Nigel Kahn’s Column

Line in the sand moment

It’s a bit early to be speculating on when football or in fact, life, will return to what we knew it to be before we had ever heard of Covid19. Its still too early to make a judgement on that, although I still believe that whenever that is you just pick up and finish were we left off then start again.

For the owners, though, the postponement of the season has brought a reprieve from the mainly negative press they had been getting, deservedly for me. The mainstream media were having a field day with our ownership and its lackey, helped by their banning of fellow journalists and the protest movement growing in numbers.

It’s possible the two went hand in hand. The journalists smelt blood and the protests were like a gift to them allowing them to continue writing articles except with new perspective from protest leaders and organisers. These articles breathed life into the protests taking them off social media from where their strong base was and making them mainstream. But with no football now taking place, the list of games where protests were planned have ceased to be played and with the possibility of football only returning behind closed doors then that will not only exclude fans, but stop any protest from happening as well.

What is the future though? The world is going through an unprecedented catastrophe that is suspending our way of life and sometimes when that happens it allows you to stop, pause, and rethink how you feel and perhaps consider behaving better in the future.

Football clubs at the moment have no income coming in – no fans in stadiums or going to the club shops. Season ticket money is normally divided up into 19 portions and then paid out after every game goes by, but then season ticket money does not bankroll a football club for 6 months let alone a full season. TV money is the driving force in the top division.

If no football is being played will the full money of the contract be paid? Ally that with the fact that with no live TV many are cancelling their subscriptions to the TV companies so it would pressure them into not paying the full contract if the games are not played. Through all this time, though, the players and staff will expect to be paid.

The owners will be the obvious port of call if they want to have a club that can survive and thrive in the Premier League.

Once life and with it football resumes, will fans still than still want to protest against owners who like them or not have kept the club going through this situation? If the season resumes, surely all our focus should be on the team, not distracted for minute by protests no matter what the situation is.

Don’t get me wrong, im not changing my stance or belief that the club will be better off by the current regime leaving. I will never stop looking forward to the day they leave as it is the only way I can see the cycle of turmoil ending as for me it’s no coincidence that there are only protests when the club are in relegation dog fight, so for as long as we struggle there will be the stick of lies to beat them with. What they said in the years before the move will always hang round them until they leave.

What I won’t have now is an appetite to protest or to drive them out by creating even more chaos as that is what the protest will bring. I still believe they should be criticised if needed and once football resumes I will just look forward to being able to go watch them play. I will be grateful that I can watch them play as the world will never be the same after this pandemic comes to an end, and if the world changes why shouldn’t football and us as fans change as well?


On This Day: 31st March

Sunderland 1-2 West Ham, 31st March 2014

5 Seconds of Summer were number one with ‘She Looks So Perfect’, a jury was selected to hear a fresh inquest into the 96 deaths caused by the 1989 Hillsborough disaster and Captain America: The Winter Soldier was in UK cinemas as West Ham United completed a 2-1 win at Sunderland.

Andy Carroll opened the scoring in the ninth minute, rising above the Sunderland defence to power home a header from a left-wing corner. The visitors doubled their lead five minutes into the second half, Carroll chesting down a high, hanging free-kick from halfway by James Tomkins into the path of Mo Diame, whose shot skidded into the corner beyond the helpless Vito Mannone via a slight deflection.

Gus Poyet introduced winger Adam Johnson and the substitute swept in a precise finish with 25 minutes remaining to set up a tense finale but the Hammers held out to leave the Black Cats second bottom and four points adrift of safety with eight games to play. The goals from this game can be seen on the WHTID social media pages.

Sam Allardyce’s Hammers would go on to finish the 2013/14 Premier League season in 13th place, with the Mackems ending up one below in 14th position. Manchester City won the title, Arsenal won the FA Cup and Mark Noble was voted Hammer of the Year for the second time.

Sunderland: Vito Mannone, Phil Bardsley, Santiago Vergini, Wes Brown, John O’Shea (Craig Gardner), Marcos Alonso, Liam Bridcutt, Ki Sung-Yueng (Ignacio Scocco), Lee Cattermole (Adam Johnson), Connor Wickham, Fabio Borini.

