kirkland, Bramble, Gohouri, Melchiot, Figueroa, Watson (Scharner 89),
N'Zogbia, Diame, McCarthy, Rodallega, Moreno (Moses 62)
Subs not used: Stojkovic, Scotland, Sinclair, Boyce, Gomez
Goals: Watson 80, Bramble 89, N'Zogbia 90
The teams last met on Saturday 12 September 2009, when a solitary Hugo
Rodallega strike settled the contest in Wigan's favour.
Wigan Athletic: Kirkland, Bramble, Melchiot, Boyce, Figueroa, Koumas
(Scharner 66), N'Zogbia, Diame, Gomez (Sinclair 89), Thomas, Rodallega
Subs not used: Pollitt, Edman, King, Cho
Goal: Rodallega 55
West Ham United: Green, Gabbidon, Upson, Tomkins, Parker, Kovac (Behrami
63), Noble (Nouble 86), Faubert, Stanislas (Diamanti 63), Cole, Hines
Subs not used: Kurucz, Jimenez, Da Costa, Collison
Last six meetings (Premier League unless stated)
12 September 2009 - Wigan Athletic 1-0 West Ham United
4 March 2009 - Wigan Athletic 0-1 West Ham United
16 August 2008 - West Ham United 2-1 Wigan Athletic
2 February 2008 - Wigan Athletic 1-0 West Ham United
25 August 2007 - West Ham United 1-1 Wigan Athletic
28 April 2007 - Wigan Athletic 0-3 West Ham United
Overall record v Wigan Athletic (all competitions) W 8 D 2 L 5
• West Ham United will travel to Fulham on Sunday week for their penultimate
fixture of the season, a day before Wigan take on the Hammers' relegation
rivals Hull on Bank Holiday Monday. West Ham finish the season on 9 May at
home to Manchester City, when Hull will be at home to Liverpool and Wigan
travel to Chelsea.
• Saturday's referee is Alan Wiley, who took charge of the reverse fixture
at the DW Stadium back in September.
• Aged 49, Wiley has been a Premier League referee since 1999.
• Wiley has taken charge of the 2002 FA Community Shield, the 2006 League
Cup final and, famously, the 2006 FA Cup final between West Ham United and
• Wiley, who also refereed the 2008 Championship play-off final between Hull
City and Bristol City, has taken control of three West Ham matches so far
this season - the 1-0 defeat at Wigan Athletic on 12 September, the 2-1 home
loss to Everton on 8 November and the 3-0 reverse at Manchester United on 23
West Ham United
• Carlton Cole, with nine goals to date this campaign, has still never
scored two goals in a game for West Ham.
• Robert Green is on a run of 123 consecutive starts in the Barclays Premier
• Alessandro Diamanti's eight goals in all competitions put him just one
behind top scorer Carlton Cole.
• In terms of attacking ambition, Diamanti leads the Hammers statistics in
terms of shots (81), shots on target (44), shots off target (37) and assists
• Behrami celebrated his 25th birthday on Monday, the day after Matthew
Upson turned 31.
• Mark Noble made his 100th Barclays Premier League appearance on Monday.
• West Ham have scored 41 goals this season in the league with 15 different
players on target. Carlton Cole leads the way (nine), with Alessandro
Diamanti (seven), Guille Franco (four), Matthew Upson and Ilan (both three)
next in line. Jack Collison, Mark Noble, Junior Stanislas and Manuel da
Costa have each scored twice. Finally, the departed Luis Jimenez, Zavon
Hines, Radoslav Kovac, Valon Behrami, Julien Faubert and Scott Parker have
also registered. An own-goal from Everton's Tony Hibbert completes the
• No team has been awarded more penalties than West Ham in the top flight
this season, with nine awarded to the Hammers and seven converted.
• Wigan have Hugo Rodallega leading the way this season in terms of shots
(122), shots on target (77), shots off target (45) and assists (7). He has
also been caught offside (17) more times than any other Latics player.
• Rodallega is the only Wigan player to have started every one of their 35
league matches this season.
• Rodallega has scored nine goals this season, making him the club's top
• Wigan have not scored inside the first ten minutes of any Barclays Premier
League match this season.
• Wigan have lost their last four away matches, and scored just one goal in
• Scott Parker, after suspension, and Luis Boa Morte, after missing the
whole season to date with an anterior cruciate ligament injury suffered on
24 July, are both back in contention for places in the midfield. Boa Morte
played 90 minutes in a reserve-team friendly at Tottenham Hotspur on
• Herita Ilunga (tendon injury), James Tomkins (ankle), Kieron Dyer
(hamstring) are all unable to return to the squad. It remains to be seen if
they will figure again this season.
• Zavon Hines will not play again this season with a knee injury, while Jack
Collison is also not expected to feature with his own knee problem.
• Wigan have central defender Gary Caldwell back from suspension and their
only absentee is Hendry Thomas.
• Among the players who have represented both clubs are Roy Carroll, Henri
Camara and Bill Wade.
• For ticket information, click here. For details on getting to the Boleyn
Ground, click here
• Saturday's weather forecast is for a sunny day with temperatures peaking
Reserve-team striker Terry Dixon has been released after just over a year at
West Ham United can confirm that Terry Dixon has left the club by mutual
consent. The striker joined in February last year after hard work by the
club's medical staff to help him overcome a serious knee injury that had
seen him released by Tottenham Hotspur in March 2008. A Republic of Ireland
Under-21 international, Dixon was earmarked for big things when called up at
just 16 by his country's senior side. At West Ham, he was unable to progress
beyond the reserves, where he made eight appearances and scored twice. The
club would like to wish Terry all the best in his future career.
'An incredible opportunity'
Gianfranco Zola has urged his players to take a giant stride towards safety
by beating Wigan Athletic
Gianfranco Zola believes his West Ham United side have an "incredible
opportunity" to secure their Barclays Premier League status on Saturday. The
Hammers entertain Wigan Athletic at the Boleyn Ground knowing victory,
coupled with a Sunderland win at Hull City and Burnley draw or defeat by
Liverpool on Sunday, would guarantee their safety.
With talisman Scott Parker returning from a two-match suspension and
fit-again Luis Boa Morte back in contention, manager Zola said his squad go
into Saturday's game full of good intentions. "We know we need a reaction
tomorrow. It's a massive game for us and we also know that the last game
wasn't very good and they feel they are determined to bounce back. It is an
incredible opportunity to do that, so I'm sure they will react well. "I am
confident we will stay up because I see a will to react to the situation. We
have had so many problems this year and we are determined the problems a
kick and tomorrow is a great opportunity to do that." "We don't know what's
going to happen, but I think it is important that we focus on winning our
game. That is the start. Then, if some results go our way, it's even better,
but it all starts with winning our game."
