Wednesday, 30 November 2011

West Ham Record Breakers

Last night (Tuesday) we broke Middlesbrough unbeaten home record, in fact they were unbeaten for16 games at the Riverside since losing to last season's league leaders QPR in February this year.

Apparently it was also Big Sam's first management career win at the Riverside also which is surprising considering the teams he has managed.

It bought West Ham's consecutive wins to four but also a record of six wins and one draw out of seven totalling 29 points from a maximum 31 in our last 7 league games. Only the mighty Bristol City have held us  to a draw recently.

The last time we won four league games in a row was the great escape of 2007 when we won our last four games of the season with help of Carlos Tevez and a last gasp win at Manchester United away.

Before than it was the last time in we dropped to championship  in 2003 when we won 4 league games back to back early on in the season.

If we continue the winning streak to five games by beating Burnley this Saturday we will be heading to towards our 2006 run of 7 back to back wins between January & February.

Beyond that we enter boys of 1986 territory. They won 9 back to back games between October and December 1985. They also had another run of 6 back to back wins in the same season. 

It still it seems a strange feeling winning the majority of the time but a feeling I could get used to.

Come on you irons

Friday, 25 November 2011

Big Sam's use of SaberMetrics at West Ham

Using statistical analysis to recruit players rather than rely on the subjective judgement of coaches and scouts, sabermetrics was an idea developed by American baseball fan Bill James.

It was an idea put to the test with some success by the Oakland 'A's general manager Billy Beane and author Michael Lewis wrote the book "Moneyball" about the story, which has been made into a film released this month starring Brad Pitt.

Sam Alladyce has been a long fan of this and went to America to meet Billy Beane to be one of the first to pioneer a Football 'SaberMetrics' system at Bolton.

Sam using a company called Prozone to provide much of this data & statistics.

This what Sam said of Prozone while manager of Blackburn

"I have been using and helping Prozone to develop over the last nine years. It is without doubt one of the most important pieces of information in modern day football. We simply can not do without Prozone to help us be the best we can be."

Big Sam has embraced the use of technology throughout his career and is one of the pioneers to integrate the use of sports science and specifically performance analysis into the coaching process. He first installed Prozone at Bolton Wanderers at the start of the 2000/01 season and shortly after achieved promotion to the Premiership after a three-year absence for the Lancashire club. Blackburn & Newcastle has since seen Sam Allardyce utilise Prozone there also.
"The system provides a vital source of information for our coaching staff to draw upon including a mass of statistics and the unique animation, which means nothing is missed during the game."

Although I can find no official confirmation it is a safe bet that Sam is using his old friends Prozone again at West Ham.

When I met Big Sam last week he spoke frequently about statistics and what he learnt in America. He also explained that West Ham players wear GPS vests in training. I assume these are sourced from GPSports 

These GPS vests have the capacity to measure distances, speeds, heart rates, bodyloads and impacts all in real time. Information is sent in real time to a laptop.

About Prozone

Hidden in the stands at most games in the Premiership and Championship are cameras belonging to  sports analysts Prozone. These cameras track every element of each player’s movement, distance covered, high-powered runs and defensive positioning. 

The overall mileage of players is no longer a key stat for the men looking to find the extra percentages between winning and finishing second. 

Clubs are increasingly enlisting the services of these analysts to create profiles of potential transfer targets
Analysts at football clubs are interested in a player’s ability to reach a threshold speed of 22ft per second. 

They also want to know the number of chances a player creates, his successful pass percentage in the final third of the field and his recovery rates from sprints. If they can put all this information into one equation, then pub arguments may well be over.

Clubs download data from Prozone the day after a game, in the form of Excel documents or in video format. Prozone provides the video evidence, and football data supplier Opta offers statistical analysis and breakdowns. 

Clubs are increasingly enlisting the services of these analysts to create profiles of potential transfer targets. 

English football clubs are using companies such as Opta and Prozone (as well as, Scout7, WYScout, Sportstec and Amisco) to supply information that should help them do for football what Sabermetrics has done for American baseball.

I did a Skype interview with Mike Parry on Sports Tonight TV LIVE on SaberMetrics & Big Sam which is available on YouTube here.  

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

David's Gold Twitter Question Time

David Gold is the only football Chairman to my knowledge who interacts with fans to answer so many questions.

