Hammers midfielder Kieron Dyer is looking to help pick up much-needed points
Kieron Dyer is banking on West Ham United doing the business at Ewood Park
on Saturday and returning with a much-needed result. The Hammers are
searching for a first away win since the opening day of last season and Dyer
believed the time was right to stop lamenting previous disappointments such
as draws at Wolverhampton Wanderers and Birmingham City when all three
points had seemed possible. "We have said that we have to win when we had
fixtures like this before and we didn't win those games," he said. "It is
about time we did it. The time has come for less talking and showing more
action on the pitch. If we win at the weekend then we are still among the
bunch with the teams above us."
Blackburn Rovers parted company with manager Sam Allardyce at the start of
the week but Dyer said the Hammers would have to go out and focus only on
what they need to do. "Hopefully it is a good time to play them because we
are in desperate need of three points. The last game was very disappointing.
We want to come back with three points."
Dyer took time out from preparations to visit the Richard House Children's
Hospice this week, helping to hand over more than £2,000 collected by the
first-team squad for much needed equipment - as well as a host of Hammers
goodie bags. "It is a fantastic place. It is very humbling as a player to
come here. It puts it all into perspective when you go to a place like this.
It was a very rewarding day to see the place. It is a difficult time for
kids and their families and if we can help them in a small way then we are
all for that. "Of course, we worry about things like [our league position]
but it puts it into small scale when you come to places like Richard House."
Avram on Friday
Avram Grant has spoken to the media ahead of Saturday's trip to Blackburn
Avram Grant has held his pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday's
Barclays Premier League visit to Ewood Park to tackle Blackburn Rovers. The
West Ham United manager discussed the need to pick up points over the
festive season, the sacking of Sam Allardyce, the prospect of a winter FIFA
World Cup in 2022 and the January transfer window.
Avram on reports of a board ultimatum insisting that he must win one of the
next three matches to save his job…
This is not true. Nobody from the Board spoke with me about. I don't know
how to answer. If the Board speak with me about this I will answer but they
didn't speak with me. I will make it more simple for you. I approach every
game like it's the last game of my job in football. When you are in the
football business, especially when you are a manager, you never know what is
around the corner. I cannot compare this team with any other team. At the
start of the season, every team started differently. One team has money, one
team is without money, one team has this target and another has that target.
I cannot think about things around team, only about things in the team. The
first priority is always the next 90 minutes and that's what we're focusing
on, nothing else. I speak with the owners all the time but I didn't speak
with them about this specifically. I am not speaking about my feelings. I
have a job to do and I never felt differently. I am thinking about how I can
succeed with my team. If I thought I didn't believe in this team then maybe
I need to think about other things, but I believe in this team.
We have done a lot of good things. They showed good spirit last week and
that's what I need to focus on. I don't need to think about what is
happening in one week or one month because I need to think about things that
I can control and not things I cannot control.
Avram on the chances of staying up…
I think we have a good chance to stay in the league. I think we have a good
chance of following our vision for the club and being a very good club next
year. We know what we want from ourselves. For the moment, we need to take
points to do it. It's not a good situation, but it is something that is
possible. It's hard, but we can do it.
Avram on the sacking of Sam Allardyce…
Personally I don't like it because we're not even in the middle of the
season. Even if the owners have a different vision, which we need to respect
because they are new owners and sometimes they have different visions and
can do what they want, I don't think this was the right time to do it. I
don't think they needed to do it. We don't know what happened inside there
so, to answer this question, we need to know more information.
Avram on it being a good time to play against Blackburn Rovers…
I never know when it is a good time to play against a team like Blackburn
because they are a good team, they are playing well at home and they took a
lot of points at home but we have other ambitions. We want to do our
business and not focus on other people's troubles.
Avram on targeting points from the next five matches…
I think it's important to think about the next game and then to think about
the next one. We try not to focus on more than one game. Certainly our
priority is on the next game and then we will focus on the other games. Even
if you saw the game last week for the 30 minutes at the start of the second
half we were on top of Manchester City, which is a better team than us. They
are a very good team. We almost scored, we had a penalty which was not given
which could have changed the game. So even the games that, on paper, look
difficult we almost did something. I know that almost is not enough and we
want more, but against the teams around us we played most of the games
better than them but, except two times, we didn't take the three points. I
think that we need to focus on the positive things and take points. It is
important psychologically and for other reasons. We want three points. You
saw Wolves last week were on the same points as us and they won one game and
everything looks much better. When you are at the bottom, one win or two
wins change things. You saw us after we played Wigan we played in the
Carling Cup and won 4-0 against Man United. That gave us good feelings and
you saw what we can do. We are feeling in the last three months that in 80
per cent of the games we were so close. When you are close, you want to move
one step forward.
