Ahead of Saturday's game at Upton Park, Bluemoon caught up with Bobby from West Ham United Blog and Sam from weloveyouwestham.com to get the lowdown on the opposition...
What are your expectations for this season?
Bobby: I think after the great start we have had – we could have gone 4th with victory over Wigan – a comfortable mid table finish would be about right for our first season back in the big time.
Sam: I would personally be happy with staying in the premier league. If we were to finish 17th, I’d say that is mission accomplished. However, if we were to finish any higher, that would be a bonus.
Are you happy with the manager?
Bobby: Personally I am very pleased, I know West Ham have this tradition of playing great on the floor football, but to be honest I haven’t seen any of that since Redknapp left us and maybe for a few fleeting moments under Pardew, since then we have struggled and had to contend with appalling football and relegation battles every year. Under Sam the team is very professional, never gives up and the players are committed until the final whistle and they are also fitter than I have seen in a very long time, so the positives far outweigh the negatives for me.
Sam: I was a bit sceptical with having Big Sam at first, he has such a bad reputation for his style of football and when he first joined I really did not know what to expect. He has now been our manager for over a season and I am more than happy with him being the manager of our club. The whole ‘long-ball’ myth that lies over his head is way over the top. The media constantly over exaggerate about it.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some games where Big Sam really gets on my nerves and he does tend to go on the negative side and play long-ball, just like he did in our most recent game against Wigan. Had we played the ball across the floor, we would have NOT lost 2-1. But if you watched our match against Arsenal, you will know that Sam is actually capable of playing good football. It is very rare that I come away from a game which we have lost and have a huge smile on my face….this was the case with the Arsenal match.
Before Big Sam arrived, our club was in complete chaos. Avram Grant totally lost the changing room and it is said that the players split up into two groups. So when he arrived, he had a hell of a lot of work to do in such a short timeframe, on top of that, he had to get us promoted at the first time of asking, which he did with success. I could go on about this for ages, but I will stop it here.
Who are your key players?
Bobby: I think our midfield trio of Nolan, Noble and Diame have been key this season for different reasons, Nolan with his goals, Noble for his all round game and Diame has been awesome.
Sam: Mark Noble is most probably our biggest key player. He always makes himself available for team mates if they need to pass the ball. He is also good at mopping up the loose balls and regularly makes award-winning tackles.
Our other key players are:
- Kevin Nolan - for his goal scoring threat/captaincy qualities.
- Winston Reid - has been our best defender so far this season
- Andy Carroll – wins everything in the air and holds the ball up extremely well
- Mohamed Diame – on his day, he is unplayable, but his last two games have been poor
Were you happy with the business conducted during the transfer window?
Bobby: I am really pleased, we have Andy Carroll who fits in to Sam’s style of play really well, Matt Jarvis supplying some excellent crosses and in Benayoun, Collins and Jaaskelainen we have signed some established Premier League players, however the best signing for me has been Mo Diame on a free transfer from Wigan, he has been a revelation in midfield and reminds me of YaYa Toure, not quite as good as Toure but still an excellent player.
Sam: Extremely happy, I was not expecting us to get the quality we did. I don’t think many teams would have thought that we were going to be able to get the likes of Carroll, Benayoun, Diame and Jarvis…we even have Maiga, who looks to be a good buy as well.
There were a couple of players that we shipped out that I would have liked to of kept – Sam Baldock and Nicky Maynard. I quite liked the look of both of them, and neither was given a chance to shine. We have also loaned out our ‘wonder kid’ Ravel Morrison.
Are there any rising stars in the squad that we might not have heard of?
Bobby: Mark Noble is really finding his feet now, we always thought he would be a great player for us but he never really kicked on until last season in The Championship he was excellent for us and he has continued that great form this season, one Premier League game he had 95% pass completion ratio! Xavi eat your heart out!
Sam: Winston Reid is most probably one of them; he has become such an important player for us this season. Guy Demel is another one of our unsung heroes, but he is currently injured. I am hoping Ravel Morrison turns out to be as good as everyone thinks he is, but he does seem to carry quite a bit of……baggage.
Your Achilles heel?
Bobby: Not performing up in the first half, on too many occasions this season we have just not come out the traps and found ourselves needing a great second half showing, against top teams we will be punished and it could be game over at half time.
Sam: I don’t think we really have any bad players that are currently playing, but we do have players that annoy me. James Collins is extremely slow and has cost us a few goals so far this season, but he has also got a huge upside to his game, which is his aerial ability. Another one is Mohamed Diame. As I said above, on his day he is unplayable, but on his bad day he is a nightmare.
If you could have any City player in your team who would you choose?
Bobby: Now there is a question, with so many world class players to choose from that’s a tough one, I think it would have to be David Silva, he is a truly magical player and I think any fan of any team can appreciate how good he is! If you could throw our old boy Tevez back in as well that would be great :)
Sam: Me personally, I would have Tevez. I still love him from his time at West Ham, and it is extremely annoying that we have been linked to him in the last few transfer windows, but never got him…..even though in my heart I knew he wasn’t going to come anyway.
What is your perception of City as a club?
Bobby: I have always liked City, they reminded me of West Ham with their great fans and passion for the club, however it’s been a different ball game since the takeover and City are quickly becoming a dominant force in the English football and I think everyone is pleased that Fergie’s nose has been put out of place by the noisy neighbours!
You just have to look at the plans for your new training facilities to see how much money and how professional it all is in the blue part of Manchester now. I think it’s good for the league to have multiple teams who can win it otherwise you end up with a Scottish League (before Rangers relegation) or Spanish League where only two teams ever win. Some fans think the money you have available to spend and spent on players in absurd, but really who wouldn’t mind their own club being in that position?
Sam: I like watching Man City play, because I like Carlos Tevez. I also like watching the quality of your squad in action…although I do have a sneaky laugh when you lose to clubs who amount to less transfer value than your substitute bench.
I liked the fact that a majority of people support Man City, whereas the rest of the world support Manu, but I don’t think it is like that anymore, as your club seems to have become a ‘brand.’ Fair play to you, the lifelong supporters, you have had one hell of a journey and now are one of the biggest teams in the world! I think a lot of clubs would love to have rich investors and win the league…I know I would.
Likely starting XI for the game, and score prediction?
GK Jussi Jaaskelainen
LB George McCartney
CB James Collins
CB Winston Reid
RB James Tomkins
DM Mo Diame
CM Mark Noble
CM Kevin Nolan
LW Matt Jarvis
RW Yossi Benayoun
CF Andy Carroll
I think West Ham will try and get at City from the get go and put some pressure on with set-pieces, but I think City have too much quality and have been doing what Champions do and that’s winning even when not playing well, so a draw would be amazing but I can’t see past a Man City win of 3-1.
Sam: If we perform like we did against Arsenal, I can set us getting a 2-2 draw, or might even be able to sneak a 2-1 win. If we perform like we did against Wigan, then I think your players will be able to treat it like a training session and thrash us. I hope it is the former!