Wayne Rooney scores a penalty for Manchester United against West Ham
Manchester United welcome West Ham United to Old Trafford on Saturday with both clubs in a confident mood following qualification for the semi-finals of the league cup mid week. Despite West Ham’s obvious joy in beating rivals Tottenham on Wednesday, the Hammers are flirting very dangerously with relegation and are currently just a point above the drop.
Fulham were the last team West Ham beat at the end of November and have since lost heavily away to Liverpool. United last lost, in the league, at home to West Ham on the final day of the 2006/07 season – when Carlos Tevez scored his final goal for the club, before joining eventual Champions in the summer.
Nani joins Robin van Persie and Michael Carrick on the sidelines with a hamstring injury, which will keep him out for several weeks. Wayne Rooney has a slight chance of being fit having missed the cup tie in the week.
1) What have you made of your season so far? Happy?
Christ no. If you want the short version, we should have bought another striker in the summer and another centre half and Allardyce’s failure to do so has landed us in a relegation scrap.
If you want the long version, it was utter madness to spend almost our entire transfer budget on Andy Carroll- I’m all for social mobility, even in the football world, but West Ham are not yet at a stage where we can afford, financially or ideologically, to spend £16m on one player. I would much rather we had gone for someone like Gary Hooper from Celtic for £7m and bought another good striker and a good centre half, which would have left us money over to buy Stewart Downing as well.
The original transfer policy by Allardyce was daft enough, but the most disturbing thing about him is he has no Plan B and his half-arsed, short-sighted attempts to rectify a bad, but far from disastrous, situation have been nothing short of embarrassing and delusional. The cup is the one highlight in an otherwise (thus far) dismal campaign.
2) Where are you expecting to finish this season?
I used to defend Allardyce at every turn and the conventional wisdom about him is that his teams never go down. However, gradually my faith in him has been eroded as all my defences of his management of us just disappeared. Our organisation, resilience, defensive strength have fallen away this season and if we stick with him, I can’t see us surviving. If he stays till May, I think we’ll go down. If we take the safety-first approach and get rid of him now and appoint a wise head who can get our very talented squad playing the good football they are capable of, I’ll go for an optimistic 12th after a late season upturn in form.
3) You’re having a good run in the cup. Think you can make the final?
As I say, the cup’s been the one highlight in what has so far been a hugely emotionally exhausting campaign for the fans. Man City’s a tough draw in the semis and one of two things will happen. We will either get blasted away like Spurs did the other week- or that all-too-rare West Ham magic will resurface…
4) Many United fans were devastated to see Morrison leave, what do you make of his talent and can he become the very best?
Is that really true? There’s no questioning his talent, but were there seriously no United fans who saw him as a disruptive influence who was getting way to big for his boots and reasoned that there would be plenty more talented youngsters with better attitudes on the Carrington conveyer belt?
Anyway, big talent. He’s faded a bit in the last few games though and hopefully the win at Spurs in the cup will perk him up a bit, I just hope his mind’s on us and not in the transfer window opening next month. Personally, I was over the moon that Roy Hodgson ignored Morrison in his last couple of England squads, international recognition is the last thing the boy needs right now.
He’s going through a tough period early in his career- what with us being crap and all- and it is times like this, playing for a struggling club where you’re surrounded by your inferiors that make a player. He can’t keep us up on his own but his contributions from now till May will be crucial. Plus on the whole England thing, West Ham players and England have gone together like teenagers and alcohol recently…
5) Who has been your best and worst performer this season?
I’ll likely be on my own on this one but my man of the season so far has been James Collins. Appreciated, the bloke has the pace of a broken down double decker and the turning circle of a JCB truck, but he’s stuck manfully to his task game after game, even after being dropped, and without his efforts, we’d be in more trouble than we already are.
Worst by far has been Kevin Nolan. Much like Allardyce, my old defences of him have fallen away. No leadership, no goals, nothing. Weak, apathetic, shocking. There are not enough negative adjectives in the English language to accurately sum up the disappointment the performances this season of our so-called “captain” have brought.
6) What have you made of United so far this season under David Moyes?
Unsurprising. I’m a big fan of Moyes and anyone with half a brain cell knows that he’ll need time with you lot. ‘Three years of excuses and it’s still crap- ta-ra Fergie’ etc. Ferguson needed four seasons to win a trophy at Old Trafford- he’d never have that kind of time today. It was always going to be a period of transition under Moyes, particularly as Ferguson got out at exactly the right time, with an aging team and many of the cornerstones of the squad well past their best. Moyes needs time to build his squad and stamp his mark upon your side and I really hope he gets it.
7) What is your favourite memory from playing United?
Losing 4-0 at home to you a few years back, Katy Perry (who was going out with Hammers fans Russell Brand at the time) sitting in a box and smiling to the Trevor Brooking Lower after repeated chants of ‘Katy, give us a wave’. And being furnished with complimentary sponsorship-branded flags by the ever-generous (at least in marketing terms) club and seeing in a piss-poor performance with chants of ‘we only come for the free stuff’. Business as usual at the Theatre of Broken Dreams.
8) Who is the best West Ham player you have seen on your lifetime?
9) How will you line up tomorrow? And what will the score be?
We’ll go for a radical 4-5-1 after the unbelievable success in scoring two actual goals against Spurs in the cup in midweek, while Maiga’s own success of scoring his first goal in a year will result in a reprieve, where he’ll miss unmissable chances. You’ll be almost as bad but will still win 2-0.
10) Tell us a little known fact about the Hammers.
We’re the last side from outside the top flight to have won the FA Cup- and also the last to do it with an all-English side.