Scott Parker and Robert Green have been called up again by Fabio Capello for
the Three Lions
Robert Green and Scott Parker have been named in the England squad for next
Saturday's UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier away to Wales. The duo are part of a
strong selection that will also be involved in a friendly on Tuesday week
against Ghana at Wembley. Eleven-times capped Green missed out last month,
when Parker returned to the England fold for the first time since October
2006 and played the second half of a 2-1 friendly win in Denmark on 9
February. Green and Parker, capped four times, could line up against
club-mate Danny Gabbidon, who is back in the Wales squad for the first time
since reversing his decision to retire from international football.
Goalkeepers: Ben Foster, Robert Green, Joe Hart;
Defenders: Leighton Baines, Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole, Michael Dawson, Phil
Jagielka, Glen Johnson, Joleon Lescott, John Terry, Kyle Walker;
Midfielders: Gareth Barry, Stewart Downing, Matthew Jarvis, Frank Lampard,
Aaron Lennon, James Milner, Scott Parker, Jack Wilshere, Ashley Young;
Forwards: Darren Bent, Andy Carroll, Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe, Wayne
Eleven international Hammers
The majority of the Hammers squad look set to be called into action by their
A large number of West Ham United players have been called-up for
international duty by their respective nations.
Eleven players - Demba Ba, Pablo Barrera, Danny Gabbidon, Robert Green,
Herita Ilunga, Lars Jacobsen, Robbie Keane, Victor Obinna, Scott Parker,
Winston Reid (pictured)and Jonathan Spector - will be away on senior duty,
while James Tomkins, Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson and Marek Stech have been named
in Under-21 squads.
Five scholars - Matthias Fanimo, Blair Turgott, Sebastian Lletget, Danny
Purdy, Eoin Wearen - will turn out for their nations at age-group level,
while schoolboy Leo Chambers has been included by England at U16 level.
Next Saturday, Gabbidon's Wales host England - for whom Green and Parker
could both feature - in an eagerly-anticipated Group G tie at Cardiff's
Millennium Stadium. England sit second in the standings with seven points
from three matches, while Wales are pointless and bottom of the group.
However, the Welsh will be hopeful of pulling off an upset under the
guidance of new manager Gary Speed.
Republic of Ireland captain Keane will be hoping to lead his country to a
Group B victory over FYR Macedonia at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. The Irish
sit second in the Group B table, two points behind leaders Russia.
Jacobsen's Denmark face a vital trip to Oslo to face Norway on the same
date, 26 March. The Danes sit third in Group H, three points behind leaders
Norway, with both teams having contested three matches.
Spector has been included in the United States squad for their home friendly
matches against Argentina in East Rutherford, New Jersey on 26 March and
Paraguay in Nashville, Tennessee, on 29 March.
Further afield, Ba will be part of the Senegal squad that receives Cameroon
in Dakar for a CAF Africa Cup of Nations Group E qualifier. In the same
group, Ilunga's DR Congo host Mauritius in Kinshasa.
In Group B, Obinna's Nigeria will be hoping to overhaul leaders Guinea when
they entertain Ethiopia in Abuja.
Barrera will turn out for Mexico in two friendly matches being held in the
American state of California. Mexico will face Paraguay in Oakland on 26
March before taking on Venezuela in San Diego on 29 March.
Reid will be travelling the furthest of any West Ham player to represent his
country when New Zealand take on China in an international friendly in
Beijing on 25 March. A second friendly against Japan is scheduled to be
played in Tokyo on 29 March, with the Japanese FA confirming the match will
go ahead despite the recent devastation caused by an earthquake and tsunami
in the Far East country.
At U21 level, Eyjolfsson and Stech will continue their preparations for this
summer's UEFA European U21 Championship finals.
Eyjolfsson's Iceland travel to Ukraine and England - a fixture Tomkins could
also be involved in - for friendly matches on 24 March and 28 March
respectively, while Stech's Czech Republic host Belarus and France on 25
March and 29 March respectively.
Tomkins could also get some match action when the Young Lions travel to UEFA
European Under-21 Championship hosts Denmark on 24 March, a taste of what
they could expect at this summer's finals.
Lletget is in the United States squad for the 2011 CONCACAF U20 Championship
in Guatemala. The Americans will face Surinam and Panama in the group stage,
with the four semi-finalists qualifying for the 2011 FIFA U20 World Cup in
Colombia in July.
