Firstly, can you introduce yourself and your website, how long have you been a West Ham fan?
My name is Tim Holland and I write for the Blowing Bubbles fanzine, the first e-fanzine for West Ham. I focus on the getting opposition fans’ views and also our guest interviews which have included ex players like Tony Cottee and Julian Dicks, celebrity fans and former youth players that didn’t quite make it. I’ve been a West Ham fan all my life and although I live in Essex, both my parents’ lived in East Ham and my Dad’s family have all been West Ham fans going back generations, so I had no choice in the matter.
Tell us more about what to expect from West Ham? You used to be known for your passing style but are you playing that type of football at the moment?
I think this view of West Ham and ‘West Ham Way’ is overly romanticised and doesn’t take into account the appalling football we’ve played under Redknapp, Roeder, Pardew, Curbishley, Zola and Grant. I think we were known for our passing style in the distant past and in fairness we still play a lot of good football but we do get tarnished with the long ball brush due to Big Sam. The issue is unless you are Barcelona you can’t play this passing type of football every minute of every game. We can be too defensive and we don’t have a lot of possession in matches but we do play some passing football. We probably rely on our wide men and crosses into the box too much especially as Carroll is still out injured but we do have different styles of play especially the ‘false nine’ formation.
Which player has impressed fans most this season?
Most fans were looking forward to seeing Andy Carroll battering defences this season but I’m starting to worry that we won’t see him until the New Year. The emergence of Morrison has taken the pressure of our underperforming strikers and fortunately we’ve been tight at the back. Tomkins, Demel and Reid have all played well but I’d have to go for Winston Reid. He’s been a consistent performer over the last few seasons and a real rock at the heart of the defence.
Which player has failed to live up to expectations?
Maiga isn’t having a great time of it of late. We shelled out over £5m for him and beat off competition from Newcastle for his signature so he came to the club with high expectations. Unfortunately apart from a couple of goals last season he hasn’t really lived up to it. He’s been playing in the lone striker role in Carroll’s boots and it’s not really suited to him. I think it says something when the manager goes for a 4-6-0 formation instead of picking him up front!
What’s the general fan view on Sam Allardyce? Stay or go?
It’s tough for Sam, because of negative view of his brand of football, if we win then he’s a genius, if we lose then he has to go. The perception of him as a long ball merchant is unfair, we way some good football under him although we can be a bit defensive away from home. I like him to be honest and think he should stay for a good few years. He showed against Tottenham that he does have a ‘Plan B’ which is effective.
What’s the general West Ham fan view on the owners you have and the ownership situation?
Much has been said of our new owners but I feel that whatever their shortcomings, they have the club at heart. It makes a difference having supporters as owners and I think they have made a number of good decisions and have used a lot of their own money to help the club. The club was on the brink of disaster when they came in and apart from a couple of bad decisions (Avram Grant and Benni McCarthy) they’ve done well. Their work in getting the club the Olympic Stadium should be commended and will hopefully elevate the club to the next level.
Which ex West Ham player would you love to see back playing for you and why?
We’ve been blessed with a lot good players over the years and we’ve been fortunate to have some of them come back with Joe Cole and James Collins our recent returnees. I’d like to see Carrick back in midfield. When Rio was mentioned as a transfer option in the summer I was receptive to that and think he could have mentored Tomkins at the back. Your own ex West Ham player Leon Britton is someone who has impressed me over the last few seasons and it just goes to show that clubs do make mistakes sometimes when releasing young players.
Who are the greatest players you have seen – or wish you’d seen – in West Ham colours and who shouldn’t have been allowed anywhere near them?
I remember a seeing Paolo Di Canio when I was younger and being blown away. He was a mercurial talent that we’ve been missing from the team of late. Carlos Tevez was another player that I got to see a number of times the season he was with us. Again I never thought we’d have a player of his stature and talent at the club and it was great to have him here even it was only for a short time!
There have been so many players that shouldn’t be allowed near the team especially when we were in the Championship but Gary Breen has to be up there. After a good World Cup we signed him up and he was shocking and greatly assisted our relegation in the 2002-2003 season.
What’s the view on Ravel Morrison then? Are you impressed? Is he the real deal?
I’m really impressed with Ravel. He has bags of talent and he seems to have curbed his antics off the pitch as well. He has a lot of skill, a good range of passing and can shoot from distance and I think he has a great future in the game. A lot of West Ham fans feel vindicated because even last season there were calls for him to return from his loan spell at Birmingham to help out our midfield but I think we’ve handled his talent well. He needed nurturing and a spell in the Championship before getting first team action.
What are your realistic hopes for this season?
I think after overachieving last year I would like to see us consolidate this season. I’d like a good cup run and perhaps a top 10 finish.
Which Swansea player do you fear the most and why?
It has to be Michu for me; he’s always a goal threat for you. He’s a great player and rightly deserved his call up to the Spanish national team. Everyone likes a bargain and he was the bargain of last season.
What will the score be on Saturday?
I think it’ll be a close affair; I’ll go for 1-1.
What are your thoughts and views on Swansea as a team and a Club?
I think most fans respect the style of football Swansea play and you have more teamwork than most teams. It helps that Cardiff have been promoted and have framed you as the nice Welsh team out of the two of you!