Sam Allardyce was in a positive mood as the Hammers ready themselves for
Sam Allardyce re-affirmed the trust he has in his West Ham United squad
during his pre-match media conference for Saturday's away game at Leeds
The West Ham United manager is confident the team have prepared well for the
trip to Yorkshire as the Hammers look to extend their unbeaten run to eight
games. Joey O'Brien's expected return should make that task easier but Big
Sam will be forced to shuffle his pack with Ricardo Vaz Te, Winston Reid,
Papa Bouba Diop, Julien Faubert and Guy Demel all likely to miss the Elland
Road clash through injury.
Any injury news ahead of Saturday?
Only Joey O'Brien will make it back into the squad for Leeds. Papa Bouba
Diop, Ricardo Vaz Te and Winston Reid won't make it. It's a few too many
and it's unfortunate but it's something we all have to deal with throughout
the season. You spoke earlier in the week about getting up early on
Can you tell us a bit more about that?
SA: Its nothing to do with the position we are in at the moment, it's
something I've always done as a manager. My life as a manager has never been
different; I always wake up early on a matchday and pray the phone doesn't
ring because if it does then it's normally bad news like someone has fallen
ill during the night. All I can do is hope the players deliver the type
performance that we have worked hard towards throughout the week. I know we
have done the proper and correct preparation; it is just about making sure
it all comes together on the day itself.
What are your thoughts on West Ham's form at present?
SA: Defeats give me sleepless nights but draws, although they are not what
we want, they are points gained and that is only good for us. We are
undefeated in seven and our position at this stage of the season is very
good. We know we have missed a chance in improving that but we can't have
the negativity that is going around at the moment. We are third in the
league at the moment with a game in hand on both Southampton and Reading and
if we win it we go joint top only behind Southampton on goal difference. We
have to deal with negativity and turn it into positive energy.
You now have four games in 14 days, two of which are on Tuesday evenings.
It's a tough period for you isn't it?
SA: Tuesday evenings seem to have become an Achilles heel for us during the
season there's no doubt about that. We have been incapable of producing a
result, not a performance, and that is of great concern to us going into
this important period of the season. I have spoken with the lads about it
and have said we need to have a better attitude and mental state going into
these games to make sure we deliver the goods.
We have played some good football at times, against Bristol City for example
when we just couldn't find a winner. This was the same with Watford; it's as
frustrating for us as it is the fans. We have had a bit of trouble on
Tuesday nights so we have to make sure that we improve our mid-week results
starting at home on Tuesday.
Why are Tuesday nights a problem do you think?
SA: It's a tough effort for the players I think playing three games in a
week. I've tried playing the same team, tried different routines during the
recovery periods and tried rotating the squad but the results still haven't
been what we expected. Hopefully we can change this now as we are coming
into the crunch time of the season.
Would you say it was two from West Ham, Southampton and Reading for the
automatic promotion spots?
SA: You never know, there are 15 games to go and a lot of points to play
for. Nobody in their right mind would have said Reading 12 games ago would
be second from top so somebody else could embark on a type of run like they
have. Birmingham have fallen away as have Hull and Blackpool but it could be
one of those that begin to pick up the points again and make a big push.
It's only been us and Southampton that have been in and around the top 2 all
season long. Us and Southampton have been the most consistent sides this
season but it's important to have a strong finish.
Any chance the team that goes on an unbeaten run could be Leeds?
SA: There is every chance yes, especially with the experienced Neil Warnock
as manager now. Neil has seen and done it all and knows what a team needs to
go on a run like Reading's and he will be looking to do that with Leeds
having won his first game on Sunday at Middlesbrough.
Neil Warnock is a manager you know well. What do you make of the job he has
done at Leeds so far?
