Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: Everton

Blast from the past

Almost 42 years ago to the day, West Ham United recorded one of only seven post-war league wins at Goodison Park. It was the 25th November 1972 – Trevor Brooking and Clyde Best were the Hammers’ goalscorers in a 2-1 victory in front of 27,558, while Bernie Wright struck for Everton. The Irons went on to finish in 6th place that season, with Brooking and Best scoring 20 goals between them.

Everton are certainly the Hammers’ bogey side of late – we haven’t beaten the Toffees, home or away, since April 2007, drawing four and losing nine in all competitions since then. We have only recorded two wins at Goodison Park since 1983 (in January 1994 and December 2005).

Everton: David Lawson, Peter Scott, John Hurst, Roger Kenyon, Terry Darracott, Henry Newton, Colin Harvey, Howard Kendall, John Connolly, Rod Belfitt, Bernie Wright.

West Ham United: Bobby Ferguson, John McDowell, Bobby Moore, Tommy Taylor, Frank Lampard (Kevin Lock), Billy Bonds, Trevor Brooking, Pat Holland, Dudley Tyler, Pop Robson, Clyde Best.

Club Connections

Considering they have spent the majority of their respective histories at a reasonably similar level, West Ham United and Everton have shared relatively few players. Those who have appeared for both clubs include: Don Hutchison, David Burrows, Mark Ward, Thomas Hitzlsperger, Joe Blythe, George Eccles, William Wildman, David Unsworth, Ray Atteveld, George Kitchen, Danny Williamson, Richard Wright, Niclas Alexandersson, Mike Newell, Ian Bishop, Lars Jacobsen, Lucas Neill and Slaven Bilic.

Perhaps the most notable Hammer to have also represented the Toffees is legendary goalscorer Tony Cottee. Famously scoring on his debut at Upton Park against Tottenham as a 17-year-old prodigy on New Year’s Day 1983, TC won the PFA Young Player of the Year Award as a 20-year-old in 1986 having helped the Hammers to their best-ever finish of third. He scored 20 league goals in that season, taking his tally to 57 in three-and-a-half years. He improved his personal record in 1986/87, notching 22 league goals, but West Ham plummeted to a 15th-placed finish. He scored a further 13 in his final season and, at this stage in his Hammers career, Cottee had scored 92 league goals in 212 games.

West Ham avoided relegation in 1988 on goal difference; Everton, meanwhile, had finished fourth and they swooped for the Hammers’ home-grown goal machine in a British record £2.2m deal that summer. Cottee made an incredible start to his spell at Goodison Park, scoring a hat-trick on his debut – an opening-day 4-0 win over Newcastle. Cottee appeared in two Wembley finals in his first season with the Blues, scoring twice in a 4-3 defeat to Nottingham Forest in the Full Members Cup, before playing in a 3-2 defeat to Merseyside neighbours Liverpool in the FA Cup Final. Cottee scored 13 goals in each of his first two seasons with Everton and, in February 1991, scored a dramatic late equaliser in a 4-4 draw with Liverpool in the FA Cup fifth round (first replay). Everton triumphed in the second replay to set up a quarter-final date with West Ham at the Boleyn Ground, a game the Hammers won through strikes from Colin Foster and Stuart Slater. Cottee would appear from the bench at the home of his boyhood heroes, incidentally replacing the current assistant manager of the Hammers, Neil McDonald. Everton continued to decline from being a major force in English football in the 1980s to being perennial relegation strugglers in the 1990s.

Following 72 goals in 184 matches for the Toffees, Cottee headed back to East London in September 1994 in a swap deal with David Burrows to join up with new Hammers manager Harry Redknapp. Cottee faced a mixed start on his return to the claret and blue – he was sent off on his second debut for the club after scything down Rob Jones in a 0-0 draw at Liverpool but followed that up by notching a late winner on his first match back at Upton Park, a typical poacher’s effort in a 1-0 victory over Aston Villa. Cottee hit a rich vein of form around Christmas, scoring six goals in five matches, including a hat-trick in a 3-0 home win over Manchester City. He grabbed his 100th Hammers goal with a solo effort in a 2-1 win at Leicester in February 1995 before hitting a double in a 2-2 draw with former club Everton in his next match. TC’s 13 goals ensured he finished the campaign as West Ham’s top scorer and this contribution went a long way towards securing survival that season. His 10 league goals the following year helped the Hammers to a first top ten finish since the Cottee-inspired 85/86.

