|An archive of Cockney Hammer's West Ham-related daily news digests.
BACK WITH A BANG ... Kevin Nolan celebrates his strike
IMPACT ... Kevin Nolan stabs the ball home
NOT IMPRESSED ... Aston Villa players surround referee Mike Dean after West Ham's goal
West Ham 1 Aston Villa 0
Back in the Premier League, a 1-0 win and Kevin Nolan popping up with the decisive goal.
The Allardyce-Nolan partnership has been going for the good part of 13 years.
And the last time Big Sam was taking a Premier League bow — after taking Bolton up — guess who was on the scoresheet?
Nolan only had to roll the ball into an empty net from a few yards in the 40th minute after getting on the end of Ricardo Vaz Te’s centre to get West Ham off to flier in their return to the big time.
Allardyce said: “Kevin’s a goalscorer. A lot of people look at him as a midfielder.
“But he is a David Platt. He gets on the end of things, ghosts into the box without people understanding how he got there. It was through instinct he found that chance. While all the other players are standing watching, Kevin is on the move and he pops it into the back of the net.
“Kevin is as good as any striker in the box. He’s a great finisher and that’s his outstanding quality, proven over many years.”
His goal caused some controversy. Linesman Simon Long raised his flag as he adjudged Vaz Te was offside as Mark Noble pumped a free-kick to the right side of the box.
All the Villa defenders stood still but Mike Dean overruled his assistant — and Vaz Te stayed composed, spotting Nolan’s late run. Video highlights later proved the referee right.
West Ham deserved the three points — but before the goal they were poor.
You could sympathise with the Hammers faithful in The Boleyn Tavern boozer before kick-off continuing to complain about Big Sam’s “long ball” game.
With the club eyeing a move to the Olympic Stadium, some observers believe there will not be much difference between watching a Big Sam team pump long balls sky high and an athlete chucking a javelin.
But that is harsh as the opener showed West Ham are more fluid than that.
And what a fantastic piece of business to get James Collins back from Aston Villa. The Welshman was in the thick of everything at centre-back — getting in tackles and throwing his body on the line.
Despite all Villa’s early possession, they never looked like getting behind West Ham. And it was the hosts who had more attempts at goal.
WEST HAM boss says Nolan is as good a finisher in the box than any Premier League striker
Nolan nearly squeezed an opener from a free-kick routine with Noble before he fired the Hammers in front.
West Ham thought they should have had a penalty moments after the restart when Villa’s debut-boy Ron Vlaar appeared to push Carlton Cole.
Hammers debutant, Mali striker Modibo Maiga, almost put the icing on the cake at the death with a second.
But the sub, having rounded the keeper, saw his shot brilliantly cleared off the line by Nathan Baker.
Manager Paul Lambert has lifted spirits at Villa Park since replacing Alex McLeish — but he needs to find a cutting edge.
He admitted: “I thought we looked bright but we must turn our possession into chances. If we can just get a finishing touch on that then we’ll be OK.
“It was difficult for us to get service to Darren Bent. The heat probably contributed. But the effort was there and Darren will score, that’s for sure. He’s a goal threat, we just have to get the service to him.”
Cole hits out at unfair stick
CARLTON COLE has hit back at critics who slated top-flight footballers following the success of the Olympics.
Premier League stars got a kicking after the ugly Community Shield curtain-raiser between Chelsea and Manchester City last Sunday.
This came just a day after London 2012 closed — a Games praised for its high level of sportsmanship and the success of Team GB.
But West Ham striker Cole said: “People say we don’t give back to the community in any way and we’re spoilt brats. That’s unfair.
“A lot of footballers I know do huge amounts of charity work and conduct themselves properly off the field.
“When you’re an athlete, you have four years to train for that one moment. We train for every Saturday. It’s a different lifestyle.”
Cole, who took a 50 per cent pay cut in his £40,000-a-week wages last season, added: “I know I am privileged to be a footballer.
“The money bit is just a bonus. I never concentrate on that too much.”
Bubble bundle: Kevin Nolan is swamped by his teammates after scoring the crucial goal at Upton Park
Big Sam's back! Allardyce's West Ham make winning return to the
West Ham United
Sam Allardyce's West Ham side scraped a narrow 1-0 victory against Aston Villa, thanks to a controversial Kevin Nolan finish
Bubble bundle: Kevin Nolan is swamped by his teammates after scoring the crucial goal at Upton Park Bubble bundle: Kevin Nolan is swamped by his teammates after scoring the crucial goal at Upton Park
Just the start Sam Allardyce wanted.
And just the start that new Villa manager Paul Lambert must have feared.
True, this was not the traditionally fluent West Ham of one-touch passing and eye-catching invention.
But there was enough to suggest that the organisation and energy that Alladyce has instilled into his team will give them enough weaponry to survive in their return to the Premier League.
There was a hint of controversy about the goal that decided this often attritional affair in the sweltering heat of East London.
But there can be no question about the justice of the result.
Indeed, but for a goal-line clearance in the last minute from Nathan Baker to deny Modibo Maiga his first competitive goal for West Ham, the cushion would have been more comfortable.
Allardyce has had his fair share of confrontations with officialdom in the past.
Yet he had nothing but praise for referee Mike Dean, who, five minutes from half-time, ignored a linesman’s flag as Mark Noble’s free-kick penetrated the Villa area.
Ricardo Vaz Te was indeed a fraction offside, but Mr Dean saw what his lieutenant missed – that the last touch belonged to Ciaran Clark.
Play went on, Vaz Te crossed and Kevin Nolan converted.
“I have to say it was a very good decision by Mike Dean because the ball clearly came off a Villa player’s head. Sometimes, though, the referee just acts on the linesman’s flag.”
And that gave West Ham the platform they needed.
Villa looked impressive in the first half hour.
“Villa kept the ball very well,” said Allardyce.
“We found it hard in that spell.”
His counterpart Lambert agreed.
“But when you have the ball, you have to do something with it,” he said. “We have a proven goalscorer in Darren Bent, but you have to give him chances and we didn’t do that.
“But we will learn. As for the goal, yes, the referee made the right call.”
The strike gave West Ham confidence.
“You have to hit the ground running,” said Allardyce.
His men certainly did that – and no one ran further or with more commitment than Mohamed Diame, who covered acres, despite the energy-sapping temperatures.
“An all-round midfield player who has the biggest smile you have seen in your life,” said Allardyce, of the Senegal man signed on a free transfer after leaving Wigan.
“A winning start is so essential. We may hit a sticky patch later, but if we have the points on the board, that will help us through.”
Villa lacked a cutting edge to go with their endeavour.
And Lambert admitted that the pace and penetration of injured Gabriel Agbonlahor was sorely missed – and revealed that it will be well into September before he can call on the England international.
“It has been a blow to lose him, but we will have to learn from this match,” said Lambert. “We win together or we lose together. The effort was there, but the goal threat was not. Now, we have to grow as a team. There is no hiding place in the Premier League.”