Second-year scholars Wearen and Purdy in Republic of Ireland's U19 squad for
a trip to Cyprus, where they will take on the Cyrpiot U19s and a Paralimni
U21 side on 26 March and 29 March respectively.
At U17 level, Fanimo and Turgott will travel to Belgium as England continues
their defence of the UEFA European U17 Championship title. The first-year
scholars face Elite Round qualifying matches against Northern Ireland,
Belgium and Spain between 26 March and 31 March.
Finally, schoolboy Chambers will hope to be involved when England U16s take
on Scotland in a re-arranged Victory Shield tie at Morecambe FC's Globe
Arena on 30 March.
Noble eyes Euro push
Hammers midfielder confident club are on the right track
Last updated: 20th March 2011
Mark Noble believes it is only a matter of time before West Ham are chasing
European qualification. The Hammers have spent the last few years toiling at
the wrong end of the Premier League table, and find themselves locked in a
relegation battle again this season. There are, however, signs that better
times lie ahead, with a 0-0 draw with top-four chasing Tottenham on Saturday
proving they can compete with England's elite. Productive business in the
January transfer window has helped West Ham to start edging clear of
trouble, with Demba Ba, Wayne Bridgeand Robbie Keane adding quality and
experience to the Upton Park ranks. Noble hopes such signings are an
indication of things to come, with there no reason why the Hammers cannot be
competing for a lofty finish in the not too distant future should they be
able to entice high-calibre recruits to the East End. He said: "I would be
the first to say that it hasn't been going well for the last few years but
if we can bring in players like that, do good business in the windows, with
the foundations we have, the fans we have, and the club how it is, there is
no reason why we can't do what Tottenham are doing."
Bridge was among those to star for the Hammers again over the weekend, as he
kept Aaron Lennon quiet. His progress since signing on loan from Manchester
City has been marked, with a difficult debut against Arsenal long since
forgotten. Noble believes the full-back should now reconsider his
international exile, with Fabio Capello likely to be keen on adding him to
the England fold. The midfielder said: "Bridgey hadn't been playing for a
year when he made his debut, and playing against Theo Walcott is not the
easiest task. "But he has not let it affect him - he is an international and
he knows how good he is. "I am sure that if he keeps playing the way he does
then Mr Capello will be on the phone to him."
Vinny's Tottenham Report
Vinny - Sun Mar 20 2011
West Ham Online
Tottenham Hotspur 0 West Ham United 0
A brave and committed performance saw West Ham come away from White Hart
Lane with a credible draw as the hunt for Premiership survival continues.
Spurs had a number of chances to score but with Robert Green having one of
his unbeatable days they could not find a way past him.
We did have the chances to nick all three points ourselves with a glorious
chance for Carlton Cole in the first half which was poorly executed when
just about every other striker we have at the club would have put it away.
We fought and we battled and if anyone questioned the commitment of this
team earlier in the season then I urge you to watch this game and see that
this group of players are working to get this team out of trouble and if we
do go down it will not be from a lack of effort.
Even last week in the 2-1 FA Cup defeat at Stoke, whilst I thought we were
poor for a lot of the game we never gave up and were very unlucky not have
grabbed an equaliser that I had convinced myself was coming.
As long as the team keeps working and compete then we have a chance and this
point gained was an important one and I think we can be very pleased at the
display and the result.
Avram Grant made a few changes to the side the lost up at the Britannia last
The first change came in defence as James Tomkins was dropped to the bench
with Lars Jacobsen coming in at right back. This saw Upson line up alongside
Da Costa at centre half.
Whilst this was unlucky for Tomkins, with the width and quality Spurs have
in Gareth Bale we needed a natural full back to deal with him and as Da
Costa has been in good form, Tomkins was simply the fall guy.
There were two other changes with Victor Obinna dropping to the bench and
Gary O'Neil returning to the starting line up as he was Cup Tied for the
Frederique Piquionne did not recover from the injury he sustained against
Stoke so Demba Ba returned from being rested (?) against Stoke to take his
place up front alongside Carlton Cole.
Starting for Tottenham was former Hammer Jermaine Defoe.
We initially looked to have started well as we were passing it about and
keeping the ball but the moment it was given away it was Spurs on the attack
and those first ten minutes were difficult for us to settle down.
With three minutes on the clock Modric found some space and knocked the ball
back to the end of the area to centre half Michael Dawson who curled his
shot towards goal, beating Green but not the cross bar but lucky for us it
went over in the process.