West Ham United: Adrian, Guy Demel, James Tomkins, Winston Reid, George McCartney (Pablo Armero), Mark Noble, Matt Taylor, Stewart Downing, Kevin Nolan (Antonio Nocerino), Mo Diame (Roger Johnson), Andy Carroll.

West Ham 3-0 Southampton, 31st March 2018

31st March 2018 – Rudimental featuring Jess Glynne, Macklemore & Dan Caplen were number one with ‘These Days’, Peter Rabbit topped the UK box office and former England international Ray Wilkins died four days later. David Moyes’ struggling West Ham United, meanwhile, beat Mark Hughes’ Southampton 3-0 in a Premier League encounter in front of 56,882 at London Stadium.

West Ham recovered from the early loss of the injured Michail Antonio when Portuguese loanee Joao Mario smashed in a 13th-minute opener from the edge of the penalty area after being picked out by Cheikhou Kouyate, who had surged powerfully away on the counter-attack from his own half. Scorer Mario then turned creator four minutes later, setting up Marko Arnautovic for the second with a brilliant cross from the right that the Austrian bundled home at the second attempt after his initial header had been saved.

Embed from Getty Images

Arnautovic added his second in first-half stoppage time, volleying home superbly after a rare piece of quality end product from Arthur Masuaku, who was playing his first match after a six-game suspension for spitting at an opponent. With the game wrapped up by half-time, a quiet second half followed, although Aaron Cresswell did strike the crossbar with a fierce, dipping volley from distance.

West Ham went on to finish the 2017/18 season in 13th position. Arnautovic was the club’s top goalscorer with 11 goals from 35 matches; he was also voted Hammer of the Year with Declan Rice runner-up. Southampton finished 17th, Manchester City won the league and Chelsea won the FA Cup.

West Ham United: Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta, Declan Rice, Angelo Ogbonna, Aaron Cresswell, Arthur Masuaku, Cheikhou Kouyate (Josh Cullen), Mark Noble, Joao Mario, Michail Antonio (Edimilson Fernandes), Marko Arnautovic (Jordan Hugill).

Southampton: Alex McCarthy, Cedric Soares, Jack Stephens, Wesley Hoedt, Ryan Bertrand, Dusan Tadic, Mario Lemina, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Nathan Redmond (Sofiane Boufal), Charlie Austin (Guido Carrillo), Manolo Gabbiadini (Shane Long).

I’d like to finish by wishing a very Happy Birthday to my sister, a season ticket holder with me in the Billy Bonds Stand – Happy Birthday Nat!

Dawud Marsh's Photo Diary

Player In Focus: Lukasz Fabianski

Lukasz Fabianski was born on 18th April, 1985 and began his professional career at Legia Warsaw before transferring to Arsenal in 2007, then joining Swansea in 2014, playing 150 matches before moving to West Ham United for £7m.

Fabianski has made 16 appearances in the Premier League this season, keeping 5 clean sheets, conceding 22 goals, being on the winning side 5 times and on the losing side 7 times. This season Fabianski has been hindered by injury after an excellent season before and he started strongly with the Hammers 5th in the league, keeping 2 consecutive clean sheets by the end of September 2019.

Replaced by Roberto after going down injured with a torn hip muscle at Bournemouth, Hammers form dipped immediately. Can we place our poor season form down to this injury? Remember Fab was voted player of the season at Swansea then the following season Hammer of the Year in 2019.

Returning to the squad on 28th December against Leicester Fab played the next two matches, going off after 15mins against Sheffield United in what looked like a repeat of the injury that sidelined him for months before. Would that be the end of the season for Fabianski? The season was going from bad to worse.

Returning on 29th January 2020 against Liverpool at the London Stadium, Fabianski has played in goal for the remainder of what is now an incomplete season. But, with the league position looking increasingly precarious for the Hammers, Fabianski has not been able to turn the tide in what was proving to be a miserable season for us.

