Opposition view: West Ham United
By Ric Turner, Thu 25 April 2013 07:28
Ahead of Saturday's game at The Etihad, Bluemoon caught up with resident Hammer markt85 to get the lowdown on the opposition...
What are your expectations for rest of this season?
To consolidate a mid table finish - after City we have two winnable home games in Newcastle and Reading so even a top half finish is possible. It's far beyond our expectations from the start of the season, which was just to remain in the Premiership. I think all West Ham fans would have taken 17th place for this season.
Are you happy with the manager?
Very. Big Sam has worked wonders in only a couple of years. Our relegation in 2011 left our club in a mess, Avram finally got sacked and we lost key players in Scott Parker, Robert Green, Matt Upson and Demba Ba. Thankfully the owners made their best decision since arriving at our club. Appointing Sam Allardyce meant getting results. The football wasn't pretty in the Championship, and some fans were disgruntled with our style of play, but we were winning games and picking up points. He made us a team that was hard to beat. Not many managers could have got us promoted from the Championship and make us a strong Premiership team in such short space
Who are your key players?
With the way we are set up I would say Andy Carroll is our key player. I can't think of many players realistically we could buy that would perform better in a lone striker role than he has. He bullies defenders, wins headers and is now scoring. I do hope the owners do everything they can to try and keep him but with his wages and value so high it may not be possible.
Diame has also been key to us in midfield. He really is the engine and has shown his class in many games. Aa surprise really, considering he was sitting on the bench at Wigan last season!
Kevin Nolan as a captain gets the team going and scores some crucial goals.
At the back the partnership with Collins and Reid has been excellent and they have made us defensively sound this season - I think Reid will win Hammers player of the season and deservedly so as he is really improving with each game.
Were you happy with the business conducted during the January transfer window?
We spent big on signings and wages at the start of the season so we knew in January we couldn't get much in. We needed to strengthen up front as Carrol was injured around this time so we bought in Chamakh and Wellington which we haven't really seen as Carlton Cole is our back up striker for when Carroll is out. Joe Cole was a good signing and nice to see back in a Hammers shirt - but as always the case with him injury's have taken their toll and he will never be the player he was. An OK transfer window, but the big signings at the start of the season in Carroll, Jarvis and Diame are the ones that will be remembered.
Are there any rising stars in the squad that we might not have heard of?
A bit of criticism that Big Sam gets is that he buys proven ageing players and doesn't promote within the club enough. Hopefully that might change as we have always been known to have an excellent academy.
Jordan Spence and Danny Potts have done well when given the chance. Also a young English kid called Blair Turgott is scoring goals for fun in our youth team and is being promoted through the ranks at international level.
Nearly forgot - Ravel Morrison is playing very well at Birmingham and looks like he is working hard on and off the pitch, Hopefully Big Sam will forget his antics and recall this kid from loan as he seems very talented
Your Achilles heel?
Our away form and the lack of goals, we are set up too defensively and this has cost us in many away games with Carroll left isolated up front, lately Vaz Te has pushed with Nolan to give us more attacking options which is helping, but at the start of the season we were far too negative away from home.
If you could have any City player in your team who would you choose?
Where to start! For sentimental reasons it would be great to have Tevez at the moment, as he is a Hammers hero for the season his performances and goals kept us up. But if I could choose any player from City I think it would be Yaya Toure. The guy is a machine and on his day can walk through defences. He scores goals, and looks to me like the complete midfielder.
What is your perception of City as a club?
You're now in the bracket of a 'world class' team. The title win last season was brilliant and well deserved. Obviously we envy the amount of money you have as it doesn't seem long ago that West Ham and City were battling mid-table together, but nowadays it takes more than money and Mancini has built a very good squad that will challenge the title every year. Your board don't seem as trigger happy as Abramovich and they seem to stay out of the media, which is a good thing. Your champions league campaign was disappointing this year but I am sure it won't be long till you are competing all the way for every major trophy there is.
Personally, I like City a lot. We have a lot of connections and history together and it is fitting that both clubs will honour Marc-Vivien Foe's death 10 years ago before kick off. Let's hope next year you will reclaim the Premiership title as no one likes to see the 'rags' win it.
Likely starting XI for the game, and score prediction?
Cant see many changes from the team that beat Wigan with the exception of Noble who is back from injury to replace O'Neill.
I predict our line up will be (4-4-1-1) :
If your players are motivated enough I predict you will comfortably win 2-0.