Modric was again involved a few minutes later when released Gareth Bale down
the left and the Welsh midfielder crossed the ball into the area for Defoe
to get in front of the napping Da Costa and prod his finish just wide of the
These were warning signs to the type of threat we would be up against
throughout the game and needed to get our better players on the ball and
keep possession of it.
Carlton Cole had our first 'effort' on goal, if you can even call it that as
he cut inside on the left hand side and hit a tame effort at Gomes in the
Cole would have another chance moments later when good work from Parker and
Hitzlsperger saw the latter play a nice ball over the top for Cole but the
striker tried to take it first time when a bit of control would have surely
seen him get a better chance of scoring.
At the other end a corner for Spurs was played short to Modric who cut
inside and unleashed a powerful left foot shot which fizzed just wide of
Robert Green's goal.
Another corner concede was played to the edge of the area to Van Der Vaart
who took it on the first time half volley which saw the Dutch international
connect well enough but the shot went wide.
On the 20 minute mark we should have taken the lead as we produced the most
clear cut chance of the game.
Hitzlsperger played the ball inside to Demba Ba who took a touch and played
a delightful ball through to Cole who had made a good run in behind the
defender and with just the keeper to beat Cole hit a tame left foot effort
into the arms of Gomes.
We then had our best spell of the game and frustrated Spurs. We were getting
stuck in and keeping the ball for longer periods. Aaron Lennon the right
hand side for Spurs was finding no joy up against Wayne Bridge and even the
much lauded Bale was struggling to make an impact.
This saw both players swap sides in an attempt to make something happen and
with a few minutes of the first half remaining it very nearly paid off.
We gave the ball away needlessly when attempting to counter attack and with
players committed having gone forward we were struggling and Lennon took on
Jacobsen, cut inside and hit a shot which smacked off the post and out to
Defoe but the striker could not adjust his feet and it went harmless out for
a goal kick.
With the half time whistle approaching, Scott Parker was the first West Ham
player to go into the book after a mistimed challenge on Van Der Vaart.
Whilst you never want to see your players get bookings I did enjoy the
physical side to our game as we got stuck into them which is how you need to
play against a side like Spurs.
No changes were made to either side at half time in an intriguing game which
I was still very nervous about.
I think I may have been nervous because I thought we could actually beat
Spurs. I used to always be anxious about every game when I was younger as a
West Ham defeat would really crush me and whilst I will still get down if we
lose it doesn't have the same effect as it once did - but a game against
Tottenham sees those old feelings strong as ever as I am desperate to beat a
team which for many reasons, I cannot stand.
Just thirty seconds of the second half were on the clock when Cole was
released and cut inside, hitting a right foot shot which had to be pushed
away by Gomes in a strong start from the away side.
Spurs really should have taken he lead when Modric got into the area and
crossed for Defoe who was just a couple of yards out but somehow his shot
was saved by Robert Green in a quite remarkable stop to keep the score
An excellent counter attack saw Gary O'Neil burst into space and crossed the
ball into the area and the ball hit of Dawson and looped into the area which
saw Mark Noble attempted an overhead kick which went just wide. Cole may
have been best placed to take the shot but Noble thought he could do it
himself and was unlucky it what would have been one of the greatest West Ham
goals of modern times.
With 64 minutes on the clock another chance at the Spurs goal was made when
Demba Ba got the ball, burst forward and hit a powerful right foot shot
which was tipped round the post by Gomes.
Noble would have another chance soon after and he should have done a lot
better with it. We were countering well and another break away move saw Cole
pick out Noble who was in space on the edge of the area and the midfielder
failed to take his shot first time and instead hit a shot with the outside
of his boot which went wide.
We were getting into the period of the game where we needed to be focussed
and Scott Parker was doing his best to keep the intensity up by tracking
runners and making tackles. This was important because I felt it inspired
the rest of the players to keep going as some were by this point looking
There was one last great chance for Tottenham to take all three points and
that came from a free kick which had been given away by Matthew Upson.
Stepping up to take it was Gareth Bale who curled it over the wall only for
Robert Green to make a stunning save and push it on to the cross bar. As the
ball came out Lars Jacobsen reacted the quickest and prevented the ball from
being bundled over the line and we eventually got it away.
We may have ridden our luck at times but we had chances of our own to win
the game also. When playing a side with the amount of quality Spurs possess
you are going to need bit of luck but the determination and effort the
players showed made this a point well deserved.