With the inception of ‘West Ham United Nations’ in 1996/97, Cottee was deemed surplus to requirements and left for Selangor of Malaysia. He had played in 279 league matches for the Hammers in total, scoring 115 goals. In all competitions, he scored 145 goals in 335 games. After less than a year at the Shah Alam Stadium, he was back in the Premier League with Leicester, scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win at Old Trafford in January 1998. He won his first major trophy two years later as the Foxes beat Tranmere in the League Cup Final. Alongside a loan spell at Birmingham, Cottee went on to play for Norwich and Millwall, with a short period as player-manager at Barnet sandwiched in between. He also won 7 caps for England.

Referee

“We want Mark Clattenburg” sing the Hammers faithful whenever another dodgy ref gives an absurd decision against us – well, this Saturday, we get our man! Clattenburg’s record when officiating Hammers’ matches generally bodes well for us – he was the man in the middle for our 3-1 victory at Crystal Palace earlier in this campaign. He also refereed our 3-1 home win over Southampton last season and, in the previous year, took charge in 2-1 wins at QPR and at home against Norwich. On the flip side, he had no choice but to send off Kevin Nolan in a 2-1 defeat at Fulham last season and was also the man in black for a woeful away showing at Villa Park in a 2-1 defeat in February 2013.

Possible line-ups

Much has been made of a potential Hammers injury crisis, but Everton face their fair share of difficulties too. Full-backs Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines, midfielders Darron Gibson and James McCarthy and winger Steven Pienaar all face late fitness tests while Antolin Alcaraz, John Stones, Arouna Kone, Kevin Mirallas, Bryan Oviedo and Gareth Barry are all set to be ruled out.

For West Ham United, a number of key players are set to be touch-and-go for the tough trip to Merseyside. Defenders Guy Demel and Winston Reid are doubts, as are Stewart Downing and Diafra Sakho after the pair reported back from international duty with knee and back issues respectively. Alex Song and Enner Valencia are also reported to be suffering from knocks.

Looking ahead to our home encounter with Newcastle next week, should Jack Colback or Daryl Janmaat pick up a yellow card against QPR, they will subsequently miss our game on 29th November.

Possible Everton XI: Howard; Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Hibbert; Gibson, McCarthy, Barkley, McGeady; Eto’o, Lukaku.

Possible West Ham United XI: Adrian; Jenkinson, Collins, Tomkins, Cresswell; Noble, Kouyate, Song; Amalfitano; Cole, Sakho.

Enjoy the game – Come On You Irons!


Dan Coker's Match Preview

Preview: Aston Villa

Blast from the past

By scoring in his last appearance, the winner against champions Manchester City, Diafra Sakho took his goalscoring exploits in consecutive matches beyond the likes of Hammers legends Johnny Byrne, David Cross, John Dick, Tony Cottee and Pop Robson. His seventh goal in seven games (6 Premier League, 1 League Cup) also equalled the efforts of Jimmy Ruffell and Sir Geoff Hurst. Sakho should return from injury against Aston Villa this weekend but will still not be able to match the efforts of West Ham United’s all-time greatest goalscorer even if he continues his remarkable baptism to English football by notching in this weekend’s fixture.

Vic Watson is, without question, the most prolific striker East London has ever seen. He scored 298 league goals in 462 appearances, bagging a further 28 goals in the FA Cup, making him the club’s record goalscorer with 326. He scored six goals in one match, against Leeds in an 8-2 win in February 1929, scored four in one game on three occasions and scored a further 13 hat-tricks. Watson scored in nine consecutive games (6 in Division One, 3 in the FA Cup) in 1930, currently placing him two ahead of Sakho.

