Joey O'Brien is expecting West Ham United to draw on their togetherness when
they face Blackpool
Joey O'Brien has lauded the togetherness of the West Ham United squad ahead
of Tuesday's npower Championship trip to Blackpool. The full-back has made a
successful return to the Hammers starting XI in recent weeks after missing
the games against Ipswich and Nottingham Forest through injury and his form
has coincided with the Hammers picking up four points from two games despite
playing both with a man down. Now the Ireland international wants the squad
to use the siege mentality created during those fixtures to secure a vital
win at Blackpool's Bloomfield Road. "It was good to get back in the team
against Millwall and our performances against them and Southampton were
good, so hopefully that will continue," O'Brien said. "I don't know if there
is a secret. "Against Millwall, going down to ten men so early on in the
game, a lot of lads stood up and were counted. We were in the trenches that
day. "We were up against it in that game and then against Southampton, the
way it happened obviously they are a very good side but we hung in there,
put our bodies on the line and played some decent stuff. O'Brien turned 26
on Friday but will have kept the celebrations low key with Tuesday's game on
the horizon. He would, however, dearly love to celebrate his big day with
another goal to add to the cracker he scored at Watford earlier on in the
season. "My aim is to get another one because it's been a long time since
Watford! Hopefully sometime between now and the end of the season I can
score again. That would be nice. "I picked up a niggle in training the other
week which was disappointing, but at the end of the day I wasn't out for
long - only a week or ten days."
Peters tips Noble for England
World Cup winner Martin Peters believes Mark Noble is in the form of his
Martin Peters believes West Ham United midfielder Mark Noble could break
into the senior England squad if he continues his recent outstanding form.
The Hammers and England great, who played for his country 67 times and won
the FIFA World Cup in 1966, believes the No16 can become the latest West Ham
player to pull on the Three Lions shirt after his superb performances
against Millwall and Southampton.
In a revealing interview with West Ham TV, Peters also championed the cause
of fellow Academy graduate and former team-mate Harry Redknapp to become the
next England manager. "I thought the game against Millwall was the best I've
seen Mark Noble play," said the 67-year-old. "I thought he was excellent and
was all round the pitch. Whether it was because Kevin Nolan got sent-off and
he got more involved, I don't know, but he certainly did a great job in the
midfield and passing the ball around. "It went through my mind 'Could he
play for England?'. There is a possibility because people will say 'Mark
Noble has done this or done that' and people will come and watch him and if
he continues to play like that, I don't see why he shouldn't."
Continuing on the England theme, Peters believes Redknapp is the right man
to replace Fabio Capello as the man in charge of the national team. "I was
lucky enough to play under Sir Alf Ramsey who was a great man and obviously
he won the World Cup. He was a nice man to play under and I was also
fortunate to play with the players I played with as well. With Geoff Hurst
and Bobby Moore in the same side, it was a great help to play with those
two. "Everything is being promoted towards Harry Redknapp at the moment. He
is in a difficult position because he is doing so well with Tottenham
Hotspur, would he want to leave and go with England? I'm not sure. "He will
want to do well and come in the top three at Tottenham and take them back to
the Champions League. That's what he wants to do."
"Harry is an outstanding character. I remember him running up and down the
right wing and crossing the ball - quite a few went behind the goal! He was
a good winger and he scored goals and he's a good guy and has great respect
from the players at Tottenham, where they love him, so I don't see any
reason why he can't be the England manager."
Concentrating on the club he represented with such honour and success
between 1959 and 1970, Peters believes West Ham are on course for promotion
"They have been doing really, really well. They have managed to stay top of
the league despite the game against Peterborough being called-off because of
the weather, so they have a game in-hand now. "I've only missed one home
game this season and they lost at home to Burnley! Sam has done a great job,
they are playing hard and they're working hard. "I keep saying to people
that we're playing better away from home than we are at home, but I think we
now have a couple more points at home than away - when you put both together
it's a great performance. "They have just got to keep playing as they are
now, really. If they continue to play as they are and win the games they are
winning - they have got a couple of tough games coming up at Blackpool and
at home to Crystal Palace so if we can get 50 per cent at least out of them
then that would be good."
In Conversation With David Sullivan (Part 2): "Upson Let Me Down"
February 19th, 2012 - 9:11 am by Iain Dale
West Ham Till I Die
This is the second part of my interview with David Sullivan.
ID: Who's the best player you've signed? The deal you've done and thought,
yup, we did well there.