West Ham have the thrust of the unpredictable Vaz Te and Carlton Cole, the dynamism of Diame and the defensive strength of James Collins. They are a good bet for survival.
Villa have the talent, they have the excellent philosophy of Lambert and they have Agbonlahor to come back.
What they need now is a ruthless streak.
Off and running: Kevin Nolan celebrates after scoring the only goal of the game for West Ham
Winner: Nolan got on the end of Ricardo Vaz Te's cross to put West Ham in front
Controversy: Aston Villa felt there was an offside in the build-up to West Ham's goal
Olympic stars: Members of Team GB were at Upton Park including boxing gold medalist Nicola Adams (below)
Sandwiched: Aston Villla's Karim El Ahmadi is tackled by Mark Noble and Mohamed Diame
Duel: Winston Reid of West Ham United and Darren Bent of Aston Villa battle for the ball
West Ham 1 Aston Villa 0: Nolan gives Allardyce that ring of confidence
Sam Allardyce was all smiles as West Ham extended east London’s Olympic feelgood factor with a deserved victory on their return to the Premier League.
Kevin Nolan’s winner after 40 minutes was the difference between sides who know that early points this season will reduce the risk of getting stuck in a relegation battle.
‘I was a bit nervous because you never quite know how it’s going to go after pre-season,’ said Hammers boss Allardyce.
Off and running: Kevin Nolan celebrates after scoring the only goal of the game for West Ham
West Ham: Jaaskelainen, Demel, Reid, Collins, McCartney (O’Brien 71), Noble, Diame, Nolan (Tomkins 73), Vaz Te, Cole (Maiga 81), Taylor. Subs not used: Henderson, Maynard, Diarra, O’Neil.
Scorer: Nolan 40
Aston Villa: Given, Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Baker, Holman (Weimann 61), El Ahmadi, Delph (Bannan 77), N’Zogbia (Gardner 74), Ireland, Bent. Subs not used: Guzan, Lichaj, Herd, Burke.
Referee: Mike Dean.
‘A good start is so important to a team such as us because it helps secure your position as early as possible. It takes the pressure off the players and the fans and it makes everyone enjoy their football.
‘It has been a very, very good day for us today because we won our first game of the season and we kept a clean sheet as well. To keep a striker as dangerous as Darren Bent down to three touches speaks volumes for our defensive performance.’
Nolan’s goal came after Ciaran Clark received the only yellow card in the game for blocking Ricardo Vaz Te. Mark Noble lofted the free- kick into the box and although it was Clark whose head the ball skimmed off to Vaz Te, the linesman believed it had reached the West Ham winger via James Collins’s head, making the Portuguese player offside.
While some of the Villa defence stopped, Vaz Te sent a low cross into the area and Nolan swivelled to slot the ball past Shay Given into the far corner. At this point referee Mike Dean ran across to the touchline to tell his colleague that it was Clark, not Collins, who provided Vaz Te and allowed the goal to stand.
Winner: Nolan got on the end of Ricardo Vaz Te's cross to put West Ham in front
Winner: Nolan got on the end of Ricardo Vaz Te's cross to put West Ham in front
‘It was a very good decision by the referee because it clearly came off a Villa head but refs don’t always question their linesmen,’ Allardyce added.
Villa’s new manager, Paul Lambert, concurred. ‘I wasn’t sure at the time of the goal but after studying a tape the ref was correct,’ said the former Norwich manager.
‘I’ve got no complaints about the result, nor about my players’ efforts. We had plenty of the ball but we couldn’t turn this into chances and that’s what we need to work on.’
The man who took Norwich up visibly winced when he heard about his old side’s thrashing at Fulham under new boss Chris Hughton.
In sweltering heat, not a single save was made in the first half, and Given’s only action was to pick the ball out of the back of his net.
After the break West Ham’s new keeper, Jussi Jaaskelainen, saved from Stephen Ireland’s volley but it was West Ham who should have scored more. Carlton Cole seemed to be pushed over in the area by Ron Vlaar but failed to win a penalty.
Sandwiched: Aston Villla's Karim El Ahmadi is tackled by Mark Noble and Mohamed Diame
Then Nolan saw his goal-bound shot blocked before Modibo Maiga, on for Cole, rounded Given but saw his injury-time shot cleared off the line by Nathan Baker.
As Allardyce said, West Ham are back in the big time and, by the looks of it, they intend to enjoy it.
WEST HAM 1 ASTON VILLA 0: KEVIN NOLAN PUNISHES POOR
KEVIN NOLAN marked West Ham’s Premier League return with a hotly-disputed winner as new Villa boss Paul Lambert was given a wake-up call.
Nolan popped up in the 40th minute to net the only goal of a largely forgettable game.
He turned the ball home even though assistant-referee Simon Long had flagged for offside.
Referee Mike Dean awarded the goal and Villa never looked like replying as Lambert’s reign began with a whimper.
The Scot knows he has much work to do to defy those who claim Villa will be relegated next May.
But it was the ideal start for Hammers boss Sam Allardyc.
Big Sam insists he is targeting consolidation but co-owner David Gold said before kick-off that the club should “aim as high as we dare”.
Allardyce is far more comfortable at this level than in the Championship as he has proved with Bolton and Blackburn.
The Hammers are expected to survive – but the same cannot be said for Villa.
They have been written off as relegation fodder by many, despite Lambert being lured to Villa Park after a fine debut season in the top flight.
But his arrival has hardly been followed by a raft of high-profile signings.
Ron Vlaar made his debut alongside Brett Holman and Karim El Ahmadi as Lambert looked to revive Villa’s fortunes.
He made the Canaries hard to beat and set out to repeat that feat after packing his midfield yesterday.
Darren Bent was given the lone striking role but had little service to feed off in a poor first half.
And you could say the same for West Ham’s Carlton Cole.
The Hammers looked for him way too many times as they went long all too often.
The long-ball tactic made them look too predictable, although it almost carved out the opening goal in the 34th minute. Cole was floored by Vlaar’s needless challenge in the back and Nolan’s free-kick flew inches wide of Shay Given’s right-hand post.
Set-pieces seemed West Ham’s best chance of opening their account so it wasno surprise to see them draw first blood as half-time approached.
Skipper Nolan has made a career of finding himself in the right place at the right time and he was on the spot again – only this time it was a major talking point.
Mark Noble’s pumped ball into the penalty area found Ricardo Vaz Te, who centred for Nolan toslide home, but as the Portuguese star collected the long ball assistant referee Long flagged.
Villa stood motionless but the whistle never came – with Dean consulting his linesman before awarding the goal.
Villa’s protests fell on deaf ears and television replays suggested the man in black was right to wave away Long’s flag.
But if Villa were angered by Dean, they escaped just after the break thanks to the Wirral whistler.
Cole looked to have been wrestled to the ground by Vlaar, only for him to ignore the home side’s pleas.
Allardyce said: “Kevin’s a real goalscorer. Many don’t see him as a creative player.
“He’s a David Platt. He gets on the end of things and then ghosts into the box without people knowing he’s there.”