Avram on the January transfer window…
I think January can help us first with the return of injured players because
last week we had four good midfield players not playing because they were
injured. We will analyse everything and are thinking about how we can make
the squad stronger in certain areas. Even with this squad, when everyone is
fit, we played well. Before January, every day you get a call from 300
agents. I think there are more agents than football players! We know what
positions we can be stronger and better in and we are looking for players.
We have some names but for the moment nothing is done. We are not thinking
about players leaving, but anything is possible.
Avram on being bottom at Christmas…
So many times in my life I have had to fight in very difficult situations.
Many people say about statistics and about this and that but statistics
don't take you down. What we do or don't do on the pitch can take us down,
but we want to think about staying positive because we're not even in the
middle of the season and there are a lot of games that can change things. We
can focus on the positive things we did in the last game. In most of the
games we played football that could take more points, but we need to do it
on the pitch.
Avram on managers having less time to build their team…
It is different from ten or 20 years ago but if you look at the last
seasons, it has happened every season. You never know what is around the
corner as a manager but I think that, despite this, the manager needs to do
his job the same way all the time. We come into every game and want to
succeed and I think we also need to think about long-term vision because
when you think about long-term vision it doesn't affect the points you take
now. We are doing the same job. I don't think that there is more pressure or
that more managers are sacked very quickly. It is a football job and we need
to do it.
Avram on a winter FIFA World Cup in Qatar in 2022…
I like the idea that the World Cup is in Qatar because it's good for the
Middle East. I think that, on the football side, it's very good when you
play a World Cup in places like Africa and other countries in good weather.
I think it's a good idea.
Manager Avram Grant unaware of West Ham sack ultimatum
West Ham manager Avram Grant says he has received no ultimatum from the
club's board to win one of his next three games or lose his job. BBC Sport
understands Grant will become the third top-flight boss to be sacked this
term unless he meets this target. The 55-year-old has only one win in 11
Premier League matches, leaving the relegation-threatened club three points
adrift at the bottom of the table. "Nobody from the board has spoken to me
about this target," said Grant. It is understood Sam Allardyce, sacked by
Blackburn this week, is being considered as a replacement. Newcastle boss
Chris Hughton was the other manager dismissed this month. West Ham next
travel to Blackburn and Fulham before a home game with Everton.
Vice-chairman Karren Brady told BBC Sport a month ago that Grant would
"almost definitely" remain in charge at the end of the season and the club
are likely to invest in new players during the January transfer window. But
a source said replacing the Israeli if he fails to meet the terms of the
ultimatum would allow the club to make best use of the transfer window,
giving the new manager "a chance to make the changes he wanted". But despite
Grant's claim that he has not been given a three-game ultimatum by the
board, the former Chelsea and Portsmouth boss says he is prepared for the
"When you are in the football business, especially as a manager, you never
know what is around the corner," he added. "I speak with the owners all the
time, but I did not speak to them about this [ultimatum] specifically."
However, the omens do not look good for West Ham if they are still bottom
going into the new year with West Brom the only club to ever survive
relegation when doing so. But Grant says he is unfazed by the statistics and
is bullish about his side's chances of staying up. "Do you know how many
times I have needed to fight in a difficult situation?" he said. "Statistics
don't send you down, what we do or don't do on the pitch will take us down.
We have to stay positive and there are a lot of games still to play."
Grant added on the West Ham website: "We have done a lot of good things.
They showed good spirit last week and that's what I need to focus on.
"I think we have a good chance to stay in the league. I think we have a very
good chance of following our vision for the club and being a very good team
next year. We know what we want from ourselves. "For the moment we need to
take the points to do it. It is not a good situation, but it something that
is possible. It's hard, but we can do it."
Blackburn v West Ham
Barclays Premier League
Venue: Ewood Park Date: Saturday, 18 December Kick-off: 1500 GMT
Coverage: Watch highlights on Match of the Day; listen on BBC Radio 5 live
and local radio; text commentary on BBC Sport website and mobiles
Blackburn's caretaker manager Steve Kean has no new injury problems to worry
about as he prepares for his first game in charge. Midfielders Keith
Andrews, Vince Grella and Steven Nzonzi all remain long-term absentees.
West Ham could again be without Swiss international Valon Behrami, who is
nursing a hip problem. Midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger has been making
progress with his thigh injury and is aiming for a February return.
Injured: Andrews & Grella (both groin), Nzonzi (hamstring)
Doubtful: Behrami (hip)
Injured: Da Costa (ankle), Collison, Edgar & Kurucz (all knee), Hitzlsperger
(thigh), Noble (hip)
It has been an emotional week in Blackburn with the disappointment of a
derby defeat to Bolton followed by the shock of manager Sam Allardyce's
sacking. New owners Venky's Group felt Allardyce "did not fit in with our
vision for the club's future" and said they "wanted good football and wanted
games to be interesting" but have denied his dismissal was related to a row
over transfer targets. Whatever the reason, it is rough luck on Allardyce,
who had got some good results out of Rovers, and home fans are planning a
protest ahead of Saturday's match, for which first-team coach Steve Kean
will be in charge. While Blackburn represent Allardyce's past, West Ham may
be his future - he is already the bookies' favourite to replace Avram Grant,
who has reportedly been given three games to save his job, with the Hammers
now three points adrift at the foot of the table.