SA: He will have been really disappointed not to have had a longer spell at
QPR to get them right in the Premier League but he is at a fantastic club
now where he can aim for yet another promotion. It will be a very
interesting game on Saturday as he has sorted out Leeds main problem of
conceding silly goals. Neil has put those defensive errors right and it
makes Leeds that much more difficult to beat. Let's hope we can achieve that
Rebate pledge in the balance
Filed: Wednesday, 14th March 2012
By: Staff Writer
It is still to be decided if West Ham United will honour the pledge made by
the club's previous administration to grant a 20 per cent reduction to those
supporters who had held a season ticket for the five years prior to the
The issue of whether the club would stick to their promise was initially
raised by members of the Supporters' Advisory Board's Club Products &
Ticketing group in August 2011.
Speaking at the time, Head of Marketing Tara Warren told the group that the
club's previous board did not have the remit to sanction such offers. Having
followed up that enquiry this week, KUMB have been told that the club have
still not reached a final decision.
Three years ago, prior to current chairman David Sullivan and David Gold
purchasing 50 per cent of the club from the previous owners, the club
promised to grant long-term season ticket holders the discount as reward for
Announcing the news via whufc.com in March 2009, a club statement read: "As
an additional incentive to reward long-term loyalty, any season ticket
holder who renews for the fifth consecutive season (including this renewal
season) will receive a 20 per cent discount on the cost of their season
ticket for season 2012/13.
"At current season ticket prices this would save an adult a minimum of
CEO Scott Duxbury, proudly confirming the impending discount, added: "The
current economic climate is a challenge for us all. It's important we
acknowledge this and adjust our prices accordingly. Our fans are central to
this club and everything we do. Their support has been, and continues to be,
Filed: Tuesday, 13th March 2012
By: Matthew Webb
Saturday's game versus Doncaster Rovers stretched our disappointing run of
home form to four games without a win. Securing just four points from those
four games could be the run of form that costs us an automatic promotion
As a season ticket holder, I can tell you that the most frustrating thing
about these disappointing results is not the experience of watching the game
itself. The most frustrating part comes when you receive the email from Sam
Allardyce where he attempts to explain what went wrong.
I haven't seen his explanation for the fiasco of Saturday afternoon, so I'm
going to explain what I think went wrong and then see if he agrees with me.
I'm going to guess that he won't.
The problems, as I see them, all boil down to decision making, both on and
off the pitch.
Take, for example, the decision to constantly play long balls to Carlton
Cole in the hope that he'll be able to head it down and bring other
attacking players into the game. I can only assume that this is a tactic
specifically employed by Allardyce.
We knew that we were in for a certain amount of this style of play when
Allardyce was appointed. I was fine with that at first, because it's a
tactic that he'd employed with success at previous clubs. However, with the
final stretch of the season approaching us, I would have expected Allardyce
to have realised by now, with the years of experience he has behind him that
Carlton is more or less useless employed as a target man in this way.
Carlton can't (or won't) jump. More often than not he is beaten in the air
by defenders and our midfield has not been competitive enough lately to win
the second ball. Carlton is far more effective when the ball is played to
his feet and yet we rarely see this happen.
I was confident at the start of the season that Carlton would be extremely
effective playing at this level. He has the ability to frighten defenders if
he gets the right kind of service. The tactics employed by Big Sam mean that
Carlton rarely gets to demonstrate his true strengths.
Poor decisions can cost matches. Think about the goals we conceded against
Doncaster and Watford. Could our defence have cleared their lines more
effectively than they did leading up to these goals? I believe so.
They are happy to knock long balls forward when they're under no pressure to
do so. Why are they seemingly unable to clear the ball in a similar fashion
when under a little pressure? Too often we see our defence looking to pass
their way out from the back when the more sensible option actually would be
to hit a long pass to relieve pressure.
Poor decisions can seriously limit goal scoring opportunities. Take Mark
Noble. Mark is arguably our player of the season so far. He's been great.
But still, there are areas of his play where his decision making lets him
down. He never seems to decide straight away what he's going to do when he's
Too often you see promising attacking opportunities stall because the player
in possession (and I'm not just talking about Mark Noble) needs four or five
touches of the ball before they've decided what pass to play. A slow and
sensible approach is all well and good if you're firmly in control of the
game, but we haven't been in control lately. We've been crying out for some
decisive and creative play from the midfield, but there has been none.
