You can’t beat great company and great pizza and the team at Blowing Bubbles have joined forces with Pizza Express to offer you the chance to win tickets and experience a fantastic night with two former Hammers legends.
Tony Cottee and Tony Gale will be appearing at the new PizzaExpress Live venue at Holborn and the evening will be hosted by Sky Sports presented Bianca Westwood on Tuesday, October 24.
The former players will talk about their time with the club, their exploits on and off the pitch and the second half will give audience members the chance to take part in a question and answer session.
Blowing Bubbles has teamed-up with Pizza Express to offer four tickets to the evening as a great prize in a very special competition. Two winners will each receive a pair of tickets to get up close and personal with the duo at the new and intimate venue.
“This should be a brilliant event and one that no West Ham fan will want to miss and we know the competition will be well-supported,” said Blowing Bubbles editor David Blackmore. “The competition will be run via our Twitter account so entrants need to be following us @WestHamMagazine to get the details."
Tony Cottee began his career at West Ham at the age of 17 and made his professional debut on January 1 1983 against Spurs. He was voted PFA Young Player of the Year in 1986 and it was during this spell that he crossed paths with Tony Gale.
By the end of 1988 season a 23-year-old Cottee had played 212 league games and scored 92 goals for the Hammers - a record which made him the most expensive player to be signed by a British club when he left for Everton in August 1988 in a £2.2 million deal.
Tickets for the event are £35 and further details can be found at: www.pizzaexpresslive.com/whats-on/tony-cottee-and-tony-gale
Joe Hart has been enduring the toughest period of his career to date in recent seasons, while he now finds himself at West Ham United.
The England number one goalkeeper previously fell out of favour at Manchester City and the arrival of Spanish manager Pep Guardiola signalled the end of his time at the Etihad. The former Barcelona boss saw no room for Hart within his setup and opted to sign the likes of Claudio Bravo instead, while Ederson has since taken over the main spot between the posts at the club.
After seeing his Sky Blues career come to an end under Man City's newest tactician, the English shot-stopper was sent out on a surprise loan move to Italy, where he linked up with Serie A's Torino.
Such a switch was supposed to kickstart his club career and help him continue England duties, while also attracting the interest from other sides back in the Premier League. It looked as if that was never going to occur when he made several high-profile mistakes in Turin surroundings.
Even the Torino club president saw fit to slam the efforts of Hart between the sticks during his loan stint there, criticism which only added to Hart's growing frustration. Despite such underwhelming performances on his Italian ventures, though, he was still able to attract another potential buyer.
Starting off with yet another loan spell, Hart was snapped up by West Ham United this past summer, as Croatian boss Slaven Bilic looked to bolster his squad with experience at the back. Hart has also managed to retain his place as his country's number one goal guard, in spite of a lack of strong form at club level.
Hart was regarded as a great acquisition in the summer by the east London outfit, but his stuttering performances have continued into the new campaign as he looks under pressure and without confidence at times.
It may take until the latter stages of the current campaign for Hart to properly showcase his worth to the Hammers, as they attempt to recover from a slow start to proceedings under Bilic. The Irons find themselves dauntingly sitting at the wrong end of the Premier League table at this point in the season and they are seen at an outsider 6/1 with Paddy Power in the current West Ham betting odds to face a devastating relegation next year.
Perhaps it's the pressure of having to battle for a permanent signing at a club after so many loan spells, but Hart will need to improve in order to secure such a deal at the Olympic Stadium beyond next summer. It's clear that the goalie still has plenty to offer in the English top flight, and his experience at the top level, including winning the Premier League before, could be invaluable at tough times.
The England international stopper will need to be in top form for the remainder of the term if West Ham are to revive their fortunes throughout their upcoming clashes to gain vital points.
But he has the experience needed in order to bounce back for his current club, as Bilic aims to avoid seeing their bubbles burst completely before next May.
Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez arrived in the summer as West Ham sought to add pace and precision to their attacking line. Very much regarded as a ‘fox in the box’ kind of striker, the 29-year-old is renowned for the quality of his movement off the ball and timing inside the area, always ready to pounce on chances that come his way.
Considering how difficult the start to the 2017/18 Premier League campaign has been, the Mexican international has already made a healthy contribution, individually scoring three of the seven goals scored by the team in their opening seven encounters of the season.
Three straight league defeats was hardly an inspiring start, but although form has since improved steadily with Slaven Bilic tightening things up defensively, at odds of 11/2 in the football betting forecasts for relegation, West Ham must also improve offensively if they’re to keep afloat.