Victor Martin Watson was born in Girton, Cambridgeshire on 10th November 1897 – next Monday would have been his 117th birthday. He fought in the British Army during World War One, reaching the rank of sergeant. Syd King signed Watson for a fee of £25 in 1920 as cover for Hammers hero Syd Puddefoot (who scored in 18 consecutive matches in the Wartime London Combination). Watson consequently started his West Ham career at outside-left – it wasn’t until two years later, when King sold Puddefoot for a British record fee of £5,000 to Falkirk, that Watson took his place at centre-forward. The rest is Hammers history. The following season, we reached the FA Cup Final and won promotion to the First Division. Watson’s goal celebration was to pick a blade of grass from the turf and put it between his teeth – no wonder the grass didn’t seem to grow back at Upton Park until the mid-1990s!

Watson ended his career at Southampton before running a fruit and vegetable small holding back in Cambridgeshire. He died at the age of 90 in his hometown of Girton on 3rd August 1988, nine days after West Ham sold one of his goalscoring successors, Tony Cottee, to Everton and six days after fellow Hammers legend Billy Bonds retired.

So, why Vic Watson? Why now? Well, apart from Sakho’s recent, almost comparable, form, Watson scored 18 goals in 15 matches against this weekend’s opponents, Aston Villa. This statistic included three hat-tricks, the first of which came in a First Division fixture almost 88 years ago, on the 13th November 1926 in front of 7,647. A trio from Watson that afternoon was supplemented by strikes from England colleague Stan Earle and Thomas Yews, with Arthur Dorrell replying for the visitors as the Hammers recorded a 5-1 home victory.

West Ham would end the 1926/27 season in 6th position, while Aston Villa would close the campaign in 10th place.

West Ham United: Ted Hufton, Thomas Hodgson, John Hebden, James Collins, Jim Barrett, George Carter, Jimmy Ruffell, Thomas Yews, Viv Gibbins, Vic Watson, Stan Earle.

Aston Villa: Tommy Jackson, Tommy Smart, Tommy Mort, Victor Milne, Frank Moss, Billy Kingdon, Arthur Dorrell, Richard York, Billy Walker, George Ternent Stephenson, Walter Harris.

Club Connections

Stewart Downing, Carlton Cole and James Collins could all face their former club on Saturday, while Hammers favourite Joe Cole returns to Upton Park for the first time since departing for the Villans in the summer.

Other players who have appeared for both clubs include Thomas Hitzlsperger, John Carew, David James, Nigel Reo-Coker, Marlon Harewood, Ray Houghton, Robbie Keane, Franz Carr, Nolberto Solano, Tony Scott, Gary Charles, Frank McAvennie, Mervyn Day, Les Sealey and Phil Woosnam.

Today’s focus, though, falls on a player who turned out for Aston Villa but came through the Academy at West Ham United and later returned to manage the club. Alan Curbishley was born a mile from West Ham station – as a spot of trivia, his elder brother, Bill, was manager of The Who and one of the pallbearers at Reggie Kray’s funeral. ‘Curbs’ joined West Ham straight from school and made his debut in March 1975 in a 1-0 home defeat against Chelsea. At the end of that season, he was part of the West Ham youth team that was defeated 5-1 on aggregate by Ipswich in the FA Youth Cup Final; his team-mates in that side included Geoff Pike, Paul Brush and Alvin Martin. Aged 18, Curbishley appeared in both legs of the European Cup Winners’ Cup tie against Den Haag. He scored 5 goals from midfield in 85 matches for West Ham but left for Birmingham the season after relegation, in April 1979, for £225,000.

Following 11 goals in 131 appearances for the Blues, and a promotion to the First Division in 1980 as his old side won the FA Cup, Curbishley joined their cross-city rivals, Aston Villa, in 1983. His stay at Villa Park was shortlived, departing after just 36 games, having scored one goal. He signed for Charlton in 1984 – while his former club north of the River Thames was finishing third in the top flight in 1985/86, Curbishley was again enjoying success of his own as his Addicks side was promoted to the First Division. He scored 6 goals in 63 matches for Charlton before joining Brighton in 1987 where he would score 13 goals in 116 appearances and again enjoy a promotion campaign, this time to the Second Division in 1988.

