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West Ham United
January 29, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 01/29/2009

West Ham have confirmed the signing of Germany Under-20 forward Savio Nsereko from Brescia. The 19-year-old, who was born in Uganda, has agreed a four-and-a-half year deal after the two clubs agreed an undisclosed fee, though it is rumoured it will eventually reach £9m.

This record purchase comes just two days after West Ham allowed Hayden Mullins - at the time West Ham's longest serving player - to leave the club to join Portsmouth, Pompey having offered a reported £2m for the 30 year old.

Posted by Billy Blagg on 01/29/2009

The score doesn't tell the whole story here as a rampant Hammers tore Hull open so easily it could have run into double figures under the Upton Park floodlights.

As it was a first half-goal from Di Michele - who played superbly and deserved more - and a second half strike from Carlton Cole, were enough to cement West Ham's position in the top half of the table and give Hull a football lesson in the bargain.

January 24, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 01/24/2009

There's no denying this was a comfortable win for West Ham against opponents who never managed to put the Hammers under any type of serious pressure.

Following the North-east side's win against Premier opponents Stoke in the last round it was obvious that ITV would show this as one of their weekend matches hoping, no doubt, for the type of upset long associated with West Ham or, at the very least, an 'up and 'at em'' performance from the home side.

January 20, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 01/20/2009

Look let's be honest shall we?

Craig Bellamy is a loathsome specimen of both a man and a footballer. You know it, I know it. His only reedeming feature is that he is extremely fast and....errrr....well, that's about it really.

Posted by Billy Blagg on 01/20/2009

Apropos of nothing in particular about football - but when did that matter on this column? - the Blagger is proud to announce that his alter ego this week became the 1000th link on the 'Chain' on the ever-inspiring Radcliffe & Maconie show on Radio 2.

January 18, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 01/18/2009

Make no mistake this was an impressive win over a Fulham side that have been bang in form recently and who have had - prior to today at least - a good defensive record.

The Hammers went ahead early in the 7th minute when Di Michele - who was replacing the missing Bellamy - pounced on a poor attempted clearance from ex-Hammer John Pantsil; the defender having tried to turn a chested down ball back to his keeper.

January 12, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 01/12/2009

Honours even at St James' Park and round at our house as Cockneys and Geordies - or at least two teams representing them - fought out an exciting draw.

Probably both sets of fans will point to individual instances in which a victory could have been snatched - both sides probably had valid penalty claims turned down, for example - but a draw was probably a fair result as want-away keeper Shay Given made a stunning save from Jack Collison while Newcastle had their chances too particularly in the closing stages.

Despite going behind to the inevitable Michael Owen goal - he really does love to score against the Hammers - West Ham struck back through Craig Bellamy before the break and went ahead when Carlton Cole sprung a poor offside trap to power the claret and blue ahead.

However, youngster Tony Carroll headed an equaliser after 78 minutes to ensure a share of the spoils although a superb late tackle by Matthew Upson denied Gutierrez with the last shot of the game.

This result keeps West Ham firmly in 10th place with Newcastle tucked in just behind them; strange then that the media - not happy unless West Ham are being slated in some way - described this as a relegation battle. On this showing, and providing the Bellamy and Parker rumours are shown to be just that, it's probably the Hammers who can look forward to a better second half of the season.

January 9, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 01/09/2009

Out with the old and in with the new? Do me a favour! January has brought more of the same as the FA and the Premier League have announced a new investigation into West Ham's dealings with Carlos Tevez' Representatives following the fine that was handed out for the original punishment metered out for the breach of league rules that allowed the Argentinian to play for the Hammers in 2006.

This latest move follows claims from the solicitor for Tevez's agent, Kia Joorabchian, that West Ham's Chief Excecutive Scott Duxbury had stated in a conversation that the third-party agreement for which West Ham were originally punished was still in place when Tevez completed his season with the Hammers, famously scoring the only goal in the 1-0 win at Old Trafford that kept the Hammers up.