Ironically, Saturday marks two years to the day that Blackburn, then
struggling in the bottom three, appointed Allardyce to guide them to safety.
It was mission accomplished then - and if Grant can't inspire his side to
get more points on the board, Big Sam could well be offered another big
• The last three meetings between these teams have ended in a draw, with the
last two goalless.
• West Ham are unbeaten on their last four visits to Ewood Park (W2, D2) and
in the last eight Premier League meetings between the teams.
• Blackburn are looking for a fourth consecutive home win.
• Arsenal and Chelsea are the only teams to have won at Ewood Park this
• Rovers lost only six of their 38 Premier League matches at Ewood Park
under Sam Allardyce - the same number of home defeats as Arsenal's Arsene
Wenger had at the Emirates Stadium over the same period.
• West Ham have won just one of their last 11 Premier League matches. They
have secured just six league wins during the calendar year of 2010, and
claimed a combined total of just 29 points.
• They have not won away from home in this season's Premier League. Their
last away win was at Wolves on the opening day of last season.
• The Hammers have spent all season in the relegation zone and have been
bottom since the beginning of October.
Mame Diouf: 5 goals (2 league); Pedersen: 4 goals (4 league)
Parker: 6 goals (4 league); Piquionne: 5 goals (4 league)
Referee: Mike Dean
Assistant referees: Darren Cann & Andy Garrett
Fourth official: Anthony Taylor
LAST LEAGUE MATCH LINE-UPS
Blackburn (L1-2 v Bolton, a): Robinson, Salgado (Dunn 72), Samba, Nelsen,
Givet, Olsson (Mame Diouf 61), Emerton, Jones, Pedersen, El-Hadji Diouf
(Hoilett 77), Roberts. Subs Not Used: Bunn, Kalinic, Mwaruwari, Hanley.
West Ham (L1-3 v Manchester City, h): Green, Faubert, Tomkins, Upson,
Ben-Haim, Barrera (Cole 71), Spector, Parker, Stanislas (Dyer 65), Piquionne
(Hines 80), Obinna. Subs Not Used: Stech, Reid, Boa Morte, Kovac.
Blackburn Rovers v West Ham United - Match Preview
Filed: Friday, 17th December 2010
By: Preview Percy
Preview Percy has spent the week dodging the fat ugly bird with the
mistletoe and stepping over frozen pools of vomit deposited on the pavement
by once a year drinkers just to bring you this look at this weekend's trip
to Ewood Park. We wish he hadn't but there it is....
Next up we travel to the frozen north where, weather permitting, we will
face Blackburn Rovers for a 3pm Saturday kick-off at Ewood Park.
Our hosts currently lie in 13th place on 21 points, which is nine points
ahead of ourselves. They've won three and lost three of their last six,
going through a WLWLWL cycle with their last outing resulting in a 2-1
defeat at the Reebok against Bolton last weekend. Before that they beat
Wolves 3-0 at home, a match which followed that 7-1 defeat at Old Trafford
which had Sky purring over the fact that Berbatov "equalled the Premiership
record" by scoring five. Still one behind Sir Geoff Hurst then (and, if you
must, two behind Ted Drake) if you make the astonishing discovery that
football existed prior to 1993. Perhaps someone should tell Sky.
Of course, for all the talk of current form, league positions and the like,
the big story in Blackburn (apart from the holes) is that the club's new
owners took only a matter of weeks to get fed up with Fat Sam Allardyce and
dispensed with his services on Monday. Allardyce won few friends with his
"style" (and I use that word quite incorrectly) of football which bore as
much resemblance to the beautiful game as an X Factor winner's single does
to a Rachmaninoff piano concerto. Whilst the former will get you a chart
position, the mere fact that it exists in the first place will be enough to
depress the hell out of you as you listen to the latter.
Predictably, all the usual suspects from the managerial rent-a-quote
carousel have been up in arms about Allardyce's dismissal. "Oh he got them
to tenth" and "they could have been as high as seventh last week came the
mantra from the likes of Steve Bruce and Ferguson. However, I'll be willing
to bet that neither Sunderland or Man Utd will be rushing to help out such a
"wonderful" coach with a job any time soon. For all the crocodile tears
being shed it should not be forgotten that Allardyce has made a lot of money
out of dismissal settlements in recent years. Maybe I'm in a minority but I
reckon the club's new owners have the right to decide whether or not they
want stone age football.
Talking of the poultry farmers, the club's Indian owners have denied that
the sacking came about as a result of transfer policy disagreements, stating
only that they wanted a younger and more dynamic manager. However, there
have been rumblings about the involvement as advisors to the owners of
sports management agency Kentaro. Kentaro, allegedly, have drawn up a list
of potential transfer targets that contains a number of their own charges.