DS: I can't think of one [roars with laughter]. I think Taylor is a very
good signing from Bolton. But again we've been unfortunate. He's had an
injury he has never had in his life and then he gets sent off the other
night. He's the most educated and articulate fellow you could ever come
across and he does something like that! I can't understand it. I'm hoping
it's Ravel Morrison, but time will tell.
ID: How did that come about? It seemed to come completely out of the blue.
There was no gossip about it at all.
DS: It had been going on for a few weeks. His contract was up with Man
United, and under European rules he could go to a foreign club for half a
million pounds we took the gamble of offering Man U a package which comes to
a couple of million quid to take him now and we offered the player a
fantastic deal that builds on Premier League games, so if he is a very
successful Premier League player, he becomes exceptionally highly paid. It
was through contacts. There were five Premier League clubs in for him but we
persuaded his people to bring him to us. He could be the worst signing we've
made or the best signing we've made. Time will tell.
ID: When I first heard about this deal I was convinced Harry Redknapp would
hijack it, as he specialises in rescuing difficult players. But I suppose he
was in court at the time and couldn't pick up the phone to Sir Alex!
DS: Ravel is a young man. It might be that Man U let him go because we
weren't in the Premier League. We have always got on well with Man United.
Newcastle were in strongly for him, we were told. I really think he will be
in our first team before the end of the season. He wants first team football
so that appealed to him. I met him, and I think he had never met the owners
of Man United. Maybe that persuaded him to come. Time will tell if it was a
good signing or a bad signing. But I can't say any signing we've done up to
now is a fantastic signing. Actually, to get James Tomkins to renew was a
good development – not a new signing, but nevertheless.
ID: Were there clubs on for him?
DS: Newcastle bid £4 million for him.
ID: Because that's the trouble at West Ham – just when you get the nucleus
of a good side we get relegated or two or three of the leading players go.
If we get back into the Premier League you've got the spine of a top class
side. Green in goal, Tomkins, Noble in the middle…
DS: But as contracts run down you have a problem. Green's contract is up
this summer. We have made him a fantastic offer, subject to us staying in
the Premier League. But if we don't stay in the Premier League a) we won't
be able to afford him and b) he won't want to stay. So we have to go up.
ID: So if we go up, he will stay…
DS: It's his decision, but I think we have made him a great offer. I think
he likes the club, he likes the manager, but it's his decision.
ID: He's been in great form this season.
DS: Yes, he has been in brilliant form, but it's like with all players, as
they move towards the end of their contracts. But there is a wind of change
coming through in football, and it's a cold wind. Some players are not
getting quite what they want. I'll give you an example. Sunderland, a year
last summer, wanted Matthew Upson, and they offered us £6 million for him. I
accepted it because there was a year left on his contract. He was the second
highest paid player at the club. It would be wrong to say what he was on,
but he was the second highest paid player at the club. Sunderland offered
him a four year contract on the same money and a little bit more. He said:
"I'm too good for Sunderland". [ID laughs]. A year later he's got a two year
contract off Stoke on under half the money that Sunderland offered him, so
perhaps he should have gone to Sunderland It would have definitely helped
the club, because I don't think his contribution in our relegation season
was fantastic. And it would have got us £6 million pounds in.
ID: I think that's what's called choosing your words carefully. [laughs]
DS: Yeah, you know of all the players, I think he let the club down. He let
me down personally, because I fell out terribly with the manager when I was
at Birmingham when I let him come to West Ham in the first place. I thought
he wasn't doing it at Birmingham. It was a fantastic offer from West Ham –
it amounted to a package of 8 ½ million, all of which we got. He rung me up
on holiday and begged me to allow him to come to West Ham. He was on £12k a
week at Birmingham and he was offered more than quadruple that to come to
West Ham. He begged me to let him go and I went against the manager to let
him go, which I had never done before. We needed the money and I don't think
he was trying at Birmingham. That's my opinion. I think his mind was
elsewhere. He didn't want to risk injury… But despite selling Upson to West
Ham in the January window, Birmingham still got automatic promotion that
year, so selling him didn't actually damage Birmingham.
ID: Do you find that a lot? There's all sorts of paper speculation, and if a
player makes up his mind he wants out, there's nothing you can do?