We needed him to be on form and he certainly was. Green showed why he is
still one of the best keepers in the league and how important he is to our
A good decision to bring him back into the side and Bale got little joy out
of Jacobsen as the Danish right back stood firm and defended well.
A brave performance from Upson. This was a display with the type of
aggression we have been crying out to see from our captain. I thought he was
immense for the majority of the game.
Manuel Da Costa
Seemed to pick up a knock in the first half and I was sure Tomkins was about
to replace him but he kept going and like Upson he was strong and in the
right place at the right time numerous times.
Make no doubt about it - this was a magnificent performance from Wayne
Bridge. He was absolutely superb and whilst Robert Green was brilliant,
Bridge is my man of the match. We had all been concerned that Lennon would
trouble us but Bridge marked him out of the game. Then Bale tried his luck
against Bridge but he just forced him to come inside and made sure he posed
Was a little dead on his feet in those final 20 minutes but worked
tirelessly. Since he came into the side he has give us an work rate and
intensity which we had only been used to seeing in Parker. To have two
players like this in your midfield is important and it is no coincidence
that since he came into the side we have done better.
Fantastic as always. I thought he was keeping everyone going in the second
half and making sure we kept up our high energy levels.
Noble knows exactly what it means to play against Tottenham. He may not have
great pace or skill but I thought he worked so hard for the team and I was
proud of the way Noble went about his game.
Playing more as a wide attacking forward, O'Neil did well when he got
forward but his tracking back was important as he could easily double as the
attacking wide man or come inside to help the midfield out.
In and out of the game but you always feel he has a goal in him. Showed some
good touches and control now and again and was very unlucky not to score
with a good effort in the second half.
He did not hide and was involved in the game but his finishing in the first
half was really dire. I'm not going to use the easy and unfair criticism
that 'he's lazy' because he's not. He just isn't a great finisher when he
has got time and the majority of his goals will come from instinctive
Victor Obinna (on for Cole 78 mins)
I have to say I cannot recall him seeing much of the ball.
Subs Not Used: Boffin, Gabbidon, Sears, Hines, Boa Morte, Tomkins
Bookings: Parker, Noble, Cole, Upson
Man Of The Match: Wayne Bridge
Tottenham Hotspur: Gomes, Corluka (Hutton 78), Gallas, Dawson, Assou-Ekotto,
Sandro, Bale, Modric, Lennon, Van der Vaart (Pavlyuchenko 72), Defoe
Subs: Pletikosa, Bassong, Jenas, Kranjcar, Crouch
Attendance: 36, 010
We are now four league games unbeaten, and have kept two consecutive clean
sheets. Things are getting better and we just need to keep going and I am
now convinced we will avoid relegation.
The team are working well as a unit and this performance was encouraging in
that everyone worked for each other and defended really well to ensure we
came away with something.
Next Game - Manchester United (h)
Games do not get more difficult that against Manchester United who are
currently top of the league and look sure to win the league again this
But why is it that I do not fear them? Why is it that I think that we could
actually beat them? Not draw, but win? Have I crossed into the foolish world
of over confidence?
Like this game against Spurs we will be given no chance of getting anything
from the game yet there is something about the team at the moment and the
way we are playing that gives me hope that we can get something from the
With the international weekend coming up it gives the players time to
re-cooperate and go into the final eight games of the season ready for the
massive challenge ahead.
The View From Avram
"My team did very well,"We were mentally strong, we defended well. But we
also had our chances. We created two big chances in the first half from
"In the second half, Mark [Noble] had a good overhead kick and Demba [Ba]had
a great shot. We were against a very good team, in a very difficult stadium
and I am delighted with the performance."
"We were calm, it is important when you come here. They have a lot of good
players, especially in attack and they know how to play good football. It is
difficult to play against them. The result is very good for us.
"We were in a good moment but this will help our momentum. I saw the
strength of the team when we were not in a good time. We continued to do the
right things and are getting the rewards.
"All the January signings have done well, we needed them. We had a lot of
problems but Wayne, Robbie, Demba and Gary [O'Neil] have helped us a lot.
Hitzlsperger is also playing well. It is easier for the players. Still we
can play better.
"We have a good chance of staying up. We were five points behind at one
point. It will be a battle to the end but if you see the football we are
playing we deserve to stay in the Premier League but we know there is no
deserve in football."
Wayne was just Terry good
WAYNE BRIDGE chose the day John Terry was restored to England captain to
turn in his best performance of the season. Ironic hey? Because West Ham's
on-loan star quit the Three Lions last year after Terry's alleged affair
with his former partner. And he still insists there will be no going back.
