It’s snow joke for Hammers as Franco is injured

AS USUAL, West Ham were making the headlines at the weekend even though they were not playing, writes DAVE EVANS. In fact, West Ham were making the headlines because they were not playing, as both television and national media laid into the club following

AS USUAL, West Ham were making the headlines at the weekend even though they were not playing, writes DAVE EVANS.

In fact, West Ham were making the headlines because they were not playing, as both television and national media laid into the club following their postponement of Sunday's match with Wolves as early as Saturday lunchtime.

By the look of some of the pictures outside the ground on Sunday, it would seem that the match could probably have been played, but we are living in extraordinary and maddening times.

One fall by a fan on the ground concourse or in the car park and the suing culture that we have inherited from the United States may well have kicked into place and West Ham can ill-afford another lawsuit.

The thaw that occurred on Sunday was a rapid one and certainly not forecast by the Met Office, who had predicted more snow and icy temperatures going into Saturday night.

West Ham are the villains once again it would seem and those cynical amongst us would suggest that without Carlton Cole and now Guillermo Franco, it would have been better to play a vital game against fellow relegation candidates when both players were fit and raring to go.

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The club are used to the criticism of course, but they did react angrily to suggestions that the game should have been played.

A spokesman for West Ham commented: "We were mindful of the advice from the police and the local council, added to the forecast for the local area, which suggested there was a high risk of heavy snow.

"The fact that Wolves fans would be leaving early on Sunday morning because of the early kick-off also played a part."

Television pictures showed an ice-free Upton Park, but apparently other parts of the stadium were not so fan-friendly.

"The conditions around the stadium are still variable," said the spokesman. "Some places are clear, but parts of the main car park are still like a skating rink."

With a tough game at Aston Villa to come at the weekend and the prospect of plunging back into the bottom four of the Premier League table, the game against Wolves would have provided a huge chance for the Hammers to hoist themselves back up the league.

With only three games played this week, victory on Sunday would have moved the Hammers up to the heady heights of 13th in the table and then perhaps the description of West Ham as relegation-haunted may well have disappeared for a while.

The biggest worry from the weekend was not the postponement though, it was the injury to Mexican international striker Franco.

The 33-year-old, who missed the FA Cup defeat against Arsenal through suspension, was injured in training last week and is expected to be out for the rest of the month.

Rumours abounded that the striker had broken his leg, but it seems that was wildly over-exaggerated and that he merely has a thigh injury that will rule him out until February.

With Carlton Cole not expected back until the trip to Portsmouth on January 26, it gives manager Gianfranco Zola another headache as he plots West Ham's move away from danger.

The club have been linked with Stoke City striker James Beattie, former Hammer Marlon Harewood, as well as Benfica marksman Nuno Gomes (pictured right) and inevitably, Icelandic international Eidur Gudjohnsen, who is struggling at Monaco.

All bar Harewood perhaps, would be a huge strain on West Ham's precarious budget however, so if Zola wants to strengthen up front, the prospect of selling one of hisprized assets becomes an issue once again.

That would anger the West Ham fans far more than a game called off because of a bit of snow.

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