Lambert said: “You can have all of the ball you want but you have got to score although I can’t fault the lads for effort. Their effort was excellent.
“We tried. There wasn’t much in the game and there were a lot of positives to take out of it.”
Kevin Nolan jumps for joy after scoring the winner
WEST HAM UNITED 1 - ASTON VILLA 0: SAM ALLARDYCE’S STAKE ON CROCK KEV PAYS OUT
Kevin Nolan jumps for joy after scoring the winner
BIG Sam Allardyce doesn’t normally have a bet. But things could well change after this.
The gamble he took on Kevin Nolan yesterday paid off handsomely after his Captain Courageous grabbed that all-important match-winner despite carrying a foot injury that his manager would normally have considered too big a risk to take.
“It was a bit of a gamble because Kevin wasn’t really 100 per cent fit, but in the end I thought it was worth taking. He might be a midfield player, but he is as good as any finisher in the box in the Premier League.
“He’s like David Platt. He can ghost in there without anyone realising.”
Nolan did that all right to net a close-range goal that set the East End alight on a day when it was close on 100F for a while out there.
West Ham’s Mr Reliable turned the game around five minutes before the break with his side’s first decent threat of the afternoon and at a time when the visitors’ pretty possession play was beginning to worry Big Sam.
He’s like David Platt. He can ghost in there without anyone realising
Villa protested that Ricardo Vaz Te was offside before cutting the back to his unmarked captain. But referee Mike Dean thought differently despite line assistant Simon Long putting his flag up to start with – and then lowering it again. Whatever. Sam, Nolan and the expectant West Ham faithful blue their famous bubbles with understandable gusto.
To be honest, the build-up to the goal was born out of the same route one stuff that West Ham had launched from the word go. Before that it was Carlton Cole’s head they aimed for. This time it was James Collins who nodded on a long ball to Vaz Te.
Villa had tried to play something more akin to the beautiful game. But a fat lot of use that was. Jussi Jaaskelainen didn’t have a single shot to save in the first half – or for large chunks of the second – and Darren Bent had just three touches all day!
West Ham, without ever looking like world-beaters, should have had a second when Vaz Te produced one of the game’s few acts of magic to set up Nolan again.
This time, however, his skipper shot straight at Shay Given and the keeper parried the effort to safety.
You wouldn’t have bet on Villa coming back if that had gone in. But as long as there was only one goal in it they had a chance. And there were a few Hammers’ hearts in their mouths when Jaaskelainen had to go full stretch to make his first real save of the afternoon from the impressive Ron Vlaar.
Substitute Modibo Maiga could and should have made it a dream debut at the death, but after rounding Given his final effort wasn’t enough to beat Nathan Baker on the line.
In the end it was probably about right. There should never have been more than one goal between two sides who look as though they might struggle to score many more than that this season.
But neither Allardyce nor Villa’s Paul Lambert looked worried afterwards.
“We found it difficult to start with because Villa kept the ball well, but in the end I thought we might have got more on chancves created,” Allardyce added. “And getting off to a good start really does take the pressure off the players.”
Lambert felt that for 30 minutes his team were excellent.
“But in the end you have to score and we didn’t,” he added. “Darren Bent will score if we get the ball to him and if we can add a finishing touch to our possession we’ll be okay.”
MAN of the MATCH: James Collins (West Ham). A rock at the heart of the Hammers resistance – and against the club he left in the summer as well. How sweet was that?WEST HAM: Jaaskelainen; Demel, Collins, Reid, McCartney (O’Brien 71); Diame, Noble, Nolan (Tomkins 73), Taylor; Vaz te, Cole (Maiga 81).
ASTON VILLA: Given; Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Baker; Ahmadi, Delph (Bannan 76); N’Zogbia (Gardner 73), Ireland, Holman (Weimann 62); Bent.
Ref: M Dean Att: 34,172
West Ham United 1
Aston Villa 0
Eleven years ago to the day, Sam Allardyce made his debut as a top-flight manager and watched Kevin Nolan score and Jussi Jaaskelainen keep a clean sheet as his Bolton side marked the occasion with a victory over Leicester City. A lot has changed since then but Allardyce's football principles remain the same and so does the identity of his most trusty sidekicks: Nolan's goal here and another blank for Jaaskelainen made this a perfect Premier League return for Allardyce and his robust West Ham team.
Nolan's decisive goal was like so many others that he has scored down the years for Allardyce, the midfielder converting from close range after Ricardo Vaz Tê cut back the ball from the goalline. The assistant referee had waved frantically to indicate that Vaz Tê was offside when he had received the ball but the official in the middle, Mike Dean, correctly spotted the ball had arrived at the Portuguese via the hand of defender Ciaran Clark.
Villa's manager, Paul Lambert, graciously congratulated the referee afterwards for making the right call, while Allardyce hailed the prowess of his 30-year-old captain. "He got that goal on instinct," Allardyce said. "He's on the move when other players are standing watching. He's as good in the box as any Premier League forward."
The goal was extravagant reward for a first half in which Allardyce's team grew in stature after being initially cowed by Villa's controlled passing. Lambert's first mission as Villa manager is to banish the disturbing memory of Alex McLeish's grim reign and the tidy interplay his team showed earned the approval of the travelling fans. Their relieved chants of "we're Aston Villa and we're passing the ball" brought levity that temporarily atoned for the lack of goalmouth action. Karim El Ahmadi, one of four summer recruits making debuts for the visitors, showed himself to be a particularly adroit passer but for all their nimble play, Villa looked lightweight and one-paced going forward and Darren Bent was starved of service.
"We couldn't get the ball in the first 15 minutes because they were keeping it so well without doing much with it," Allardyce said. "But once we overcame that we were the better team."
Mohamed Diamé, one of the three summer signings given a debut by Allardyce, was instrumental in turning the play in West Ham's favour, his muscle in central midfield contributing to the decline of Villa's early vim. Carlton Cole's aerial power, meanwhile, tormented Villa's new centre-back, Ron Vlaar. Still, until the goal, Shay Given had not had a shot to save.
Stephen Ireland forced a decent stop from Jaaskelainen within 40 seconds of the resumption but Villa, despite still enjoying the majority of possession, did not bother him again until the 76th minute when the Finn dived to claim a long-range drive by Vlaar. Before that, the Dutch defender had prevented his team from falling two goals behind, blocking a Nolan shot after delightful work down the right by Vaz Tê. West Ham's new £4.5m striker, Modibo Maïga, was introduced for the final minutes and nearly crowned his debut with a goal, only to be foiled by Nathan Baker after rounding Given.
Allardyce's joy was undiminished. "It's so important to get the season off to a good start because it takes the pressure off the players," he said. There was no such relief for Villa.
Opening salvo: Kevin Nolan (right) celebrates scoring West Ham's first goal
West Ham United 1 Aston Villa 0
The decisive goal was tinged with controversy, with an assistant referee's flag raised for offside, though television replays suggested that referee Mike Dean was correct to allow the West Ham captain's crucial interventon to stand.