Aside from the huge incentive of staying up, Zola said his players are eager
to make amends for their performance in Monday's 3-0 reverse at Liverpool.
"After the game we were not pleased. The players were honest and were not
pleased. Certain things you discuss and say in the changing room and it is
important because it means the players are committed. Sometimes they make
mistakes, but the important thing is that they react to it and so far it's
been good. "We know we need a reaction tomorrow. It's a massive game for us
and we also know that the last game wasn't very good and they feel they are
determined to bounce back. It is an incredible opportunity to do that, so
I'm sure they will react well. Three players who possess relentlessly
positive attitudes are Parker, Boa Morte and Carlton Cole, and Zola believes
all three can play a part in defeating the Latics this weekend. "Whether
Luis is going to come to the bench tomorrow I don't know, but he's fit and
has played two games with the reserve team. The first one he played 45
minutes and the second one he played 90 minutes. The response has been very
good and I'm delighted to have him back available because he's an important
player on and off the pitch. "I've said many times that he's been a big miss
this season. He's already having an impact - just the fact of having him
training with us and having contact with the other players has been very
positive for the atmosphere. I'm really delighted that he's been back with
us. I don't think he'll start the game but we'll see whether he'll be
involved. "Scott is back and it's good. For this team, he is a reference and
when he is on the pitch he makes a big difference for us. Tomorrow, it will
be big to have him back."
Cole, meanwhile, is ready to fire after coming off with a slight knee injury
at Anfield. "Carlton is OK. He's training well and I'm sure he hasn't scored
for a while but he's keeping an important one back for us tomorrow, possibly
a winner. I'm relying on that. "He hasn't scored many goals but he is an
important player for us. As I said, I know he is keeping something good for
The manager also dismissed tabloid rumours linking Cole with a summer move
to UEFA Champions League semi-finalists Bayern Munich. "No. I'm totally
unaware of that and, to be honest, I'm more interested in Carlton Cole
scoring a fantastic winning goal tomorrow and that's all that matters!"
Da Costa thanks fans
Saturday's official matchday programme features an interview with Manuel da
Costa and much more
Manuel da Costa has told Saturday's official matchday programme how he and
his West Ham United team-mates can come back stronger after this season's
struggles. Going into this weekend's Barclays Premier League meeting with
Wigan Athletic three points above the relegation zone with three matches
remaining, The Portuguese centre-back believes the Hammers will be
determined to avoid a similar situation in 2010/11. The defender, who turns
24 in May, is also eager to secure a victory that would all but ensure West
Ham's safety this weekend - strengthening the bond he has already created
between himself and the club's supporters. That bond was evident when Da
Costa scored an important equaliser at Everton on Easter Sunday before
kissing the club's famous badge and sliding on his knees in front of the
travelling fans. "For me, it was like everything that was inside me came
out. When I kissed the badge, it was to say 'Thank you' to West Ham and to
Zola for giving me this new chance, this new life. "The supporters are very
important for the team and for everybody, especially when we play away from
Upton Park. I know this year has been difficult for the supporters, and I
know this is not a normal year for West Ham - they are not normally 17th,
they are normally eighth or tenth. "I think it is good for the team, in one
way, because in our heads we have the pressure of going down to the
Championship. When we stay in the Premier League, we will start next season
remembering this season and determined to do better."
In a wide-ranging interview, Da Costa talks about his formative years at AS
Nancy-Lorraine, his move to PSV Eindhoven and less successful spells in
Italy with ACF Fiorentina and UC Sampdoria. The likeable defender also
discusses his love for English football and which of his team-mates he
competes with at the popular PlayStation 3 game Call of Duty. Saturday's
matchday programme also features the launch of the 2009/10 Hammer of the
Year award, sponsored by Vantis, while fans can also vote for their Goal and
Performance of the Season from specially-selected shortlists. Chairman David
Sullivan and manager Gianfranco Zola offer their thoughts ahead of
Saturday's vital fixture in their exclusive columns, while United States
defender Jonathan Spector looks ahead to the FIFA World Cup. Ilan is Talking
Football, Zavon Hines names his Dream Team, while former West Ham striker
Brian Deane remembers the day he broke his nose heading the Hammers into the
play-offs. TalkSPORT's Ian 'Moose' Abrahams talks to Casualty star Tristan
Gemmill, while supporters can find out more about the club's flourishing
International Academy. For all that, plus the latest news from the club's
youth and reserve teams, you cannot afford to miss Saturday's official
Hammer of the Year poll open
Fans can cast their vote today for the 2009/10 Hammer of the Year as well as
two other special awards
The voting page for the Hammer of the Year 2009/10 sponsored by Vantis in
association with the West Ham United Supporters Club is live on whufc.com.
The prestigious award, which has been won by so many famous faces over the
years, will be presented to the player with the highest number of votes at
the last home game of the season against Manchester City on Sunday 9 May,
having been officially announced at the official End of Season Awards
CLICK HERE TO CAST YOUR VOTE TODAY : http://www.whufc.com/page/2010EOSSurvey
As an added bonus, fans can also vote for their whufc.com Goal of the Season
from a selection of five great strikes and, new this year, is the
Performance of the Season prize, with another five nominees shortlisted. As
usual, the Young Hammer of the Year and the Doris Bell Most Improved Player
awards will be selected by Academy Director Tony Carr, while there is also a
Players' Player prize for the first time.
To help fans make their choices for the Hammer of the Year, Goal of the
Season and Performance of the Season a little bit easier, there are two
exclusive videos available through the homepage freeplayer, which highlight
some of the best moments of the 2009/10 season. You can also read more about
the different categories at the bottom of this page.
To cast your vote, simply watch the two videos, pick your top player and
favourite goal and click here to be taken to the voting registration page.
The poll closes at 10am on Friday 30 April and only one vote is allowed per
fan. As always, Tony Carr will decide the Young Hammer of the Year.
Scott Parker was the last player to be honoured with the Hammer of the Year
award and he knows how much it would mean to the players to be named the
He said: "It is a fantastic award. It was a great achievement for me
personally and I am honoured to have won. It is particularly pleasing to
have won an award voted by your own fans. It was a great achievement for
The 2009/10 Awards
Hammer of the Year - sponsored by Vantis
Young Hammer of the Year - sponsored by Pubpals
Goal of the Season - sponsored by Floyd Investments
Performance of the Season - sponsored by Compass
Top Goalscorer - sponsored by Kinetics
Players' Player - sponsored by Winged Boots
West Ham v Wigan
Saturday, 24 April 2010
Barclays Premier League
Venue: Upton Park Date: Saturday, 24 April 2010 Kick-off: 1500 BST
Coverage: BBC Sport website, BBC Radio 5 live, updates on BBC Radio
Manchester 95.1FM, DAB and online, Final Score & highlights on Match of the
West Ham are boosted by the return of captain Scott Parker, who has
completed a two-game suspension. Hammers striker Carlton Cole will start on
Saturday despite being substituted at Liverpool due to a knee problem.