Which is a shame because he single-handedly saw off Gareth Bale, Aaron
Lennon and Rafael van der Vaart to help the Hammers gain a valuable point.
Team-mate Mark Noble said: "Bridgie is quality and I'm sure if he keeps
playing the way he is, Mr Capello will be on the phone."
Irons man: West Ham's future is on the line... will the steel of Scott
Parker save them?
By MATT LAWTON
Last updated at 1:01 PM on 20th March 2011
While West Ham's new owners endeavour to keep the wolf from the door, Scott
Parker will do what he can to keep Wolves in check at Upton Park this
Nobody needed to tell West Ham's finest player just how significant a match
he and his colleagues face when he drove into the club's Chadwell Heath
training ground yesterday. 'It's massive,' he said. 'Probably the biggest
game of the season. 'Every home game we have between now and the end of the
season is one we can win and we'll probably be saying the same thing before
each one. But we've had four defeats in a row and we need to turn things
around - and fast.' It is a potentially desperate situation. Maybe not quite
what David Sullivan has compared to 'Armageddon'. But serious enough for
Parker to feel a deep sense of responsibility. Serious enough for him to
fear for the impact that failure to remain in the Barclays Premier League
After tonight there are home games against Stoke, Sunderland, Wigan and
Manchester City in addition to rather more daunting visits to Everton,
Liverpool and Fulham. You can see Parker's point. Sullivan has spoken of
pay-cuts across the board, possibly even if they survive the drop, and while
Parker does not feel that now is the time to respond publicly to the new
joint-chairman, he does understand how lives could be affected. How some
people at the club could even lose their jobs.
'There have obviously been problems here,' says Parker. 'It's been a tough
time for the club on and off the field. A lot of uncertainty. 'But I've read
what the new owners have been saying and they are massive West Ham fans who
want the club to go forward. Right now we all need to pull together and make
sure we're still in the Premier League next season. We have to fight on. 'It
hasn't been easy. We've had to sell players and when you look at the squad
compared to a year ago, we've lost some key individuals. Respect has to go
to the manager for dealing with that and to Steve Clarke, who's probably the
best coach I've worked with. At Chelsea and here. 'But at the same time we
also have to take responsibility. We haven't quite delivered what we should
have as players and as a team and we need to put that right.'
Parker is handsomely paid. Among the highest at Upton Park. But in this
modern era of the millionaire footballer he remains refreshingly old school.
A 29-year-old going on 49 judging by the maturity he displayed during our
conversation. He has his opinions on the issues he considers important and
he is not afraid to express them. He can see that some clubs, West Ham and
Portsmouth among them, are victims of their own excess. Of a period of
financial irresponsibility. 'There is a feeling that things aren't as
healthy as they were a few years ago,' says Parker. 'People came in and
invested a lot of money for the game. Whether it was for the right reasons
or simply driven by ego I don't know. 'But when you look at the Portsmouth
situation, and even our situation here, it is opening people's eyes. The way
football clubs are run looks like it needs to change simply because football
clubs are not as healthy financially as they should be. 'It was exciting at
first. I was at Chelsea when Roman Abramovich arrived. I remember seeing his
boat coming into port in Monaco. Just incredible. He started to spend big
and others followed.'
The razzmatazz of Chelsea never really suited Parker. 'Moving there from
Charlton, I struggled to adapt,' he says. 'I might have made more of the
opportunity had I been a bit older. I was only 23. But I found it a bit of
culture shock. Very different to what I was used to. 'When I did start to
settle in and started to turn a corner with Jose Mourinho, I broke my foot
and that was pretty much that. Newcastle came in and I moved on.' Under the
strict guidance of manager Alan Curbishley, a man whose personality clearly
borders on the obsessive, Parker likes to think he was brought up the right
way during those early days at Charlton.
Under Curbishley you respected everyone and everything. From the manager to
the water bottle he gave you at the start of each season. 'If you left it
lying around, he made a massive issue of it,' recalls Parker. 'And if you
lost it, you had to pay for a new one. He expected you to look after it.
'Curbs was the same with all the kit you were given. He'd go potty if
someone left their flip-flops in the middle of the dressing room floor. And
you'd always see him out there after training, collecting all the balls.