Newly-promoted West Ham started encouragingly, rarely looking under any threat from Villa's forward line. In fact, the visitors attacking was so limited that debut-making goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen could scarcely have hoped for a quieter opening 45 minutes.
Although the perceptive Stephen Ireland, always looking to thread in the clever through pass, was busy in the heart of Villa's midfielder, few options presented themselves in front of him, with Darren Bent finding little room between the outstanding James Collins, who moved between the two clubs during the summer, and Winston Reid.
Not that there was exactly a glut of action at the other end of the pitch on a sweltering day in east London. But Aston Villa were given a warning after Carlton Cole was fouled by Dutch debutant Ron Vlaar 20 yards from goal. Mark Noble rolled the ball for Nolan, whose low shot whistled narrowly wide of Shay Given's right-hand post.
There was to be no such reprieve when West Ham won another free-kick, four minutes later, when Ciaran Clark body-checked Mohamed Diame.
Clark received a yellow card and there was further punishment for the visitors when Noble's deep free-kick was headed back by Ricardo Vaz Te for Nolan to side-foot past Given.
Although a linesman's flag was raised for a perceived offside, Villa's appeals were overruled by referee Mike Dean, who appeared to have made the right call, especially as Noble's free-kick seemed to brush Clark's head en route to Vaz Te.
Villa's response came within 40 second from the start of the second half, Ireland drawing a save from Jaaskelainen, but the greater alarm came at the visitors' end four minutes later when Cole went down under Vlaar's challenge but referee Dean waved away appeals for a penalty.
West Ham continued to look the more likely to strike again, and some 66th-minute trickery by Vaz Te on the right led to a cut back that Nolan drilled goalwards, only to be blocked by Vlaar. The Dutchman powered a 30-yarder at Jaaskelainen but it ony served to underline the lack of attacking variations for the visitors.
Cole headed Matt Taylor's cross wide with 12 minutes remaining and the West Ham striker's departure three minutes later gave the home support a first glimpse of Modibo Maiga, a £4.7 million signing from Sochaux.
Maiga should have scored in added time but after rounding Given, saw his shot cleared by Nathan Baker.
Golden balls: West Ham United's co-owner reveals his cunning plan for the Olympic stadium[/color]
Brought up in abject poverty by a petty criminal, abused by a relative, written off as a greedy porn baron... David Gold has had to deal with plenty in his life – which means he’s not about to give up on his dream of taking over the Olympic Stadium with his beloved West Ham United.
David Gold: 'My dad was in jail, we were in abject poverty, West Ham was pure escapism'
Fresh delay in Olympic Stadium decision
West Ham's new Olympic Stadium bid 'flawed'
West Ham lead race to occupy Olympic stadium
Jacqueline Gold: Vibes remain good for queen of Ann Summers
Twelve years ago, on Radio Five Live, presenter Nicky Campbell challenged David Gold to give a description of his Surrey estate in less than 60 seconds.
"I believe you have your own golf course," Campbell prompted his guest, in an ominously mischievous tone.
"Yes," Gold replied. "I am very proud of it."
"Outdoor Jacuzzi?" the presenter continued.
"I have an indoor Jacuzzi," Gold replied before describing, without irony, the "swimming pool, with the logo of Ann Summers [his jointly owned chain of shops selling lingerie and adult electricals] on the bottom. The greens on my golf course are each named after my various companies." Conversation then turned to David Gold's watch, and its unusually generous allocation of diamonds.
"I must say," Gold told his hosts, "that, all through my life, I have been very sort of, erm… what's the word…"
"Greedy?" volunteered one of Campbell's co- presenters. It was an unusual radio moment, not least for the fact that some of the laughter provoked by this impressively sharp intervention came from the man who had been introduced as "Britain's Mr Erotica". When the hilarity had subsided, though, Gold, rich as he may be, sounded humbled, almost mortiﬁed.
"This watch was chosen for me by my girlfriend, Lesley," he explained, quietly. "She has persuaded me to be a bit more flamboyant."
I have kept a copy of that broadcast, I tell Gold, when we meet in one of the reception rooms at his mansion, a recording I originally made because the news that day was dominated by a court decision relating to the Bulger case. I can remember, I tell the West Ham United co-owner, how amusing his appearance had seemed at the time. Listening back to those exchanges now, though, there's something less than generous about the way he was treated that day. Gold is a chronic dyslexic who left school with no qualiﬁcations. Outnumbered by university-educated BBC professionals, he sounded apprehensive, even daunted.
"I remember that interview," says the businessman. "At the time I did laugh, but afterwards, when I was going home, I thought that maybe it wasn't a very nice thing to say to me."
"So are you greedy?"
"I don't believe so. I don't think 'greedy' is a fair word. I am guilty of pursuing success. In the main I am at ease with people. In that studio, I didn't really feel comfortable."
David Gold is not a difﬁcult man to mock. We live in an age in which many privileged ﬁgures strive to disguise their public-school accents by injecting a hint of estuary English. Gold, on the other hand, grew up in Green Street, opposite West Ham United's stadium and, even today, you can tell that he is at pains to speak as properly as he can; to the point that he will use a word like "whom", where appropriate, and generally maintains a level of grammatical perfection that many of his more formally educated contemporaries have long abandoned.
West Ham, the team Gold has supported for more than six decades, and now jointly owns, stand at a crucial point in their history. Having returned to the Premier League this season, they can contemplate the possibility – should they succeed in their stated ambition to take over the 2012 Olympic Stadium – of rising to join the elite names in English football, playing as they would at a ground holding 60,000 spectators. (The subject of the Olympic Stadium, I was warned by Gold's publicists, is one that I must on no account raise during this interview.)
Some people are born with the name they deserve (Keith Moon and Ed Balls spring to mind). Gold, in the minds of many, is another. The love of bling might be considered a forgivable – even enviable – trait in the young. When you're 75 and a permanent ﬁxture in the Sunday Times Rich List, it's a different matter.
This mid-19th-century mansion, where he lives with ﬁancée Lesley Manning, 18 years his junior, is imposing, but not untastefully decorated. The interior, give or take the odd china swan and grand piano, is, if anything, understated. The 55 acres of grounds, though, are on a regal scale. His rolling lawns are immaculately kept. From the closest window I can see two spectacular ponds without even trying. I have to admit to an instinctive belief that a man who's a goldﬁsh enthusiast, and has springer spaniels romping around the grounds, can't be all bad.
Gold appears wearing a yellow short-sleeved shirt and black casual trousers. The only elements of his outﬁt that might be designed to impress are the famous watch, the black patent-leather shoes, and a ruby ring. He wears this last accessory on the little ﬁnger of his right hand where, you can't help thinking, it would be most effective in enhancing the effect of an uppercut, should our conversation render one necessary. So why is it that some people accuse Gold (whose business empire, founded as it was on the sale of titillating ﬁction, has had him described as a "Porn Baron") of ostentation?
