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Opinion

The West Ham supporter verdict on Newcastle United

5 years ago
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Ahead of the big game with West Ham United at St James Park, our regular columnist David Punton caught up with Jeff Gayle from the West Ham til I die fanzine to get his thoughts on all things black & white and claret & blue.

What do West Ham fans make of the way NUFC is run and the way it’s all reported in the media?

It reminds me of when we were bought by our not missed ‘billionaire’ Icelandic owners: our initial hopes were punctured by reality, as their riches disappeared in the Icelandic banking crisis.  This would eventually lead to Avram Grant, relegation and Big Sam.  I notice that Mike Ashley said in his recent interviews that one of his mistakes was getting rid of Big Sam too early: that speaks volumes!

Unfortunately, if you want some degree of success in the Premier League you have to be prepared to invest, or like Southampton have a fantastic youth set up.  Ashley does not appear to acknowledge this.

Things seem to have settled down for you since the heady days of Dennis Wise and Joe Kinnear, when the Newcastle hiring policy seemed a bit like how Donald Trump is running his now.  I think the media seem to have reported pretty much correctly the chaos that has occurred.

What’s your best and worst memories of games against NUFC down the years?

The best was 1986, the season we came 3rd in the League when we thrashed you 8-1 at home, with Alvin Martin scoring a hat-trick.  I seem to remember Ian Wright scoring two against you in a 0-3 victory at your place about 20 years ago.

Worst –  Losing 5-0 to a Newcastle team including Leon Best, Joey Barton, and Kevin Nolan ranks pretty high!

The new West Ham stadium? Breath of fresh air or a disaster and any tips for Toon fans when we come down later in the season?

I was quite happy at Upton Park but turning down The Olympic Stadium, for all its faults, would really have been looking a gift horse in the mouth.

The stadium, although stuck out in a bit of a wasteland is great, much better facilities.  It’s especially good for having a drink close to the pitch before the game.

The big drawback is the distance of the pitch from the stands, especially on one side.  Having said that, when the team are playing well and scoring, the noise is just as loud as at Upton Park.  Fans travelling down: have a drink at Canary Wharf before the game, and get Docklands Light Railway to the stadium.

What’s the best West Ham can hope for this season and do you think NUFC can stay up?

There’s a top six in the Premier League, with Everton trying hard to bridge the gap.  I think we can get in the top ten but hoping for better.

It’s still too early to say who will be going down, Rafa’s a good manager, and he should be able to plot a way through the season, but it ain’t gonna be pretty!

Andy Carroll? Is there a future for the big Geordie striker after so many injuries?

Andy Carroll rising in the air to bully the ball into the net with his head is one of the great sights of English football.  He’s also capable of scoring that fantastic overhead goal last season.

Unfortunately, we just cannot rely upon his fitness: there’s talk about him being a party animal, but I think that’s nonsense – anyone running 20 miles a week playing football and training can cope with a couple of pints now and again.  I fear Andy just has the physiology that cannot cope with his natural type of game.

I think we’ve finally got a squad that can cope with Andy Carroll being injured for half the season and of the quality that we don’t have to rush him back.  I’m prepared to let the Andy Carroll show run a bit longer.

Rafa the gaffer? Is he really a manager West Ham want instead of Bilic?

Not for me.  I think Bilic wants to play the type of football that I want to watch West Ham play, the season before last was our best, both in terms of style and substance for a long time.  Last season we had to cope with moving to the Olympic Stadium, the Payet nonsense, terrible transfers and we still managed to come 11th,  I think we’ve bought better this summer and hopefully we can press on again. Any time a team has two or three defeats on the bounce, the written press and TV interviewers start to suggest the club are looking for a new manager.

Predictions for Saturday and key players for Nufc to watch? 

I think you’ll be reeling from that Nottingham Forest defeat and we’ll beat you 1-3.

Kouyate is a powerhouse and drives us forward, Lanzini is a joy to watch, Hernandez looked really sharp last week, and will be hoping to keep his scoring run going.  Arnautovic getting sent off last week opens the door for Diafro Sakho to start: he’s a handful.  I’m not sure if Antonio is fit, but he always has the ability to make something happen.

Jeff Gayle from www.westhamtilidie.co.uk

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