When I think about it now, he probably does have OCD. 'Seeing Roman's yacht
in Monaco was incredible' 'But things were run on a tight budget at Charlton
and all those things cost money. He understood that and he made us
understand it, too.' Parker also applies an old school attitude to his
playing philosophy. On Saturday a slight hamstring injury persuaded West Ham
manager Gianfranco Zola to rest him for this evening's relegation scrap with
Wolves. But that weekend visit to Arsenal leads to another topic of
discussion. In the wake of the recent Ryan Shawcross controversy, the issue
of tackling in the English game. Few players in the Premier League can
consider themselves a more effective tackler than Parker. A technically
excellent midfielder, he has it down to a fine art. 'I do believe it is an
art form,' he says. '
In the same way it is when Samir Nasri somehow manages to keep the ball at
his feet while beating three players. 'A good tackler has mastered an art
form. You can see that if you watch Wilson Palacios at Tottenham. Or Yaya
Toure at Barcelona. He plays a slightly different style but he knows how do
the job. When I went to Chelsea I worked as an understudy to Claude Makelele
and I learnt a lot off him and the way he played.' So what is Parker's take
on what happened to Aaron Ramsey? Does Arsene Wenger have a point when it
comes to Shawcross? Is there a problem that needs to be addressed in the
English game? 'I didn't see malice in the tackle,' says Parker. 'I saw a
bit of clumsiness. It was mistimed. Add to that the fact that you've got a
6ft plus defender who's probably 13 or 14 stone tackling a young kid; it's
like putting David Haye in the ring with Manny Pacquiao. There's only going
to be one outcome. The science would tell you that. If he mistimes the
tackle, Aaron Ramsey is going to get hurt. 'If I was Mr Wenger I'd also be
scratching my head, not least because it's not the first time this has
happened to Arsenal. They've had three injuries like this in the last few
years and Ramsey is such a great talent. I really can sympathise with what
Mr Wenger has been saying. 'I love the way we play the game in England'
'At the same time, though, I don't believe teams go out to hurt Arsenal
players. Not for one second. It's probably more down to the way most teams
approach a game against Arsenal, because of the kind of team Arsenal have
become. 'Most clubs know that if you are competitive against them you might
get a result just as they know that if they try to play football against
Arsenal they are not going to win. That's the reality. They're too good. I
think Mr Wenger understands that.'
But is there a cultural problem in this country?
'I love the way we play the game in England,' says Parker. 'We have a blend
of aggression and flair here, thanks to the foreign players, that makes this
the best league in the world. 'It's quick tempo. Nine times out of 10 you
get a very exciting football match. I think it's what makes our game great.
I don't think we need to change. I think it would be a massive shame if we
tried to change it. 'I speak to Valon Behrami, who joined us from Lazio. He
has an English mentality in the way he plays. He's robust, competitive. And
he says the difference between here and Italy is massive. Worlds apart. 'It
really is part of our culture. Other than when someone scores a goal, the
biggest cheer you hear on a Saturday is when someone puts in a good tackle.
It's the way we are brought up. It's what everyone wants to see.
'I can understand why foreign players and managers come to this country and
think it's too aggressive. They are used to a more technical, slightly less
'I was at Lilleshall with Alan Smith, Michael Owen, Wes Brown and Joe Cole
and under Keith Blunt, who was old school, we were taught to be aggressive;
taught to win the ball and taught to win the game.'
Players have to take responsibility but much of it, says Parker, simply
rests with the referees. 'They probably let more go in this country,' he
says. 'But our referees are full-time professionals now and they know
there's a difference between a tackle that is going to hurt someone and a
fair tackle that is executed to win the ball.'
Against Wolves tonight, Parker intends to demonstrate as much from the first
minute to the last.
Avram Grant: They told me I was like Brooking as a player but really I was
more of a Platini... then a car smashed into me
By MATT LAWTON Chief Football Correspondent
Last updated at 1:07 PM on 20th March 2011
Avram Grant had just suggested to his mother that they cross at a safer
point in the road when the motorcycle struck him. He was thrown 33 metres,
only to then be hit by a car coming from the opposite direction. A promising
17-year-old footballer's career was certainly over, but for two weeks his
family feared his life was over as well. 'It took me two weeks to regain
full consciousness,' says Grant. 'And two months to even get out of bed. I
remember the day they let me use a wheelchair. It was freedom. One of the
happiest days of my life. 'You know the irony? We were going to the hospital
to visit my niece, who had been in a car accident. They said I had broken
just about every bone down the left side of my body, with two bones within
an inch of my heart.' The doctors told Grant he would walk but never play
football at any kind of level again. 'And I was good!' he says with a smile
and a touch of mock indignation. 'A technical, attacking midfielder who
scored goals. People compared me to Trevor Brooking. Looking back I think I
was more like Platini!' After a year of painful rehabilitation, he decided
to return to his club near Tel Aviv, Hapoel Petah Tikva, as the youth team
coach. 'I was 18-and-a-half,' he says. 'But I took to it immediately. I had
been captain of teams I had played for and I loved helping players improve.'