"I got a tweet the other day," he replies. "It said, 'Why, in every interview that you do, is your helicopter in the background?' It ended, '#show-off'. I replied: 'When I was a boy, every picture of me had, in the background, an outside toilet and a tin bath.' My helicopter normally sits on the front lawn. I don't leave it there now, because I was affected by that criticism. I didn't read that message and say, 'Piss off. I don't care what you think,' as you could imagine Alan Sugar might do. I do care. I am what I am," says Gold, in a phrase that will recur. "And I want to do the right thing."
Gold's main business collaborators are his brother Ralph, and David Sullivan; men who have also amassed huge fortunes from the marketing of erotica. Investigative journalist Mark Killick's unauthorised biography of Sullivan (creator of, among many other publications, the Sunday Sport) has the title The Sultan of Sleaze. David Gold's introspective tendencies, and sensitivity to criticism, are qualities less conspicuous in the character of Sullivan, who, in 1981, was found guilty of living off immoral earnings (relating to prostitutes operating in saunas). He appealed against his nine-month sentence, and was released – though not pardoned – after having served 71 days in prison.
Prime among the joint ventures of the three businessmen are the Ann Summers chain, and West Ham, whose vice-chairman is Karren Brady. Brady is a long-standing ally of the triumvirate, notably in their previous football adventure at Birmingham City, where she was managing director. The Gold brothers and Sullivan bought that club for £1 in 1993 and sold in 2009. David Sullivan took a profit of £30m; the Gold brothers emerged with £15m each.
David Gold is writing an online autobiography, updated every week or so. The prototype was his published life story, Pure Gold, which appeared as a hardback in 2005.
Pure Gold leaves the reader in little doubt as to the privations he endured as an infant. The prologue includes two paragraphs dealing with his childhood; they are too long to include in full, so I have abridged them as follows.
"Stench of poverty… poor, hungry, cold… awful smell… strength-sapping cold… stench of poverty… stench of poverty… stink… poverty… hunger… biting chill… stomach-cramping hunger… poverty… poverty… despair… dysentery… hunger… poverty… stench of poverty."
At one point in the book, Gold notes that the comforts afforded by his family's house were eclipsed by the facilities in an air-raid shelter that had been excavated in his neighbour's yard. It's a moment that enemies might seize on as being reminiscent of the classic Monty Python parody of romanticised poverty, "The Four Yorkshiremen", in which, to misquote the script slightly, one of the speakers remembers how, "We used to dream of living in a hole in the ground."
The true extent of Gold's suffering as a boy was no laughing matter. Diagnosed with tuberculosis at the age of ﬁve, he spent months in Black Notley sanatorium, close to Braintree, Essex.
"My best friend there was Jimmy," he says. "We slept in this dormitory. One night, there's this commotion. Our curtains are hurriedly closed for us. Lights come on. I can hear they're trying to save Jimmy. The lights go out. Next morning, I said to the nurse, 'E's dead, inne?' 'No,' she said, 'Jimmy's gone to heaven. I'll get your porridge. I'll see if I can get you some treacle in it, as a treat.' I remember thinking: my best friend is dead. And I've got treacle."
Deprivation, I suggest to Gold, was not unfamiliar to Britain's urban population in the 1940s. But he, clearly, had it tougher than most. "That was because of my father. [Godfrey, known as Goddy.] He wasn't often around. He was a philanderer and he was often in prison. You had to be destitute to get help. There was this thing called RO. You got tokens that you took to shops. You were given RO boots" – footwear, Gold says, which invited contempt, especially when worn by a boy who was half-Jewish, on his father's side.
He has a younger sister, Marie; his brother Ralph, the middle child, is two years David's junior. The tensions between Godfrey, and their mother Rose, are described in each of the Gold brothers' autobiographies. (Good as Gold, Ralph's story, appeared in 1997.)
A gifted footballer, David was twice invited to sign apprentice forms: ﬁrst by his beloved West Ham, then Fulham. His father withheld consent, and David trained as a bricklayer.
"What made him refuse? Envy?"
"Possibly. I remember once I was kicking a ball against our shed. My father was reading the paper. He said: 'Why don't you stop showing off?' There was nobody there except him. I was only practising. That sticks in my mind. If I see my daughters excel, I brim with pride."
Godfrey's criticism seems especially vindictive, given that his son had found something he really excelled at. Years later, when his daughter Jacqueline was a child, David's English was still so poor that, in her words, "He used to copy out words from the dictionary, and stick them to the dashboard of his car. He was that keen to better himself."
Gold did not become aware of his dyslexia "until I was 27. You carry around this feeling of, everybody else is clever, and you are a dummy."
David Gold married his ﬁrst girlfriend, Beryl Hunt. He was 21. He says that he realised he'd made a mistake, even as he left for the honeymoon. The couple separated in 1972. Beryl, who died in 2003, was the mother of his only children: Vanessa (currently MD at Ann Summers ) and Jacqueline, the company's CEO, who was instrumental in building the Summers empire, through her introduction, in 1981, of salacious house parties, where ladies gather to compare notes on products such as PVC underwear, "Rampant Rabbit" vibrators and chocolate penises.
s I talk to Gold, I realise that I had arrived here with certain expectations, not all of which were fulﬁlled. "Modest" was one adjective I was not expecting to appear in this article, but if you read Ralph's book, you're struck by the number of David's achievements (as a builder, footballer and prize-winning aviator) that are downplayed in, or omitted from, the elder brother's own life story.
Undistinguished as he may have been by orthodox academic standards, Gold quickly demonstrated a flair for business. He was in his early twenties when he opened his ﬁrst bookshop near Charing Cross, selling general ﬁction and "adult" titles by authors such as Hank Janson (Stephen Daniel Frances), the most popular British pulp-ﬁction author of the immediate post-war years.
For some reason, I tell Gold, I've never quite hit it off with the pornographers I've met; even a man with a strong sense of irony, such as Larry Flynt. Some of the publications in Flynt's Hustler stable, I suggest, resemble gynaecological course books.
"Well, Larry Flynt… he has to be disgusting… shocking, I mean. That's his mantra."
Pornographer is a title which, when applied to his own career, Gold contests with some vigour. It would be difﬁcult to overstate the innocuousness of the magazines which got him into trouble in his early years as a publisher. In the interests of research I procured copies of his 1970s magazine New Direction (the stress is on the ﬁrst syllable); a periodical that, today, would scarcely require elevating to the top shelf. Gold was tried (and acquitted) three times on charges relating to handling indecent material; books which, today, would only be destroyed by purchasers, on the grounds of primness and tedium.
"I watched a programme about Fifty Shades of Grey recently," Gold says. "All of the people involved would have risked prison 50 years ago, including the author."
"I came across a bizarre cutting from The Telegraph, dated September 1972," I tell him. "It complains that, at your company, adult books were stored in the same warehouse as children's annuals. 'The covers of the children's books show teddy bears and bunny rabbits,' the reporter complains. 'The sex books feature naked photographs.' It sounds as if the Telegraph had caught you storing Wensleydale next to raw pork."
"I remember that article. I think there was a fear in the ruling classes that sex would infect young people and turn them into monsters." k
One judge who tried Gold, Lord King Hamilton, was informed, during proceedings, that studies showed that 97 per cent of young men masturbate.