The teams we're playing against at home often have no real desire to come
out and beat us. To beat them, all we should really need to do is play
football. Proper football, with the ball on the ground and just keep
passing. But we struggle to break them down. At the moment, with a
combination of long ball tactics and pedestrian midfield play, we are
playing right into the hands of teams that just want to sit back and take a
point from us.
I think what I found the most inexplicable about the match on Saturday was
the way the game transformed after we went ahead. For the first fifteen
minutes we were magnificent. A goal disallowed after 11 seconds, Carlton hit
the bar, we were all over them. Then came the goal, and shortly after Vaz Te
left the field with an injury and the whole game changed.
This was another example of poor decision making, this time on the part of
Sam Allardyce. Vaz Te, with his power and pace, was causing the Doncaster
defence countless problems. He is skilled with the ball at his feet and
their full back couldn't handle him. Then poor Sam Baldock comes on and is
expected to do the same job, which he is just not capable of doing.
Again, I like Baldock. But he is a striker. He doesn't have the ability to
power past defenders like Vaz Te does. It was indescribably frustrating to
see him trying to make an impact on the game while playing in a position
that he is clearly not comfortable with.
We had Danny Collins on the bench at that point. It would surely have been
simple to replace Vaz Te with Collins and push Matt Taylor into his
preferred left midfield position? Instead we are back to our old ways of
putting square pegs in round holes. I think we saw enough of that with Zola
With each substitution we looked less and less likely to score a second
goal. Why replace Lansbury with O'Neil if you are not going to get O'Neil
involved in the game? Why replace Nolan with Collins when Nolan (despite
what we might say about his all round contribution to the team) is one of
the few players in the team who is capable of sticking away a chance when he
The decisions in recent weeks have been poor and have left so many of us
feeling frustrated and concerned for our chances of gaining automatic
promotion. I, for one, would not rate our chances too highly if it came to
I am left with one crucial decision to make myself. Do I renew my season
ticket, or not? I probably will. But that doesn't mean I have to like it.
Hammers hint for Morrison
Teenager told to continue progress as he awaits first-team chance
Last Updated: March 15, 2012 9:58am
Ravel Morrison has been told he needs to continue to work hard if he is to
play a part in West Ham's bid to secure promotion to the Premier League.
Manager Sam Allardyce has yet to hand the January signing from Manchester
United his debut, saying it would take time before he is ready for the first
team. The 19-year-old attacker gave the Hammers boss a nudge with two
well-taken goals as the club's development squad beat Brentford2-0 on
Tuesday. And coach Ian Hendon told the club's official website: "Ravel did
really well and it's not surprising. When you watch him in training you see
the potential he has and he showed that on the pitch.
"He scored two very good goals and Sam will be very pleased about that. "If
he keeps his head down and continues to progress well, maybe he will have a
part to play with the first team before the end of the season. "He's got
that spark and potential quality that makes him a dangerous player. He's
settled in well having moved from the north and the lads have taken to him
too. "Things are moving along nicely with Ravel."
When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going!
West Ham Till I Die
This West Ham side appear to have something of a 'Jekyll (away) and Hyde
(home)' character. Playing away, we are organised, confident and efficient.
At home, we have nothing like the same assurance, fail to punish team when
they are under the cosh and invariably end up paying a price. The price
last week was the loss of four valuable points and a (hopefully temporary)
displacement from the automatic promotion places.
The Watford and Doncaster results are all the more disappointing against the
backdrop of the impressive victory against Cardiff City, the previous
Sunday. After winning in Cardiff, I called for the team to be ruthless in
winning its next two, back-to-back, home fixures. Unfortunately, they did
not follow through. We have dropped too many points at home this season and
that has contrasted, unfavourably, with our positive results on the road. I
continue to maintain that Sam Allardyce has done a good job in turning the
ship around and that, in doing so, he has remedied many of last season's
ills and instilled new discipline at the club. None of that is made less
true by those two home draws.
Sam Allardyce made an interesting point recently about footballing styles.
Dismissing the 'long ball' tag that he has acquired, he argued that a
successful manager necessarily has to be able to diversify his approach.