DS: This might not please many people, but if you look at Scott Parker's
performance in the first five games of this season. To me, it didn't look
like he was doing the tackling you'd normally expect him to do. He was
running about, he was doing OK but he wasn't doing the tackling we know he
can do do, because he knew that the one thing that would stop a move for him
would be an injury. To me it looked like he didn't want to be there. He told
us he didn't want to be there. He didn't want to play for the club. In the
nicest possible way, he said "I've given you my all for the last 3, 4, 5
years, you owe it to me to let me go". Now there is an argument that he's
right. There's no player who has given more for the club in recent years, so
to make him stay against his wishes… He was protecting himself either
consciously or subconsciously. If you want to be kind, it was subconscious.
If you want to be unkind, he was consciously protecting himself. His
performances in those games were not the Scott Parker we know and I think
most supporters could see that. He's gone to Spurs and he is back to his old
self. That's football, unfortunately. I'll be honest with you, in his
defence he didn't go to Spurs for any more money. He was the highest paid
player at West Ham. All they did was add a year to his contract, so it
wasn't a financial thing with him, it was a football thing.
In Conversation With David Sullivan (Part 3): "We Tried To Sign Tevez … And
February 19th, 2012 - 4:35 pm by Iain Dale
West Ham Till I Die
This is the third part of my interview with David Sullivan.
ID: You said the last transfer window was the most difficult you've ever
been through. Take us through from the start to the finish. What was it like
for you as the chairman, trying to find a player, then you'd see it in the
DS: We chased about 20 players. At the end, I think we bought very well.
Only time will tell. Take Vaz Te. We got him for what we wanted to pay, but
at the start of January they wanted double. Even though his contract was up
this summer, they were gung ho, but by the end of the transfer window it's
either getting money off us or getting nothing in the summer. Maynard was
exactly the same. They'd have got 6 ½ million from Leicester last summer,
but he wouldn't go to Leicester.
ID: You tried to get him last summer, didn't you?
DS: Yes. We offered £4 miillion. We've ended up getting him for what will
amount to a couple of million quid, which is not a lot of money for a payer
who… I mean the other night against Southampton he could have won the game
for us with one touch. He smashed one in and the guy made a great save. He's
a decent player. I think we bought well at the end.
ID: What happened with Jordan Rhodes?
DS: We bid £4 million. They said he's not for sale at any price in this
transfer window and in fact it turned out to be the case. We were buying a
young talent who may not have made the jump. It's not guaranteed, but he's a
prolific goalscorer. To get 27 in 25 or something was incredible, and he's
an improving talent because each year he's getting more.
ID: And then they sack the manager instead! Bizarre. There must be more to
that than meets the eye.
ID: What about Jelavic from Rangers?
DS: Jelavic we weren't sure about. We thought it was an awful lots of money,
five or six million pounds and he wanted double the wages he was on at
Rangers. We thought the whole package was…
ID: So you didn't actually make a formal bid?
DS: Yes we did. We made two or three formal bids for him. We bid £5 million,
but they wanted six or seven. They wanted more on knock ons. They wanted
quick payment, and we now know why. I wasn't prepared, and Sam wasn't
prepared, to bid a penny more than £5 million. And we both had reservations
about it. It is a real gamble when you sign any player. What you are trying
to do is buy value for money. Maynard was £1,650,000 and £350,000 based on
promotion or staying up. They get nothing for promotion this year, but next
year if we stay up or get promotion it gets £2 million. So that's better
value. Also his wages are high but not as high as we would have had to pay
the Rangers player. So we think that was better value for the club than the
Rangers deal. Whether it turns out to be, only time will tell.
ID: Was there ever anything in the Tevez rumours?
DS: Three times we asked. Three times they said "no chance". And how that
Twitter thing got going on the Saturday afternoon… You'd have thought he was
on the plane back from Buenos Aires. He's also very unfit. He was in a
Marbella hotel sunning himself for a couple of weeks, so I think he'd need a
month to get fit anyway. I've got to say I'd have taken him because he'd
have got the whole crowd going and I think perhaps within a month he'd have
been fit anyway. Demba Ba wasn't fit for a month but he had a fantastic
impact. I'd love Tevez to be coming out for us Tuesday night at Blackpool.
I'd just love it. But each time we went back they said 'no chance
whatsoever'. So we did try three times but each time it was a no. I'm not
sure Tevez would have come. We spoke to his agent but the dispute with Man
City was so nasty he maybe didn't want to give them an escape route, who
knows? It was never really a runner.
ID: How damaging is it when rumours appear in papers or on Twitter or on the
internet generally? Have they ever scuppered a deal?
DS: Yeah… They scuppered the manager coming to West Ham a year ago. When
that got out in the press… Bearing in mind we'd been having meetings for a
month… I won't say who the manger was, because I think it would be unfair…
ID: I think we all know…
DS: It only got out when he appointed two agents to negotiate his contract
ID: How can you do that? How can two different people negotiate?