As this conversation only came to light during the court case that Sheffield United opened up as a result of their relegation, West Ham may actually welcome the investigation if it is shown that the third party agreement was actually torn up after the Premier League fine.

However, many fans will fear the investigations, particularly as the involvement of Scott Duxbury - a man many feel should have paid for Tevezgate with his job, if not his head - is once more under scrutiny. Ultimately though, unless the League and FA have information that isn't in the public domain currently, it is hard to see how they can react to verbal conversations that were never recorded.

It will be interesting to see what would happen if the FA and League decide West Ham do not have a case to answer, bearing in mind the club face payment of some compensation fine later this year. Any finding that West Ham are innocent will surely open up counter-claims by the Hammers against Sheffield United.

If the investigation brings further dodgy dealings to light though, it is possible that a points deduction - something many feel the club should have had in the first place - may be the inevitable result.

My feelings on this fiasco are well documented but anything that brings this soap opera to an end cannot come soon enough as far as I am concerned.

Posted by Billy Blagg on 01/09/2009

Another in what is an irregular feature, as Blagg discovers a batch of old floppy discs containing all the old Blagg columns dating back nearly ten years and posted on what was then known as the 'Ironworks' (now WestHamOnline.net).

Watch in wonder as our Anti-hero manages to stumble through the late nineties and early noughties occasionally showing glimpses of a Mystic Meg persona, while equally revealing a powerful need to be a complete idiot sometimes.

This time out, laugh loudly or smile ruefully as I take a look at a column I wrote when Glenn Roeder was given the job. I really did give him the benefit of the doubt, didn't I? (This article also later became part of the book 'Nightmare on Green Street')

Posted by Billy Blagg on 01/09/2009

News that Matthew Etherington has signed for Stoke for £2m and that Lee Bowyer and Calum Davenport are likely signings for Birmingham and Bolton respectively are encouraging signs that Gianfranco Zola's promises may be coming to fruition.

The scandal rags still insist that Scott Parker is being offered parts of Persia and a harem of long limbed lovelies to quit and join Manchester City but West Ham - at the moment - seem to be holding good on their promise that no-one barring resource draining fringe players will be sold.

I can think of a couple of other players whose sole responsibility seems to be keeping the bench warm with their expensive bums who I wouldn't mind seeing the back of for a few mill but, a week into the transfer window, things are encouraging.

It won't last though, will it?

January 7, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 01/07/2009

Well, it's time to take the decorations down so the Blagg Advent Calendar of Christmas Songs has gone into a box and put back into the loft for another year.

Many thanks to those of you who took the time to email me with your suggestions and rude remarks, and those of you who think the whole project smacks of insanity will be only too pleased to learn that I have enough links available to ensure that next (this?) year's list will probably start being researched sometime in July.

Enjoy 2009!

January 3, 2009
Posted by Billy Blagg on 01/03/2009

You know the score with these games. Win and it is just what everyone expects anyway, lose and you're a mug.

Against a side that made the semi-finals last season, West Ham might have expected to struggle given their problems with meeting lower league sides over the years. But, in truth, the Hammers strolled to victory here and the result was virtually assured by half time after Ilunga scored his first goal for the Hammers after 10 minutes and Mark Noble slotted home from the penalty spot after 39.

About
Billy Blagg Born at an early age a mere defenders' spit from the Boleyn ground, Billy Blagg has seen every West Ham game from 1898 onwards. Blagg was mentioned by Kenneth Wolstenholme in 1966 as one of the people on the pitch during the famous Hammers win over West Germany that lifted the World Cup and he returned to the pitch again for the 1975 FA Cup Final but stayed on the terrace for 1980 FA Cup victory. Blagg, 26, now lives with his eighth wife and innumerable children in a small semi-detached with chintz curtains in Dagenham, Essex and still attends every Hammers match and training session.

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