Normally, I would agree that Allardyce's side, while playing a direct style
for much of the season, has also played some decent passing football. While
the current correlation between the two styles is not that which I would
ideally like to see, Allardyce could argue that his side have mixed it up so
far this season. However, I could find no excuses for the one-dimensional
fayre served up against Watford. I found it truly painful watching the side
'huff and puff' and play in to the hands of the Watford centre backs, who
easily cleared the repetitive and speculative high balls in to the box. It
was only with the introduction of the greater guile of Vaz Te we began to
look more likely to unlock their defence.
Against Doncaster, we started much better and Vaz Te continued where he left
off on the Tuesday evening. On another day we would have gone in at
half-time 3-0 up, but instead had only a slender 1-0 advantage to show for
our efforts. Vaz Te's injury exit was a blow, but we really should have
still had more than enough to see off Doncaster. The opposition equalizer
did, however, remind me of one of the farcical defensive mix ups that we
witnessed all too often last season, with an elementary mistake creating
danger where none had existed. However, the truth is that Doncaster came
out for the second half prepared to graft and it was that hard work that
turned the midfield battle in their favour and earnt them the point. In the
end only Green saved us from conceding a second goal and then we tossed away
a golden opportunity to win the match with Collison's miss in the final two
minutes of extra time.
The last two matches were hugely disappointing, but we still unbeaten in
eight. Yes, the home results have let us down, but only a very unlikely run
of eight straight victories by Reading FC has intensified the pressure on
us. If Allardyce were in to the Alan Pardew type motivational slogans, he
might do well to blazon 'When the going gets tough, the tough get going'
mantra across the training ground and home changing room. Because that is
what this situation needs; cool heads, mental toughness, hard work and a
grim determination to both maintain our away record and rectify our inferior
I do not blame supporters for feeling apprehensive about the away fixture at
Leeds Utd. Elland Road is not a particularly happy hunting ground for us
and Warnock has been verbally upping the stakes in advance of the match.
However, if Leeds Utd do come out of the blocks fast and throw everything at
us, that will hopefully allow us to play an effective counter-attacking game
and exploit their undoubted weaknesses at the back. We will have to weather
the pressure in the first 15 minutes or so, but if we can survive that then
we have the ability to catch them out and take the points.
We know how to win away from home, but the real crunch issue is getting it
right at the former 'fortress Upton Park.' There, Allardyce must encourage
the players to pass the ball more and express themselves. We need width to
get behind opposition defences, 'killer' balls in to the box and clinical
finishing. There has been much criticism of the lack of invention from
midfield, this season, but I wonder if it might also be the case that our
strikers are not working hard enough off the ball. Yes, our strikers battle
doggedly, but do they work intelligently and effectively enough to pull
defenders out of position and create space & options for others to exploit?
Do they have the ability to time runs to spring off-side traps and
pressurize defenders in to mistakes? My impression is that opposition
defences find it all too easy to negate our attacking threat at Upton Park
and we are contributing to that unhappy state-of-affairs.
We have all seen our midfielders stall on playing forward balls, check and
play either square balls or pass back to Green or the covering defender.
And naturally, we blame the midfielders for a lack of invention and
creativity. However, if we were able to see their field of vision on the
ball and the lack of movement and options in front of them, we might be
somewhat more sympathetic to them. Perhaps, I am being unfair to our
strikers, but I grew up watching strikers like Hurst, Pop Robson, Cross,
Goddard and Cottee, who knew how to run off the ball, create space for
others and, crucially, disrupt defences. They knew that being static made
the defender's job easy and movement created problems for opponents and goal
scoring opportunities. I have watched our strikers during matches and I
have formed the impression that they are often too static and do not make
the right type of runs off the ball. I know that you cannot expect them to
suddenly become world-class players like Geoff Hurst, but film clips of our
legendary striker in his prime demonstrate the finest aspects of the
striker's art; and show his modern successors, in claret and blue, the
standard to which they should at least aspire.
