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Pards v Big Sam

Filed: Tuesday, 1st May 2012
By: Staff Writer

West Ham are back in the Championship play-offs for the first time in seven years. But how does the class of 2012 compare to the Final-winning side of 2006?

In order to decide who's the best team, we've taken the 2004/05 play-off Final starting XI and pitched them against a 4-4-2 formation selected from Sam Allardyce's current batch of players.


Jimmy Walker (8) v Rob Green (10)

Jimmy 'Wacka' Walker had been second choice behind Stephen Bywater for much of the 2004/05 campaign. Prior to the beginning of April 2005 the former (and current) Walsall goalkeeper had barely featured for the first team but he was an ever-present thereafter until being stretchered off in the play-off Final against Preston. Rob Green has been simply irreplaceable since being signed as Shaka Hislop's replacement in August 2006 and has barely missed a first team game since, whilst receiving a handful of caps for England including his ill-fated appearance in the 2010 World Cup Finals. Although responsible for Walkers' World, the best reason to buy a match day programme in recent years, there's little comparison between the two and therefore Green wins the content of the 'keepers.

Full Backs

Tomas Repka (9) v Guy Demel (7)

Tomas Repka was Marmite to West Ham supporters. Whilst drawing unwavering support from some supporters there were just as many who felt the former Czech international, who was sent off on his debut was an utter liability. Despite that, the former Fiorentina star went on to make almost 200 appearances under four different managers. Guy Demel signed from Hamburg at the start of the current season and managed less than 90 minutes on the field until finally recovering from a string of mystifying injuries to effectively replace Joey O'Brien at right back - although the place is still very much up for grabs. Repka's four-and-a-half years at the club tips the scales in his favour here.

Chris Powell (8) v George McCartney (8)

Sprightly full-back Powell was 35 when he signed for West Ham in September 2004 - initially on loan before signing a permanent deal in December. However he was to prove a vital cog in the defence that led Alan Pardew's side back to the Premier League, with his experience being crucial alongside the young central defensive pairing of 'Anton and Elliott'. George McCartney has returned to east London on loan having been sold to Sunderland for £6million three years ago and at times it's as if he's never been away, although he now faces a fight for the left back spot with Matt Taylor who has replaced him in recent weeks. There's little between the two so this one goes down as an honourable draw.

Central Defence

Anton Ferdinand (9) v James Tomkins (10)

Anton Ferdinand took somewhat longer to emerge from the Academy than brother Rio but became a man during the 2004/05 season, the first in which he managed in excess of 30 first team appearances. After this and his first season in the Premier League, an England call-up didn't look a million miles away although his career appears to have stalled since. James Tomkins is another in a long line of defenders to emerge from Tony Carr's Academy and has been absolutely integral to West Ham's fortunes this season, making no less than 44 appearances already whilst grabbing four goals to boot. At similar stages of their careers in the respective seasons, Hammer of the Year runner-up JT just about gets the nod here.

Elliott Ward (8) v Winston Reid (8)

Like both Ferdinands and Tomkins, Ward - now playing in the Premier League for Norwich having spent time with Coventry and five more Championship clubs on loan - emerged from under the wing of Tony Carr at Chadwell Heath. But it was only an injury to Malky Mackay that thrust him into the spotlight and Alan Pardew's first team plans in March 2005. After making his league debut at Reading, Ward was a permanent fixture in the first team for the remainder of the campaign. New Zealander Reid struggled in his first season at the club but has enjoyed a solid campaign in 2011/12 despite being third-choice behind Tomkins and Abdoulaye Faye for much of it. Too close to call.

Central Midfield

Nigel Reo-Coker (9) v Mark Noble (10)

A year before he became the youngest player to captain an FA Cup Final side - and fell out, spectacularly, with his own supporters - Nigel Reo-Coker was at the heart of West Ham's promotion-winning team. A natural ball-winner with great inner belief, the former Wimbledon player was one of the first names of Alan Pardew's team sheet. Much the same could be said about Mark Noble - who was making his breakthrough in the first team back in 2004/05 - this season. He too has become a key player in Sam Allardyce's side and was voted Hammer of the Year for the first time this week. Noble, a born and bred Hammer just about edges this one.

Hayden Mullins (8) v Kevin Nolan (8)

Hayden Mullins - who has just sealed another return to the Premier League with Reading - was Alan Pardew's utility man, having played right across the back line during his spell in east London. However it was as a defensive midfielder that he was most regularly employed and where he was most effective since being signed from Crystal Palace. Kevin Nolan, like Repka before him has split opinion this season with a hefty price tag and wage bill weighing heavy on his shoulders with some feeling his contribution should have been greater. Once again there's little between the two in terms of their contribution to their respective seasons.