Wigan centre-back Gary Caldwell is available after serving a three-match ban
for his sending off against Manchester City. Latics midfielder Hendry
Thomas is still struggling with a thigh injury and could miss out again.
Doubtful: Boa Morte (fitness)
Injured: Dyer (hamstring), Hines (knee), Tomkins (ankle)
Doubtful: Thomas (thigh)
Injured: Kingson (groin)
West Ham can take a giant stride towards survival with victory against a
Wigan side themselves now "virtually safe", according to Dave Whelan. The
Latics chairman says the incredible comeback against Arsenal is proof Wigan
are heading in the right direction, backing manager Roberto Martinez to
become "one of the best young bosses in Europe".
It is a different story at Upton Park, where Gianfranco Zola is rumoured to
be on his way out whether the Hammers survive or not. Co-owner David
Sullivan has already said the Sardinian may be "too nice" to make it as a
manager, and appears doubtful whether the cash-strapped club can justify
Zola's salary, reportedly £1.8m a year. Despite a run of one win from nine
league games, the Londoners can effectively guarantee they stay up this
weekend. If Burnley fail to beat Liverpool, Hull lose and West Ham win, only
a near impossible goal difference swing could relegate the Upton Park
• West Ham did the double over Wigan last season, but the Latics won 1-0
when the sides met earlier this season.
• Roberto Martinez's men are chasing a first league double against the
• Victory against Sunderland earlier this month is West Ham's only win in
nine league games, seven of which they have lost.
• The Hammers have been awarded nine penalties in the Premier League this
season, the joint-highest figure with Sunderland and Chelsea. They have
scored seven of those spot-kicks.
• Valon Behrami, who celebrated his 25th birthday on Monday, is set to make
his 50th Premier League appearance.
• Victory against Arsenal was only the Latics' third win in 15 league games.
• The win against the Gunners was the first time Wigan had claimed Premier
League points after going two goals down.
• Wigan have failed to win their last 16 Premier League games in London, a
run that began after victory at Upton Park in December 2006.
Cole: 9 goals (9 league); Diamanti: 8 goals (7 league)
Rodallega: 9 goals (9 league); N'Zogbia: 7 goals (5 league)
Referee: Alan Wiley
Assistant referees: Michael Murphy & Phil Sharp
Fourth official: Steve Bennett
LAST LEAGUE MATCH LINE-UPS
West Ham (L0-3 v Liverpool, a): Green; Faubert, da Costa, Upson, Spector
(Daprela 80), Behrami, Kovac, Noble, Stanislas (Franco 46), Cole (McCarthy
72), Ilan. Subs not used: Kurucz, Gabbidon, Mido, Diamanti.
Wigan (W3-2 v Arsenal, h): Kirkland; Melchiot, Gohouri, Bramble, Figueroa,
Rodallega, Diame, Watson (Scharner 90), McCarthy, N'Zogbia, Moreno (Moses
62). Subs not used: Stojkovic, Scotland, Gomez, Sinclair, Boyce.
MOST RECENT MEETING
Wigan 1-0 West Ham (12 September 2009)
Wigan scorer: Rodallega 55
West Ham United v Wigan Athletic: Match Preview
Filed: Thursday, 22nd April 2010
By: Preview Percy
Don't worry, after this there's only two more of Preview Percy's outpourings
Next we move on to the visit of Wigan Athletic for a 3.00pm kick-off at the
Boleyn. The visitors currently lie in 15th spot, two places and four points
ahead of ourselves. This is at least three points further ahead than one
might have expected three quarters of the way through last Sunday's match
against Arsenal. Unfortunately for us Wenger's whingers collapsed faster
than Steve Gerrard in free-kick territory and the 3-2 victory at the Whelan
Vanity Stadium gave them an unexpected breathing space ahead of this week's
Current form has seen them won two drawn one and lost three whilst on the
road it's been a case of five defeats and a draw, that draw coming at
hapless Pompey, where the travelling hoards from Wigan probably contributed
nearly fifty quid to the administrator's coffers. They may well have a few
extra supporters making the trip to the Boleyn this year. Whelan has offered
to shell out for coach travel for all away supporters this weekend, an offer
on a par with those oh-so-witty signs you see in pubs offering free beer to
all over-70's accompanied by both parents.
Of course when you're talking about "form" in connection with Wigan the word
takes on a whole new meaning. Chairman Whelan, who, as we well know, is
never slow to pontificate to the world, was quick to cancel the contract of
Marlon King when the player was convicted on serious criminal charges. "We
do not want convicts at Wigan" spouted the chairman. Maybe I'd have been a
little more impressed with this sudden attack of moral indignation had it
come BEFORE Wigan had signed the 14 times previously-convicted player,
rather than at a point when it was simply convenient to get the player off
the wage bill. Still King must be kicking himself. He'd still be in a job
had he done something slightly less serious like profiting from child slave
labour like his boss.
The notoriously flexible morals of the club's chairman have been tested
again this week. Charles N'Zogbia is currently out on bail having been
arrested this week for "fraud by false representation" - allegedly for
having had someone else sit his driving theory test on his behalf. N'Zogbia
can take some heart from the encouraging noises coming from the club at the
moment. They're referring to him being "badly advised" and having made a
"naive mistake" - yeah right! In the event of some sort of conviction at the
end of the process, expect Whelan's morals to take another rapid U-turn as
he deals with a player who is actually deemed to be useful to his club,
rather than one who he has been trying to get rid of for a few years.
First to spring to N'Zogbia's defence was his manager Roberto Martinez.
Martinez's move to the North West in September 2009 was not without
controversy. Whelan made his move despite initially being denied permission
to speak with Martinez. The deal was protracted as Double-standard Dave
haggled over a compensation figure, despite having picked up a pretty penny
for getting rid of Steve Bruce to Sunderland. The deal was eventually done
and, a mere three months after Dave had announced to the world that he would
never employ a foreign manager, in walked the decidedly Spanish Martinez.
Martinez's nationality can't have come to Whelan as much of a surprise – he
played for the club for six years between 1995-2001. Still with dodgy Dave
there's always some sort of excuse and the price-fixer will, no doubt,
justify his decision on the grounds that Mrs Martinez is Scottish so that's
all right then.
