Welcome back, Slaven. If you turn out to be as good a manager for us as you were a player. No buggering off to Everton! I jest...
Let the speculation commence! It's that time of year - who should we ship out? Where do we need to strengthen?
I've read and enjoyed the recent spate of articles by Geoff Toates.
The one thing I've found surprising about all the recent column inches and online discussions is that nowhere have I seen any version of one of the common dismissals. "They're not true fans"; "they're not real fans"; "they're not proper fans".
"Man offended on behalf of someone else reports incident he didn't see or hear", wrote Staff. It sets up the expectation that the article is going to be wholly dismissive of the current kerfuffle about some idiotic chanting at White Hart Lane last Sunday.
Not, as some of you may have been expecting, a retrospective on past players. Sorry. This particular piece is provoked by the question so much asked in the last week or so - "Where are the 'Sam Out' Brigade?"
In response to the estimable Mr Walker's latest opinion piece, "thanks heavens" I would never say, sir!
Astonishingly, Sam Allardyce is now the third longest serving manager of a Premier League club (admittedly, serving one season in tier two), behind only our own ex Alan Pardew and, of course, Arsene Wenger.
With only two games to go, neither Cardiff nor Fulham (with their hideous goal difference) can pass us. The chances of Norwich winning their last two games, which is the only way they could, seem remote.
And now for something rather different! Here's an interesting snippet in the BBC's Gossip Column, Thursday 10th.
I hope Hammerhead doesn't mind me quoting his lengthy and well argued post on Staff's Liverpool match report as the basis of this opinion piece. I've had in the back of my mind for some time the notion of writing something about refereeing.
I must admit, when I indulged in a little "blue sky thinking" I didn't expect to produce a lightning bolt that would blow up a powder keg! Perhaps I should have finished with a couple of questions to make the intent of my previous article just that little bit clearer.
Mauricio Pochettino has to be the man for the job. If I can have just one transfer in the coming close season, whatever it costs, bring in Pochettino. What you do with Allardyce, I'm indifferent to. Kick him upstairs to a Director of Football position if it's cheaper, or just sack him; I'm really not interested.
The gulf between Premier League and Championship is so wide these days that promoted teams are invariably widely-tipped for an immediate return lower.
I'm sure I'm not the only Hammer whose heart sank when Sam Allardyce was originally appointed manager.
"Farewell, so long, bye-bye!" Farewell Sam, for certain; so long Carlton, bye-bye Kevin? Answers will be forthcoming in the next few weeks. Certainly, Newcastle will not be bidding adieu to the Premiership, now that we're “Au revoir” for the season.
MISSING: West Ham United Midfield. If found, please post to Signor Allardici, c/o Chadwell Heath Training Ground, Saville Road, RM6 6DU.
An unsatisfactory afternoon. A slightly scratchy, scrappy win, in a game spolit by a poor referreeing performance. Just to put the tin lid on it, we've more or less condemned our Northern claret cousins to relegation.
A few weeks back, after we'd lost to them, I condemned Leicester to the drop. Naturally, they're now on a four-game winning streak, something they've not done in the top flight since the 1960s apparently. Will saying the same of QPR have the same effect?
Apparently, according to the original BBC pre-match report by the venerable Mr Motson, James Collins is out for the rest of the season. That came as rather a nasty shock, considering we've already lost Tomkins.
Leicester are dogged rather than crafty, as their Foxes nickname might suggest. Dogged is rarely enough to save a club from relegation in the Premier League. Unfortunately for Leicester and despite them pinching 3 points today, I can't see dogged being enough for them this sesason.
Treacle. It has its uses, but you wouldn't eat it straight out of the tin. Especially not if a tin of golden syrup was sat next to it. Treacle seems an apt metaphor for this game.
The Emirates has never been a happy hunting ground for us. With a defence once more decimated, another defeat is hardly surprise. Still, whilst it was ultimately comfortable, it was also one that the Gunners had to work pretty hard for.
There are reasons why Irons fans might feel aggrieved over this defeat. At the least, the score could have been very different. But, on the whole, there's no denying that the Eagles were well worth their win today.
Man Utd or WBA? Aweful or simply awful? What did you expect? What we got was very nearly aweful and, just as with the Reds, we wuz robbed!
So the FA Cup was now our focus for the season, was it? It won't be for any longer. We were not at the races today, and were duly dumped out of the competition.
After the heartache (and, for Evertonians, heartbreak) of the cup, could we manage a comfortable win for once? Having chucked away four leads, could we hang on to one for a change? Being West Ham, the answer is, of course, both no and yes...
(West Ham win 9-8 on penalties)
Job done. Or, rather, job nearly done and, in the end, job half-done. After taking a deserved lead, The Beast Lukaku, our regular nemesis, pops up in the first minute of stoppage time to equalise, so it's back to Upton Park next week...
