The appeal for volunteers to represent the three promoted clubs – Reading, Southampton and West Ham – in our ‘Who are You?’ series, answering a few questions just before Sunderland play their clubs, initially had 66 per cent success. No problem with the Hammers or Saints, but not a soul from Berkshire responded. Fortunately, the panic is over: we cast our net wider and came up with an ideal candidate. Meanwhile, although we do not play West Ham until next month, here is a passionate Hammer, Matthew Kemp*, with some early thoughts – including his rundown on some of the players – though not Pop Robson – linked to both clubs …
West Ham return to the Premier League, well briefed in Big Sam’s style of play.
Having left the Premiership in 2011-2012 losing their final game 3-0 to Sunderland at home under caretaker manager Kevin Keen they return defensively minded with a crowded midfield and a big striker up front..
A key signing in the summer was Mohamed Diame from Wigan. Having recently captained the Senegal team in the Olympics, fans caught a glimpse of a solid player, who will play alongside Kevin Nolan, and Mark Noble forming a formidable trio.
In the last few days Allou Diarra has joined from Marseille, who played in the Euros for France, and has 44 caps to his name. Diarra has been compared to Vieira in the past, and plays as a defensive midfielder.
I suspect a couple more signings before the transfer deadline closes, yet Andy Carroll and Carlos Tevez wont be amongst them!
In defence, George McCartney (no stranger to Sunderland fans) had a solid season in the Championship, and did enough to earn a contract with the Hammers, while Welsh international, James Collins returns to the East End, following a few years at Aston Villa.
George McCartney initially joined West Ham following Sunderlands relegation in 2005-06, and was voted player of the year. In his first two year spell at West Ham he was a revelation, linking up well with Matthew Etherington on the left side. He clearly has lost some of his pace, yet was a welcome returnee to Upton Park.
Last season he made 40 appearances, starting 38 and was voted the Players’ player of the year. The step up a league will be difficult for the player, yet he has former a good understanding with his fellow defenders, albeit the luxury of Faye in defence will be sorely missed.
Up front Modibo Maiga will have a lot to prove, having nearly joined Newcastle last season, only to see his move breakdown having failed a medical.
Carlton Cole, will terrorise a few defences, and Nicky Maynard and Ricardo Vaz Te will need to adapt to playing at a higher level. Vaz Te though was the surprise package of last season, and has matured as a player since his days at Bolton.
Of the 39 encounters between Sunderland and West Ham at Upton Park, the Hammers have recorded 19 wins, and Sunderland 10. At Sunderland the Black Cats boast 20 wins to our 13.
In West Ham’s relegation season, your manager Martin O’Neill was linked to the West Ham managers job, while Avram Grant was in control (or not, depending on who you ask). Avram, however, retained the role and led another club into relegation, having followed a similar pathway with Portsmouth in the previous season.
Under the stewardship of Sam Allardyce (who I am sure will get a resounding reception from your fans due to his Newcastle connections – he played for us, Matthew, but yes, you may be right – ed)), it has been a mixed bag. Hammers fans were chanting for Paulo Di Canio mid season, yet while Sams’ style of play is not popular, he managed to get West Ham back up at the first time asking, albeit by the play-offs.
There are limited recent connections between our two clubs, having already discussed McCartney. Danny Collins, an ex Sunderland defender joined West Ham on loan from Stoke last season, and scored against Leeds in a 1-1 draw at Elland Road. He has since left Stoke for Notts Forest. Collins was a useful loanee, and added defensive cover.
Kieran Richardson, began his apprenticeship at West Ham, yet moved to Manchester United in 2001. He is currently being linked with a move back to Upton Park, or to the West End of London, where QPR are trying to build a team of ex West Ham professionals.
We were also linked to Ahmed Elmohamady earlier in the close season, yet thankfully that rumour has died a death. It is also reported that Arsenal made an inquiry for the player!
Anton Ferdinand was a high profile departure to Sunderland, which caused Alan Curbishley to resign from West Ham in August 2008. He was a solid player at West Ham, yet didn’t display the potential of his older brother Rio, and if the transfer fee quoted at the time of £8m was correct this was good business for the Hammers.
The worst player to have joined West Ham who also played for Sunderland was Gary Breen. He only made 14 appearances for us, and while I recognise he had a more successful stint with your team, 107+ appearances, he has to be one of our worst signings ever. Having shone for Republic of Ireland in the 2002 World Cup, he was signed by Glen Roeder on a free transfer. He subsequently left for a similar fee having contributed to our relegation in 2002-03.
Unbelievably, Breen suggested on an interview on Sky Sports Goals on Sunday that he could have joined Inter Milan prior to signing for West Ham, yet failed the medical! The lowlight of his career was a hand in all six goals Manchester United scored past us at Old Trafford, in January 2003, with David James in goal. He was substituted after 80 minutes, a little too late! He was dropped thereafter. Breen has played for three Premiership clubs that were relegated, West Ham, Sunderland and Coventry City!
I look forward to our two teams playing each other once again, yet for the for the forthcoming season, Hammers fans are under no illusions that this season is all about survival. Anything else will be a miracle!
* Matthew Kemp on Matthew Kemp: season Ticket Holder – Bobby Moore Upper, I have supported West Ham since 1983 and attended my first game standing in the North Bank v Swansea City. I work in the City, and have been a season ticket holder since 1986. My father is a West Ham fan, and my six year old will also be following the claret and blue. I initially wanted to be a journalist (yet this was not to be!) having written for my university magazine, some local newspapers and a number of fanzines at West Ham such as OLAS (Over Land & Sea). This allowed me to interview a number of players, including those at Tottenham, as I know Pat Holland (ex West Ham). I also have occasionally contributed to the website Knees Up Mother Brown (Kumb.com). I currently live in Shenfield in Essex, a hotbed for professional footballers, which includes Mark Noble, and ex Professionals, Clive Allen, Trevor Brooking, Glen Roeder and Bradley Allen!