Inside the Opposition: West Ham

Our first opportunity to win a trophy this season comes in the form of the Capital One Cup. Standing between us and a possible Wembley final against Manchester United are West Ham, with the first-leg at the Etihad on Wednesday, before the return at their place on the 21st of this month.

Earlier this week I spoke to Stu from West Ham website Iron Views to see what the feeling over at Upton Park is ahead of the game.

Hi Stu, welcome to Typical City. First off, can you get a result on Wednesday and, more importantly, over the two legs?

Wednesday would be nigh on impossible at the Etihad considering your form and goal-scoring nous there this season. Football is a funny old game though, so you never really know – Blackburn having shown that against you in the FA Cup for instance.

Our team will only be slightly more experienced than the youth side we played at Forest on Sunday, so I’d say even the home leg will be an uphill battle.

If we are to get a result overall, we should really be looking to keep a clean sheet at the Etihad.

How likely is it Sam Allardyce will be in charge come the end of the season?

I ‘get’ the anti-Sam majority of our fans. The second season is always tougher. Our injury list is beyond ridiculous – even if you take out Carroll – I doubt many managers in the world would cope any/much better than Sam. I think he’ll see the season out then the Davids will have little to no choice in the matter. Who the fans would be ‘happy’ with is a different matter. I wouldn’t touch Di Canio with a barge pole by the way.

He’s extremely well paid – the 13th highest paid manager in the world, I think – is he worth it?

He is indeed the 13th best paid! When he has had a full squad at his disposal, yes. He got us up (albeit not automatically) then secured a top 10 finish. His judgements on summer transfers started the upset with the fans, especially the almost reluctance to get a striker in to help in AC’s absence. Now we’re in a position whereby I can give you a simple answer: if he keeps us up, yes he’s worth it. If not, then he will quite simply not be worth it!

Who’s been your best player this season?

Wow…to be honest, that’s a tough question as by and large we have been abysmal! Up until his injury, Winston Reid by a country mile. We miss him more than words can say.

Where do you need to strengthen in January?

Upfront without a shadow of a doubt, when we play well and create chances we have no one in the space attacking them, or anyone able to actually finish off chances. The injuries to all three of our senior centre-backs is badly timed – do we waste our small budget covering there or not? I’d quite gladly see it all spent on attack minded players though, as with our first choice defence playing we can shut the majority of teams out…we just can’t do the same at the other end!

Were you in favour of the weakened side you put out in the FA Cup?

Yes and no…

Yes; it meant we could see a large majority of our youngsters perform at a much higher level than the newly revamped BU21PL which we are actually top of. Also, because with our current injury list, we didn’t ‘really’ have much other options.

No; it’s the FA cup! The magic of it is still very much alive for me, so from that aspect it’s disappointing. Also post-match I’m completely and utterly disgusted with the performances of the ‘senior’ players; Maiga, Diarra, Downing, Jarvis and most especially Morrison. They completely let the youngsters down who, to be honest, weren’t as bad as the score line made out.

What’s your predicted XI for the first leg?

Well we’ll still have a team made up of a lot of youngsters – I guess we’ll see more fringe seniors though. I’d expect it to change ever so slightly, so I’d have to take a stab at this, injuries permitting/clearing up;
GK; Adrian
RB; Chambers (if fit)
CB; Ruddock (if fit)
CB; McCartney/O’Brien
LB; Rat
RM; J.Cole
CM; Whitehead
DM; Diarra
CM; Collison
LM; Jarvis
ST; Cole

Which City player do you most fear?

Every one of your strikers. But it has to be the man mountain that is Yaya. I’m not sure if he’ll be playing as I know you’ve put ‘cup teams’ out recently.

Prediction?

Heart; 0-0

Head; at least 2-0.

Follow Stu on Twitter

Interview by Rob Pollard

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