Did someone mention the words "conflict of interest" m'lud? Of course
Allardyce would know all about that sort of thing, his family connections
having come under scrutiny as part of the infamous Panorama "expose" a few
years back. You will recall how loudly Allardyce proclaimed his intention to
sue the Beeb for every penny of our licence fee before quietly forgetting to
At present the managerial reins are in the hands of caretaker boss (and
former coach under Allardyce) Steve Kean, and it has been stated that the
club are "in no hurry" to name a permanent replacement. It remains to be
seen whether Kean will tinker too much with the type of football played,
after all getting the ball on the ground after so many years of launching it
into the stratosphere is going to take some getting used to for players who
played as if they got fined for every pass they made.
With a new manager in place it's a little difficult to predict who will be
turning out, especially as they have virtually a full squad to choose from.
The usual injury sources suggest that there are only three in their
treatment room. To put that into context, when the Boleyn Ground was built,
there was already a queue of nine players waiting to get into ye olde physio
room and, should the proposed move to the Olympic stadium take place, the
treatment room is likely to be so big that it'll have its own Parliamentary
constituency, which will be nice for Kieron Dyer.
From their point of view Aussie midfielder Vince Grella is listed as a doubt
with a groin strain, which is probably code for "hitherto too embarrassed by
his cricket team to turn up". He's not been a regular this season by any
stretch of the imagination, having made just five appearances since August.
French midfielder Steven Nzonzi is another doubt having got a dodgy
hamstring. He's been more prevalent, having made 11 appearances this term
though, five of those have been from the bench.
Under Allardyce they've gone with a sort of 4-1-2-3 formation, presumably on
the grounds that even Allardyce would blanch at a 6-0-4 line-up. Up front v
Wolves they went with Roberts, El Hadj Diouf and Emerton, a three usually
augmented by Samba at set pieces which is something in which they
specialise. They have other options up front including the Croatian striker
Kalinic, whose 10 league starts have produced 2 goals thus far this season.
He started the Wolves match on the bench – and stayed there, which,
considering they won the match 3-0 might just indicate that he wasn't top of
the lardy one's favourite striker list.
Apart from their strikeforce, another danger will be Norwegian Gamst
Pedersen who has a decent shot on him whether it be from a dead ball or a
Us? Well I personally found last week's 3-1 home defeat to Manchester City
very depressing. Ok so they'll beat a lot of teams but what I found
dispiriting was the way the heads went down at 2-0.
I'm not sure who is fit for this one – some sources suggest that Noble may
be pushing for a return but I'll believe that when I see it. I'd therefore
expect Spector to continue in his battle to get a new contract. If fit I'd
hope that Jacobsen might return to face his former team, which would mean an
afternoon under the tartan blanket for Faubert. Ben Haim seems to have got
the nod at left back in the (unexplained) absence of Gabbidon who last week
failed to make an appearance either in the squad or in the usual injury
listings. Behrami has been similarly missing and, given that he came close
to leaving in the summer it would not be a total surprise if it turned out
that he had already played his last game for the club.
Up front? Well I'd go with Piquionne & Obinna to start and, whilst the
standard substitution when we are up against it is to bring on Cole, I'd
prefer to see more use of Hines' as the youngster builds up his match
Depending on whether you believe the BBC (three games) or the Standard
(one), Grant has a finite number of matches in which to pick up three points
or be sacked. Let's assume for a minute that the three points are not
forthcoming (though I hope to God that they are) and SuGo decide to dispense
with his services. If that happens, I would humbly and respectfully like to
offer the following advice to SuGo: DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT BRINGING
ALLARDYCE TO OUR CLUB. The prospect of seeing Blackburn-style football week
in week out is one that turns my stomach more than the idea of twelve pints
and a vindaloo followed by a roller coaster ride. Worse still, the idea of
having to put up with his self-justification for the lack of football each
week ("The Pro-Zone stats say we play better football than Barcelona") would
just add insult to injury. I speak only for myself, of course and there may
be those who would welcome the fat one's arrival. I reckon that they're in a
Messrs SuGo claim to be fans – Gold in particular is proud at having played
for the club at junior level as a kid (though he doesn't like to talk about
it). So I'd hope at least for them to think about what those of us who have
been suffering over the past 40 years or so might think about any
appointment particularly if it were to be Allardyce, whose only redeeming
feature, as far as I can see, is the fact that at least he isn't Neil
Prediction? Well last weekend's rolling over in front of Man City has sort
of knocked the optimistic stuffing out of me I'm afraid. Even at my most
claret and blue of moments the best I can see is another 90 minutes of
tedium in a fixture that has, in recent seasons, barely troubled the needle
on the "excitement-ometer". Another awful 0-0 I'm afraid.
Enjoy the game – and have a great Christmas!