Regardless, I feel confident that we can still achieve automatic promotion
this season. Why? Because I think we will get back on our two points a
match target, Reading FC have tougher fixtures than us in the run- in to
the season and it is improbable that they will maintain their current
exceptional form. In that respect, the fixture that stands out is the home
fixture against Reading FC on 31 March 2012. That could well prove to be a
decisive result in the promotion stakes this season. Win it and, hopefully,
we will be firmly back in the driving seat, lose it and the outcome could be
more open to doubt.
What was that again, about 'the going getting tough and the tough getting
going!' I certainly hope so, starting with a crucial victory at Elland Road
It's not Hammer time for Morrison says Big Sam
Published 22:29 15/03/12 By Neil McLeman
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce has warned throwing in controversial
youngster Ravel Morrison to replace the injured Ricardo Vaz Te would be a
"big, big risk".
Portuguese striker Vaz Te will miss Hammers' visit to Leeds on Saturday and
Tuesday's home match with Middlesbrough because of a hamstring strain.
Morrison, a January signing from Manchester United, scored his first goals
for the club in the reserves this week, but Allardyce is wary of promoting
the 19-year-old into his promotion-chasing side. "A player who plays well
and scores a couple of goals is making himself available to be selected,
but he hasn't had any first-team experience - that is the problem," said Big
Sam. "We have to make sure we do all we possibly can to get automatic
promotion and if you're going to risk a player who has never, ever played at
this level of football, it is a big, big risk. "If it comes off, you are a
hero; if it doesn't come off, you get severely criticised for not doing
your job properly.
"Hopefully we will see him sooner rather than later. "The earliest Vaz Te
will be back is a week on Saturday. "His form was pretty good, so he is a
loss for us but we have got plenty of experience to step in."
Leeds United v West Ham United: Hammers player to watch
Published on Friday 16 March 2012 06:00
Sunderland left-back George McCartney ended a long-term loan at Leeds United
last season with his ears ringing after upsetting chairman Ken Bates. Bates
took issue with McCartney's claim the squad were fatigued, calling it a
"rubbish excuse" and slating the 30-year-old's performances. The
effectiveness of McCartney's displays for Leeds were a matter of debate but
he has been a fixture for West Ham, starting 29 league matches and scoring
his first goal for four-and-a-half years in a recent win over Cardiff. He is
likely to be pitted against the pace of Aidan White on Saturday.
Leeds United v West Ham United: Meet the referee
Published on Friday 16 March 2012 05:00
The Football League have unsurprisingly called on a Select Group official
for Saturday's game. All but three of Peter Walton's league appointments
this season have come in the top flight, though he took charge of last
week's Championship match between Middlesbrough and Barnsley. He he has not
officiated a Leeds fixture since their visit to Southampton in March 2010.
His card count is relatively low, showing 62 yellows and two reds after 19
Whites boss over Tevez row
Neil Warnock bears no visible scars as he prepares to face West Ham for the
first time since the 'Tevez Affair' with new club Leeds.
Last Updated: 15/03/12 at 16:32 Post Comment Leeds v West Ham
Warnock was manager of Sheffield United on the final day of the 2006/7
season when then West Ham striker Carlos Tevez scored their shock winner at
Old Trafford, while the Blades lost at home to Wigan. Although it later
transpired that Tevez was ineligible for West Ham, it was Warnock's side who
were relegated after the FA opted not to dock points from the Hammers and
fine them instead. But Warnock, who holds no grudges, said: "I love West Ham
as a club, I think it's a great club. I've got some good friends who are
season-ticket holders who'll be coming up for the game and coming in my
office after. I've been in London these last few years and nothing has
happened to change my mind on that."
Warnock added: "When you've got a wage bill like they have and the money
that they've spent, it does put more pressure on you to keep getting results
every week and Reading haven't helped have they? They've really put pressure
on, but I still expect West Ham [to get promoted]. "I get on well with the
two Davids, Gold and Sullivan, I think they're good people, so I've nothing
but praise for them and I'm looking forward to pitting my wits against a
team of West Ham's stature - it whets the appetite, especially with the
crowd we're likely to get."