Au revoir Arsenal, now for West Ham …

Playing Arsenal is tiring. For Salut! Sunderland, that is. We always seem to get a couple of (very welcome) “Who Are You?” previews to deal with, each game manages to end in controversy of one kind or another and then there’s endless debate afterwards. But a lot of the post-Saturday discussion here has been of a very high standard, so thank to the many Gooners who contributed …

Now on to the Carling Cup and London opponents again. Sam the Hammer (aka Sam H) is a regular enough visitor to these shores. He’s a techie wizard, genial company over a pint and lord of the manor over at the West Ham Process, one our constant rivals for top spot among the FootballUnited.com hit parade of footie sites. Sam is also one of life optimists, a condition that helps when you support certain clubs (don’t we know it?), but feels this is one Sunderland will win. So, Sam, Who Are You? …

Salut! Sunderland: Awful start for West Ham. Surely things will get better.

At the bottom of the table after five makes for pretty worrying reading.

However, where possible, I try and look for positives. This could be a short answer. We’ve played Villa away (never an easy game for any side), Bolton at home (don’t think we’ve beat them for seven years in the league at home), United away (obviously hard), Chelsea at home (they’re rampant and we gave them a game) and now Stoke away (a hard team to beat, and lots of top sides have failed). So, being brutally honest, if we’d had more than six points at this stage it would have been a miracle. Realistically, I would have taken anything between two and four points by now.

I suppose what’s most worrying to us is that we’re quite a confidence side. And unfortunately confidence is very low right now. The performances up until the Chelsea game showed that – we were flying against Bolton until we missed a penalty and then they scored. That was that. The Chelsea game however, to me, showed a very slight change in the tide. We ran, we battled and looked like a side capable of possibly taking the game to the wire. But perhaps I’m clutching at straws?!

I don’t think it’s all doom and gloom however, I’m confident we can turn it around.

There was so much optimism when Sullivan and Gold moved in. What has gone wrong?

There was optimism until the very first time one of them spoke to the media. They worked hard to make sure it was clear we were in dyer financial straights which immediately put paid to any fans thinking that maybe it was a new dawn. It was made quite clear that it was going to be a period of mediocrity and scraping by. It doesn’t fill anyone with optimism when it comes from the very top. As you know though, I have major reservations about those two.

To much of them is about their mouth. To much is about marketing, too much is about sell sell sell. And it’s been met with a general reduction in attendances. Maybe there’s a link – or perhaps it’s the complete oversight in pricing many fans out of games (not to mention an additional, extra expensive game this season)

Not a fan.

It is far too early to talk seriously of relegation but if the worst came to the worst , would the Hammers do a Newcastle of linger in the doldrums for a few seasons?

We would be in big big trouble.

And it would only be compounded if moved to the Olympic Stadium.

Carling Cup: a distraction you could frankly do without, or the chance to make an impact and gain confidence?

In my opinion it has potential to be the latter. Especially if we could pick up a win at your place – that would do the team the world of good.

I’ve every expectation for Grant to take the competition seriously, but there’s nothing easy about going to the Stadium of Light as the away side.

What did you make or your activity, successes and failures in the pre-season transfer market?

Mixed feelings to be honest. Some signings like Barrera and Obinna have (so far) quite excited me. And the signing of Jacobsen was a much much needed addition at right back.

However, some acquisitions were particularly underwhelming. Not helped by Sullivan and Gold’s attempt to make our that they were “big” “marquee” signings. Well, at least that’s what we were promised…so far I’m seeing a moderately sized tent.

In terms of players going out – our biggest and most puzzling loss was that of a young left-back, Daprela. The lad looked hugely promising. Yet, he was sold (along with Diamanti – another big loss) to Brescia. An awful bit of business if you ask me – something on that front does not seem right. There was no need to let him go.

Which, incidentally, was brought to light today against Stoke where Illunga was injured and Gabiddon had to deputise at left back.

Do you think we paid absurdly over the odds for Gyan? What of Bruce’s general stewardship of Sunderland assuming you have a view?

