Everton will attempt to salvage something out of this season on Tuesday when they host West Ham United in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup. We chatted with our friends over at the Hammers blog Iron Views on how their impressive season has been progressing and what they see their side doing in the transfer window too.
Thank you Stu for your time, always a pleasure catching up with you.
RBM - West Ham have maintained their strong start, and sit just outside the European spots. Will they still be there at the end of the season?
IVS - Every game this season we have been in and had a chance of winning, up until the Chelsea game where we didn't turn up at all, only Southampton had outplayed us this season. I think that in itself is testament to the season we're having. The longer this run has continued, making it more and more clear this isn't a fluke, I've become more sure that our season will pivot on the African Cup of Nations.
Sakho and Kouyate will definitely depart. Although Cameroon didn't initially pick Song, there have been rumours they're looking to call him up. With those two (possibly three) leaving, I think how we deal with that period of games will shape where we'll realistically finish.
Top four isn't realistic as everyone knows Manchester United especially will be spunking (edit that for splashing if you want!) money all over the place in the January window, leaving one space free, which 'should' be Alexis Sanchez FC. Top six though, is definitely realistic if we can keep up our morale and high level of performance!
RBM - Any further word on Sam Allardyce? There were still a few dissenting fans previously, but surely he has to stay on as manager now?
IVS - The man that can do no good. Even with the club sitting high, playing well, having options galore in the league and getting to see Alex Song strut around like a king some fans still dig Sam out. When you look at what he has done for us (last season aside as there was no progression at all) it leaves me speechless to see people still nit-picking everything he does/doesn't do.
If he gets us into Europe, I think it would be incredibly harsh to sack him in the Summer, as he'd of played a huge part in getting us there. But, there's not much place for sentimentality I guess?
RBM - January is upon us, and with it comes the transfer window. What areas do the Hammers need to improve, and who has been linked so far?
IVS - I think the only area for concern is CB and LB. We have a vast options in midfield, although those will diminish if Song does indeed go to the ACON. But at CB we have a contract stand-off with Reid, so we really need to start looking at possible replacements - and at LB young Cresswell who has been a revelation is our only senior recognised LB, so an injury there would be horrendous.
We haven't really been linked with many people, recently Braga 'wonderkid' Rafa Silva (yep, no idea either!) has been linked with a move and Konoplyanka has been linked again from the Summer move we pursued. Both, and all the other links so far have been pretty innocuous though.
RBM - Are you expecting some departures from the squad during the transfer window?
IVS - Zarate will definitely be going out on loan to QPR it seems.
We've been looking to offload Morrison for a while, or, he may have his contract terminated
Other than them two, nothing else has been reported. There are a clutch of fringe players who could leave to make way for new signings, but we're expecting a much quieter window in comparison to our Summer one!
RBM - West Ham will be moving to the Olympic Stadium in a couple of years. How has the response been among fans regarding leaving the Boleyn Ground?
IVS - At first, a lot of skepticism. Now, still a lot of skepticism, but now the majority have accepted it.
I think it will benefit the club massively, it could be the spark the club needs. If we are in Europe when we move into the OS, it will only make the club more inticing for investors - plus, a more attractive club to join for 'bigger & better' players.
RBM - How important is the FA Cup for Allardyce? Will he give it his best side and risk jeopardizing the Irons' excellent Premier League position?
IVS - It's a strange one. I think because of our exit from both cups last season, fans forget we did get far! I would hope to see us give the FA Cup a real go this season. A lot of fans were miffed with the draw, personally, I think it's the perfect opportunity for us to get our first ridiculous referee decision of the year! (Only a tiny bit bitter re; the PL game)
RBM - Finally, a score prediction from you for the game? Which players (on either side) do you think will shine?
IVS - It'll be tough, as you've got the Home draw. I'm half expecting rested teams to come into things as we both have 3 games in the space of ten days. Who will be rested and when? I think it could come down to whether Martinez or Allardyce value the FA Cup higher - as will either rest players in the league to have them raring to go in the Cup? I'm not sure.
Again, Baines/Osman/Lukaku all love scoring against us - so with you being at Home, I can't see you not scoring. However, I really feel we'll be out to get our own back for being royally mugged off at Goodison earlier in the season - Carlton Cole to score anytime, you heard it here first!