Yes, he picks and chooses which questions to answer but he is pretty honest.

It can sometimes be hard to keep up with the amount of Questions and Answers.

Below is a transcript of the interesting questions and answers over the last few days. Saturday, Sunday and Monday. We also covered this on Moore Than Just A Podcast Episode 12.

Fan: Is there any truth in QPR's interest in Tomkins?

DG: It's academic, he's not for sale for 3m

Fan: Surely he should not be for sale full stop

DG: We will do nothing that will jeopardize our promotion bid DG

Fan: How do two clubs agree ticket allocations for away days do you have to negotiate with the other club or is it a set number

DG: They must give a minimum of 10% of there capacity most clubs give more, police also have say dg

Fan: How many have you sold for Middleborough away?

DG: We were given 3000 sold 1500 so far DG

Fan: Could you name five players from every championship club?

DG: No dg

Fan: Great result yesterday. I hope you will be winding Jack Collison up for missing that sitter?

DG: I already have but he is a good lad DG

Fan: Would it be possible to build a ground in another location on the Olympic park

DG: I don't see that as a possibility DG

Fan: with such great away support, do you ever wish you were standing in with the away fans at a game?

DG: I did for many years DG

Fan: Do you plan to sell any of young players in January

DG: don't be so negative there is no plan to sell our good young players. DG

Fan: How do you feel about Spurs getting government funding after complaining Newham were giving us 'State Aid'?

DG: Some would say ironic DG

Fan:why Demel wasn't even on the bench yesterday?

DG:Mangers decision lacks match fitness dg

Fan: We need to concentrate on our own games and keep winning instead of worrying about Southampton, agreed?

DG: Yes of course DG

Fan: do any of our current squad have a clause in their contract that lets them leave 4 free if we fail to get promotion?

DG: No

Fan: do you believe we can still catch Southampton? COYI!”

DG: Yes I do, beat them at UP and it's all to play for DG

DG: It must be remembered that the previous governments plan for the OS to remain as a 
25000 seater stadium after the games was flawed DG

Fan: Would you take second now or go up as champs?

DG I would take 2nd place now but I would love to go up as champions

DG For over 40 years we have sold our best players we must find a way to reverse this 
process, and compete at the top level DG

Fan: We are not playing at are best again  but geting the result, the league should be scared when we hit top form.

DG: I agree DG

Fan: Do you like the 4-5-1 formation?

DG: I hate 4-5-1 too but we must trust Sam DG

Fan: Will any players be sold?

DG: Please, we must be realistic, remember Ronaldo "was not for sale at any price", went for 80m and MU went on to win the PL. DG
Fan:  any idea when matt Taylor should be back? Missing him in The middle #hammers”

DG: He will be available next week
Fan: what your view on sepp blatter comments

Dg: Most unfortunate comments, a honourable man would resign DG

We covered many of these David Gold Questions on Moore Than Just A Podcast Episode 12 

You can listen to Episode 12 of Moore at or search ITunes for Moore Than Just A Podcast

Monday, 21 November 2011

Clunge Question and Answer

West ham insider codename Clunge has been revealing lots more West Ham inside information all week including a two hour Q&A session via Adam Jackson @Adzman89 in twitter on Saturday between 9am and 11am .

George McCartney will be offered a permanent deal in the summer whatever league we are in. Big Sam is very impressed with him.

West ham will bid for Kane Ferdinand in January. Big Sam has told the West Ham board he needs 3 players in January and if we get them we will go up.

West Ham has promise big sam a decent transfer budget of several million in January if required. All sales if any will also be handed to Big Sam.  The West Ham board are backing Sam big time.

Number 1 target  in Januray is Andy Johnson.

Still just over 6000 tickets left for home match vs derby. Derby have sold 940 tickets only for Saturday's game.

West Ham tell Marseille Carlton Cole not for sale after approach last Thursday. French club will put in a 4 million bid in Jan still though.

Carlton Cole happy to stay and does not want a move.

West Ham speaking with Leeds united today over a deal for Andy Obrien. Ex fat sam player. O'brien on strike at leeds to force move

Freddie Piquionne will be allowed to leave in jan if we land another striker. Sears too could be out.