Martinez arrived with a reputation for turning out his Swansea side to play
football – something of a rarity in the Wigan sides that preceded his
arrival. The change in style hasn't always been plain sailing as their
league position would indicate. A 9-1 defeat to Spurs was probably the low
point of their season so far. In goal that day was Chris Kirkland who, as if
letting in nine were somehow not enough of an indignity, was also credited
with an own-goal in that match. Kirkland's Dad, along with a few mates,
famously stuck £100 on at the bookies that his then 11 year-old son would
win an England cap before his 30th birthday. The bet paid out £10,000 each
when, in 2006 Kirkland came on as a second half substitute in a friendly
against Greece. That Kirkland hasn't gained more senior international
recognition is largely a function of the player's rather injury-prone
history. Interestingly, Kirkland has been involved in a charity aimed at
stopping criminals re-offending. Plenty of chats with his team-mates then.
And his chairman.
In front of Kirkland there should be a return for defender Gary Caldwell who
has missed the last three matches through suspension. The incident that led
to Caldwell's absence also landed his boss with a bit of a problem as well.
The FA took exception to Martinez's accusation that referee Stuart Atwell
was "lying" and acted immediately to charge the Wigan Boss with "improper
Former Chelsea defender Mario Melchiot will also be in the squad for
Saturday. If I have one plea for the officials this weekend it would be for
them to keep an eye on his feet as he sends in a long throw. Spotting a foul
throw is basic stuff but it's something that, for some reason, seems to be
beyond our men in the middle these days.
Against Arsenal there was a start for former Palace midfielder Ben Watson.
He's been out on loan for much of the season and was supposed to be with
West Brom until the end of the season. However he was recalled at the start
of this month and was on the scoresheet last weekend against Arsenal.
Another former Palace midfielder in the squad will be Victor Moses, whose
£2.5m transfer on deadline day paid a few bills at his former club that had
just gone into administration. Moses was born in Nigeria and, like many
players from that part of the world, there has, in the past been something
of a question mark over his age, which, officially at least, is listed as
being 19. His agent, Tony Finnegan, has helpfully clarified the position by
stating "His age is his age and if it's questioned, then you have to
question the age of many other foreign footballers playing here." Quite.
The strike force has latterly had a South American feel to it, with the
Bolivian Moreno (7 in the league this term) partnering the Colombian
Rodallega (12). Rodallega has, along with N'Zogbia, been linked with a move
away from Wigan in the not too distant future, with Arsenal supposedly
interested in a £20m "double swoop". Presumably Rodallega will have to do
the driving if they go together.
And so to us. Well Monday was a big disappointment. The worst Liverpool team
in aeons and we failed to turn up. We just seemed happy to watch them
runabout and dive. The one bright side was, as ever, our support whose
efforts should at least put paid to the myth of the mighty "Kop". As
somebody else pointed out to a gobby Spurs fan of my acquaintance – "at
least we knew the final score was 3-0 'cos we were there at the end. You lot
probably were probably home in time to see Pompey's second on the box".
It remains to be seen whether Monday's non-performance will have undone the
good work of Everton and Sunderland. Some heart can be taken from Hull's
similarly woeful runout against Villa and it may will be that our survival
will ultimately rest on our being the least worst side involved at the
bottom. As the old saying goes, if you and a mate are being chased by a
lion, you only have to outrun your mate.
On the plus side we seem to have virtually a full squad to pick from, with
the exception of Tomkins (ankle/foot), Hines (knee), Boa Morte (knee) and,
of course Dyer (Shatner's Bassoon). Amongst all the possible returns,
probably the most welcome will be that of the talismanic Scott Parker who
will be back from his suspension due, in part, to some frankly dishonest
refereeing over the course of the season. Would that the FA were as quick to
deal with refereeing incompetence as they seem to be with those who point it
out. I believe it's called shooting the messenger.
If, as is suggested, Ilunga is ready to start he, or possibly, Daprela might
replace Spector on the left in defence whilst up front there choice is two
out of McCarthy, Cole, Franco, Ilan or Mido. Usually it's a question of Cole
plus one. However the striker hasn't been the same since his absence through
injury and the sight of him on the bench in the closing stages of Monday's
debacle with ice-packs on his knees suggests that all is still not 100% with
Predictions? Well this one is, as usual, a must win. We need to get at this
lot and do it early – if only to settle the nerves. A win with defeats for
Wolves, Hull & Burnley this weekend would put us in a very strong position –
we'd be six clear of Hull with two to play and a goal difference of 20 goals
in our favour would make things look a bit better in the safety stakes. So,
with that as an incentive, I'll take us to take a nervy 1-0 win to ease the
Enjoy the game!
Last season: Won 2-1 A couple of opening-day goals from Dean Ashton were
enough to seal the points. Doesn't August 2008 seem a long time ago?
Referee: Alan Wiley Considers his finest game to have been our 3-3 Cup Final
draw with the Scousers. Those who saw the unpunished assault on Harewood or
Wiley's failure to police the penalty shoot-out properly might disagree.
Last seen trying hard not to upset Fergie in our defeat at Old Trafford.
Danger Man: Rodallega – by virtue of the fact that he's top scorer. Also
Melchiot's throws can cause problems (even when legal). Has anyone seen
those spare advertising hoardings?
Zola plans owner talks
Hammers boss to resolve future in the summer
Last updated: 23rd April 2010
Gianfranco Zola insists his long-term future at West Ham will not be
finalised until the summer. The Hammers are currently locked in a battle to
save their Premier League status and the Italian is focusing his efforts on
their survival. Much has been made over Zola's position as manager with
speculation hinting he could depart after a below-par campaign at the helm.
However, David Gold and David Sullivan have backed the popular Italian, who
himself believes he is the man to help boost the club's fortunes. Zola
insists his long-term path is not clear and the 43-year-old will have
further talks in the summer to clarify his position once and for all. "The
future depends on what happens right now, so my mind is totally on that,"
explained Zola. "We're going to talk (with the owners) about it at the end
of the season. "The important thing is to get the situation sorted, then
we're going to talk about it."
Zola wants hot Cole to fire
Hammers chief wants front man to end barren run
By Danny Wright Last updated: 23rd April 2010
West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola is looking towards Carlton Cole to fire his
team to Premier League safety. The Hammers take on Wigan in a crucial
encounter at Upton Park on Saturday and victory would all but guarantee
their top flight safety. But Zola's team go into the clash on the back of a
poor 3-0 defeat inflicted at Liverpool on Monday, while nervously looking
over their shoulders at the results of Hull City and Burnley. And the
Italian is convinced Cole - West Ham's top scorer with nine goals this
campaign - will rediscover his scoring touch just at the right time. The
26-year-old has npt found the net in nine league outings and is struggling
to overcome a knee injury, but Zola said: "Carlton hasn't scored for a while
but he's keeping an important one back for us tomorrow, possibly a winner.
"I'm relying on that. He hasn't scored many goals but he is an important
player for us. As I said, I know he is keeping something good for us."
West Ham have a three point lead over third bottom Hull going into
Saturday's encounter, while their superior goal-difference effectively
counts as an extra point in their favour.