"He removed his glasses," Gold recalls, "raised his hand to his brow, and said, 'Whatever happened to restraint?' I could see the jury thinking: we know the real world. This man doesn't."
"Where would you draw the line now?"
"I think we all know it."
"You mean paedophilia?"
"Yes, and other things that are disgusting. The real problem is deciding at what age children can see certain images."
"You argued for a British Board of Book Censors 40 years ago, didn't you?"
"Yes. They could have made rules and we could have obeyed them. As long as the board didn't include someone like [prominent anti-obscenity crusader] Lord Longford, who was potty. If you don't separate soft and hardcore material, if you embrace it all, like Longford did, the silly sod, everything becomes pornography."
Gold has, he insists, "high moral standards".
Ironically – or, his critics might argue, appropriately – the intimate lives of David Gold and his family have been subject to gruesome turbulence. As a small boy he was molested by his mother's stepbrother, Johnny Cenci. He recalls three instances of serious sexual abuse.
"My mother was loyal to Cenci," he says. "Years later, I was giving her money every week. One day she is in tears. She says, 'I've got no money'. It turned out that she was paying £200 a week to keep Cenci – my abuser – in a nursing home. I couldn't bear her to be upset. Anyhow, he's blind and he's got cancer. I thought, how long can he live? I gave her an extra £10,000 a year. The b*stard," Gold laughs, "lived for 11 years."
By the time he was 32, David Gold was prospering as a partner with brother Ralph and father Godfrey in their publishing business. This collaboration ended when Godfrey attempted an illegal manoeuvre that would have given him control of the company. The brothers terminated his involvement. "I never spoke to him again. He died at 92, four years ago."
"Did you go to the funeral?"
"Yes. I hadn't spoken to him for nearly 40 years. I suppose I was there to mourn the father I wish I'd had. My pals all had fantastic dads. Dads who encouraged them. Playing football, say. Where was mine?"
On the day he parted company with his father, Gold drove home early and saw Beryl having sex with his best friend, in the swimming pool. The couple were unaware that they had been observed. There followed a bizarre situation, described by his daughter Jacqueline in her ﬁrst autobiography, whereby Beryl and her lover occupied the Golds' double bed, while David and the wife of Beryl's lover slept together in the spare room. (After he separated from Beryl, Gold spent 25 years with another girlfriend, Penny.) He met Lesley, the love of his life, at a tapas bar in Purley in 1998 .
Beryl, meanwhile, married her lover, and was awarded custody of Vanessa and Jacqueline. The latter, as the title of her ﬁrst book (Please Let it Stop) would indicate, endured years of sexual abuse perpetrated by her stepfather.
"Jacqueline says that you only learnt of this when you read her book; she recalls that you said, 'I feel like killing the guy.' Is that correct?"
"Yes. I'd stayed in the family home for several years knowing that my wife was having an affair, for the sake of the children. Should I have stayed longer?"
"You must have had to restrain yourself. I imagine that you'd have known people who, once you discovered what had happened to Jacqueline, could have sorted that situation out for you?"
(In the mid-1960s, Gold met at least one member of the notorious Richardson gang, though there is no suggestion that he was ever connected with them either professionally or socially.)
"However," he replies, "had anything happened to him, the ﬁrst suspect would have been me. And that is not a good way to resolve things, ever. But when the anger boils, there is deﬁnitely a tipping point."
"And her abuser is still alive?"
"How do you deal with that, emotionally, now?"
"If I'm at work, I'm not thinking about it. But talking about it to you now, I feel the anger, the remorse and the desire for revenge on my daughter's behalf."
"And on your own behalf, I imagine."
"Jacqueline fled to your house once, didn't she, and you, unaware of what was happening, drove her back to her mother."
"And had I known, I could have changed everything. Her mother was aware, which is not uncommon, as I have discovered, researching the subject of abuse. It was a tragedy. But hopefully it can inspire other people to believe that you can overcome this sort of trauma."
"Tony Soprano persuaded himself to see a psychoanalyst; did you?"
"I am not a psychoanalyst kind of a man," Gold replies. "I also hate hypnotists. And astrologers. I'll see both Jackie and Vanessa today and hug them, and I will be aware of what a lucky man I am."
Swift generation of wealth has never been a problem for Gold. By 1972, Gold Star Productions had a £1m turnover, 100 people on the payroll and an ofﬁce in New York. Titles such as Lesbian Love and A Woman's Look at Oral Love were written by Sue Caron. Miss Caron, who matched the proliﬁc output, if not the literary invention, of Charles Dickens, also edited magazines including New Directions and In Depth.
"Am I talking to Sue Caron now?"
Gold laughs. "No. She wasn't me. She was my brother's assistant."
"Somebody told me that [one of the saddest periodicals of all time] Readers' Wives is one of yours."
"No. That is [fellow top-shelf mogul and current owner of Express Newspapers] Richard Desmond."
"What do you think of him?"
"You have to say he is a remarkable success. He was competing with us – I say 'us' because we joined forces with David Sullivan – but at one time there were the Golds, Sullivan, Desmond, and Paul Raymond. We were the four main players in top-shelf magazines."
David Gold's business portfolio expanded to include sex-chat lines, and a company chartering luxury jets, which was sold in 2006. Probably his most felicitous business decision was the purchase of Ann Summers, in 1972. The company – now a vastly successful global brand – had been started by an eccentric bohemian, Michael "Dandy Kim" Caborn-Waterﬁeld. An occasional actor and jockey, Waterﬁeld was the lover of Diana Dors and, it seems likely, Princess Margaret. He ran guns to Cuba during the 1959 revolution, served a prison term in France after stealing £25,000 from the Riviera villa of American ﬁlm producer Jack Warner and, in 1970, launched Ann Summers "for a laugh". A year later, the company, named after Waterﬁeld's secretary Annice Summers, was heading for bankruptcy.
Dandy Kim is not unrelentingly sympathetic when he talks about his former friend. Gold, however, recalls Waterﬁeld as "an amazing character; a genius who would make incredibly poor ﬁnancial decisions".
"Like trousering that £25,000."
Some have suggested that he completed an autobiography and was dissuaded from publishing by you."
"He got beaten up. The implication was that I had arranged it. Of course that was not true."
"So what did happen?"
Gold alleges that Dandy Kim spoke to him on the subject of his book, and that he is not sure the manuscript was even completed. Waterfield's testimony on these matters differs radically, but he insisted that he could not be quoted on the record on any matter concerning the Golds, because (he added) legal action is pending.
Gold adds that he believes Waterfield's book would have suggested that "he could destroy the myth that the Ann Summers story revolved only around Jacqueline. But who would care?"
"Exactly. No libellous stories about you, then, involving wild parties?"
"I wish it had been the case. It might make me sound more interesting."
George Orwell," I remind Gold, "once wrote that every regional accent carries its own message, and that the Cockney accent implies meanness with money."
"I think that, in the main, is true."