Last season 0-0 Having trouble sleeping? Slip a DVD of this one into the
player and you'll be asleep before Allardyce can say "bung".
Danger Man: Pedersen – the Norwegian has a shot on him.
Referee: Mike Dean – just what Grant needs when his job is on the line. A
match official who is, at his best, incompetent. At his worst he is
incompetent and dishonest, and he's at his worst a lot. This is the third
time this season we've been lumbered with this self-important idiot in the
league. Man Utd have only had him the once. Funny that.
Daft fact of the week: The "4,000 holes in Blackburn Lancashire" reference
in the Beatles "A Day In The Life" was inspired by a newspaper article
bemoaning the state of the borough's roads, and not, as those of us who have
been there might have thought, a comment on the dodgy nightlife.
Grant denies ultimatum rumours
Grant admits to approaching every game like it's his last
Last updated: 17th December 2010
Manager Avram Grant has denied speculation that he has been given an
ultimatum by the West Ham hierarchy. Recent media reports claim Grant, who
took over the reins at Upton Park from Gianfranco Zola in the summer, must
win one of his next three games to save his job. The Hammers are currently
four points adrift of safety having claimed just one win from their previous
11 Premier League games. And despite talk of Sam Allardyce being linked to
any potential vacancy which may crop up at the Boleyn Ground, Grant insists
all the rumours have no foundation.
"This is not true. Nobody from the board spoke with me about it," Grant
declared. "I speak with the owners all the time, but I didn't speak with
them about this specifically." Grant quipped: "I will make it more simple
for you - I approach every game like it's the last game of my job in
football. "When you are in the football business, especially when you are a
manager, you never know what is around the corner. "The first priority is
always the next 90 minutes and that's what we are focusing on, nothing
Grant remains fully focused on dragging the East End club off the bottom and
remains convinced his team can pick up the points they need to stay in the
top flight. "I have a job to do and I never felt differently," he said. "I
am thinking about how I can succeed with my team.
"If I thought I didn't believe in this team then maybe I need to think about
other things, but I believe in this team. "They showed good spirit last week
against Manchester City and that is what I need to focus on. "I don't need
to think about what is happening in one week or one month because I need to
think about things that I can control and not things I cannot control. "I
think we have a good chance to stay in the league, and that we have a good
chance of following our vision for the club, being a very good club next
year. "We know what we want from ourselves, but for the moment, we need to
take points to do it. "It's not a good situation, but it is something that
is possible. It's hard, but we can do it."
Blackburn v West Ham preview
No Maradona, but coach Kean gets chance
Last updated: 17th December 2010
Skysports.com prediction: 0-0
SKY BET odds: Blackburn 4/5, Draw 5/2, West Ham 7/2
The last three Premier League games between Blackburn and West Ham have all
ended as draws, with the last two being goalless - A 1-1 draw on Saturday is
13/2 - BET NOW
The Hammers have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 16 Premier
Leagye away games. Blackburn to win 3-0 is 14/1 - BET NOW
The only teams to win at Ewood Park this season are Arsenal and Chelsea. Can
West Ham make it a hat-trick of London wins at Blackburn? A 2-1 Blackburn
win is 14/1 - BET NOW
One to Watch: Jason Roberts
Steve Kean will be given an unofficial audition for the vacant Blackburn
manager's job when West Ham visit Ewood on Saturday. Former boss Sam
Allardyce was relieved of his duties in a shock dismissal earlier this week,
with Kean taking over on a temporary basis. Fans found out Diego Maradona
would not be handed the job, to the disappointment of many, and Kean has an
opportunity to prove he is a better choice than the maverick Argentine.
He has the perfect opportunity to take three points in front of the home
supporters, given that opponents are bottom-of-the-table West Ham. The
Hammers are having a dismal time down at the bottom of the Premier League
and Avram Grant's team have won just twice all season. That does not provide
a good omen for their trip to the North West but they will hope to transfer
their Carling Cup exploits into their league form.
Rovers still have a trio of key midfielders sidelined for the visit of the
Hammers. Vince Grella, Steven N'Zonzi and Keith Andrews will not play no
part as they are long-term injury victims. Otherwise, stand-in boss Kean has
a full squad to choose from as his side look to find some consistency that
would lift them up the table. Martin Olsson, Benjani and Nico Kalinic are
available after returning to the first-team fold in recent weeks.
West Ham news:
Mark Noble should be in contention for the trip to Lancashire but it will
come too soon for Anthony Edgar. The winger - injured in a pre-season clash
against Queens Park Rangers - has been sidelined with a knee problem. Edgar
made a return to reserve team action in midweek in a 45-minute showing at
Fulham and is expected to be back in contention in the New Year. Elsewhere,
Manuel da Costa (foot) and Thomas Hitzlsperger (thigh) are still out.
Blackburn: Robinson, Salgado, Givet, Samba, Olsson, Jones, Nelsen, Emerton,
Pedersen, Roberts, Diouf.
