The Opposition View - West Ham
With great thanks to West Ham season ticket holder Ben Surdeau, we ask a few questions about his beloved Hammers ahead of Saturday's game. We ask about their gaffer Sam Allardyce, the possible England prospects of Mark Noble and his prediction for the game.
-------------------------------------------------------------1) Sam Allardyce received criticism from certain Hammers fans last year, some saying he played 'too direct' football. Did you agree with that tag and has he won the majority of them back now after a successful first half of the season?
Some of the football last year was pretty dire but, just about, did the job eventually. Sam is pretty pragmatic and believes in playing winning football. Sometimes that means playing it long and sometimes that means playing it out from the back. There's little point in trying to out pass Arsenal, for example, and Sam for me seems to approach each game with a set of tactics in mind. We've played some good stuff this year, and also some ugly stuff. That's absolutely fine by me if the results keep coming. I'd say Sam has now won over the vast majority of fans.2) Who are the player/s to look out for in your side ahead of Saturday's game?
Carlton Cole is in a patch of form at the moment and will keep your centre halves very busy indeed. You should be very grateful that Diame is out because he has been an absolute beast of a player this season.3) As we approach the half way mark in the season, where do you realistically think you can finish?
10th - 13th. We should be comfortably mid table and would have liked a cup run but we drew the Manchester Reds so I'm not holding out much hope!4) What are your strengths and weaknesses as a team that you have noticed over the past couple of games?
Our number one strength is in defence, the whole team has a fantastic work ethic and the defensive capabilities we've displayed have been impressive - something us West Ham fans are not used to.
Our weakness, as with many teams with a limited budget, is in the final third. We struggle with the final ball and often squander chances in good areas of them pitch.5) Who has your best signing of the summer been and why?
Diame. Best free transfer I can remember. Absolute workhorse, not afraid of going on a run or two and allows Noble the freedom to get forward.6) What position would you like to strengthen in January and any players names that spring to mind?
We're short at left back so need cover there. Ashley Cole would do nicely (haha). Obviously this position is in short supply so I'd be surprised if we can get a specialist left back in with Premier League experience.
It'd be nice to have a striker because we're yet to really find out if Maiga can cut it in this league.7) Mark Noble is a player I personally admire and I'm sure many West Ham fans share this view. Do you reckon he deserves an England call up some time soon?
I'd put Noble in the England squad for a friendly but I'm biased! I dont really follow international football that much but looking at the midfield options available to Hodgson he seems to be picking people who don't necessarily start for their club so with that in mind Noble would be a good shout for England - cant see it happening though.8) What Reading player do you rate the most and why?
Kebe. I don't like him (no offence) but he seems to have the measure of us. I'm not sure he's done much this season but you definitely would want him playing against West Ham.9) Considering your injuries, what team do you reckon Sam will put out?
He'll probably play a 4-2-3-1 formation something as follows:
Right back: Guy Demel/ James Tomkins
Centre halves: Winston Reid, James Collins
Left back: Joey O'Brien
Defensive mids: Noble, Gary O'Neil
Wingers: Matt Jarvis, Matt Taylor
Strikers: Carlton Cole with Kevin Nolan playing just off him.10) What's your prediction for the game?
The game will be won by a two goal margin, I'm not sure which way yet!