Will West Ham be relegated under David Moyes?

It’s fair to say that David Moyes second term with West Ham has not started well and the pressure will be on the club after they crashed out of the FA Cup losing to West Bromwich Albion. Is David Moyes the right choice for the club?

The Hammers have not looked good under the Scotsman with only his first game back in charge showing any positives. In that the Londoners beat Bournemouth 4-0 and showed an attacking flair so rare under Manuel Pellegrini the former coach who was given his marching orders in December only to be replaced by Moyes.

There just seemed to be a collective sigh of disappointment but inevitability when Moyes was named as manager. He had been at West Ham before of course, indeed his last job was at the club, where he had rescued them somewhat but with nullifying football and a 29% win rate. It was interesting recently when Everton visited the London Stadium. Of course Moyes most infamous years were with Everton. But both clubs are in the same boat now, the same level if you will and yet Everton have moved on and have Carlo Ancelotti as manager, West Ham are stuck in the past with a manager who doesn’t seem to have the correct ideas for the club.

Since the Bournemouth win, the Hammers have lost to Sheffield United, drew with Everton and lost in a heavy 4-1 defeat against Leicester. In between all of that was a win- in the 3rd round of the FA Cup against Gillingham, but with all due respects to the club no Premier League team would live on that win for more than 48 hours.

The club are in 17th just but a slip into the bottom three does look inevitable. In two days’ time they will play their game in hand, a match that could give them breathing space. But as luck would have it that game is against current European and World club champions Liverpool, who of course have not lost a match in the Premier League in over a year. Add to the fact that Moyes had a terrible time when playing Liverpool in the Merseyside derby and you more than likely will have another loss for the Hammers.

To add insult to injury West Ham will play Liverpool again in a few weeks time up at Anfield before having to encounter Manchester City. If we look at the clubs next 8 fixtures they will be lucky to get 7 points, based on their fixtures and by then it will be the end of March and relegation could be a possibility.

The bookmakers have Norwich far and away out to go down and next up is Bournemouth who are priced up at 1.80 (4/5). West Ham are currently 2.75 (7/4) whilst Everton who are a same boat team as we discussed before are now 66/1. See the difference?

One has to wonder what was running through the clubs owners minds when they decided that Moyes would be the right choice to lead the club forward? In truth they didn’t trust their own instinct only giving him an 18 month contract.

Everything feels so utterly predictable for West Ham right now. The fact that they went out to WBA in the cup is a feeling of deja vue over other cup years. But the fact that WBA’s manager is Slaven Bilic a former manager of West Ham and a cult player at the club just rubbed big gritty salt into the wounds of a club who also seem to have lost their identity. Bilic himself touched on this last week claiming that the new stadium for the Hammers is devoid of atmosphere.

He was 100% right of course, but now the focus has to be on what major turn of events happens next at the club. The best thing would be that the current owners sell the club on, they have had their time, and it hasn’t all been bad, just very underwhelming. The roots of the club need to be pulled out, because the Hammers do have a decent team, much too good to go down, but where have we heard that one before?

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Slaven Bilic criticises West Ham’s stadium move, was he right?

Former West Ham player Slaven Bilic has criticised West Ham’s move to London Stadium. Bilic who commands much respect from the West Ham faithful is bringing his side West Bromwich Albion to the Hammers new ground to play out their FA Cup 4th round tie at the weekend.

Bilic played for West Ham at their old stadium the Boleyn Ground and also managed the team, in fact he was in charge when the club played their last ever season at the historic ground. Bilic said: It’s not an excuse, but if you ask me if it was better to play at Upton Park or not then there’s no discussion,” he said. ”It was more home, it was more hostile. Not one opposition player enjoyed it when they had to go to Upton Park. That’s a fact. The Olympic Stadium is very different for an away team. You enjoy it more.”

The Croatian went on to say,”what also changes are the fans. It’s like pubs; now you have modern bars. When you take people out of the pub and go to them, they don’t feel comfortable. They prefer pubs where it is packed and you are shoulder to shoulder. Like what Roy Keane said about the ‘prawn sandwich brigade’ – it leads to that. You don’t want to lose that hostile home advantage and there are very few of those traditional clubs left in the Premier League because the league forces you to become more a corporation than a football club.”