West Ham: Green, Upson, Ben-Haim, Tomkins, Spector, Parker, Stanislas,
Barrera, Faubert, Piquionne, Obinna.
Varney wants Blackpool stay
Striker does not plan to leave midway through the season
Last updated: 17th December 2010
Luke Varney insists he will not leave Blackpool before the end of the season
and has reiterated his wish to sign a permanent contract at Bloomfield Road.
The striker is on a season-long loan at Blackpool from Derby County and has
scored five goals for the Premier League's surprise package. However, Derby
are expected to try to sell the 28-year-old in the January transfer window
and the Seasiders could face competition from top-flight rivals West Brom
and West Ham. Blackpool will look to sign the former Crewe forward
permanently in the New Year and Varney is determined to stay with Ian
"I've said from the start that if there is in anything in place, I'd be
delighted to stay here," said Varney. "They have been fantastic to me and
gave me a great chance. "There's no way I'm going anywhere - I'm here until
at least the end of the season and then I'd love to sit down and sort things
out. "It's a place where I am really enjoying my football and I'm sure I
will continue to do so. I wouldn't be interested in going anywhere in
January, I've made that clear."
Karren Brady's Football Diary
SAT, DEC 11
THE current England boss Fabio Capello turns up to watch Man City's England
players and discovers only Joe Hart and Gareth Barry are among the starters.
The next England boss Harry Redknapp is also there and gives me that
old-fashioned look. "Lay off Scott Parker," I tell him. "He's staying with
us." Harry shrugs as Harry does. Fabio is reminded that while he's casting
an eye over City candidates, he shouldn't forget Parker. "He has to have a
chance, right?" Fabio winks - although whether it's because I'm a woman or
because he ain't tellin', I don't know. West Ham lose, horribly. We are in
big trouble here.
SUNDAY, DEC 12
MAN CITY owner Sheikh Mansour would be doing world football a service if he
told Carlos Tevez he can agitate for a transfer in whatever language he
likes but he won't be leaving Eastlands this season. Tevez and his
controller Kia Joorabchian are aiming a scattergun of excuses as to why
Tevez wishes to give up his £235,000 a week and head out. Don't let your
heartstrings be pulled by his refrain that he wants to be with his young
daughters in Buenos Aires because when he was given last week off he stayed
in Tenerife. Nor by his unwarranted attack on chief exec Garry Cook which,
I'm guessing, emanates from Joorabchian. So I'll go my usual way and 'follow
the money'. This tells me Joorabchian wants another payday, simple as that.
I think these salaries are disgustingly high, so what kind of greed is it
that demands more?
MONDAY, DEC 13
OUTSIDE observers predicting which two managers would be felled with the
later Christmas trees probably would have picked Mick McCarthy and Avram
Grant. Football isn't like that. The second to go, after Newcastle's Chris
Hughton last week, is Sam Allardyce today. At least there were a few smoke
signals from Tyneside; from Blackburn, not even a chicken squawk. Obviously,
Sam had upset someone almighty in the new owners' outfit. It might well be
Anuradha Desai, chairman of Venky's, which added the Lancashire club to its
portfolio as Asia's biggest poultry producer. Like all novices to the game,
she thinks she can sack a manager and replace him with a flick of her
elegantly varnished fingers. She'll find she knows as much about football as
Delilah knew about cutting hair. Sam, naturally, is spitting feathers.
TUESDAY, DEC 14
SEPP BLATTER is in South Africa boasting about the 'social and cultural
impact' of the World Cup there. Typically, it is British TV that reports
today on this fantasy impact: stadiums forlornly occupied by tiny crowds and
one used for bungee jumping. As a full member of the bad losers' club, I can
see something equally cultural in Russia, like snowboarding off the stadium
roof, or white-tiger shooting. As for Qatar, what will they do in their 14
stadiums once the tournament has gone? Perhaps stone the gays who fail to
follow Blatter's advice today to refrain from sex in the sand.
WEDNESDAY, DEC 15
INSTEAD of player videos and emails flooding our inboxes, why not a
Play-Bay, the transfer-window equivalent of eBay? While, with our
difficulties at Upton Park, we are on the lookout for good, experienced
players, I'm not at all sure there's room for 'the best uncapped player in
Brazil,' 'this dynamo from Croatia' or 'given a chance, the next Wayne
Rooney', let alone time for a not-to-be-missed interview with an agent.
So, thanks chaps, but no thanks. Yet, in a moment, I am changing from the
reluctant buyer into the eager borrower, phoning friends in the game to see
if anyone has a surplus player who could make a difference to us. On top of
this, there are the calls about our manager's future. All I'll say is that
he knows the team have to do better. David Sullivan and David Gold bought
West Ham out of love for the club. They want it to grow into a giant while
remaining true to its footballing traditions. Relegation in their first
season would be no way to start.