A win at Upton Park - combined with a defeat for the Tigers to Sunderland at
the KC Stadium - would virtually ensure survival going into the last two
matches. But Hammers fans could endure a nervy conclusion to the season
should Zola's side reproduce their performance at Anfield, which came under
intense scrutiny as the club's players admitted in the aftermath they had
let their manager down.
Zola believes the honesty of his charges proves they are determined to come
out triumphant in the survival scrap, and he urged his team to keep their
destiny in their own hands by focussing on beating the Latics. The
43-year-old added: "You say certain things in the changing room and it is
important because it means the players are committed. "They are determined
to bounce back. I am confident we will see a reaction. We have had so many
problems this year and we are determined to give those problems a kick and
tomorrow is an incredible opportunity to do that. "We don't know what's
going to happen (at Hull) but I think it is important we focus on winning
our game. That is the start. "Then, if some results go our way, it's even
better - but it all starts with winning our game. I'm sure the players will
West Ham v Wigan preview
Strugglers lock horns looking to ease drop fears
By Danny Wright Last updated: 23rd April 2010
SKY BET ODDS
West Ham 4/5, Draw 13/5, Wigan 10/3. Bet on Saturday's match
Three of the last four meetings between Wigan and West Ham ended as 1-0 wins
Wigan have won none and lost five of their last six Premier League away
West Ham have won one and lost seven of their last nine Premier League
Roberto Martinez's side have only kept one clean sheet in their last 16
Premier League away games
Wigan can take a huge step towards securing Premier League survival by
defeating West Ham in a six-pointer at Upton Park on Saturday. Roberto
Martinez's side staged a remarkable fightback to snatch three points from
title chasing Arsenal last week to take them seven points clear of danger.
Third bottom Hull lost out to Aston Villa in midweek, which means the
Latics' healthy cushion on the drop places remain intact. And a second
straight win would put Martinez's side on course to all but wrap up their
Their preparations for the tie have been somewhat hampered by the bad
publicity coming in the direction of talismanic midfielder Charles N'Zogbia,
who was arrested on suspicion of fraud by false representation. N'Zogbia -
who notched the winner in the defeat of Arsenal - was released on bail after
allegations he persuaded a friend to sit the theory part of his driving
test. But Martinez has indicated the 23-year-old reacted in a "very mature
way", meaning his place in the side is unlikely to be under threat. For West
Ham, manager Gianfranco Zola will also be looking to capitalise on Hull's
loss to lift his team away from the drop. Zola's future at the club is in
doubt and avoiding relegation could go a long way to deciding his fate. The
Hammers sit one place above the drop but are three points better off than
the Tigers, while boasting a superior goal difference.
Zola will be handed a massive boost by the return of influential midfielder
Scott Parker, who comes back into the fray following a two-match suspension.
Fellow midfielder Luis Boa Morte could also be in contention as he nears a
return to first-team action following a knee injury. Kieron Dyer
(hamstring), Herita Ilunga (knee), Jack Collison (knee) and James Tomkins
(ankle) are all major doubts for the clash. Egyptian striker Mido returned
to the bench for the 3-0 defeat to Liverpool on Monday and he could push for
a start after Carlton Cole and Ilan fired blanks.
Wigan have doubts over midfielder Hendry Thomas, who is only rated as 50-50
by boss Martinez. Thomas picked up a quad muscle injury in last month's
defeat to Manchester City and was expected to feature in the win over
Arsenal, but is unlikely to be risked by the Spanish manager. Gary Caldwell
returns to the first-team fold after the defender served a three-match ban.
The Scottish international saw red at Eastlands for a foul on Carlos Tevez
but is available again, meaning Steve Gohouri could make way at centre-half.
West Ham: Green, Faubert, Upson, Da Costa, Spector, Behrami, Parker, Noble,
Stanislas, Cole, Ilan.
Wigan: Kirkland, Melchiot, Caldwell, Bramble, Figueroa, Diame, Watson,
N'Zogbia, McCarthy, Rodallega, Moreno.
Skysports.com prediction: 1-2
One to Watch: Charles N'Zogbia
Green eyes England role
Hammers goalkeeper desperate for World Cup chance
By Carla Hilton Last updated: 23rd April 2010
West Ham goalkeeper Robert Green admits he is desperate to be England's No.1
for the World Cup. Despite the Hammers' troubles this season, Green has
still showed his capabilities to an observant Fabio Capello. And he is hotly
tipped to make the final squad for this summer's tournament having secured
nine caps already for his country - seven of which have been during
Capello's reign. The England boss has made no secret of his admiration for
Green, but even so the 30-year-old remains modest. Green says nothing is
certain as far as the World Cup goes and insists he will fight all the way
to ensure he makes the trip. "There are no favourites within the squad or in
the side," he told the Daily Express. "You can't say, 'Well, I'm guaranteed
a place'. "To rest on your laurels would be the worst thing you can do."
There is no doubting Green's abilities, especially considering his
achievements so far on the international scene. He made his first start in
the 4-0 qualifying win over Kazakhstan in June and then retained his place
for the next five games, including the 5-1 win over Croatia in September
which sealed England's place in this summer's tournament. Hoping to add to
that already impressive tally, he said: "I am desperately keen to be No.1."
Green suffered a groin injury which kept him out of the 2006 event which he
says makes him even more determined to succeed. "When I got injured, there
was a distinct possibility the chance of going to a World Cup had gone," he
said. "But you've just got to keep going, keep believing you can. "Now that
it has come around four years later and I have just as good a chance, I
Noble - Zola must stay
Hammers midfielder backing under-fire manager
Last updated: 23rd April 2010
Midfielder Mark Noble insists under-pressure manager Gianfranco Zola is the
right man to lead West Ham. The charismatic Italian has seen his position
come under serious scrutiny this season with the Hammers battling to beat
the drop in the Premier League. Zola's men hold a three-point cushion over
18th-placed Hull City and also boast a significantly healthier goal
difference than their relegation rivals with three games remaining. An Upton
Park victory for the Hammers on Saturday coupled with a home defeat for the
Tigers at the hands of Sunderland would effectively make the gap
insurmountable, while Burnley, who are a point further back, play host to
Liverpool on Sunday.