What if that marvellous Song volley had stood? What then? We'll never know, and all the talk will be, yet again, about controversial referreeing decisions.
There's no shame in losing at Stamford Bridge to a very good Chelsea side with a perfect home record. The shame is in the lack of ambition shown by Allardyce.
This was a match we could have lost but should have won. Brevity is the soul of wit, so the saying goes; I could leave it at that, but I don't think The Ed would be very impressed!
Happy anniversary to me! Sort of. Not a year, but it was our last home game against Swansea, on the 1st Feb, when The Editor decided to promote my comments on a Staff report to the Match Reports section & I've been on the chain-gang ever since. What better way to celebrate than with another two goal win? Apart from freedom, possibly...
So, The Editor said to me the other day, "Getting a bit boring this winning malarkey, isn't it?" Ummm... No? With any luck, it'll be some time before any of us get bored with that, and luck has certainly been on our side for the last couple of games.
A new castle? Is the Boleyn now a fortress again? On the back of this performance, hardly! But it was the second consecutive home clean sheet, the third in four, the third of the season, and all at home.
If ever a game deserved the appellation "curate's egg", this was it. Absorbing, rather than skilful; combative, sometimes too much so; error-strewn from both sides. It was good in parts.
Frustrating. All things come to an end. Sakho's goal scoring and Villa's losing runs ended with the Villains earning a well-deserved point.
As the Aussie Aborigines might say, it's Dreamtime. It's Earwig time. Earwig-o, earwig-o, 'ere we go, we're gonna win the league! Perhaps not, but doesn't it feel like it!
Although they're unlikely to confound the many pre-season predictions of relegation, Burnley, bless 'em, are going to go down fighting.
West Ham present versus West Ham past; Allardyce and Redknapp have one other thing in common, of course. Both stand high in their own estimation.
Scousers. Red or blue, we never seem to get anything out of them.
Mo Diame, not unnaturally, was the centre of attention tonight. A debut at home for his new team against his old. A set of fans, some of whom he'd managed to alienate. Is being vocal honest, big-headed, or just plain ill-advised?
After the minor embarrassment of being knocked out of the Tin Pot Cup by a lower division side (again), it's back to the meat and drink of top flight football. A whiff of sour grapes there? Not really. I don't think anyone, even if their club has just won it, would argue that the League Cup isn't the least of the 3 main English competitions.
When I wrote my Samnesty opinion piece just before the season began, I briefly touched upon those clubs I thought might either go down, or might be involved in the relegation scrap, to illustrate why I thought we should be clear of such matters, injuries permitting. Palace were not a side I mentioned; no danger to them with Pulis in charge. Ummmm....
And so we begin ag'in, after the summer football drought...
Thus ends the season; thus ends my first half season of scribbling drivel for KUMB. I hope you've all enjoyed reading it, even if you haven't always agreed with it.
The burning question: Is it the players or is it the manager? Against Spurs, they dominate, even when playing eleven; against Hull, dreadful when the opposition are reduced to ten. They lift themselves for Liverpool and Arsenal, yet fall flat playing WBA and Palace. Who is responsible?
If ever you needed proof that Allardyce is not fit for purpose, this was the game. It wasn't that we were awful; we weren't. But for almost the whole of the second half, we were bereft of invention, of creativity, and that is a damning indictment.
Well, it wasn't tripe, but it certainly wasn't steak either.
I've only one complaint - why can't we play like this, as we did against Liverpool, every bloody match?
That well known man about the Boleyn, Staff Writer, has been fond of his statistics lately. Here's a nasty looking one from Auntie Beeb - we've only won two of the 16 games we have played against teams in the top half of the table this campaign (W2, D3, L11). Now it's L12.
And that should just about be that. Sam may reckon we need 38 points, but I think 37 is going to be more than sufficient this season.
Despite this game having been nominated as a big six-pointer, next Monday night at Sunderland will be just about the biggest of the season for us.
Anticipation and disappointment seem to come in equal measure with every visit of the Red Devils to the Boleyn, to my mind at least.
I never did like toffee much. I've never liked the Toffees much either. It's not that I've anything against Everton as a club, but we never seem to get anything out of them. We lost against them at the Boleyn because of a couple stupid errors and some Baines magic. We've won once in 17 Premiership/Premier League visits to Goodison. Depressing, isn't it?
Southampton, like Norwich, like us, are a proper football club. Proper fans, a reputation for playing decent football, and this was a game I was looking forward to, albeit with the proviso that we put in a better performance than we did against the Canaries. In the end, it was entertaining enough, but rather humdrum when it came to quality.
Time to bring out the Earwig song, I feel. You know the one. "Earwig-o, earwig-o, 'ere we go..." I'll get me coat...
The Book of Goliath: Chapter II
Kevin. Bloody. Nolan.