Bilic did not mix his words, but is he right about the new stadium? Well fans of the club do seem to think so, and whilst the stadium is modern and state of the art compared to the old ground it has completely lost it’s sense of atmosphere.

It’s a difficult situation for clubs now who don’t want to be seen playing in old stadiums that feel well past their prime and there does seem to be a pressure in the digital age to move on. Change of course is natural and in 100 years time West Ham most probably won’t even be at the London Stadium.

A reason they could move is that they don’t actually own the stadium and it is being paid by taxpayers, which is a disgrace in all honesty, though that argument is for a different day and topic. It does seem as if the clubs owners have made a mistake in moving though. Surely the biggest asset of moving ground would be for money reasons but it is reported once all rent has been paid that the club only make an extra £2m in revenues.

Was that worth such a drastic change, in losing that intimidating atmosphere at the club? At the same time even when they were at their old ground they had won nothing in over 35 years, so maybe the closeness of the fans to the pitch worked for some games, but overall did staying at Boleyn Ground really make that much difference?

Perhaps the problem is in ownership, David Sullivan and David Gold are true supporters and love the club but at the same time maybe there time with the club is up. Maybe change is needed on a vast scale. Relegation could well be a possibility this season and playing in the Championship in a 60,000 concrete bowl with less atmosphere doesn’t sound too appetising. If Sullivan and Gold do indeed love the club maybe they need to sell up.

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Having Rondon as main striker encapsulates Newcastle’s problems

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Try as he might, Mike Ashley just can’t keep out of the headlines for long, and as such, Newcastle United are, by extension, also front and centre more often than they’d like.

Perhaps garnering the column inches is Ashley’s aim, but the Geordie faithful would prefer it was because of a new record signing, or that things were moving in the right direction both on and off the pitch.

One thing is fairly clear at present and that’s how much of a miracle worker Rafael Benitez is. The Spaniard has kept a tight and steady ship at St. James’ Park, and that’s no easy feat considering what’s going on behind the scenes. Continue reading

Why are Allardyce and Pardew still seen as progressive?

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So, Sam Allardyce is given his cards yet again, this time at Everton. The fourth job in succession where he’s either been sacked or left via ‘mutual consent.’ Sacked in other words.

Alan Pardew was given the old heave-ho a few weeks ago, and incredibly West Bromwich Albion’s fortunes took a sharp upturn after he’d left.

What is difficult to understand is why the pair, and others of their ilk, continue to be seen as somewhat progressive and are almost the first port of call when Premier League coaching jobs are available.

Overlooking Allardyce’s penchant for a quick few hundred thousand which in itself is a thorny issue, to essentially bring in someone whose best years in management were almost two decades ago and expect them to perform miracles is asking for trouble.

He’s nothing but a saviour, and from the route one school at that.

His teams play as he did. Physically imposing, limited in their capabilities, but willing to battle all day long. Just the ingredients required if you’re in the midst of a relegation battle or need promoting from the lower leagues.

But a European push? Don’t make me laugh.

The Dudley-born former central defender likes to use ProZone and the odd sports science methodology to help get his points and tactics across, but he’s still the same old northern hoofer underneath the Emperor’s new clothes.

And yet, clubs are still falling for it. His agent must be on huge bunce because he’s the true miracle worker here.

Everton, like Crystal Palace, Sunderland and West Ham before them, now have to honour the outrageous contract that was negotiated whilst poring over what exactly they’ve paid him for, for the last six months.

Pardew is cut from the same cloth as Allardyce. Arguably, his last successful stint at any club came at West Ham, where he took them to the 2006 FA Cup final.

Only Steven Gerrard’s desire on the day took Liverpool to the promised land because for long periods, the Hammers were the better team in what has since been labelled the best-ever FA Cup final.

The following season, he took the Hammers on their worst run of defeats in 70 years, but somehow this was enough to convince Charlton Athletic to hire him just a fortnight after his dismissal in east London.