Noble believes that Zola, who has even been forced to endure stinging public
rebukes from club co-owner David Sullivan, has been harshly treated this
term and insists he retains the full support of all the squad.He's the
manager so he will take the brunt of criticism but I think the criticism is
unfair," Noble told the Daily Telegraph. "He's dealt with the criticism
unbelievably well. "There have been six or seven games where we've been in
the lead and given away silly, late goals. Sometimes it's concentration,
sometimes it's bad luck. "He's a lovely fella but when he needs to make a
decision, it gets made. That's why he brought Steve Clarke in with him,
because Clarkey is a strong character. If the manager wants to do something,
he won't pussyfoot around. "He's had a lot of criticism but you can tell the
players are behind him, there's no rift in the camp. "I want him to stay. He
wants to play football the right way. He's still learning as a manager. He's
still young. He's probably learnt more this year than he has over the past
McCarthy targets Latics win
South African striker wants survival for 'brilliant' Hammers faithful
Last updated: 22nd April 2010
Benni McCarthy claims West Ham's clash with Wigan this weekend is a "life
and death situation". The striker confessed there was a dejected Hammers
dressing room after Monday's 3-0 battering by Liverpool at Anfield which saw
Gianfranco Zola's team remain three points above the drop zone. Zola,
though, would have been thrilled to have seen Hull City squander their
chance to join West Ham on 31 points after they suffered a 2-0 home defeat
to Aston Villa on Wednesday in the Tigers' game in hand. And McCarthy has
urged his team-mates to compound Hull's midweek woes by taking the spoils
against the Latics at Upton Park on Saturday, insisting the starting XI
should play like their life depends on it. "'We have three games left that
we can win - Wigan is like a life and death situation," he told the club's
official website. "Then we go to Fulham, who have the Europa League to
worry about, then we have Manchester City on the final day. Hopefully we
won't leave it until then, though."
Talking about West Ham's defeat at Anfield, he added: 'It's just about
concentration, really. "Everything has been bad luck. We started off well
and then conceded very unfortunately, and then nothing seemed to go for us.
"Anything hits them anywhere and it goes in. They say you create your own
luck, but there was not a lot of luck for us."
McCarthy also praised the 1,500 travelling supporters that were in superb
voice at Anfield despite the performance of their team and hopes West Ham
can reward their avid fans. 'They are the motivation factor," admitted the
South African forward. "That is what you come and play football for. The
fans are there for you and you have to give it your all for them. When they
have been brilliant, like they have been, it gives us that extra bit to win
Zola banks on Cole-den goals
GIANFRANCO ZOLA is banking on Carlton Cole scoring the goals to keep West
Ham in the Premier League. The Hammers are three points above the relegation
zone and a victory at Upton Park against Wigan tomorrow, combined with a
Hull defeat to Sunderland, would effectively secure their top-flight status.
West Ham's goal difference is 21 better than Hull's and worth an extra point
with only three matches remaining of a turbulent season. Cole has not scored
in nine league games and is struggling with a persistent knee injury, which
forced him to be replaced early in Monday's defeat at Liverpool. But Zola is
convinced the England striker is saving his best goalscoring form for when
it really matters — and there is no time more pressing than against the
Latics. The Italian said: "Carlton hasn't scored for a while but he's
keeping an important one back for us tomorrow, possibly a winner. "I'm
relying on that. He hasn't scored many goals but he is an important player
for us. As I said, I know he is keeping something good for us." West Ham
were panned for their performance in Monday's 3-0 defeat at Liverpool, after
which the players admitted to Zola they had let him down. That honesty
session convinced Zola that his men have the character required to take a
giant stride towards safety tomorrow. And the Hammers will be boosted by the
return of dynamic midfielder Scott Parker, who missed the last two games
through suspension and is set to replace Junior Stanislas. Zola added: "We
know we need a reaction tomorrow. "It's a massive game for us and we also
know the last game wasn't very good. You say certain things in the changing
room and it is important because it means the players are committed.
"They are determined to bounce back and I am confident we will see a
reaction. We have had so many problems this year and we are determined to
give those problems a kick. Tomorrow is an incredible opportunity to do just
that. "We don't know what's going to happen [at Hull] but I think it is
important we focus on winning our game. That is the start.
"Then, if some results go our way, it's even better — but it all starts with
winning our game. I'm sure the players will react well. "Scott is back and
it's good. For this team, he is a reference point and when he is on the
pitch he makes a big difference for us. "Tomorrow, it will be big to have
Zola: I've done a great job
GIANFRANCO ZOLA has told West Ham's unhappy owners: "I've done a really good
job for you." The Italian is expected to be given the boot at the end of the
season even if the Hammers stay up. Victory over Wigan today will make
relegation extremely unlikely - and a near impossibility if Hull also lose
to Sunderland. Co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold have not been
impressed but Zola reckons they should take a look at Portsmouth. Both clubs
were hit hard by crazy spending under previous owners - but while West Ham
can still stay up, Pompey sank like a stone. Zola said: "I don't know
Portsmouth's situation as well as ours but considering the problems we've
had, everybody has dealt with it well. We were one of the richest teams and
became one of the poorest. We had a lot of problems and had to sell a lot of
important players. Given the circumstances last year, we've done a good
Drop hits harder than doodlebug
By DAVID FACEY
DAVID GOLD'S first memory from a lifetime following West Ham was when a
German doodlebug exploded at Upton Park and closed the ground for six
months. But he reckons relegation would have an equally catastrophic effect,
which is why he rates today's home clash with Wigan as one of the most
important in the club's history. The Hammers co-owner said: "I know the club
has been relegated in the past and bounced back - but the Hammers have never
gone down carrying the burden of debt that myself and David Sullivan
inherited when we took over in January. "We're talking about £100million
debts and that's not easy to manage in the Premier League, let alone the
"I'm not saying the club would go to the wall or anything daft like that.
But we'd have to make some pretty meaty cuts. "David and I would need to put
our hands into our own pockets again - which isn't something you care to do
too often when you've already forked out £50million for the club - and it
would still need a massive overhaul from top to bottom. "When you have to
swing the axe like that, it makes the task of coming straight back up that
much harder. "For every club who do what Newcastle have done this season,
there are at least two or three like Leeds and Forest who sink even deeper.
"The problem we've got is there is no contingency plan, because we came in
midway through the season. "When we were in charge at Birmingham we didn't
face problems on the same scale because we had Plan B ready just in case. "A
player knew he would earn maybe £10,000 a week in the Championship, £20,000
a week if we got promoted and it would be back to £10,000 if we went back
down. "Between 2006 and this season, Birmingham were the only club who ever
went down-up-down-up again in four successive seasons - and neither
promotion was through the play-offs, because we knew how to cut our cloth.
"I hate that word relegation. And I don't want to even think about it coming
to that at West Ham, because this club means so much to me. "As a penniless
kid growing up in the East End of London I used to wait for them to open the
gates at half-time, so I could sneak in there with my mates. "I was seven
when that doodlebug exploded and blew away half the stand in 1944, and even
though the war-time games weren't the best, I remember feeling devastated at
the prospect of months without seeing any football. "I get the same awful
feeling when I think about going out of the Premier League and what it could
mean to the club. "Thankfully, we're still in a decent position, or at least
one where our future is still in our own hands. "And a win at home to Wigan
would surely make us safe, because I can't see Hull winning their last three
games. "So this game is right up there with the FA Cup finals and the
play-off final against Preston a few years back in terms of importance.