Grant was in the job for more than 13 years, but in that time took every
opportunity to educate himself. He studied at the university in Tel Aviv for
a degree in psychology and physical education, and travelled as much as he
could, often with his football-mad Uncle Jacob, to learn from the greats of
the game. As a teenager he went to watch Ron Greenwood's West Ham train and
also recalls observing Hennes Weisweiler, the legendary coach of the
Borussia Monchengladbach side that lost the 1977 European Cup final to
Liverpool. 'I quickly realised that, because of the quality of the football,
I could only learn so much in Israel,' he says. 'I would go to England five
or six times a year, and to other parts of Europe. To Milan, Madrid. I saw
Fabio Capello in Roma and during his first spell in Madrid. Just to study
Grant's rise from youth coach to manager by the time he was 31 is something
that defines him and something, after what has been a difficult start to his
tenure at Upton Park, that should give supporters of West Ham a better idea
of the man now in charge of their club's destiny. He is a fighter; someone,
from the moment he was struck by that motorcycle, who has been battling
against adversity for most of his life. For the most part he has been
winning, given the success he enjoyed in Israel and since he arrived in the
Barclays Premier League. At home, he amassed 10 major domestic trophies,
with four league titles among them, before a decent stint with the national
team was then followed by his brief but dramatic spells with Chelsea, who
West Ham face at Upton Park today, and Portsmouth. In the 87 matches with
the two clubs, he managed to reach a Champions League final, two Wembley
finals and came within a whisker of winning the Premier League title, too.
Not bad for a 55-year-old guy who, on both occasions, became manager after
the season had started. Having sat down for a spot of lunch in London's West
End, he reflects candidly for the first time on the chaos he encountered at
Fratton Park. He talks about working for a club that was going bust with
players who were not even being paid on time; players who responded to the
dismissal of training ground staff by paying their wages to keep them on. 'I
can't really describe what it was like,' he says. 'But you are from the
media so I will put it like this. The media sometimes create a big story
from a small story. In this instance the story was so much bigger than even
the media realised. 'There are still things I don't know and to be honest I
didn't want to know too much at the time. I had to focus on the football
side and put all my energy into what was a difficult enough challenge. I
didn't want the distraction of all the financial problems. But there were
obviously many things that were wrong. I don't know what happened to all the
money when all those players were sold. But I was made certain promises when
I took the job. That money would be reinvested in the team. It was why I
agreed to have a big chunk of my salary set aside for a bonus for keeping
'But the money never materialised, the club went into administration, the
team was docked nine points and that was that. Nobody has ever explained to
me what went wrong. I would like to know but I'm not sure any of us will
ever know.' At Chelsea, where the players were left stunned by the sudden
departure of Jose Mourinho, and also at Portsmouth it was a case of
combining crisis-management with football management. But the challenge at
Fratton Park was one that Grant relished. A challenge that drew on every
ounce of his experience and wisdom. 'It was very difficult,' he says. 'There
was one day when the players had a meeting after they had again not been
paid and many of the staff had been fired. 'I said we have two choices. We
can give up and we will go to the beach. Or we can fight on. But if we do,
let's really fight. I don't want somewhere in-between. I am not interested
in that. 'And they took the decision to fight. They paid the money to keep
on some of the training ground staff and we played with spirit. I was very
proud of what happened. We did a good service to English football, because
we kept fighting. We believed in the spirit of the game and we protected the
integrity of the competition. We won games. We got to the FA Cup final. And
again one penalty from glory.' He also hopes the Premier League recognise
Portsmouth for the cautionary tale that it is. 'Look, the people who run the
Premier League have created a great league. But they need to be careful.