Charlton were in dire straits when he took them over, so their subsequent relegation can’t be pinned on him, but eight games without a win saw them in the Championship’s bottom three. Off he went again.

Southampton was his next port of call but player unrest and low staff morale, allegedly because of Pardew’s insistence at following outdated and unworkable methods, saw a swift exit.

Quite how he then went on to land one of the biggest jobs in the country – Newcastle United – is anyone’s guess… though they did also employ Allardyce!

A four-year stay wasn’t overly successful and neither did his stint at Crystal Palace where, finally, a chairman hit the nail on the head. Steve Parish said of Pardew “his style of football hasn’t and doesn’t work.” Hallelujah.

Five months at West Brom was more than enough for the Baggies, Pardew leaving the club at the foot of the table and 10 games without a win. Their relegation, despite Darren Moore’s best efforts, was ultimately down to Pardew.

Both Allardyce and Pardew are relics from the past, trying to make themselves relevant in a game that’s now far ahead of their level of understanding. Simply put, football has moved on. They haven’t.

There’s a reason why the pair keep being sacked from each club that offer them a route back, but perhaps their reputations are now so tarnished that everyone has learnt their lesson.

One can only hope.

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Hegazi a shining light in West Brom’s season of darkness

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Following Southampton’s 1-0 victory over Swansea City, West Bromwich Albion have finally been relegated, leaving their inspirational recent resurgence all in vain.

Having won their last three matches and been unbeaten in their last five overall, their eight year stay in the Premier League is over, after an enormously disappointing season.

One of the few players who can hold their head high, though, is their powerful Egyptian defender, Ahmed Hegazi, for he’s unquestionably been a shining light in their season of darkness, with his assuredness, physicality and determination proving vital for the Baggies. Continue reading

Premier League Expected Line-Ups – Week 38

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Burnley vs AFC Bournemouth

Burnley (4-4-1-1)

Nick Pope, Matthew Lowton, Kevin Long, James Tarkowski, Stephen Ward, Aaron Lennon, Jack Cork, Ashley Westwood, Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Jeff Hendrick, Sam Vokes

Questionable: Ben Mee, Chris Wood

Out: Ashley Barnes, Robbie Brady, Scott Arfield, Steven Defour

AFC Bournemouth (3-4-3)

Asmir Begovic, Simon Francis, Steve Cook, Nathan Ake, Ryan Fraser, Lewis Cook, Andrew Surman, Charlie Daniels, Joshua King, Callum Wilson, Marc Pugh

Questionable: Harry Arter, Adam Smith

Out: Junior Stanislas

Continue reading

Premier League Expected Line-Ups – Week 37

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Brighton and Hove Albion vs Manchester United

Brighton and Hove Albion (4-4-1-1)

Mathew Ryan, Bruno, Shane Duffy, Lewis Dunk, Gatan Bong, Anthony Knockaert, Beram Kayal, Dale Stephens, Jose Izquierdo, Pascal Groβ, Leonardo Ulloa

Questionable: None

Out: Steve Sidwell, Isaiah Brown

Continue reading

Premier League Expected Line-Ups – Week 36

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Liverpool vs Stoke City

Liverpool (4-3-3)

Loris Karius, Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk, Ragnar Klavan, Alberto Moreno, Georginio Wijnaldum, Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane

Questionable: Nathaniel Clyne

Out: Joel Matip, Adam Lallana, Emre Can

Stoke City (4-4-1-1)

Jack Butland, Kurt Zouma, Ryan Shawcross, Bruno Martins Indi, Erik Pieters, Moritz Bauer, Joe Allen, Papa Alioune Ndiaye, Ramadan Sobhi Ahmed, Zherdan Shaqiri, Mame Biram Diouf Continue reading

Best Premier League Defenders – Week 15

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It was a quiet week for defenders in Premier League as there were only four clean sheets during the 15th-round of games. Two of those clean sheets came in a single match as West Bromwich Albion and Crystal Palace played out a goalless draw. Continue reading