And, Gold adds, he can understand that West Ham's famously dedicated supporters, Londoners though they themselves mainly are, may mistrust businessmen "coming into the club and talking about loyalty. But this is my manor. I worked on Stratford Market, where the Olympic Stadium sits now. I remember the bomb falling on West Ham football ground and thinking: my God, they're coming after me. West Ham is my passion."
The cost of buying the club, in Gold's words, was "madness. The place was a car crash. The worst set of ﬁgures I'd ever seen."
"Still, I guess you made enough money out of Birmingham City."
"Because we got lucky. When we sold Birmingham, we planned to take a rest from football. Then we heard West Ham were in trouble."
"You probably know that I was asked not to talk to you about the Olympic site; but could you just conﬁrm that West Ham are still interested in moving there?"
"Absolutely. Under the right circumstances. I am very hopeful that West Ham will end up at the Olympic Stadium. The reason why that move is so important to us – and I say this on the record – is that, if we're fortunate enough to be awarded the stadium, then the players we currently have, if they are approached by a bigger club, face losing the opportunity to play at the Olympic Stadium."
"Can you ﬁll it?"
"Our research says so."
"The snag at West Ham," I say, "as at huge clubs such as Manchester United or Barcelona, is that tradition requires you to play attractive, attacking football. I belong to a minority which believes that [current manager] Sam Allardyce is capable of achieving that."
"I believe that too."
"What if you get relegated?"
"Well in that case, of course we couldn't ﬁll it. But I believe that, with the Olympic Stadium comes the opportunity for greater success."
"I imagine a lot of taxpayers being pretty hacked off by all this. You'll know that Manchester City [who lease the 2002 Commonwealth Games stadium] are widely derided as the richest council house tenants on the planet. Couldn't you at least buy the stadium?"
"No. We tried to buy it. That was challenged by Tottenham Hotspur, whose model was to pull the stadium down."
s I say goodbye to Gold, I ﬁnd myself wondering why a person born into poverty who develops a taste for luxurious accessories should be automatically mocked, with all the contempt that the English aristocracy traditionally reserve for "new money".
He is troubled by a recurring nightmare, in which "I arrive at my childhood home in my Bentley – bizarrely because, in the nightmare, I've lost everything. My mum is waiting for me. I take out my tool bag. I drive to the building site and see the face of Ben, the hod carrier, who can't understand why I'm there, especially with my Bentley. I'm wet and cold. It's the same dream every time. You fear slipping back. The fear of losing everything is a driving force."
Is it racist or patronising to note that, when you're socialising with black residents of the Southern states of the US, you quickly notice that, the more impoverished their upbringing, the more likely they are to be immaculately dressed at all times? I tell Gold how, some years ago, I visited an interviewee whose impeccable, slightly garish clothes, like the dazzling perfection of his property's décor, just screamed, to me at least, that he had been raised (as he had) in squalor. If poverty really is a trap, then Gold's diamond watches, dazzling patent-leather shoes and helicopter are, I imagine, simply his proud badges of escape.
I can see from Gold's face that this kind of talk, which might imply that he instinctively follows Zero Mostel's advice, in The Producers ("If you've got it baby, flaunt it! Flaunt it!"), isn't going down especially well.
"I am what I am," he replies. "I can teach myself to stop saying 'an 'ouse'. And learn words by writing them down 50 times, or sticking them to the car dashboard. But there are many things I can't change. I can't change the fact that I was brought up in poverty, by a petty criminal. I can't change the fact I was sexually abused as a boy. I regret that I didn't have a better education. But I do have experience. I do have opinions. And I am," he repeats, "what I am."
His remaining ambitions, aside from avoiding a return to his childhood address, are "for my family and businesses to thrive. For West Ham to be challenging at the top of the Premier League. And to play, and win, in Europe."
He might have added, but doesn't, that he'd quite like to shed the reputation he's acquired, in the minds of some, as an object of derision. But if his other hopes are realised, and he ﬁnds himself in the Olympic Stadium one evening, hosting Juventus or Real Madrid, you would have to ask yourself who – as the grammatically punctilious Gold would phrase it – will be sneering at whom.
Carlton Cole hits back those who have criticised footballers following the Olympics. "People say we don't give back to the community and we're spoilt brats. That's unfair."
Luka Modric, 26, is set to ignore renewed interest from Chelsea and move to Real Madrid this week.
Adam Johnson is set to leave Man City and return to his native north east, with Sunderland poised to make a £10m move for the England winger.
Daily Star Sunday
Roberto Mancini is not satisfied with the £12m acquisition of Jack Rodwell from Everton and is still frustrated at Man City's lack of summer transfer activity.
Mail on Sunday
Andre Villas-Boas hopes to bring in a new striker to Tottenham before the end of this week.
Newcastle are braced for bids for Cheick Tiote and Yohan Cabaye, with Chelsea and Manchester United keen on both midfielders.
Man City will make a move for Swansea winger Scott Sinclair after opening up a possible loan exit for England star Adam Johnson.
Chelsea are looking to loan out Josh McEachran, with Championship clubs sides Bolton, Blackburn and Middlesbrough interested in the 19-year-old.
Sun on Sunday
Sir Alex Ferguson intends to retire in two years' time after building a new team around Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie.
Mail on Sunday
Arsene Wenger has admitted that he does not know whether Theo Walcott will sign a contract extension with Arsenal.
Roberto Di Matteo is hopeful that 34-year-old Frank Lampard will sign a new contract as he enters the final season of his current Chelsea deal.
Joey Barton launches a new attack on the FA, branding them a "firm of muppets" for its £45,000 fine of Rio Ferdinand.
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Last edited by cockney hammer on Sun Aug 19, 2012 10:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
Luka Modric is set to snub interest from Chelsea to drive through his move to Real Madrid this week.
The full cost of Sir Alex Ferguson's sensational capture of Robin van Persie amounts to a massive £70million.
Joay Barton has launched a new attack on the FA - by branding them a 'firm of muppets'.
Manchester City once made a £30million bid for Lionel Messi - by accident!
Roberto Di Matteo has told the Chelsea board that he wants Frank Lampard to stay.
Roberto Mancini is set to tell Adam Johnson that he can leave Manchester City on loan - once Scott Sinclair's arrival at the Etihad has been confirmed.
Newcastle are braced for a battle to hang on to midfield stars Cheick Tiote and Yohan Cabaye.
Bolton's Mark Davies is snubbing Premier League Swansea after their boss Michael Laudrup bid £6million for the midfielder.
Former Stoke striker Ricardo Fuller is wanted by Hull, Charlton and Middlesbrough.
Sunderland boss Maryin O'Neill will switch his striker seach back to Manchester City's £7million-rated John Guidetti, having failed to prise Steven Fletcher from Wolves.
QPR's DJ Campbell could link up with Bristol City after the Premier League club accepted an offer for the 30-year-old.
Daily Star Sunday
Manchester City are planning to discuss a new £180,000-a-week contract with Mario Baoltelli in the new year.