Clunge can confirm story in the sun whu still trying to loan arsenal centre half sebastien squillaci. Arsenal want to sell

With regards to Liam Ridgewell, 3 other Prem clubs in for him so now doubtful we'll get him BUT we will try our best and u never know

Clunge watched the Coventry game on Saturday from a corporate box but this is their Q&A Session on way to the game.

Do we have any chance with Mervan Celik with Parma sniffing around? What do BS think?
"Hopefully yes"

Zamora? Any truth in this rumour?
"Unlikely as international premier strikers rarely drop down divisions"

What really happened with Bellamy leaving us? "We needed the money, we forced him out - Icelandics"

Is Robert Green signing a new contract, he told me West Ham are stalling negoiations when I met him in a pub "His contract been on the table for months. He won't be negative to a fan will he?"

Why did Ludo leave? "Let's just say medical grounds"

Does Sam have any chance with Anelka again if not getting a game at Chelsea? "Absolutely no chance"

Could we get Nicky Maynard at a more realistic price than quoted in the summer. "yes out of contract soon but been poor"

Who looks most eager to get away from the club at present? "Green & Faubert"

Are we really trying to sell sears? "We'll accept the right offer. Somewhat disposable"

Will SA be applying for the England job? "That is his ultimate ambition and we respect that"

When will contract talks be opening with the likes of green and tomkins? "Green on table. JT v.soon"

How come we ended up agreeing so little for Parker? "He DEMANDED to go Spurs only. We were held to ransom"

Will we sell Tomkins? "We do not want to sell Tomkins at any price"

Are any bids expected/anticipated for our players in January? "Of course, we have class players"

Will SA be sacked If we only make the play-offs, if so before of after? "No. Who doesn't love the play offs?!"

Where does the debt stand? Obviously significantly reduced from £100M+ "Approx £75m"

Does Clunge know if we will ever fix the clock at the Bobby Moore end? "No as we have a big scoreboard"

How much wages are we still paying for Ilunga? "We paying 90% of his £38k pw

Can you confirm how much Robert Green is on per week? They were rumoured to be £30K "£28k (plus bonuses)"

We have 3 very capable young reserve keepers but obv they need 1st team footy. "Stech preferred. Jury out on Boffin"

What's our ultimate intention with the current 'surveillance' case with Spurs? "Justice and honour"

Wage bill was £50 million last year, what is it this year?  "approx £35Million with the likes of Dyer, Upson, Ba, Parker gone'

Do you know if Julien Faubert will be signing a new contract. "Another refusing 2sign new deal. Likely free

What are our January targets?   Andy Johnson & LIAM RIDGEWELL

Whats going on with the training ground? "Depends on resolution with OS. All options open"

Why was Stech recalled? Will we ever pay the additional fee due so he can play. "Yes, he expected to be on bench

Clunge can we bring Julian dicks back in any way? "Totally upto SA. We know JD be a massive popular choice

Any news on a new contract for Rob Green? "Refuses to sign new deal. Will asses in the summer"

Question for Clunge. Is the Pavon deal off? "Pavon released as wouldn't sign short term deal"

How much is Karren Brady paid by West Ham? "Nothing. G&S pay her wages out of their own pockets"

How much are we paying Lansbury? "£10k from us, £10k from Arsenal"

Is retractable seating a real option or just PR? "Genuine option. Issue will b resolved or we don't go"

What provision is there in place of one of the chairmen die? "Club will be well looked after in a worst case scenario"

If we go up, what will our transfer budget be? "75% of Sky money as a provision"

Are Gold Sullivan any closer to buying the club outright? When will Straumur b gone? "Straumur gone by 2013

What bonus is Big Sam on for promotion? £1m+, plus contract offer extension and basic pay rise"

How much is Nolan paid per week "Highest paid at club. £60k+

Who is the best player we have come relatively close to signing recently bar Tevez? "bid for Henry b4 he went to MLS"

What did you think of avram grant. "Lovely man but not for us (!) In running to get N.I job"

Who and when are we taking a new CB? "Pavon has turned down deal. Demel can play CB, Reid back 4 wks 

Whats the story with Mervan Celik? #Clunge "Hoping to do perm deal In Jan. Parma also want him"

We covered many of these Clunge stories on Moore Than Just A Podcast Episode 12 

You can listen to Episode 12 of Moore at or search ITunes for Moore Than Just A Podcast

Retractable Seating: What can be learnt from Stade De France

Perhaps the most well known stadium to use retractable seating is the Stade De France. It is the national stadium of France which hosts Football, Rugby and Athletics.