THURSDAY, DEC 16
BACK to Birmingham to receive an honorary doctorate in business in the Great
Hall of the Edgbaston-based university. I'm dressed up in a mortarboard and
gown and I feel I need only a cane to bring all those naughty footballers to
heel. FIFA secretary Jerome Valcke stirs up what I sense is the beginning of
a campaign to move the World Cup 2022 in Qatar from June-July to January,
only emphasising the stupidity of voting for the desert sheikhdom in the
first place. I just can't see the Premier League, as well as the leagues of
Italy, Spain, France and Germany all agreeing to such a proposal. If FIFA
are searching for a way to destroy their own authority, then surely this
ridiculous idea is it.
FRIDAY, DEC 17
SOMEONE asks me 'What's up, Doc?' as I glumly read an unexpected letter to
David Sullivan which proves the age of good manners is not dead - and that
our biggest summer signing will not be back for two months. It reads: "Nine
weeks after the surgery, I'm making good progress. However, it will still
take at least eight weeks before I can play again. "I'd like to thank you
for your support and patience. I'll do my very best to come back strongly
and work hard every day. Wishing you happy Christmas and look forward to
seeing you soon. "Kind regards, Thomas Hitzlsperger." Enough said.
By VIC HOLLY
AVRAM GRANT is convinced West Ham's owners are not about to sack him. The
former Chelsea boss believes he can dodge bullets as Alex Ferguson did early
in his Manchester United reign. Hammers travel to Blackburn as the Premier
League's bottom side and without an away win since the first day. But Grant
insisted David Sullivan and David Gold, who run the club with vice-chairman
Karren Brady, would tell him if he faced the axe. He said: "I am not naive.
I enjoy working with these new owners. I am speaking with them and what they
say I believe. "These two owners are very nice people. I believe in them and
they have not said anything different. "We speak about the team, about
January, how to improve and the financial situation, normal things I dealt
with at Chelsea with Roman Abramovich."
Grant is convinced he can weather the storm and go on to be a long-term
Upton Park fixture. He said: "I am very optimistic about the future. I know
we are not Manchester United or Arsenal - but when Sir Alex Ferguson and
Arsene Wenger started no one thought they would be where they are now. "I
don't like to compare these things but I know the future at West Ham,
despite the financial situation and our position in the league, can be good.
And this is the reason I am still speaking about this."
Ring Around the Manager – Game 18
By: Angela Poe
Will Allardyce be welcome in Upton Park on EITHER side on Saturday? Just a
few days ago, it was announced that Blackburn's new owners had sacked their
manager. Floods of calls, emails and letters came in to radio stations,
newspapers and websites from Blackburn fans who were seemingly pretty evenly
spilt on the decision. Some were relieved that they were finally rid of the
style of football Sam's become famous for that both keeps his clubs up in
the table and down in the mouth. Others were annoyed that they chose to do
so without a clear appointment in mind who could helm their transfer window
activities and plot a course for the second half of an odd Premier League
Speculation began to surround West Ham manager Uncle Avi Grant when news of
a board meeting and ultimatum swelled around the papers and in discussions
between fans. "Three games to improve or you're out" was the word and
looking at the fixture list I'd hope the next three games would yield some
points: Blackburn, Fulham — on Boxing Day — and Everton. Beating all of
them (while most of my fellow supporters would call that nothing short of a
Christmas miracle) would see us climbing out of the relegation zone almost
literally over the backs of those who would then be sinking into it. And
what a lovely place to be just before the transfer window.
I will barely mention the idea that should Sam be available and Grant fall
short of the board's demands, Allardyce could take over as the new manager
at West Ham. It would be a dire day for all of us as our hopes of being
able to play our style of football AND remain in the Premier League would
die. A choice would be made and Sam's appointment would make that choice
clear to us all.
I have never thought sacking the manager improves things instantly. After
all, we sacked Zola and aside from some great pre-season games and some
quality moments of that undeniably signature West Ham style of football
(albeit few and far between) we are actually lower on the table than we were
this time last season. It's clear to me that bringing on Wally Downes has
improved the confidence of our back four, improving some of their skills
remains to be seen, however it was a step in the right direction. There was
talk of bringing on Di Canio as an attacking coach which set all our hearts
aflutter and of course, the inevitable questions about what Avram Grant DOES
if he's not instilling confidence in the players will remain if things don't
get better soon. Still, part of the blame has to be with the players from
my perspective. Showing up defeated before the coin toss and turning in
performances unbecoming the shirts on their backs is starting to get as
tired as the same old apology email in my inbox on Monday mornings.
That said, we have one of those rare West Ham opportunities to face a side
as unsure about their leadership as we are and being old hands at it MIGHT
actually fare well for us and throw the game in our favour. They have some
key injuries, just as we do. They are having management issues, just as we
are. And most notably, their new owners seem about as clueless about
running their club as ours are, at the moment anyway.