Must-win doesn't even start to describe it."
Gold, a remarkably fit 73, famously left his poverty-stricken roots behind
to become one of Britain's most successful businessmen - his wealth varies
between £300-500m, depending on how healthy the Stock Market is. He started
out by helping his mum sell buttons from a handcart in front of their house
and moved on to selling books, greetings cards and sweets from the front
room. Gold realised it was the raunchy books that sold best - and he sensed
there was money to be made publishing soft core porn. That led to a
long-term alliance with Sullivan that extended into property, an airline,
the highly successful Anne Summers and Knickerbox franchises - and two
football clubs. But when the referee's whistle goes today, Gold insists he
will be just like any other Hammers fan, desperate for his side to do well.
He added: "I'm an awful football watcher, in the sense that I just can't sit
still. "I live every minute of every game, kick every ball, jump up for
headers, 'ooh' and 'ah' at the near-misses. By the end of a game I'm
"With so much riding on today's match I'm going to be an absolute wreck. I
just pray it will be worth it at the end."
Gold has only missed one match since he and Sullivan bought West Ham -
Monday's miserable 3-0 surrender at Liverpool, a performance that seriously
reduced confidence in the club's ability to stay up. He was prevented from
making it to Anfield on time by the flying ban. That meant he could not jump
aboard his favourite four-seater Cessna jet once he had finished a round of
business meetings. Gold has held a pilot's licence for nearly 40 years, and
still flies his jets regularly. But he always hires another pilot to take
him to away games, explaining: "I'm absolutely shattered after a match. I'd
be in no fit state to fly anywhere." It is 'concerns' like that which spell
out the difference between Gold and the average West Ham fan...
Zola turns nasty in bid to keep West Ham up
Published 06:00 24/04/10 By Mike Walters
Gianfranco Zola has revealed the nasty side to his character which is
firing West Ham towards Premier League safety. Behind that disarming smile
and Sardinian charm, the Hammers manager – one of the nicest men in football
– has finally let the mask slip to unveil his previously-undetected mean
streak. Zola ripped into his players after their limp 3-0 defeat at
Liverpool on Monday night, and he will only accept three points in today's
survival shoot-out with Wigan as suitable atonement. And after another week
of ominous smoke signals that he will be turfed out of Upton Park by owners
David Sullivan and David Gold this summer, Zola came out fighting last night
to demand his players reached base camp by avoiding the drop.
West Ham will be safe if they win and both Hull and Burnley lose this
weekend, and Zola said: "I'm not the best person to ask whether I'm too nice
to be a manager, and when it comes to my job, I can become very nasty, so I
don't think that's an issue. "Ask my players whether I can be nasty – what
you see in public is not everything, it may be only the tip of the iceberg.
"As a matter of principle I am a stubborn person, and when I get an idea in
my head it is very difficult to change my mind because I know what is good
for me. "I happen to think I'm a responsible person, and when I do something
I do it with the right principles."
Zola conceded West Ham's record of only seven wins in 35 Premier League
games this term was shocking, but he shrugged off the roll-call of names,
including Mark Hughes, Steve McClaren and Dave Jones, being linked with his
job. Neither Sullivan nor Gold have issued any public statements to
reassure Zola his £1.8 million-a-year job is safe beyond this season, and
the Irons boss conceded: "I would not say I have enjoyed living with the
pressure, and it's not a situation I was expecting. "But as you say in
England, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. "I'm not interested in
the names who are being linked with my job. I'm not interested because it's
out of my control and I don't pay too much attention, it's irrelevant to
me. "Dealing with the pressure is part of the job, and if I want to carry on
doing the job I'll have to get used to it, but I believe this season's
experience will make everybody stronger. "I'm totally focused on reaching
my objective of keeping West Ham in the Premier League, and after that we'll
see. "The future depends on what happens now, and if I divert too much
attention to other things, I won't be able to do my job properly. "What the
stats don't say is how many important players have been injured, or how many
players we've sold. "There have been circumstances which didn't allow us to
put together a good run. "We have made mistakes, but if we do well in these
last three games, we will have done a decent job considering everything."
West Ham and Sunderland set to battle it out for Benitez
Published 23:00 23/04/10 By James Nursey
West Ham and Sunderland are plotting moves for Christian Benitez as
Birmingham balk at the striker's price. Ecuador forward Benitez, 23, is
popular at St Andrews since joining on loan from Mexican club Santos Laguna
last summer. But Brum will have to pay a pre-arranged fee of around
£7.5million to make the transfer permanent in June. And after scoring just
three goals this term, Birmingham are likely to release Benitez. That has
alerted the Hammers, whose supremo David Sullivan took the star to St
Andrews last summer when he was in charge there. And top-flight rivals
Sunderland are also keen on the tricky forward. Birmingham chief Peter Pannu
said: "We will know about Chucho's future in due course. "If we don't
exercise the option, then so be it. His club can then freely send Chucho to
the North Pole or Bangladesh - anywhere."
Will Zola Gamble on Boa Morte?
West Ham Till I Die
It has been reported Luis Boa Morte came through a friendly run out against
Spurs this week. The indications are that Zola wants to pitch Boa Morte in
to the fray before the end of the season. However, will this Saturday
ultimately prove too soon for his return?
The final say will be with the fitness and medical staff who will assess
whether his knee is ok, and physical conditioning sufficient, to start in
the Premier League. Also, it is not just a matter of fitness, it is also
about form. It often takes players a while to adapt after returning from a
long-term injury and regain their form.
Boa Morte is a player that Zola has shown a lot of faith in. He
consistently selected Boa Morte last season, even when he was out of favour
with the majority of supporters. After his fine performances at the end of
last season it was clear that Boa Morte was very much in Zola's plans for
this campaign. Then serious injury struck in the pre-season match against
Spurs in China and those plans had to be redrawn!
Boa Morte has admittedly been a fustrating player for much of his time at
Upton Park. He has rarely reproduced the attacking ability that he
demonstrated at Fulham. However, he does give you balance on the left
flank and a battling, hard-working presense, that provides vital cover for
the left-back and reinforces the midfield. His end of season form last year
(no doubt sparked by the dire prospect of being packed off to Hull!) was
very promising and indicative of even better things to come. This was
recognised by the Upton Park faithful, who applauded him off the pitch in
one of his final home appearances last season. That was a quite an
astonishing turn around in fortunes for the player.
Boa Morte has always been a popular figure in the squad. His colleagues
obviously value his industry, honesty and commitment. That commitment might
have resulted in too many yellow cards, and the odd dismissal, but how we
could have done with some of his industry this season!
