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.
The media tried hard - and largely succeeded it must be said - to make this game into a battle of wills between the West Ham and Newcastle old boys; with the Magpies desperate need for points coming up against Sam Allardyce's desire to show his old boss that he was wrong to dispense with his services back in 2008. Add the presence of former Newcastle favourites Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan and it looked, on paper at least, a game full of tension and incident. In truth, it never really felt like that though.
As West Ham prepare to face Newcastle at Upton Park on Saturday, the Hammers squad is buoyed by the news that Winston Reid has signed a new contract, keeping him to the club till 2015. Meanwhile, Manager Sam Allardyce is also confidently expected to sign a two-year extension to his own contract, probably just after the visit from one of Sam's old employees. Short-runner for the Hammer of the Year award, Reid has been a solid success for West Ham since the New Zealander signed following his notable appearances in the 2010 World Cup.
As a young lad growing up in the east end, I had to learn to live with a couple of West Ham 'jokes'. These merry quips - usually delivered by well-meaning opposition supporters who thought they were the height of sophisticated humour - consisted of two perennial favourites. First came the chestnut that 'West Ham come down with the Christmas decorations', a nod to the fact that Hammers teams of old tended to fall away in the second half of the season when their brand of Ron Greenwood / John Lyall-inspired passing football usually became bogged down on the quagmire pitches prevalent before the introduction of all-weather turf.
There's little doubt that when this match at the Ethiad Stadium was selected for the TV cameras, the expectation was that Manchester City would be pushing for the title; probably searching for vital points against a difficult West Ham side who, just conceivably, might need some of their own in the relegation battle. As it happened though, this was pretty much a dead rubber of little interest beyond the fans of the two clubs involved and there was a definite 'end of term' feel about the whole proceedings as the hosts ran-out 2-1 winners against a West Ham side who were enterprising, without ever really possessing the cutting-edge required to get a result.
In a week in which West Ham fans began getting emails and letters asking for their opinions on the move to the Olympic Stadium; a process that includes some heartstring-tugging videos along with some impressive statistics and plans for the what the finished structure is likely to look like, it's inevitable that the football world at large has its attention elsewhere. Manchester United's record-breaking 20th title is to be congratulated I guess, but I don't feel this has been a particularly impressive season from any of the top five or six sides and it's seemed at times that the Reds haven't needed to be at their best.