The challenges we'll face in their squad will undoubtedly be Pedersen
(leading scorer) and Dunn (leading mouthpiece) who have shown they're ready
to charge forward against clubs like West Ham who give them plenty of space.
If we can close them down faster we'll have a chance at holding them to the
usual clean sheet we have enjoyed against Rovers in recent match-ups.
I would like to see the line-up include the following:
Jacobsen – Tomkins – Upson – Ben Haim
Dyer – Parker – Spector – Stanislas
Obinna – Piquionne
Swapping Obinna to the right side will allow a nice flow from Jacobsen to
Dyer freeing up Vic and Piq to get in the box and be open for that
signature Dyer-flick that often alludes Carlton Cole. Dyer is not afraid to
charge his way into the box and challenge the opposition's defense
man-on-man. All Vic and Piq have to do is stay ahead of him on their way to
the area and stay onside. If Spector and Stanislas can manage to create
something between them, again it leaves the Vic and Piq options to be wide
open to score in a way that has been lacking with the likes of LBM and Kovac
on the pitch.
I am eerily optimistic if Uncle Avi goes with this line-up since every time
we've seen Jacobsen, Dyer and Obinna line up on the same side: Blackpool –
draw, Wolves – draw and our 1-nil win over Spurs — we have taken away points
and were credited for playing well except for poor finishing.
OBVIOUS game-sinkers in my mind: Cole in the starting 11, Dyer coming off
before the end of the first half, giving them too much room in our half —
ESPECIALLY when we're still scoreless and Scott Parker carrying the world on
his shoulders without sitting back a little and let Jonny Specs have a go at
being the creator.
West Ham's Lars Jacobsen & Valon Behrami to face fitness tests before game
against Blackburn Rovers
Hammer's duo could return
By Omar Shahid
17 Dec 2010 23:03:00
West Ham will gice late fitness tests to defender Lars Jacobsen and Valon
Behrami ahead of the Premier League encounter against Blackburn on Saturday.
The Danish right-back has a heel problem while the Swiss midfielder is
suffering from a hip injury. Mark Noble (hip), Jack Collinson and Anthony
Edgar (both knee) are hopeful of returning in the new year for the Hammers,
and thus will also miss out. Meanwhile, Thomas Hitzlsperger (thigh) and
Manuel Da Costa (foot) are still sidelined. The Hammers will travel to Ewood
Park on Saturday bottom of the league table, looking to pull a string of
results together to escape the relegation zone.
Robert Green out injured to hand West Ham a goalkeeper crisis
By LAURA WILLIAMSON
Last updated at 1:20 AM on 18th December 2010
Robert Green has been ruled out of Saturday's trip to Blackburn to hand West
Ham manager Avram Grant a goalkeeping crisis as he fights to save his job.
The 30-year-old has taken longer than expected to recover from a minor
operation earlier in the week. To add to the relegation-threatened club's
problems his deputy, Czech rookie Marek Stech, 20, has damaged a hamstring
in training. The Hammers will make a late decision on whether to gamble on
giving Carling Cup keeper Stech a Barclays Premier League debut or ask
23-year-old Belgian Ruud Boffin to step in. Green is expected to be fit for
the Boxing Day trip to Fulham, but his absence today is a major blow for
Grant, who has admitted he treats every game as if it is his last. However,
the Israeli insisted he remains the man to save West Ham from relegation.
The Hammers travel to Blackburn hoping for a first League away win for 26
games. They are three points adrift at the bottom of the Premier League.
Grant said: 'I approach every game like it's the last game (but) I'm
optimistic about the future.' He said he had bumped into Chelsea boss Carlo
Ancelotti, who had been complaining of sleepless nights as his side's form
stuttered. 'Carlo was not sleeping and he was tired. It is not easy for
managers. Being a manager is a life without sleeping, sometimes. When you
say "football" today the second thing you say is "pressure". I think you can
direct the pressure to push you to achieve things. But it can kill you
also.' Despite the intense pressures of management, Blackburn caretaker boss
Steve Kean has staked his claim to land the job on a permanent basis and
played down conspiracy theories surrounding Sam Allardyce's departure from
Ewood Park. The decision to sack Allardyce on Monday sparked speculation
that he had fallen out with new Indian owners Venky's and their football
advisers Kentaro over transfer policy, in particular plans to sign players
from Kentaro's business partner Sport Entertainment and Media. Kean is a
client of SEM and said: 'I've been with SEM long before I was at Blackburn.
They're a worldwide organisation who have got lots of top sportsmen and top
managers, including Owen Coyle and Tony Pulis. 'It's something I'm proud of
and glad that SEM are happy to look after me. I don't see that as anything
other than positive and good for the rest of my areer. 'I would like to take
the Blackburn job. If the new owners brought somebody else in and asked me
to be assistant or coach, I'd be open to that too. 'I'd like to stay in some
capacity. It has always been in my mind one day to be a manager of a Premier