Our first Saturday away match of 2014 brings us to one fo the better trips and more popular. Best away in London? Graeme Howlett of KUMB (Knees Up Mother Brown – as if you couldnt work it out yerself!) fanzine has given us his thoughts on the move to Stratford, Pardew and Carroll. Perfect for an iPod read on the netty!
TF: How much will the win over Cardiff boost your spirits ahead of Saturdays match?
Graeme (KUMB): Hugely, as it lifted us out of the relegation zone.
TF: What’s been West Ham’s main problem this season? Who has impressed the most?
Graeme (KUMB): A lack of goals! Defensively we’ve been (mainly) sound but with no threat in the final third. Mark Noble has excelled in midfield this season and even received plaudits from Alan Hansen last weekend.
TF: Sam Allardyce looks as well suited for West Ham as has was for NUFC, as in polar opposites. Do you agree with this or can Hammers see positives from him?
Graeme (KUMB): Not particularly. As with any manager, if you give them sufficient funds they’ll build a better team. Allardyce is primarily working with a Championship squad still and he’s achieved all the targets he’s been set since he arrived here (instant promotion followed by a top ten finish last season).
TF: WHUFC look more an Allardyce Team than they did last year. What’s changed?
Graeme (KUMB): Not quite sure what you mean by “an Allardyce team”
TF: Can you see a future for Andy Carroll at the club? Do you think his career is dying on him?
Graeme (KUMB): Andy’s 24-years-old with a lucrative six-year contract under his belt and a World Cup next summer to look forward to. I suspect he may be here for a bit longer assuming, of course, we can avoid relegation.
TF: Upton Park is one of the great old grounds in English Football. What is the view of West Ham fans prior to the move in 2016? What will happen to Upton Park itself?
Graeme (KUMB): The fans are pretty evenly split over moving to Stratford. As for the Boleyn Ground, three sides have been rebuilt since 1994 so it’s far from the stadium it once was, as it is. I expect the site will become a supermarket or residential, but that is yet to be decided.
TF: Is it fair to say that West Ham’s heartland is now in Essex rather than the East End. If that is the case then does the move to Stratford and make sense if the support trains it westward?
Graeme (KUMB): The former East End has spread out all over the South East meaning there are also large West Ham enclaves in Surrey, Kent, Middlesex and Hertfordshire, to name but a few. On a purely selfish, personal level I’ll say “no” to that, as coming from South East Essex the journey will take a little longer each week!
TF: Despite the many incidents between both sets of supports there seems a genuine respect between the fan bases. What’s your view on NUFCs support?
Graeme (KUMB): I have a soft spot for Newcastle and it’s fine folk having spent a fair bit of time up there some years ago. (Is Macey’s still going?) I also find the two sets of fans to be very similar people, working-class folk with great passion for their team. We could do without any more petrol bombs, mind…
TF: What’s your opinion of Alan Pardew? Will he be remembered for a near-cup success or leaving under something of a cloud?
Graeme (KUMB): I suspect he’ll be remembered mostly for something we are still unable to talk about! 2005/06 – his first with West Ham in the Premiership (as it was then) was a thoroughly entertaining season but he blew it, spectacularly. Suffice to say, I wasn’t his biggest fan.
TF: Who in NUFCs squad has impressed you the most this season?
Graeme (KUMB): I’ve not seen a great deal of Newcastle this season so can’t really comment.
TF: If Carroll plays, do you think NUFCs defence is capably of containing him?
Graeme (KUMB): Andy’s played only 20 minutes of football this season. I’ll be surprised if he’s up to scratch before February, so I suspect he’ll not be at his best. As you will be aware, his biggest threat is an aerial one so if I was Alan Pardew (perish the thought) I’d be working on cutting out the delivery.
TF: Score prediction?
Graeme (KUMB): We’ve fared pretty badly at home against Newcastle recently with only one win from the last seven at the Boleyn. Although much depends on what sort of defence we can put out with (Hammer of the Year) Winston Reid still a couple of weeks away, James Tomkins suspended and James Collins touch-and-go, I suspect we may have enough in the tank to scrape a narrow 1-0 or 2-1 win – although I suspect the spoils will probably be shared.
Many thanks to Graeme for his time!
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