Curbishley rejoined Charlton as player-coach in 1990 and became joint-manager (alongside Steve Gritt) a year later. He enjoyed a remarkable 15-year spell as Charlton manager, including two promotions to the Premier League, the first via the play-offs in 1998 and the second as champions in 2000. Charlton finished the 2000/01 campaign in 9th place, enjoying home wins over Chelsea and Arsenal. Curbishley continued to consolidate Charlton as a Premier League outfit, finishing 7th in 2003/04 – following this campaign, he was strongly linked to the vacant managerial role at Liverpool but lost out to Rafa Benitez. With Steve McClaren being preferred in the race for another blue riband job, that of England manager in spring 2006, Curbishley brought the curtain down on his successful reign as Charlton manager. The season after his departure, the Addicks were relegated from the Premier League and were demoted again two years later to the third tier of English football, highlighting further the achievements during Curbishley’s tenure.

After a brief sabbatical, Curbishley jumped at the opportunity to return to the game in the form of the top job at his boyhood team, West Ham United, 27 years after he had left the club as a player. Winning his first game at home against Manchester United, he completed ‘The Greatest Escape’ with a run-in that included victories at The Emirates (Arsenal’s first defeat at their new home) and Old Trafford. Despite great upheaval involving the playing staff and a catalogue of injuries, Curbishley led the Hammers to a top-half finish in his only full season in charge, as well as to the quarter-finals of the League Cup. After three league matches of 2008/09, with the Hammers fourth in the league after a 4-1 win over Paul Ince’s Blackburn had secured a best start to a season for nine years, Curbishley resigned after half of his back four, Anton Ferdinand and George McCartney, were sold against his wishes. Perhaps Curbs’ greatest legacy at the club was the £7m signing of his former Charlton protégé Scott Parker, who went on to win the Hammer of the Year prize three times and pick up a Football Writers’ Player of the Year Award during his time at the club. Curbishley most recently spent two months as technical director at Fulham before Felix Magath joined the club.

Referee

Saturday’s referee will be Jonathan Moss. West Ham lost all three games in which Moss officiated last season – the 1-0 home defeat to Stoke, the 3-1 loss at Norwich and the 1-0 reverse at Everton. Moss was the man in the middle for our 1-0 victory at Stoke the season before.

Possible line-ups

Diafra Sakho trained on Thursday and is almost certain to return to the starting line-up. Winston Reid only participated in light training following his dead leg at Stoke last weekend and is more of a doubt, with James Tomkins more than capable of stepping up to replace the New Zealand international. Reid remains one yellow card away from a one-match suspension. Andy Carroll could make the bench for the first time this season if there are no issues for the England striker in Friday’s training session.

Aston Villa will be without the suspended Christian Benteke, along with the injured Libor Kozak, Fabian Delph and Alan Hutton. Gabriel Agbonlahor is the player most likely to replace the Belgian striker in the starting XI, being a player who is particularly suited to Villa’s counter-attacking style which can pay dividends on their travels, as proved at Anfield this season.

Looking ahead to our post-international break trip to Goodison Park for a moment, should Steven Naismith or Gareth Barry pick up a yellow card at the Stadium of Light this Sunday, they will subsequently miss our game with Everton on 22nd November.

Possible West Ham United XI: Adrian; Jenkinson, Collins, Tomkins, Cresswell; Noble, Kouyate, Song; Downing; Sakho, Valencia.

Possible Aston Villa XI: Guzan; Lowton, Vlaar, Baker, Cissokho; Cleverley, Sanchez, Westwood; Agbonlahor, Weimann, N’Zogbia.

Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!


Dan Coker's Match Preview

Preview: Stoke City

Blast from the past

Just over 30 years ago, on the 20th October 1984, English football was introduced to its first ever big screen – it was at Highbury as Arsenal defeated Sunderland 3-2 to retain top spot in Division One. On the same day, Everton recorded their first win at Anfield in 14 years, Sheffield Wednesday beat Leicester 5-0 and West Ham United triumphed 4-2 at The Victoria Ground, the former home of Stoke City, in front of 9,945 spectators.

Paul Allen, a product of the West Ham Academy and a player who would later turn out 17 times for Stoke in a loan spell from Southampton some 11 years later, gave the Hammers a half-time lead before a goal feast in the second half. Mark Chamberlain (father of Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain) and Ian Painter netted for the Potters, but strikes from Tony Cottee and Paul Goddard, along with an own goal by City’s George Berry, ensured maximum points headed safely back to East London.

West Ham would finish the season two points clear of the drop in 16th place, while Stoke would be relegated in bottom position, picking up only 17 points and conceding 91 goals along the way.