I can’t speak to much of Gyan to be honest as I don’t know his game well enough. I do know however that it was a lot of money – and no matter who you are, you have to prove your worth on the pitch. So far, it seems like he is a good addition to your side.

As for Bruce if I’m honest I’m not a massive fan. At all.

Always blaming the ref. Does may head in. Can’t help but think you won’t be pushing on above 9th/10th with him in charge.

Although I’d give my right arm for a 9th/10th finish!

Cheating: we banged on last season, probably far too much, about diving, feigning injury, trying to get opponents booked or sent off. Is it time to abandon “spirit of the game” principles and accept that all that has become part of the modern game?

It happens in every side now. I don’t like it at all.

I think more should be made about the cheats. More punishment. Harsher fines. You’ll soon see Drogba stop acting like petulant child if a post-match review led him to receive a five-match ban.

Get up. Get on with it.

I recall how eagerly you were looking forward to the World Cup. Were you as disappointed – generally as well as in the case of England – as many others?

Yes. It was poor across the board.

Major disappointment. The less said of England the better.

Although to be quite honest, I’m delighted that that team of individuals were not successful. Rooney, Terry, Crouch, Lampard and Ashley Cole going down in history as World Cup winners? No thanks.

Name this season’s top four, bottom three – and Carling Cup winners

In order?
Chelsea
Arsenal
Manchester United
Manchester City

Blackpool
West Brom
Wigan

Carling Cup winners: Arsenal

And if not already covered, where will West Ham and Sunderland finish up?

I think we’ll finish about 13th and you’ll finish 10th


And tell us how you’ll keep tabs on the game against us – and what you think the score will be

I’m currently still considering being a sucker for punishment and making the trip up there – where do I go for a beer?! (Afterwards that is, I’ve a feeling I’ll need it) … any advances on the Harbour View anyone? I’m sure my pals there will buy you pint, and you can get a B&B along the seafront – ed.

I’m going for 2-0 to you lot, but I’m tempted to think it will be after extra time.

Interview: Colin Randall

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7 thoughts on “Au revoir Arsenal, now for West Ham …”

  1. Good – I’ll be there M1 M18 A1 A690 permitting! Looking forward to Gyan starting the game. I tend to agree with you Sam re Blackpool. They could be another Burnley I fear. Or at best another Hull.

  2. You may want to rephrase that Sam. If everyone who’s been here over the past few days turns up at the Harbour View and asks for Sam the Hammer, you could be looking at tab running into a few thousand quid!

  3. Oh, for the record, I (fololishy?!) booked a couple of tickets up there today.

    Delighted to say also that FootballUnited – @footballutd on Twitter – would love to buy all the loyal readers of this blog a pre-match pint.

    I’ll try and arrange with Colin – Pete I’ll be giving you a bell

    Sam

  4. Cheers Bill – I do have some reservations re Grant

    If the job he’s in to do is purely a stability job, then ok he may just work. But he will never excite me.

    It’s not particularly widely accepted amongst the hammers faithful but I do actually think that Zola had the potential to make us an exciting team to watch. Although there’s every chance he would have taken us down in the process.

    In terms of us being more of a candidate for relegation that Blackpool, I would only like to point out (without being patronising) their capitulation in some of their heavier defeats this year.

    West Ham have been losing because, I believe, a crippling lack of confidence – get that right and we do know how to get results in this league. Blackpool on the other hand are currently buzzing because of the promotion – but as the reality of the task sets in, then maybe their lack of quality in depth will show even more.

    I don’t want that to be patronising though – they’re a great addition to the league and I wish them all the best. I hope they stay.

    This will be popular: I would LOVE Newcastle to go again.

  5. That’s a pretty honest summation from Sam, but I’d have liked to hear his views on Avram Grant as manager. It seems to me that Grant is just not a good fit with the Hammers and they need to bite the bullet, sooner rather than later, and replace him. I think a 13th place finish for the team is wildly optimistic. They look far more like a candidate for relegation than Blackpool.

  6. Usual health warning:

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