DS: I don't know. Then overnight his betting went down to 6-4 on to come,
and you have to think one of those two agents has told somebody. We kept it
secret for a month, then Bingo, it's in the press, and he says "Oh, it's all
in the press now, I won't come". We didn't particularly want the guy from
Rangers [Jelavic] but we made our bid. Everton only came on the scene
because they then knew he was available. They might not have known that
before us. We didn't go in for Maynard early. We went in overnight on the
transfer deadline. We did it very quickly. Wolves were desperately trying to
get him as well. Had they known of our interest they might have ramped their
bid up a bit more.
ID: There was a rumour that Wigan had signed him for 2.5 million at one
DS: All these deals were close but we just snuck in and took him. The more
you can keep it quiet the better. I mean, we tried to get Torres from
ID: Get out of here! Did you really?
DS: Well if he couldn't score in the Premier League, come along with us for
a month. We might fire him up!
ID: And how many words did their response consist of?
DS: They just said: "Not at this moment in time". The best one was
Blackpool. We went in for Phillips there, a very good young player.
Blackpool came back and said we made £30 million last year, because they
didn't spend any money, we've got £40 million in the bank, I think your'e
approaching the wrong club to buy a player off [laughs]. It was a very nice
ID: What happened with the bloke from Watford, Sordell?
DS: We watched him, and we thought he was a rising star, maybe one for the
future, but we're not sure about now. And we wanted somebody for now. He
ended up at Bolton, didn't he? If he gets 8 goals for Bolton this season we
made a bad decision, if he gets two, we made the right decision. He doesn't
score that many goals when you analyse it. Martin, our head of recruitment,
went to watch him several times and really liked him, but said if you want
somebody for now, he may not be it, And his personal demands were pretty
high – Premier League wages. We talked to Watford about him. We could have
lived with the fee Watford wanted, although Bolton paid more than we could
have got him for. The player wanted plenty of money and we thought the
overall package for what he was going to deliver, short term was too much.
Long term, who knows?
ID: Is it important to plan for the future and make sure that any player you
sign now is capable of hacking it in the Premier League?
DS: Yes, absolutely. We did look at another striker, but decided he might
not make it in the Premier League. He wanted to come. We could have had him
for £1.75 million but Sam just thought he might not make the jump. I didn't
have an opinion to be honest. Let me tell you something, I believe in
coincidence. Get this. Carlos Tevez. Born, 5 February. Cristiano Ronaldo.
Born 5 February. Neymar. Born 5 February. All born on the same day as me.
Jordan Rhodes, also born 5 February. And you know what, this other player
that we didn't sign, also born 5 February. When I saw the Huddersfield guy
was the same date as me and the same date as those players, I thought it was
written in the stars. Just incredible. An incredible coincidence, isn't it?
ID: I reckon we should get the Rothmans Yearbook out and look up every
footballer born on 5 February.
DS: There aren't many. If you take the best ten strikers in the world,
there's three of them born on 5 February.
ID: Did you tell Sam Allardyce?
ID: What did he say?
DS: He didn't think much of it [laughs].
ID: I can imagine him now. "Typical bloody chairman". [laughs].
In Conversation With David Sullivan (Part 4): "Benni McCarthy Cost Us £7
February 19th, 2012 - 8:15 pm by Iain Dale
West Ham Till I Die
This is the fourth part of my interview with David Sullivan.
ID: If England came knocking for Sam Allardyce, what would your reaction be?
DS: I don't think England are going to come knocking. He has a specific
clause in his contract which says he can leave for England. It's the one job
he can leave for. This time next year maybe, but I think they will stick
with their manager . In three or four years' time if we have had a good run
in the Premier league he would be an obvious candidate.
ID: How do you think the fans have taken to him? I can remember when you
were looking to appoint a manager and we had an exchange of emails and I
said 'whatever you, don't appoint Allardyce.' You replied that he had a
great record and that I should look it up on Google. I admit I was wrong.