With the loss of Fabianski in goal, the very poor form of Roberto and the drop in form of other players within the team, our season start imploding with the embarrassing defeat to Oxford United in the Carabao Cup at the end of September when our season was looking so good. Some would argue it was a false dawn and the eventual sacking of Pellegrini was inevitable given the criticism of the gaffer in terms of his team selections and tactics, in particular the choice of replacement goalkeeper and lack of ability to motivate the team out of the ongoing slump.

When in form, Fabianski is an excellent shot stopper, commands his area and is a great distributor of the ball, all of which builds confidence in the team from the defence to attack. Goalkeeping is one of many areas we need to have quality and Fabianski offers us that. The issue that has been especially highlighted for us this season is whether we have a good enough stand by to replace him if he suffers another major injury?

Dawud Marsh's Photo Diary

Through the Lens: Photographs From Hammers History Part 3 Tony Cottee

Tony Cottee Debut at Upton Park 1st January 1983

Tony Cottee was born on 11th Just 1965 in Forest Gate, London. One of the most prolific goal scorers in English football during the 80s and 90s, scoring 293 goals in 712 games, in all competitions.

Playing on his debut aged 17, Cottee scores past Spurs and England goalkeeper Ray Clemence on 1st January 1983 in the English League One match at Upton Park.

Cottee went on to play 8 games that season, scoring 5 goals. Cottee secured a regular first team place in the following season scoring 18 goals – still on 18 years old. But, in 1984-85 season, Cottee scared 17 First Division goals and by the age of 20 had already managed 37 league goals.

Cottee went to his first match at Upton Park as a boy with his dad to in March 1972 to watch the Hammers beat Nottingham Forest 4-2, with Pop Robson scoring 2 goals. Cottee himself describes this as his ‘rite of passage’ and he has been connected to the club for almost 50 years.

Talking about his debut, Cottee describes how only the year before he was watching the team play from the stands and by the New Year he was in the first team playing with Martin and Devo – something he just couldn’t believe at the time!

For Cottee, and many others who have played for the club or followed the Hammers, Upton Park holds so many special memories and scoring “in a 3-0 victory against the old enemy. It couldn’t get much better than that.”

I love this photo, not only because its of Cottee scoring against Clemence in goal for Spurs, but its such a perfect shot, capturing the moment the ball leaves Cottee’s head, but a perfect rule of thirds composition. Depth of field is spot on with the crowd blurred in the background – but you can still make out some fans standing with their hands up in the air in celebration. The frame of the goal posts, the structure of the stand and the players creating a triangulated dynamic that leads your eye around the scene.

Dawud Marsh's Photo Diary

Player In Focus: Michail Antonio

Born 28th March 1990 in Wandsworth, Antonio signed for West Ham United on 1st September 2015, making his debut on 19th September in the 60th minute in a win against Manchester City.

Antonio has scored some key goals in his career so far, notably against Southampton on 28th December with the Hammers 1-0 down, eventually winning 2-1. And who can forget Antonio’s homage to Homer Simpson after scoring on 27th February 2016 against Sunderland where he lay on the floor sideways, spinning round in a circle!

Also, Antonio scored the only goal as Hammers were the first team to beat Spurs in their new stadium on 29th April 2019.

Antonio started the 2016-17 season as a right back, but for the Hammers first Premier league match at the London Stadium, he was switched to winger and scored the only goal in a 1-0 win against Bournemouth.

Hit by injury this season, we have at times missed his pace and ability to stretch and unsettle defences. Apparently without Antonio in the team it takes the Hammers 27mins longer to score a goal.

His strength on the ball gives the team time, especially in forward play, but how often does he get caught surrounded by players unable to cross or pass the ball? Despite some key goals from Antonio, how often has he missed a sitter that is the difference between winning a losing? Antonio has missed 9 big chances this season, with a shooting accuracy of 43%.

Antonio can frustrate as much as he entertains at times, but the team, I would argue, has so much more when he is in it. Antonio runs down the wing, pulls defenders and offers us much needed attacking power. He can get in goal scoring positions and with a 70% tackling percentage so far this season he can break up play in midfield and get the team going forward.

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