There was a time when you got your transfer rumours from the insider gossip of the sports pages, tucked away at the back just over the baseball results and the crossword. Now, thanks to the wonders of Twitter, we get them straight from the mouths of the men likely to broker the deals. This month, West Ham's very own genial Chairman Mr. David Gold has been expressing the stories that later found themselves on the back pages in a stunning example of how, in the second decade of the 21st century, the tail most certainly now wags the dog.
In this last review of the players who represented West Ham United during the 2012-13 season, we take a look at the forwards. In a season where the Hammers have been less than prolific, rest assured debate will ensue. Where better to start than... Andy Carroll There was much speculation about Carroll coming to West Ham throughout the summer of 2012 and most fans assumed it was so much pie-in-the-sky and newspaper tattle. But just when it seemed as if they were to be proved correct, an acquisition on a season-long loan deal was announced on transfer deadline day.
Here at ESPN FC, I'm acutely aware that many Hammers fans who write on the forum or email me are overseas supporters who don't always get to see the claret and blue as often as they would like. That being the case, there is probably some confusion over the constant and conflicting assessments of the merits - or otherwise - of Sam Allardyce's team by someone who is not able to see the subtle nuances played out every week over a full season. - Season Review: Part 1 - Goalkeepers - Season Review: Part 2 - Defenders Nowhere is this more relevant than the Hammers' midfield area; members, season ticket holders and regular visitors to Upton Park are constantly arguing over the right mix, and I know from experience that supporters of other clubs are somewhat perplexed over criticism metered out to someone like Kevin Nolan, for example, whose status in the side to someone outside the club appears to be a given.
This is the second installment of a close look at West Ham's 2012-13 season, and the players who played an important part in getting the Hammers into the top half of the Premiership (We looked at the goalkeepers in Part 1). Compiled with a considerable amount of input from my blog colleague, Vinny Ryan, we are looking at how the players performed over the campaign and highlight what we hope we can expect to see at the Boleyn next season. As ever, we look forward to input from West Ham fans around the globe on who you want to see at Upton Park and where you think things can be improved.
To keep things ticking over here during the long, hot summer at the ESPN FC West Ham blog, we will be taking a close look at the 2012-13 season, and the players that played an important part in getting West Ham into the top half of the Premiership while -- hopefully anyway! -- keeping you up-to-date with all the latest news and transfer activity from Upton Park. - Dost linked with West Ham move Compiled with a considerable amount of input from my blog colleague, Vinny Ryan, we'll look at how the players performed over the campaign and highlight what we hope we can expect to see at the Boleyn next season.
West Ham have acted with almost indecent haste to strengthen the squad for next season by signing the wonderfully named Romanian Captain Razvan Rat on a free transfer from Shakhtar Donetsk. - West Ham win Rat race, close on Carroll The Hammers have been in desperate need of a left-back for several seasons and the 31-year-old should provide an excellent option having had several years of Champions League and title-winning experience. In fact, the Ukrainian club were keen to retain Rat and offered him a lucrative new contract, but the Romanian wanted to try his hand in the Premiership and, in an encouraging development for the Hammers, the player held out after hearing of interest from Sam Allardyce.
"We want you to stay, we want you to stay-ay, Andy Carroll, we want you to stay" So rang the song around the Boleyn as West Ham carried out their traditional lap-of-honour at the finish of Sunday's game. The recipient of the adulation, grinning and applauding enthusiastically, waved back to the fans and punched the air. I may be reading too much into this but I think a permanent deal for the big Geordie may well be on the cards. - Keen: Nolan hammers final nails into Royals' coffin - Allardyce: Carroll deal is a priority - Nolan treble fires Hammers Not that Carroll himself was on the score sheet following this entertaining 4-2 win over relegated Reading -- that honour went to hat-trick hero Kevin Nolan and Ricardo Vaz Te -- but Andy was involved in most things on the pitch and can count at least two assists although, more likely, the better assists will go down to poor marking and comedic play by the visitors.
West Ham's final game of the year against Reading has been designated as a claret and blue festival, with supporters being urged to wear their replica kits or the club colours to celebrate the Hammers' successful return to the top flight and, hopefully, what will be a top half of the table finish. Frankly, I'd have thought asking a supporter to don the club's colours was a bit of a given and almost every game would be a celebration on that count. Barring the wearing of coats during the more inclement weather - a claret and blue anorak is surely destined for detaining by the Sartorial Elegance Police - the colours are normally on display every home game, but I'm pretty sure everyone will be happy to go that extra step, don the underwear too, and join in the fun, providing the spring snow keeps away.
It's a measure of how many West Ham fans are now starting to reassess the management style and philosophy of Sam Allardyce that news the ex-Bolton, Newcastle and Blackburn boss signed a two-year extension to his contract at Upton Park last week has raised not much more than a tacit nod of approval from most of the claret and blue faithful. Even as recent a time as the turn of the year, the announcement would probably have elicited a strong debate and threats of violence on the unofficial Hammers websites; as it is though, it seems even the most strident of the Anti-Sam brigade have had to concede that to not continue to back a man who has taken a newly promoted team to a comfortable mid-table position would be perverse even by modern-day football standards.
Following the news that Everton's David Moyes was to take over for Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United next season, there was only ever going to be two headlines after this match. One saw Moyes bidding an emotional farewall to Goodison with a display of the type of attacking football associated with his team's since his arrival on Merseyside 11 years ago. The other saw a downbeat Everton, worried about their uncertain future, waving goodbye not only to their manager but, more than likely, to a couple of their better players who are almost certain to follow the boss to Old Trafford.
Defender Winston Reid has been deservedly named Hammer of the Year at the Annual Players Awards with Jussi Jaaskelainen getting the vote, perhaps surprisingly, as runner-up. The HOTY award is voted for by the fans and, as such, is a solid acknowledgment of players who give their all in the claret and blue cause. Past winners look like a Who's Who of football; the trophy bearing the names of people such as Sir Geoff Hurst, Sir Trevor Brooking, Bobby Moore, Martin Peters, Alan Devonshire, Tony Cottee, Alvin Martin and, more recently, Scott Parker, to name just a few.
"Six foot two, eyes of blue, Billy Bonds is after you lalalalalalalala" The word legend is an over-used epithet is today's language - I was even daubed one last week when I sorted out someone's PC! - but, in football terms at least, West Ham United will honour a genuine one of their own at the club's annual Player Awards at the Grosvenor Hotel in London this week. Billy Bonds MBE is about to become the club's first recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award; an honour richly deserved and, to be honest, way overdue.