Stoke City: Peter Fox, Wayne Ebanks, Steve Bould, Paul Dyson, George Berry, Chris Hemming, Sammy McIlroy (Steve Parkin), Mark Chamberlain, Phil Heath, Brendan O’Callaghan, Ian Painter.

West Ham United: Tom McAlister, Ray Stewart, Tony Gale, Alvin Martin, Steve Walford, Billy Bonds, Paul Allen, Geoff Pike (Neil Orr), Paul Goddard, Tony Cottee, Steve Whitton.

Club Connections

A reasonable number of players have worn the shirts of both Stoke City and West Ham United. These include: Lee Chapman, Sir Geoff Hurst, Steve Banks, Abdoulaye Faye, Clive Clarke, Matthew Etherington, Kevin Keen, John Carew, Henri Camara, Paul Allen, Danny Collins, Frank Richardson, Lawrie Leslie, Bob Dixon, Matthew Upson and Nicky Morgan. Lou Macari has also managed both clubs, with two spells in charge of the Potters.

Today’s focus, though, falls on a player who enjoyed spells at both clubs in the middle part of the last decade. Luke Chadwick began his career at Manchester United, scoring two goals in 25 appearances for the Red Devils, while also spending loan periods with Antwerp, Reading and Burnley. Chadwick signed for Alan Pardew’s West Ham at the start of the 2004/05 season and played the majority of games before Christmas on the right wing. He scored his only goal for the club in a 1-1 draw with Leeds United in a televised Friday night match, opening the scoring by bundling home after a Marlon Harewood header had been blocked. Leeds ruined Chadwick’s night however, equalising through an injury-time penalty by David Healy after the Northern Ireland striker had blatantly dived to win the spot-kick. Injury disrupted the rest of Chadwick’s season as the Hammers won promotion back to the top flight by beating Preston in the play-off final in Cardiff.

After 32 appearances for West Ham, Chadwick joined Stoke, initially on loan at the start of the 2005/06 season. Following impressive performances, this move was made permanent the following January for a fee of £100,000. Chadwick won many admirers amongst the Stoke faithful but fitness issues again caught up with him, fainting due to dehydration against Southend on the opening day of the 2006/07 season. Chadwick’s former assistant manager at Upton Park, Peter Grant, took the winger to Norwich as Stoke more than doubled their money on the England Under-21 international. He scored 5 goals in 51 matches for the Potters.

After leaving Norwich in 2008, Chadwick made 210 appearances for MK Dons, scoring 17 goals, before getting his dream move to boyhood club Cambridge United last spring. Discussing his debut for Cambridge against Welling in March this year, Chadwick told BBC Radio Cambridgeshire: “I remember coming on in a Champions League quarter-final against Munich. That was quite a nerve-wracking and an incredible experience. But this is the biggest one now. The missus buys me the Cambridge kit every Christmas or my birthday. I’ve had it the last 10 to 15 years, so to wear one in a proper game was a great feeling. I still think I’ve got years left in me. My body will tell me when it is time to stop. Ideally, I’ve got three, four, five or six years left. You never know in this game, I just want to be successful here.” Chadwick helped Cambridge win promotion back into the Football League in May after a nine-year exile for the club and has scored one goal in ten league matches so far for them this season.

Referee

Saturday’s referee will be Chris Foy; the Liverpool-based official has been taking charge of Premier League fixtures since 2001. Since West Ham United achieved promotion back to the top flight in 2012 Foy has refereed five of our league matches with the Hammers yet to win – he has officiated in two draws and three defeats. Foy was the man in the middle on the opening day of the season against Tottenham at Upton Park, awarding the Hammers a first half penalty and sending off Kyle Naughton, only for us to lose the match 1-0. James Collins was also shown a red card in that game.

Possible line-ups

Stoke will be without Peter Odemwingie and Glenn Whelan through long-term injuries, while Robert Huth is also sidelined. Phil Bardsley and Peter Crouch picked up suspensions in the League Cup tie in midweek, depleting Mark Hughes’ resources still further.