The retractable seating accommodates 25 000 seats. It is reached by the level 1. It may move 15 feet to reveal all of the running track and jumping pits. It then retains 22 000 seats. The movement takes 80 hours using 40 people. 

However there is one fundamental difference between Stade Du France and the Stratford Olympic Stadium. The Stade Du France was designed from concept with retractable seating in mind, the Stratford Olympic stadium has not, in fact only 25,000 seats were designed to be permanent. This was a massive oversight and failure by the Olympic Park Legacy Company.

Redesigning the stadium to accommodate retractable seating will not be simple. Put simply it means dropping the running track and pitch by as much as 15 feet or the seating by a similar height. Both would be costly. Not to graduate seating would seriously compromise sight lines.

The second obstacle is the roof which does not cover the running track. Extending the roof within the current design or adding a retractable roof would be difficult and costly. We may have to accept that any retractable seats would have to be wet seats open to the elements.

In the old days we had uncovered terraces and recently I attended a league 2 at AFC Wimbledon in the front row where I got drenched after a sudden down pour. People pay to get wet at places like Sea world in Florida so you never know it may become an attraction.

There are no simple solutions and while it is good that David Gold now says retractable seating is an integral part of any move to the Olympic stadium I believe it will both difficult and costly to achieve.

   Stade De France configured for a football match with retractable seating in place

    Stade Du France Retractable Seating 

   Stade De France for Athletics Event with


Virtual Tour of Stade De France on Youtube

Friday, 18 November 2011

West Ham's Fantastic Away Support! Thank You 36,086 times

This season's West Ham away support has been amazing!

We have won 5 games on the road, drawn two (Millwall & Palace) and only lost one (Southampton) narrowly.

We have pretty much sold out every allocation given to us by away teams.

I went to Southampton away and the atmosphere was amazing even though I was in a corporate box overlooking the 3,168 West Ham away fans.

At the Southampton match we helped break the stadium record attendance. St Mary's stadium opened in 2000 have had Manchester United visit so to break the record on a cold mid week evening was no easy feat.

West ham fans sang 'You are only here for the West Ham' and 'We filled your ground for you'

Every away game you can hear the West Ham fans out singing the home support with bubbles often being heard over radio and TV commentary.

This weekend comes another record with  6,313 travelling to Coventry, another sell out! There were rumours we asked for more, as many as 10,000 but told the police were not keen to allow an increased allocation around 6,500.

 It will be the biggest travelling following for West Ham United since the 9 May 2004 trip to Wigan Athletic when 7,400 away fans were present.

My fellow season ticket holder, podcast presenter and regular away supporter George (@georgewhufc) on twitter is going to Coventry, he offered me a spare ticket but it is my son's 5th birthday that weekend so I had to decline, but I would love to be among the 6,300 plus crowd.

I am going to Reading away on the 3rd December with 4,221 fellow West Ham supporters which is another sell out of our away allocation. Again we asked for more but were turned down.

David Gold has already paid tribute on his twitter to the amazing West ham fans who travel week in week out to support our push for promotion.

David Sullivan hailed the support. "It's totally amazing," he told "I've never known such amazing away support so early in the season.
"The club is so proud of our travelling away supporters. Not only do they make a massive amount of noise, but they are impeccably well behaved. Every one of them is a true ambassador for the club."

These are the away attendances or sold away tickets for this season.

As you can see an amazing 36,086 by the time we play Reading on 3rd December.

Doncaster                         3,211
Watford                             3,736
Nottingham Forrest           2,696
Millwall Away                    1,883
Crystal Palace                  4,356
Southampton                    3,168
Brighton                            2,401
Hull Away                         4,100
Coventry                          6,313
Reading                           4,222

Total Away Supporters      36,086

Come On You Irons

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Insight into Big Sam including transcendental meditation

Today I met Sam Allardyce (Big Sam) at the London Business Forum in Southwark, London

The business seminar entitled The 90 Minute Manager gave a great insight to Big Sam the football manager and the person.