Knowing Zola's regard for Boa Morte's attributes, I think that he will
select him if he has a reasonable level of match fitness. Even if he only
completes an hour, it may very well be worth the risk. His contribution in
that hour could help deliver three vital points. He will balance up the
team, give Daprela (hopefully) experienced cover on the left and, just as
importantly, give the team a boost.
Elsewhere, Daprela must replace Spector at left-back. It looks like Illunga
is out for the season, so we must show confidence in the ability of this
promising young defender. We can continue with Da Costa and Upson or think
about introducing Gabbidon. I think that Zola will stick with the Upson-Da
Costa combination and keep Gabbidon on the bench. But the central
defenders, and Upson in particular, will need to significantly up their
In midfield, supposing Boa Morte does come in on the left, Zola needs to
decide whether Kovac plays? Personally, I would go for Noble-Parker in the
centre and Behrami on the right flank. Regardless of his alleged recent
distractions, N'zogia is a real threat on the left for Wigan. Faubert and
Behrami will need to combine to keep him quiet.
Up front, Cole will probably start with Ilan, with Franco coming on from the
bench. I have always admired skillful players, with technique, touch and
vision, and Franco very much falls in to that category. Even amidst the
awfulness of Monday night's display, Franco stood out when he came on. It
was the only then that we demonstrated any threat going forward. However, I
feel that Zola will probably start with Ilan because of his greater pace and
sharpness in the final third.
We also need to get Diamanti's unique offensive and creative abilities back
in to the first team mix. If Boa Morte starts, Diamanti will probably be
named on the bench and be introduced at some point, probably when the former
tires or if things do not go according to plan.
This is a match that we all know we must win. If we beat Wigan, and
Sunderland take the three point against Hull City, we will be virtually
safe. We will be six points ahead of Hull City, with two matches to go.
Although we still probably need another point to be mathematically safe,
baring a transformation of Hull City's forward line in to a uber-goal
machine, we do have the insurance policy of our vastly superior goal
I sincerely hope that this is the positive scenerio that we face Saturday
evening. I do not know about other fans, but this season has taken a
greater toll than any I can remember. That includes all the previous
relegation seasons and the upheaval, stress and ultimate redemption of
Consequently, I will be very glad to achieve safety and see the back of this
season. Other concerns and threats undoubtedly lay ahead in the summer, but
lets cross that bridge when we come to it. Probably on the Monday after
the final match against Man City!!!!
Zamalek Want Mido Back From West Ham
Mido spent six months with Zamalek before moving on loan to West Ham in
By M. J. Somoni
Apr 23, 2010 1:25:00 PM
Egyptian giants Zamalek have opened negotiations with Egyptian striker Mido
with the intent of bringing him back to the club in the summer. Zamalek
football director Ibrahim Hassan was quoted by Goal.com Arabic as saying
they want to re-sign Mido, who is on loan at English Premier League side
West Ham from Championship club Middlesbrough.
Mido spent the first half of the season at his boyhood club Zamalek, where
he scored just one goal before moving to West Ham in January. Zamalek
struggled after the towering frontman and Amr Zaki departed in the winter
transfer window, with coach Hossam Hassan complaining about the lack of
'reliable strikers'. The Cairo giants want him back for next season,
according to Ibrahim Hassan, the twin brother of Hossam. "We have been in
contact with Mido since he left the club in January," he said. "He is one of
the players we are seeking to sign in the close season. "Mido would welcome
a return to Zamalek, especially under the management of Hossam. He was one
of our best players in terms of performances and discipline."
The 27-year-old, who has yet to score his maiden goal with West Ham, said he
was unlikely to return to Middlesbrough next season. Ibrahim Hassan also
reiterated that Zamalek are tracking Harras Hodoud's forward Ahmed Eid. The
Egyptian international has been linked in the media with moves to Zamalek
and their arch-rivals Ahli on numerous occasions but Hodoud have said he is
not for sale. "Eid is on our wish-list, but we are yet to table an offer for
him," Hassan added.
Dave Jones 'flattered' by West Ham job link
Dave Jones admits he is "flattered" to be linked with the potential
manager's job at Premier League West Ham United. But the Cardiff City boss
insists he is "focused" on achieving Championship play-off success after
qualifying for this season's end-of-season spectacle. Jones has been linked
to be Gianfranco Zola's successor as the Italian manager's future is in
doubt. Jones told BBC Sport: "In football you never say never as you just
don't know what is around the corner." West Ham are in danger of suffering
relegation from the Premier League as the Hammers are just three points
above the drop-zone with three games remaining. Zola's relationship with new
owners David Gold and David Sullivan, himself a Cardiff fan, have been
strained since they took over at Upton Park. And Zola criticised the timing
of Sullivan's plea for all players and staff to take an end-of-season
voluntary pay cut before the struggling side's crucial run in. Jones is the
Championship's longest-serving manager as he replaced Lennie Lawrence at the
Bluebirds almost five years ago.
And the 53-year-old has inspired Cardiff into the play-offs on a shoestring
and in a backdrop of financial uncertainty. The experienced former
Wolverhampton Wanderers and Southampton boss has gradually moulded a Cardiff
team that are realistic contenders for Premier League promotion. And Jones
has been consistently forced to sell their top players such as Roger
Johnson, Aaron Ramsey, Cameron Jerome and Chris Gunter so the Welsh club can
survive. Cardiff host Sheffield Wednesday at the Cardiff City Stadium on
Saturday having already guaranteed a play-off spot but with more distraction
over Jones' future. "You're always going to get speculation and I can't stop
it," he said. "Some people say you're good enough, some people say you're
not. What will be, will be. "If you get to the play-offs and don't get
promoted then all of a sudden you're not a good manager and you need to be
gone or have taken the club as far as you can. "Somebody will have an
opinion about you but I'll just do my job. And everyone here is focused on
what is going on here. "But it is always nice to be linked with somewhere
else as it means you must be doing something right."
Cardiff are bidding for their first promotion back to the top-flight for 50
years as Jones bids to return to the Premier League. But the Bluebirds'
existence is in jeopardy as the debt-ridden club have been given until 5 May
by the High Court to pay an outstanding £1.9m tax bill or face being
wound-up so Jones may be tempted by an offer. But he insists: "Nobody is
going anywhere at this moment in time because we have a job to do here."
West Ham join Newcastle and Wigan in chase for Oldham teenager Tom Eaves
By Sportsmail Reporter
Last updated at 1:15 AM on 24th April 2010
West Ham, Newcastle and Wigan are among a clutch of clubs monitoring Oldham
striker Tom Eaves. The 6ft 4in teenager only made his debut this year and
has appeared 13 times as a substitute, but is showing the potential to play
at a higher level. The Liverpool-born forward had previously been at Crewe.
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