Sam Allardyce will give Diafra Sakho until Saturday morning to prove he is fit enough to play after suffering heavy bruising to his shoulder in last week’s stunning victory over champions Manchester City. Sakho has reportedly progressed from a 30% chance of playing earlier this week to 50-50 as of Thursday. Should Big Sam decide to start the striker, who is brimming with confidence and self-belief, it is unlikely he will last anywhere near 90 minutes. It will be expected that Carlton Cole will certainly see action at some stage in Saturday’s match. James Tomkins and Matt Jarvis should return to the matchday 18. Winston Reid is one yellow card away from accumulating five bookings and therefore a one-match suspension.

Possible Stoke City XI: Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross, Wilson, Pieters; N’Zonzi, Adam; Walters, Arnautovic, Moses; Diouf.

Possible West Ham United XI: Adrian; Jenkinson, Collins, Reid, Cresswell; Noble, Amalfitano, Song; Downing; Sakho, Valencia.

Enjoy the game – Come On You Irons!


Dan Coker's Match Preview

Preview: Manchester City

Blast from the past

Saturday 25th September 1982 was an astonishing day for goalscoring in English football’s First Division. Fifty goals were scored, including an 8-0 victory for Watford over Sunderland (probably a scoreline the Wearsiders have seen enough of this week!), a 6-0 away win for Ipswich at Notts County and a 4-4 draw between Stoke and Luton. With Survivor’s ‘Eye of the Tiger’ at the top of the charts, it was Manchester City who endured a ‘Rocky’ time at Upton Park, in front of 23,883.

Scottish striker Sandy Clark packed the biggest punch, bagging a brace in a match which was to prove his finest hour in claret and blue after signing from Airdrie for £200,000 that summer. Paul Goddard and Francois van der Elst were also on the scoresheet in a game which saw the Hammers tie down fourth place in the top flight (something Hammers fans have loved seeing over the last seven days!). Phil Boyer managed a consolation effort for City, who were managed that day by ex-Hammer John Bond.

In a season that would see a goalscoring debut for Tony Cottee on New Year’s Day against Tottenham, West Ham would finish in eighth position, while Manchester City would be relegated.

West Ham United: Phil Parkes, Ray Stewart (Neil Orr), Billy Bonds, Alvin Martin, Frank Lampard, Alan Devonshire, Paul Allen, Geoff Pike, Francois van der Elst, Sandy Clark, Paul Goddard.

Manchester City: Alexander Williams, Bobby McDonald (Dennis Tueart), Paul Power, Ray Ranson, Kevin Bond, Tommy Caton, Graham Baker, Age Hareide, Asa Hartford, Kevin Reeves, Phil Boyer.

Club Connections

A large group of players have turned out for West Ham United and Manchester City. They include Marc-Vivien Foe, Carlos Tevez, Craig Bellamy, David Cross, Phil Woosnam, Justin Fashanu, Stuart Pearce, Trevor Sinclair, David James, Kevin Horlock, Tal Ben Haim, Mark Ward, Steve Lomas, Trevor Morley, Paulo Wanchope, Michael Hughes, Ian Bishop and Tyrone Mears. Ex-Hammers Frank Lampard and Richard Wright are currently on the Citizens’ playing staff. Malcolm Allison and John Bond join Pearce as West Ham players who have gone on to manage City.

Today’s focus though falls on a player who played an ill-fated eighteen matches in all competitions for West Ham in 2011, having joined on loan from this weekend’s visitors – Wayne Bridge.

Bridge started his career at Southampton before joining Chelsea in a deal worth just over £7m in 2003. The left-back moved on to Manchester City in the January transfer window of 2009 for a reported fee of £10m. He is perhaps most remembered for an episode which culminated in his much-publicised refusal of a handshake from John Terry, which was interlinked with Bridge’s self-imposed termination of his England career – he won 36 caps for his country, scoring one goal. Bridge’s first-team opportunities at City faded with the arrival of Aleksandar Kolarov and, later, Gael Clichy. He made 58 appearances for the club, without scoring.

Bridge was offered an escape route in January 2011 by the relegation-haunted Hammers. He played in both the semi-final of the League Cup and the quarter-final of the FA Cup during his brief West Ham career but these Cup successes were not supplemented by points in the Premier League and the club was relegated as the division’s bottom side. Bridge would return to his parent club but was shipped out on loan again, this time to Sunderland.