He described himself in the middle of the West Ham management structure but a person who is very good at managing upwards. He expanded that managing upwards is critical but also he has to adjust to each owner's ways. He was none too complimentary about Mike Ashley at Newcastle who he said ran Newcastle like his Sports direct empire in the beginning.

He said whether he is sacked or leaves West Ham on his own terms he hopes he leaves West Ham better organised and better structured when he finally walks away.

He said his first job when he joined West Ham was to stop the football back room staff redundancies. He said that too many back room staff were being cut by the senior management. He made it clear it had to stop and he would decide the level of back room staff.

He suggested the back room staff needed to increase which did not go down well but he agreed to take one less player in the squad if that was required to get the right level of football related support staff.

He explained that proper communication and managing people was crucial in football management and it wasn't just about football experience.

When he joined he said the support staff were very demotivated but highly skilled, he interviewed every player and asked them outright whether they wanted to stay.

He hinted several big players wanted out but changed their minds later.

He said recruitment is massive priority in football but there was no recruitment policy or data when he arrived at West Ham.

He bought four year's of personal data on players with him when he joined the club.

He said he believed physiological profiling of players was useful. He appointed former footballer & manager turned sports psychologist Lee Richardson to back room team who he described as a crucial member of the team.

He said the average life of a championship manager is 12 months or 1.4 years for a premiership manager. Anything above that you are doing well as a manager.

He said it is important that the players want to work for you, building relationships with the support staff and players is crucial, everyone must get respect and feel comfortable in their role in the club. Everyone is important, even Pete the kit man. Some times the kit man can see a perspective no-one else sees.

He joked he encourages ideas, opinions and openness as long as they come round to his way of thinking in the end. The players need to trust the manager but they also need to trust the support staff. Players will quickly find out the manager who doesn't know what he is doing.

When asked about coping with pressure and the media he said Alastair Campbell was a good friend and had coached him on handling the media.

The spin doctor told him to answer tricky questions with a different answer to confuse the journalists.

He said 'Big Sam' is a deliberate brand he created and he plays to that Big Sam brand image.

He said he now enjoys tricky media questions as he prepares for them in advance.

When asked about the England job he said he needed to get West Ham promoted to stand any chance of being considered for the England manager's job.

On recruitment he said most managers do not recruit back room staff well, they mainly recruit their mates rather than the best people for the job.

He was asked about work/life balance in light of his previous health scares.

He said it was important to take time out, his tan was testament to that!, to delegate well (Wally Downes was running training in his absence) and to keep blood pressure down as that is the real killer.

He confessed he uses transcendental meditation and has his own mantra which takes 30 mins.

He claimed  his mantra is as good a 9 hour sleep.

When asked about young English players he blamed Maggie Thatcher and her government change in Sports Education policy in making England way behind other countries in developing young talent. He said that policy harmed English football in being too diverse in the sports disciplines which need to be covered.

He also said parental commitment was very important, he said his son drives his grand son to Manchester United several times per week but this would be very difficult for single parents.

He said you have to brave enough as a football manager to say you were wrong but joked he rarely is.

He said his job is to create a stable environment for the West Ham players at the training ground away from the craziness of the media. There is no over reaction after a disappointment just a discussion.

There is analysis of what went wrong  but it is important not to over react as it is self defeating.

He said it is equally important not to over react to success and get complacent.

The players must have some anxiety and a little fear before each game to keep that edge.

He doesn't agree in knee jerk reactions to please the media, owners or fans.

He said athletics and speed has increased in recent years with an average player running 2.5Km more every match.

He said each West Ham player wears a GPS tracker on his neck during training which supplies live data to a laptop so his staff can see who is not working hard enough, who is unfit and sometimes this can pinpoint early illness like colds and flu.

He said he found it bizarre that FIFA did not embrace new technology and suggested goal line technology and GPS live data should be brought into the beautiful game.

His final question was what 3 things make a great Football manager.

1)  Ambition:  He claimed his ambition is greater than any club he has managed.

2) Job Satisfaction: A team that delivers what has been targeted by owners and fans.

3) Publicity: Someone who feels comfortable in the lime light and media pressure

I was very impressed by the man and can see why the two Davids gave him the job.