Having run the gauntlet of West Ham fan’s for their own version of “View from the North Stand” I met up with the man known only as Graham, and after putting him straight on a few facts – I asked him some for his thoughts on Saturday’s game.
Firstly though – the facts. As regular readers will know the comment on the West Ham forum about me supporting Chelsea for three years is a complete falsehood – my devotion to the team began on the day that I was lucky enough to grab a sponsors freebie for the game v ManU when we secured the last of our titles 2 years ago. I don’t live in Surrey (the country pile is just over the border in Berkshire, and the pied-a-terre is in Mayfair), and I wouldn’t be seen dead in a 4×4, my chauffeur picks me up each morning in the Bentley, so why would I need a Land Rover? Now that’s straight, on with the questions:
Cutting straight to the chase, what do you think of your performances so far this season?
It’s been a bit hit and miss but considering our injury list from hell which has been as long as 14 of our first team squad at one point, sitting 10th has been a great return so far. At home we have struggled to finish sides off but away we’ve look excellent for the most part, playing a fast counter attacking style of football. We’ve also improved at the back with Matt Upson finally showing his true form and only the “big 4” have conceded less goals then us.
What areas of your squad need strengthening?
George McCartney has been great of us and in no way am I suggesting he’s replaced at left back but he’s the only one we have, so a left back should be top of shopping list come January. Apart from that having some of our injured players back would stop the need for a January spending spree. We have seen so little of Craig Bellamy, Freddie Ljungberg, Julian Faubert and Kieron Dyer that there will be like new signings when they are finally fit enough.
Who’s been your form player so far? Who do we need to look out for?
Without doubt Robert Green has been our star man this season. It’s McLaren’s choice of keepers that cost England qualification and thankfully McLaren his job, as Green is head and shoulders the best English keeper in the land and only Cheh I feel can be considered better. At the back Matty Upson and Geroge McCartney have been very solid and finally Carlton Cole is starting to look like a real striker in the last handful of games.
Scotty Parker is fit again and gave us as 20 minute cameo of what’s to come against Spurs and I’m sure he’ll start and have a point to prove and of course Dean Ashton must be feared.
What do you think of Chelsea, as if we needed to ask? Are you impressed by what the manager’s doing, or do you think Abramovich has a right to expect us to walk the League?
I think it was madness to get rid of Jose Mourinho after the sucess he brought to club and I can’t buy into this negative style of football played as it seemed to me Abramovich forced it on him by HIS choice of players. The early days of Mourinho seemed anything but boring.
As for Grant? Well I don’t know but I think that under him Chelsea are not going to be a match of Arsenal or Man Utd and will he have the same pull on the top class transfers targets as Mourinho or Ranieri? I doubt it.
Which of our current squad do you most admire?
I still have a massive soft spot for Joe Cole, despite the fact he seems to go to ground a bit easy these days. When he’s at the very top of his game Joe is almost unplayable.
We’ve built a bit of a fortress at the Bridge. Think we’ll actually get a game out of you?
Yep it’s a while since you’ve been beaten, must get a bit boring really. But you’re going to lose at some point and the way we’ve played away, even in our defeats I think we’ll give you a game. Last season we won at both the Emirates (still the only away Premier League side to do so) and Old Trafford, so we know we can go to these top sides and turn them over on our day.
How will you deal with Chelsea? Do you stuff the midfield, or will we see a more adventurous line-up?
I’d love to say we will go 4-4-2 with Ashton partnering Cole but knowing Curbishley he will go 4-5-1. I expect us to line up..
Neill – Gabbidon – Upson – McCartney
Solano – Ljungberg – Parker – Mullins – Etherington
Subs Wright – Collins – Noble – Boa Morte – Ashton
Where will you finish this season?
At start of the season we targeted consolidation and a top 10 finish and I think we’re on course to achieve that with a gap opening up of 6 points with a game in hand over Reading in 12th.
What about Chelsea?
For Chelsea it’s going to be a case of fighting 3rd and 4th out with Liverpool
Give us a score prediction.
Chelsea 1 West Ham 1
Thanks Graham, enjoy the game and that depressingly long losing return right to the other end of the District Line.