Bridge would later have to drop a division for regular football, joining Brighton for a successful 2012/13 campaign. He turned down the chance of an extension to his time with the Seagulls, opting instead to join newly-relegated Reading. The ex-England left-back announced his retirement from the game in May this year.

Referee

Saturday’s referee will be Martin Atkinson; 2014/15 is Atkinson’s tenth as a Premier League referee. Since West Ham United achieved promotion back to the top flight in 2012 Atkinson has refereed six of our league matches, officiating in two wins for the Hammers, one draw and three defeats. Atkinson was the man in the middle for an away victory for Manchester City at Newcastle on the opening day of this season and the Hammers’ 2-2 draw at Hull in September.

Possible line-ups

West Ham United’s squad is set to be boosted by the return of James Tomkins and Cheikhou Kouyate for this clash between two of the top four (!). James Collins was fantastic last week at Burnley but the extra mobility offered by Tomkins may see him earn an immediate recall to the starting XI. Kouyate could replace Morgan Amalfitano, joining Mark Noble and Alex Song in midfield, with Stewart Downing at the tip of the diamond.

Manchester City’s line-up is difficult to predict following the long and arduous journey to and from Moscow this week, coupled with the fact they return to Premier League action swiftly with this Saturday lunchtime kick-off. They travel to Upton Park knowing, however, that a win will close the gap to Chelsea at the Premier League summit to just two points, with Mourinho’s men facing a trip to Old Trafford on Sunday. The Manchester press seem to suggest that Edin Dzeko’s poor recent Premier League form could see Manuel Pellegrini start with Sergio Aguero as a lone striker with Yaya Toure pushed into an advanced role off the Argentinian striker and David Silva and Jesus Navas wide.

Possible West Ham United XI: Adrian; Jenkinson, Tomkins, Reid, Cresswell; Kouyate, Song, Noble; Downing; Sakho, Valencia.

Possible Manchester City XI: Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Mangala, Kolarov; Fernandinho, Fernando; Navas, Toure, Silva; Aguero.

Enjoy the game – Come On You Irons!


Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: Burnley

Blast from the past

28th September 1974: Ceefax was five days old, the football world was reeling from the ending of the short but turbulent tenure of Brian Clough at Elland Road, Carl Douglas was ‘Kung Fu Fighting’ at the top of the charts and the country was twelve days from its second General Election of the year. And West Ham United scored five goals in one match away from home. Heady times indeed.

Being West Ham, we didn’t make it easy – we let three in at this weekend’s destination, Turf Moor, that day in front of 17,613. But legends Brooking and Bonds were on target, supplemented by a Billy Jennings strike and a double from Keith Robson. The 5-3 victory was one of only three on the road in 1974/75. Burnley would close the season in tenth position, while the Hammers would finish in thirteenth place and as FA Cup winners.

West Ham United: Mervyn Day, John McDowell, Kevin Lock, Tommy Taylor, Frank Lampard, Billy Bonds, Trevor Brooking, Graham Paddon, Billy Jennings, Keith Robson, Bobby Gould.

Club Connections

A small collection of players have turned out for the Hammers and the Clarets. They include Tyrone Mears, Frank Birchenough, Matt Taylor, Jack Tresadern, Walter Pollard, Junior Stanislas, Herman Conway, Reg Attwell and Zavon Hines.

Today’s focus though falls on a player who had just a short stint at West Ham before finishing his career with Burnley – Joe Gallagher.

Gallagher was born in Liverpool in 1955 but signed for Birmingham City as a 15-year-old trainee. After 335 appearances for the Blues (and one England B cap), the central defender moved to Wolves in 1981 for £350,000. Within months, the Molineux outfit were declared bankrupt and Gallagher’s contract was cancelled by the club.

The Hammers were suffering a defensive crisis in late 1982 – Alvin Martin was injured, Ray Stewart was suspended and Billy Bonds had a broken toe. Gallagher himself took up the story in an interview with the official club site in 2011:

“My move to West Ham came out of the blue. It was a Sunday evening and I was putting my daughter in the bath as usual when my phone rang. It was about 7.30pm and on the other end of the phone was John. I couldn’t believe it was John Lyall, but he asked if he could come up and speak to me about signing for West Ham.

“I said ‘Yes’ and within two hours there was a knock at my door and there was John on my doorstep. John explained that West Ham had a few defenders out.