Shaun Newton (7) v Gary O'Neil (8)

Newton was famously signed for just £10,000 when joining West Ham from Wolves with just two months of the 2004/05 campaign remaining (although Wolves did receive an additional £115,000 upon United's promotion). He was brought in as a right-sided player who could cover at both right back and in midfield - long before he was disgraced by being caught by a random drugs test. O'Neil has struggled to recover from a career-threatening injury but has been excellent in recent weeks and would have been a shoo-in for the play-offs had he not taken a heavy knock against Hull last weekend. The former 'Boro man is our selection here.

Matthew Etherington (10) v Matt Taylor (8)

Brought in from Tottenham as a make-weight in the deal that saw Jermain Defoe go the other way, Etherington was perhaps the key player in Pardew's class of 2005. His pace on the left flank was a crucial part of the way Pardew's team played and he was a virtual ever present in the promotion season. Matt Taylor has flattered to deceive at times and is often anonymous, although has proved that he can do the business if in the right frame of mind. Two very different players, whilst Taylor lacks Etherington's pace he can also fill in ably at left-back - however Etherington is the clear winner in terms of a midfield berth.


Marlon Harewood (9) v Ricardo Vaz Te (9)

Marvellous Marlon Harewood became a firm fans favourite after signing from Nottingham Forest. The softly-spoken striker reminded many of Paulo Wanchope, another who looked deadly at times - yet Sunday league standard at others. Still, 22 goals in the promotion season cannot be sniffed at and he was one who made the switch to Premier League football the following season with ease. Similarly, Vaz Te has been excellent at times since signing from Barnsley in January but also has the tendency to go missing occasionally; you can usually tell what sort of game he's going to have within the opening ten minutes. Both excel at this level and there is little, if anything between them.

Bobby Zamora (8) v Carlton Cole (8)

Bobby Zamora, who joined West Ham from Tottenham in February 2004 may have only scored 13 goals in the 2004/05 season but four of those came in the play-offs, with three goals in the two semi-finals and, of course, the one that made all the difference in the final. Like strike partner Harewood he also went on to enjoy a good Premiership campaign the following year. Carlton Cole is a little like Zamora in reverse, having proved himself at the highest level - with both having also earned a call-up to the national team. The current campaign's leading goalscorer with 14, Cole can frustrate and delight in equal levels but is always one of those mentioned by opposition managers as a player to fear. There's nothing between these two either.

Final Score

West Ham Utd 2004/05  93-94  West Ham Utd 2011/12

*Agree/disagree? Why not let us know your thoughts by replying in the comments section below.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

Your Comments

by Oli
05:42PM 2nd May 2012
''As long as we play a 4-4-2 and go to attack I won't have any complaints.''

by Birzo
05:07AM 2nd May 2012
''The saddest thing about the comparison, is that it shows you how badly we have built our squad. Mark Noble as an 18-year-old came on as a 82nd minute sub seven years ago. I don't think there are any other survivors. That is really, really bad.''

by Staff Writer
05:26PM 1st May 2012
''@JK (and @WestHamTickets): To whom are you comparing the players mentioned when stating the scoring system is "odd"? I suspect the criteria you are basing your ratings on differs from that employed by the author of the article.

And without prior knowledge or any understanding of this, criticism of specific scores is rather pointless...''

by JK
02:54PM 1st May 2012
''Some really odd scoring going on here. Anton a 9?! Tomkins is a better defender than him but not worth a 10! Likewise with Reo Coker and Noble, a 9 for Coker and 10 for Noble is ridiculously high! Ethers a 10?! Harewood a 9? Vaz Te a 9?!''

by Bubble
02:36PM 1st May 2012
''I said at the start of the season it's automatic promotion or trouble. West Ham v Birmingham Final and our bogey team will take it. Sorry! ''

by WestHamTickets
12:32PM 1st May 2012
''Marlon 9/10, come on. 7.5 at best. And as good as Green/Tomkins/Noble are they're not exactly 10s either.''

by hibs hammer
11:49AM 1st May 2012
''Agree with most of this BUT... Hayden Mullins (8) v Kevin Nolan (8)? No comparison, 13 goals from midfield, second top scorer, vastly improved over the second half of the season. Nolan everytime. COYI.''

by Academyhammer
11:14AM 1st May 2012
''I know it's a bit like looking at old photos and wondering why you ever wore those clothes but Pardew's team looks so poor. Walker, Powell, Newton and Harewood but having said that no doubt we will look back and think O'Neil, McCartney, Taylor and Demel who? ''

by housey house
10:57AM 1st May 2012
''Should have rated the managers as well although much like Repka, I am sure Fat Sam divides opinion...''

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