DS: He's actually a very nice person. The mistake we probably all made, was
that we had never met him. We imagine he's a gruff, thick northerner
[laughs], do you know what I mean? But that's the image he's got! He is the
most thinking, intelligent man. He analyses everything. He's into stats,
which I am too. Very experienced, and if you look at his track record he
hasn't had a failure anywhere. When Newcastle sacked him, they were half way
up the table and he was only three months into the job. I think he's done a
decent job. I've got to tell you, the other night against Southampton, we
were playing fantastic football, we were attacking, we should have scored a
couple, at least one of them should have gone in. We were looking good,
playing really attractive stuff, just what the supporters wanted. Then a
disaster, and a player does something stupid. And then of course, ten
against eleven, you've got to change the whole formation. You've only got
two in midfield, both your wingers are having to defend, and it's been tough
again. There have been games where we've played football and games where we
haven't, but I have got to tell you, under Zola and Avram I was surprised
how little football we played. Under Zola we didn't play attractive football
the last six months of the year. When we took over there was nothing
attractive about the football.
ID: Do you think in retrospect you should have given Zola another chance?
DS: Possibly. Possibly.
ID: I was gutted when he went. He was the one manager who got the best out
of Carlton Cole.
DS: Maybe, but the one player he wanted was Benni McCarthy.
ID: I take back everything I just said… [laughs].
DS: Seriously, he said "You get me Benni McCarthy and I will keep you up."
He would have loved a more expensive player, but if we had two or three
million to spend he said get McCarthy and he'll keep us up. Well, he should
have taken one look at him when he arrived and saw that he was two stone
overweight and not signed him. Benni McCarthy probably cost us four or five
million quid. We had to pay him off. We wrote off a £2 1/4 million transfer
fee. And I thought, well if that's his judgement on transfers, I'm seriously
worried. If you include the transfer fee, wages, NI, payoff, agents' fees
and everything, McCarthy cost us £7 million! But yes, half of me says yes,
we should have given him more time, but really, we should have been
relegated under him because 34 or 35 points doesn't keep you up most
seasons. It was a bad year with Portsmouth, Burnley and I can't remember the
other one. There were some bad teams in that division who shouldn't have
been in the Premier League. We stayed up by default really. Against that, he
didn't have much ammunition. He had to sell his side. It's also very
difficult when people aren't fluent in English, but then we picked another
one [Avram Grant] who also wasn't fluent in English. I really do like
English managers and I really don't think I would ever appoint a non English
manager ever again. I find Scottish people hard enough to understand to be
honest! I keep having to ask Alex [McLeish] to slow down a bit. I can't
follow what you're saying!
ID: Would you have looked at bringing Alan Pardew back? He has always said
he has got unfinished business at West Ham, hasn't he?
DS: We thought about it. But remember, at the time he had failed to get
Southampton promotion for two or three seasons despite spending a pile of
money. He had flopped at Charlton, so it was hard to make a case. I liked
Pardew. The press all liked him.
ID: I did. He seemed to kick every ball. I loved his emotion on the
touchline. He really built up quite a rapport with the fan.
DS: It was, just to me… We looked at Avram. With a team that's been ripped
to pieces he got them to the FA Cup Final. He got Chelsea to within a kick
of winning the Champions League, albeit he had inherited the team, although
it wasn't doing well when he took over. At Portsmouth they just sold
everybody, and if you put the 10 points back, they almost wouldn't have been
relegated. On paper, that looked better than Mr Pardew. So he couldn't get
Southampton promoted, flopped at Charlton, but he's now done a fantastic job
at Newcastle. You have to make a decision based on what you know. It's like
Chris Hughton. He's done a wonderful job at Birmingham, but at Newcastle,
big question marks. Did he just inherit a team with which anyone could have
got promoted with, with Andy Carroll and all of them. But he was one of a
number of names we looked at. We were looking for someone with a better
A quick change of clothes for Freddie Sears
by Carl Marston
Sunday, February 19, 2012
FREDDIE Sears had a quick change on the bus, on the way down to Yeovil, for
Colchester United's trip to Somerset. Front-runner Sears only signed for the
U's on Friday morning, on a month's loan from West Ham, and he had to make a
dash to Brentwood to meet the team coach on the journey to the south-west.
It was all a bit frantic for Sears, who had just a couple of hours training
with his new team-mates before Saturday's clash at Huish Park. Sears
impressed in the first half, and the U's were leading 1-0 at the interval
via Steven Gillespie's 18th minute goal, before Yeovil rallied strongly to
secure a 3-2 win. U's boss John Ward is predicting big things of Sears, over
the coming month. And after Saturday's game, Ward explained: "Freddie's come
in, met us at Brentwood and jumped onto the bus. "He's got changed into his
Colchester gear on the bus, which was great. I think it gave the players a
lift, because he's a good footballer. "It was some while ago since he played
a full game, but we saw a lot of good things from him, especially during the
first 55 to 60 minutes. "And I think he will get better," added Ward.