“John told me that night he really needed me to come to West Ham, which I said was fine, but he said there was one problem. I thought ‘Oh no, here we go, there’s a problem’. He said ‘You have to come with us now’.

“I said ’That’s not a problem, give me two minutes to pack a bag’. So I packed a bag and within a couple hours me, John and Eddie Bailey, who’d come up with John, were back down in London and they put me up in a hotel in Essex.”

“John took me down to West Ham on that Sunday night and although I was only there for about nine months, I had a fantastic time. It was a dream come true for me to be playing and getting changed alongside the likes of Trevor Brooking, Billy Bonds, Frank Lampard, Alvin Martin, Phil Parkes and Ray Stewart.”

“It was an absolute joy being at West Ham. We’d go into training and every day it would be different. John took a lot of the training but there was also a lot of input from Ronnie Boyce.

“It was amazing because every training session was different. If you ask most players from the ‘70s and ‘80s, training was pretty boring and it was the same thing every day. At West Ham it was different every day. I’d come off the training pitch and say ’I’d never done that before’ and all the lads would say they never did the same session twice. Every day was an absolute joy.”

“The first thing that struck me about John was how down to earth he was. He told me not to call him ‘Boss’ but to call him ‘John’. I thought for someone so high ranking it was amazing that he didn’t want to be called ‘Boss’ but ‘John’.

“Also, everyone at the club was treated the same – Billy Bonds, Trevor Brooking, Alan Devonshire, Francois Van der Elst, or the youngsters coming through, the likes of Tony Cottee and Alan Dickens. John was not only a top football manager but a thorough 100 per cent English gentleman.

“I couldn’t believe the way I was looked after at the club. On the first and second days that I was at the club, I was treated like I had been there for 15 years – everyone took me under their wing. I would go back to my hotel and think ‘This can’t be true. I can’t believe I’m being treated like this’.

“The lads couldn’t do enough to help me, the likes of Alvin Martin and Ray Stewart would even take me round the local area to look for houses to buy.”

After nine league appearances for the Hammers, and a couple in the cup, Gallagher signed for Burnley in 1983, appearing 47 times and scoring three goals. After playing, Gallagher managed non-league Midlands outfits Coleshill Town, Atherstone United and Kings Heath before opening a hotel and subsequently losing all the money he made from the game. Now 59, Gallagher upholds his football links through his work with the Press Association at Birmingham home games and the hospitality work he does at St Andrews, while his full-time occupation as of three years ago was as a shift manager at Land Rover. In 2012, Gallagher was one of seven former players elected to Birmingham City’s Hall of Fame.

Referee

Saturday’s referee is Kevin Friend. The Leicester-based official has been involved in top-flight matches since 2009 and last took charge of the Hammers in our 3-1 defeat at The Emirates in April. He is probably more renowned for the soft penalty he gifted Hull City in our 1-0 defeat at The KC Stadium last September when Joey O’Brien was adjudged to have shoved Robbie Brady. Friend compounded the error by later denying the Irons a clear penalty when Jake Livermore handled in the area.

Possible line-ups

Burnley are set to be buoyed by the return of several first-team regulars: defender Michael Keane and midfielders Nathaniel Chalobah, Dean Marney and David Jones could all make the starting line-up, along with striker Danny Ings. Right-back Kieran Trippier faces a late fitness test, while Steven Reid, Matt Taylor and Sam Vokes look set to miss out.

West Ham United’s squad is set to be boosted by the return of Mark Noble, James Collins and Ricardo Vaz Te. Carl Jenkinson was released from England Under-21 duty but should be fit, while Guy Demel faces a late fitness test. Sam Allardyce faces the tough decision of whether to stick with a winning side or restore vice-captain Noble to the starting XI. Mauro Zarate is the man most likely to make way for Noble should Big Sam opt to twist.

Possible Burnley XI: Heaton; Trippier, Duff, Shackell, Ward; Arfield, Chalobah, Marney, Kightly; Barnes, Ings.

Possible West Ham United XI: Adrian; Jenkinson, Tomkins, Reid, Cresswell; Song, Amalfitano, Downing, Zarate; Sakho, Valencia.

Enjoy the game – Come On You Irons!


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