Right now it is the best league in the world but the Germans had the best
league in the world at one stage and so did the Italians. 'The fact is,
anybody can buy a team here without guarantees and they really do need to
look at that. You can buy a club even if you don't have money. And at
Portsmouth, in the end, it was the supporters who got punished and that is
Amid the financial chaos that reigned under Icelandic ownership, the
supporters of West Ham have suffered, too. And they are worried now, given
that their team have failed to take a single point from their first three
Premier League games under Grant's guidance. But the man in charge is not
panicking. 'You can never be calm in football,' he says. 'But I am sure we
are going in the right direction. We have not had an easy star t . Now we
play Chelsea; another difficul t game. And we have been unlucky with
injuries. Thomas Hitzlsperger and Pablo Barrera have been two important
signings but both were injured in international matches before the star t of
the season and we have missed them.' Last weekend, reports suggested Grant
was already under pressure. That the club's owners, David Sullivan and David
Gold, were beginning to get itchy trigger fingers. 'Those stories are
absolutely not true,' he says. 'I have spoken to the owners and they know
where we are. When I took the job they said it is going to be tough. They
took over a club with many debts and the first task is to regain financial
stability. 'We agreed that for the first season we just have to stay in this
league. That is the objective. I want to build something exciting here.
Something to be proud of because West Ham is a great football club.
'I signed a four-year contract because I have a vision that the owners
share. But they are also responsible people. The kind of people a club like
Portsmouth needed. 'Nobody is happy that we have no points. The picture
might not be good now but it is one that will improve. I know it will.'
After nearly 40 years in coaching, West Ham should certainly trust his
Disciplined West Ham United defence holds Tottenham Hotspur to a draw
Robert Green outstanding in goal for Hammers
Jermain Defoe fails to score 100th goal for Spurs
Tottenham Hotspur 0 West Ham United 0
David Lacey at White Hart Lane
The Guardian, Monday 21 March 2011
One scoreless draw with Milan having taken Tottenham Hotspur to the
quarter-finals of this season's Champions League, another, with West Ham
United, has left them to contemplate the prospect of playing in the
wasteland of next season's Europa League. Spurs' failure to break down Avram
Grant's newly resilient side, while missing the chances that did come their
way, deepened the roots they are putting down in fifth place. Tottenham's
imminent encounters with Real Madrid have rightly stirred the imagination
but they need to end a flat patch in the Premier League if they are to
retain serious hopes of again finishing in the top four. Certainly they
would have expected to take more than a paltry two points from games against
Blackpool, Wolverhampton Wanderers and West Ham.
When a manager starts to get philosophical that is the time to worry. "If we
don't do it this time we'll try again next season," said Harry Redknapp.
"What can you do ? I think we can win the Premier League with this club.
There is a championship in Tottenham and it's my ambition to win it. If we
keep improving, who knows?"
Many of Redknapp's predecessors at White Hart Lane have found themselves
thinking along similar lines. Yet the reality is that only Arthur Rowe, in
1951, and Bill Nicholson 10 years later have won league titles with Spurs.
If points were awarded for artistic impression Spurs might be up there with
Arsenal but in the league their history is full of promises unfulfilled.
A bit like the game on Saturday. Luka Modric was everywhere, setting up
moves, creating space, finding angles and linking the play, but when it came
to finding the net Spurs were frustrated by a combination of post, crossbar,
the goalkeeping of Robert Green and their own profligacy. "I love the way we
played," said Redknapp. "That's how it goes. Some games you play crap and
end up winning. Today we just didn't get the break. We had so many chances
it was crazy."
A number fell to Jermain Defoe, who could have marked his 250th appearance
for the club with his 100th goal but was off target, too late to get a touch
or thwarted by Green's reflexes. Defoe's overall scoring record is good but
in the Premier League this season he has found the net only twice, both at
Molineux a fortnight ago. He has become not so much a goalscorer as a player
who sometimes scores goals and against West Ham his afternoon was summed up
when a shot from Aaron Lennon cannoned back off a post, hit Defoe and
Tottenham's attack had begun to look prolific when the newly arrived Rafael
van der Vaart struck up an understanding with Peter Crouch. But Crouch
stayed on the bench on Saturday while Van der Vaart seemed off the pace
after his recent calf injury. In fact Spurs were more likely to score once
the Dutchman had given way to Roman Pavlyuchenko, Van der Vaart leaving the
arena in what looked suspiciously like a huff. Redknapp told TV he would be
speaking to the player today, but later said he might not bother.
Carlton Cole missed two early chances to put West Ham ahead but in the main
their performance thrived on the organisation and discipline of their
defence, in which Wayne Bridge was outstanding, and the excellence of Green.
The moment five minutes from the end when Green touched a free-kick from
Gareth Bale on to the bar before Lars Jacobsen hooked the rebound off the
line said everything about the revival at Upton Park.