Adam Johnson is on his way out of Manchester City after Sunderland offered £10million for the winger.
Rio Ferdinand has plunged Manchester United into a central-defensive crisis after being injured in training.
Sunderland are ready to offer an escape route for Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov.
West Ham chairman David Gold has admitted the club are still in the hunt for Wolves winger Matt Jarvis.
Roberto Mancini has been ordered by Manchester City's Abu Dhabi owners to stop his public attacks on director of football Brian Marwood.
Martin Jol has made a shock U-turn over Clint Dempsey and said he wants the forward to play for Fulham again.
Sunderland have made a move to sign £5million Dimitar Berbatov as the race for the Manchester United misfit begins to hot up.
Roy Hodgson is urging Danny Welbeck to fight Robin van Persie all the way for the sake of his Manchester United and England future.
Roberto Mancini has promised a Manchester City transfer splurge in reponse to Manchester United's swoop for Robin van Persie.
Everton are weighing up a move for Wolves winger Matt Jarvis.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers wants new England keeper Jack Butland to be Pepe Reina's long-term successor.
Manchester giants City and United are in a race to sign Crewe wonder boy Max Clayton.
Stoke boss Tony Pulis is keen on landing Millwall's highly-rated midfielder Liam Trotter.
Southampton are making an ambitious bid to sign Barcelona star Christian Tello - and snatch him from the grasp of Liverpool.
QPR boss Mark Hughes is going back to his old club Barcelona with an ambitious bid to sign Andreu Fontas.
Sunderland are ready to step up their interest in Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha.
Sunderland are poised to land Adam Johnson in a shock £10million raid.
Luka Modric fears his dream £35million move to Real Madrid could collapse.
Chelsea are looking to loan out Josh McEachran - and a host of Championship clubs are already queueing up for the teenager.
Simon Grayson admits Huddersfield could sll star striker Jordan Rhodes.
Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini will make a move for Swansea winger Scott Sinclair this week - opening up a potential loan exit for frustrated England star Adam Johnson.
Fulham boss Martin Jol fears losing Moussa Dembele to Tottenham and Clint Dempsey to Liverpool.
If Sunderland land Steven Fletcher, Connor Wickham looks set to leave the club on loan.
Newcastle are anticipating bids for Cheik Tote and Yohan Cabaye before the transfer window closes.
Rio Ferdinand is expected to miss Manchester United's game against Everton on Monday and there are fears he could be facing up to a month on the sidelines.
Alex Song was last night finalising personal terms for a £15million switch to Barcelona.
Southampton's ambitious move for Bologna striker Gaston Ramirez is in danger of collapse.
West Ham chairman David Gold has confirmed the club are still interested in Matt Jarvis.
Mail On Sunday
Sir Alex Ferguson has planned his exit strategy from Manchester United and will quit in two years' time.
Alex Song is set to join Barcelona while Arsenal are edging closer to the loan signing of Nuri Sahin from Real Madrid.
Roberto Di Matteo hopes Chelsea can agree a new deal with Frank Lampard.
Sir Alex Ferguson has planned his exit strategy from Manchester United and will quit in two years' time after building his last great team around Wayne Rooney and last week's £24million capture from Arsenal, Robin van Persie.
Arsenal plunged into crisis last night in the wake of Robin van Persie's £22million move to Manchester United.
Sunderland are poised to land Adam Johnson in a shock £10million raid...
Luka Modric is set to snub new interest from Chelsea to drive through his Real Madrid move this week.
Joey Barton last night launched a new attack on the FA - by branding them 'a firm of muppets'...The full cost of Sir Alex Ferguson's sensational capture of Robin van Persie amounts to a massive £70million...
Manchester City are planning to discuss a new £180,000-a-week contract with Mario Balotelli in the new year.
Also: Adam Johnson is on the way out at Manchester City after Sunderland offered £10million for the winger...Rio Ferdinand has plunged Manchester United into a central-defensive crisis after being injured in training.
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew faces an FA rap for pushing assistant referee Stuart Burt in last night's home win over Tottenham.
Roberto Mancini insists the Premier League title race will not be just a Manchester affair.
Tottenham have approached Manchester City for Adam Johnson who has grown frustrated at his lack of playing time under Roberto Mancini.
Brendan Rodgers endured an horrendous start to his career as Liverpool manager as his new club suffered their heaviest opening day defeat in the top flight since 1937.
Also: Rio Ferdinand is expected to miss Manchester United's Premier League opener against Everton tomorrow and there are fears that the former England captain may be facing a month on the sidelines after sustaining an injury in training.
Arsenal accepted the loss of a second regular first-team player last night when agreeing a £15million fee with Barcelona for Alex Song, who will have a medical in Spain today.
Roberto Mancini has been ordered by Manchester City's Abu Dhabi owners to stop his public attacks on football director Brian Marwood.
Alan Pardew could face an FA rap after pushing assistant referee Stuart Burt during Newcastle's dramatic 2-1 win over Tottenham... Sunderland last night made a move to sign £5million Dimitar Berbatov as the race for the Manchester United misfit begins to hot up.
Brendan Rodgers accused the referee Phil Dowd of destroying Liverpool's hopes of a recovery at West Bromwich Albion as his first league game as the club's manager ended in an emphatic defeat at The Hawthorns.
forever west ham
Just the start we wanted
by Tolly Coburn
One goal from Kevin Nolan was all it took for the Hammers to take three points at Upton Park against a lacklustre Villa side.
Nolan scored the game’s only goal just before half-time in an impressive display from the Irons at Upton Park. Not only did the Hammers mark their Premier League return with a win, the performance was very encouraging.
Paul Lambert’s first game in charge for Aston Villa saw his side underperform during much of the match, with a distinct lack of penetration and incisiveness to break the Hammers’ defence. The game saw James Collins make his second debut for the Hammers against his former club and he played very well alongside Winston Reid in the centre of defence.
Collins was not the only debut player that impressed for the Hammers, but Mohamed Diame excelled in the centre of midfield for the Hammers and he earned the free kick which resulted in West Ham’s goal. Noble chipped the ball into the box; it was flicked onto Ricardo Vaz Te who squared the ball to an unmarked Nolan, who tapped home. The linesman flagged for offside, but Mike Dean correctly overruled the decision as Ciaran Clark was the player who flicked the ball onto Vaz Te.
West Ham were the team in the ascendency in the second half and had a penalty shout turned down after Vlaar pushed Cole in the box. Nolan also had a goal-bound shot blocked as the Hammers started to dominate. Jussi Jaaskelainen was called into action to save from Stephen Ireland’s volley, but this was the only real action in a quiet day for the Hammers’ keeper.
Modibo Maiga also made his debut for the Hammers, coming on as a late second half substitute and almost scored a dream debut goal. Maiga rounded the keeper, only to see his shot cleared off the line by Nathan Baker.
A great start for the Hammers as they look to get early points on the board. Next game for the Hammers is Swansea City on the 25th, who won 5-0 away from home at Loftus Road, against QPR.
Follow me on Twitter @TollyCoburn