Without a doubt, Chicharito remaining sharp in front of goal will be vital for the cause, but like any striker, he is reliant on consistent and quality service from his teammates. Boasting a ratio of 1.9 shots per goal from his first seven matches, the Mexican has shown a good level of efficiency in and around the area, maximising his chances in a team that has only managed an average of 3.4 shots on target per game.
Should Chicharito continue producing similar numbers throughout the course of the season, he will certainly justify the fee of £16 million that West Ham reportedly paid Bundesliga outfit, Bayer Leverkusen. However, barely months after his arrival in London, there are worrying signs his stay might only be temporary.
According to reports doing the rounds in Spain at the start of October, Chicharito may already be planning his West Ham exit, targeting Sevilla and Valencia as possible La Liga destinations. Despite seeming outwardly content with life in London and at the club, his relationship with Spanish actress Andrea Duro appears to be the motivation. Beyond the football pitch, matters of the heart could be the deciding factor.
If the decision is already made in the mind of the player, then West Ham will be faced with a big problem to resolve ahead of the January transfer window. Do they insist that he stays until the end of the season, at the very least, or do they get ready to negotiate and begin scouring the market for potential replacements?
Even if the agents of Chicharito have already generated enough genuine interest from Sevilla or Valencia, it’s hard to imagine either of the Spanish clubs offering West Ham a way to recoup their summer outlay. More likely, given the ‘Financial Fair Play’ restrictions in La Liga, would be an initial loan offer with an option to buy clause attached.
As if Slaven Bilic didn’t have enough on his plate, given the ongoing speculation regarding his own future and even with the apparent backing of the board, the Croatian coach must now contend with the prospect that his key striker might not be with the club beyond December.
Whichever way you look at it, August was a forgettable month as the 2017/18 Premier League campaign began for West Ham. Three defeats, ten goals conceded and with just two in reply, already the clouds of doubt were gathering quickly over the immediate future of Slaven Bilic. That's nothing new for the Croatian, given the speculation surrounding his position for a year now.
After guiding the team to seventh and 11th-position finishes over the last two seasons, now in the third and final year of his three-year contract with the club, Bilic arguably faces the most difficult campaign of his tenure thus far.
Indeed, when looking at Oddschecker to compare bookmaker offers and odds for the Premier League ‘sack race’, Bilic is considered amongst the favourites to lose his job and second only to under-fire Everton boss, Ronald Koeman. Likewise, most bookmakers still have West Ham at odds as little as 6/1 or even 5/1 for relegation.
Despite what the bookmakers think, it appears that at least for now, Bilic still has the backing of the West Ham board, with suggestions he will remain in charge until the end of the season, even with speculating linking Carlo Ancelotti as a possible replacement, following the Italian’s departure from Bayern Munich. Clearly, a lot may happen between now and then, but improved results and positive form in September will have undoubtedly strengthened his position.
Much of that improved form appears to have come through a willingness to adapt and change, due in no small part to Bilic tinkering with the defence to good effect. Aside from the home defeat against Tottenham, three clean sheets in the other games against Huddersfield, West Brom, then Swansea, produced a return of seven points from a possible 12. Add the clean sheet against Bolton in the Carabao Cup, and things are looking far more positive.
Playing three at the back and utilising deeper central midfielders has helped the team defend more stoutly as a unit, significantly reducing the amount of chances opponents can create. Stronger displays as a team have also brought improved individual performances, with defensive players now amongst the highest rated for performance within the squad.
The challenge now is building on this solid defensive platform and individual form, to pick up more precious points throughout October. On paper at the very least and looking at the fixture list, the matches against Burnley, Brighton, then an absolutely dire Crystal Palace side, are all games from which West Ham should be gaining positive results.
If the team heads into November nestled comfortably in the top half of the table, the dynamic changes completely. Important ahead of a November and December schedule featuring some very difficult games to navigate, but with other encounters that are entirely winnable if the signs of improvement continue.
If West Ham conclude the year with a comfortable enough buffer zone between themselves and the relegation zone, talk of Bilic being sacked will be a thing of the past, because rocking the managerial boat just wouldn’t make sense. Add to that the prospect that his cause could also be aided with a signing or two in the January transfer window, the season as a whole may bring less suffering and far more to cheer about than the start of the campaign would have suggested.
With my team languishing in the bottom half of the Blowing Bubbles fantasy league, my opinions on who should start for West Ham, and the formation we should play, shouldn’t be taken too seriously.
But while I was very pleased with our personnel in our win against Huddersfield and draw at West Brom - despite how dire the game at the Hawthorns was - I couldn’t help but think Bilic was making one mistake.
Javier Hernandez is not a winger. He needs to be played up top. If Carroll is fit, we should play with two up front and when - not if - Carroll is injured, we can adopt the formation that is serving us well at the moment with Chicharito leading the line.
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