It is a pleasure and honour for us at RBM to speak this week with LBC 97.3 Radio presenter and West Ham United fanatic Iain Dale, who also runs the blog West Ham Till I Die. We asked him for his opinions on a wide variety of subjects ahead of Everton's visit this weekend.
RBM - Big Sam Allardyce is one of the more outspoken managers in the English game. How has he been received by the West Ham faithful? Is he the right man for the next few years?
ID - I remember emailing David Sullivan at the time of Avram Grant’s sacking pleading with him not to appoint Big Sam. He replied that there was no one with a better footballing knowledge and to trust him. Well, he has every right to now tell me I knew nothing. Having been an Allardyce sceptic, he has more or less won me round. Last season wasn’t especially pretty, but this season we have been playing some superb football, and accumulating far more points than we ever imagined at this stage of the season. We have won games we would have given up on under other managers and his signings have proved very astute. He’s also managed to create a team with a real team spirit. Avram Grant completely lost the plot and the dressing room. Kevin Nolan has been instrumental in gelling the whole project together.
ID - Gold and Sullivan have been true to their word and provided funds for some big deals. The Andy Carroll signing took some real cojones to pull off, and a lot of money has been risked. Carroll has proved a brilliant signing and even though the goals have been hard to come by he contributes a huge amount to the team and has a hand in virtually every goal we score. Opposing defenders just don’t know how to handle him. The only one of his signings yet to wholly convince is Matt Jarvis. On his day he can beat anyone and whip in dangerous crosses. But he fades out of a game too easily.
RBM - The Hammers currently sit in ninth place, with some very impressive results at home. What are they doing differently at the Boleyn?
ID - Defending properly. Winston Reid was a joke of a player when he joined us after the last World Cup, in which he had played for New Zealand. But his performances this season have been outstanding in more or less every game. He has struck up a fine partnership with Ginger Pele, James Collins, and together they are keeping James Tomkins out of the side. We now know how to defend a lead too, something unheard of in previous regimes. When we go ahead, we now expect to win.
ID - Elliott Lee (son of Robert) and a prolific goalscorer, Dylan Tombides (Aussie, who has recovered from testicular cancer), Blair Turgott, (a tricky winger on loan at Bradford), Robert Hall (has been on loan to Oxford and Birmingham and scores huge numbers of goals), Dan Potts (son of former Hammers captain Steve Potts, and plays at left back). And there are many more!
ID - It’s easier to say who we haven’t been linked with! We need another striker and a central defender. Lots of rumours about Rio Ferdinand and Joe Cole returning, but I think we might have moved on from that era. Loic Remy is being linked this week, but we have been down that road before. It will be interesting to see if we firm up a permanent deal for Andy Carroll.
ID - I’d obviously like us to win but Everton have been a bit of a bogey team for us recently. With Mo Diamé out (a big blow) the key will be who plays alongside Noble and Nolan in the midfield three. Kevin Nolan is due a goal. Knowing our luck Jelavic will score a hattrick. We very nearly signed him last January, but the fee kept going up and up so we pulled out and he then went to Everton.