Entries in the Category "West Ham United"

English Premiership Soccer: West Ham United Survives...for now.

West_Ham.gifSetting the controversial signings of Tevez and Mascherano aside, West Ham United needed at least a draw against Manchester United to remain in the Premiership next season. Also, it had to contend with Sheffield United and Wigan Athletic playing their last game with relegation on the line.

For the soccer/football newbies, if you play poorly, you get relegated (or demoted) to the lower divison. For English soccer, the Premiership is the first divison, the Championship is second division, and the third and fourth division are League 1 and 2 respectively. If you get relegated, you lose out on the tv rights, the sponsorship deals, and lower gate receipts. Some clubs would lose about 30 to 50 million pounds if they get relegated.

On Survival Sunday, Wigan Athletic defeated Sheffield United 2-1 at Bramall Lane while West Ham scored their first double (since 1977) against Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford. Thus, the happy Hammers ended up in 15th with 41 points. Wigan survived in 17th with 38 points with a goal difference of -22. Sheffield United was relegated being in 18th place with 38 points, but with a goal difference of -23.

If it were me, this ought to be decided on the pitch, and not in the courts. Yet, teams such as Sheffield United, Charlton, Wigan, Fulham, and Watford are looking into whether they should file legal action against the Premier League for failing to dock points from West Ham instead of a 5.5 million pound fine or in addition to it.

They are quite upset that the independent commission decided to levy a huge financial fine on West Ham for violating league rules and not a points deduction. They felt that West Ham was being given favoured treatment because they are such a popular club and that if it were Sheffield or Wigan, they would have gotten a points deduction. With nine games left, West Ham was 10 points from safety, so some felt that justice would be served if they keeping on playing poorly, they would get relegated the usual way.

But it did not turn out that way. West Ham went on to win seven matches out of nine. Sheffield only won 2 and drew once in the last nine games. Wigan only won once and drew three times in the their last nine.

I appreciate Wigan's win over Sheffield in order to survive. They are not a large-sized club and they had a rough time this season after doing a good job placing 10th last year. Yet they were not favourites to survive. It was actually Sheffield United. It was their last home game and usually they tend to win at home. To some fans and pundits, Sheffield United's manager Neil Warnock did not field a strong team for their last game and they lost.

But yet Warnock chooses to blame Manchester United for fielding a weak team against West Ham, bad referring decisions in the present game and in past games. He reluctantly admitted that he should have fielded a slightly stronger side against Wigan.

Manchester United Sir Alex Ferguson defended his team selection. "I feel for Sheffield United but we did our best and I don't think anyone can criticise us," argued Ferguson. "We had 25 strikes at goal, we had four shots knocked off the line and we had a stonewall penalty turned down. When Neil Warnock sees the stats of our game, he will understand we were unlucky." Honestly, I think Alex protected the integrity of the game. The team he fielded was quite strong with Wayne Rooney, Alan Smith, Michael Carrick, and John O'Shea. He even substituted Giggs, Ronaldo, and Scholes with about 30 minutes to go. C'mon here. ManU has their FA Cup Final match against Chelsea next week, so Sir Alex had to balance his priorities. Plus, they won the Premiership title the week before so this last game was not a huge thing on his list. To me, I think his side was pretty strong, and the Hammers were very lucky to win that match.

Honestly, Neil Warnock was bitching about Liverpool fielding a weak team, and but he was not complaining when he got a point from a draw. He was being so hypocritical. Look at your record. 10 wins, 8 draws, and 20 losses. Only 2 wins in your last nine games. You knew you had relegation looking right at you but your players did not produce. Stop blaming everyone else for your shortcomings.

Will West Ham be able play next season in the top flight? Sheffield United Chairman Kevin McCabe wants to take this to the European Human Rights Commission??? Could the courts ruin the Hammers' suvival efforts? Some folks feel the court proceedings will last throughout the summer and any decision would be made during next season. Yet, could the Premier League decide to send West Ham to the Championship if the season already started? One possible way is that West Ham would be given a points deduction at the start of next season.

Anyways, I am glad we proved ourselves on the pitch and not in the courts. If Sheffield gets their way, expect a long-lasting rivalry like Millwall.

West Ham United FC - 06/07 Season

westham1.jpgWhen I was enjoying my foreign assignment in London, United Kingdom for the last two year, I got caught up in the wonderful world of European football (known as soccer to the North American folks). My colleague took me to a West Ham game (they played Ipswich Town) in East London. The game ended in a draw even though West Ham took the lead in the first half. After that game, it was an experience that I would never forget. West Ham United employs an entertaining, attacking football style ever since its founding in 1900. Regardless of their status at any given time, the club has never sacrificed its long-held football principles.

That year (2005), West Ham went on to get promotion to the top flight, the Barclays Premiership League, after a two-year absence. That's right, if your team does a poor job during the season, it gets relegated to the lower division. Imagine if we can do that with a few of the MLB and NBA teams. Anyways, after promotion, I went ahead and purchased a season-ticket for the 2005/06 season, much to the delight of my West Ham fan colleague.

It was the most fortunate decision I have ever made, much to the jealousy of my colleague and his West Ham die-hard fans. For the 2005/06 season, West Ham did well in its first season back amongst the elite clubs, placing 9th out of 20 teams. It even went on to reach the 125th FA Cup Final to play against Liverpool FC. Unfortunately, we lost in penalties after a 3-3 draw, but since Liverpool had qualified for the UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Cup spot (which is usually given to the winner of the FA Cup) was handed over to us. This would be our first trip to European competition since 1999.

The start of the 2006/07 season (the first 3 games) has been pretty much identical. Our first game was Home v Charlton Athletic, a London club in the Southeast. The Hammers (their nickname) won 3-1, which was identical to the score against Blackburn Rovers the year before. In both games, a player from the opposing team was sent off. The second game was away v Watford, which got promoted from the Coca-Cola Championship (Tier 2) last year. The scored ended in a 1-1 draw, identical to last year's draw against Newcastle United. The third game ended in a loss. West Ham traveled to Liverpool for a replay of the FA Cup match final. Even though the Hammers took the lead in the beginning, Liverpool came back to win 2-1. This was identical to last year's home loss against Bolton Wanderers.

So after three games, West Ham United FC is currently 6th with 4 points. For its London rivals, Chelsea FC (Premiership League champions of last year) are in 4th with 6 points. Fulham FC is 10th with 4 points (goal difference). Tottenham FC is 15th with 3 points. Charlton Athletic is 16th with 3 points. Arsenal FC is 17th with 1 points. Watford FC is 18th with 1 points.

West Ham forward Bobby Zamora is currently the top scorer with 4 goals (2 against Charlton, 1 against Watford, and 1 against Liverpool).

The next game is the following Sunday, September 10 which is Home against Aston Villa. Last year, West Ham routed Aston Villa, 4-0, with a Marlon Harewood hat-trick.


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