Mock the Week: Carroll, Makelele, Costa and much more

I am sure Slaven Bilic has spent much time this season scratching his head and trying to work out what the problem with his West Ham team has been.

Has it been the move to the London Stadium? Has it been too much social media rubbish spouted by Lady Brady? Was it trying to make a centre forward out of Michail Antonio? No, Slav, none of them my friend. The problem has been Dimitri Payet all along and now he is out of the picture, you can expect to see many more matches like last weekend’s.

We all know Payet wants out of West Ham, we all know he wants to go back to Marseille. What we had all forgotten, however, was that Bilic’s ‘hard done by manager’ script was a carbon copy of the one delivered by Harry Redknapp about 20 years earlier. Guess which West Ham player he was distraught over at the time? Go on, guess.

Anyway, Andy Carroll escaped a career threatening injury when scoring the goal of the weekend and Antonio looked like he might be able to do a Payet-style thing further forward. The closest anyone got to a player in a Hammers shirt? The security guard detailed to keep an eye on Payet’s mural. Oh, they were playing Palace by the way. It’s not gone well for Big Sam just yet.

Hands up if you had money on Joey Barton to score on his Premier League return? Joey, put your hand down mate – they are on to you already! Incredibly, Burnley’s win over Southampton saw them rise to tenth in the table. Tenth! If only they could only play at Turf Moor and they would be better than Pep’s lot. Actually, they might already be.

Marco Silva is really sticking the boot into the Robbie Savage/Paul Merson narrative, isn’t he? Why consider British managers like Thierry Henry when you can bring in the next Mourinho? Mike is Phelan very blue as Silva has taken his squad, sprinkled some Portuguese brilliance over it and got them doing the one thing that puts egg on the faces of pundits like Merson. Yes, good old fashioned winning football matches. If only English managers could get their heads around that and Merse would be happy. 

On a scale of one to ten, ten being “yeah, I really wish I was still on the French Riviera,” how much do you think Claude Makelele wishes he was still on the French Riviera rather than spending the winter in Swansea?

The man who was so good he had a whole role named after him cut a forlorn figure alongside Paul Clement as Arsenal tore them apart. It’s ok Claude, Paul used to work for Carlo Ancelotti. Did he mention that?

I spent most of last week knocking up some “Hughes Out!” banners for the Stoke fans. That’ll teach me to crack on without checking the fixture list. If I had realised they were playing Sunderland next I’d have waited. Sunderland are awful yet Jermain Defoe keeps scoring. Imagine what he could do in a decent team. I said decent, not West Ham.

Mind you, another Mackem defeat eases Jeremain Lens to the exit door. He is convinced that relegation will make it easier for him to leave. I beg to differ. Giving press interviews saying things like that will make it very easy for him to leave.

There are so many rumours flying around about Diego Costa that the Chinese FA have had to step in and limit the amount of foreign players allowed in the Chinese Super League. Conte says Costa is “willing” to stay but is not so “willing” to apologise to the fitness coaches he fell out with. Conte has made it very clear he will not be allowed out to play with his friends until he says sorry.

I have a different view. I know, shocking right? I think José went out for dinner with his agent Jorge Mendes and they played a slightly drunken game of truth or dare. Mendes lost, but chose dare. José suggested that he should make Costa believe someone in China was actually going to pay him $50m-a-year. Classic Jose. Oh, Chelsea won. This shouldn’t be a great shock, they were playing Leicester, hardly a great indicator as to whether a title challenge without Diego can be maintained.

I am surprised nobody mentioned that hat-trick hero Harry Kane has recently become a father. I would have thought some of the fine journalists that are out there might have picked up on this story. But no, nothing. Still, Kane got three and West Brom returned to the Black Country in a very black mood.

Nobody is bothered if I miss out Middlesbrough and Watford are they? Good, moving on.

All that hopping from foot to foot Pep was doing in the post match interview ensured he covered more ground than his midfield did during their 4-0 hammering at Goodison Park. That noise you heard as the fourth went in was the penny dropping for all the La Liga and Bundesliga fanboys that maybe, just maybe, the Premier League is a little tougher than Pep thought.

I am not saying better, no. I am saying tougher. I do feel for John Stones, he even tried to leather it into Row Z and that went wrong for him. Tom Davies might be my new favourite player. A local lad, scoring a goal with silly hair and, most importantly, wearing black boots.

Pogba dabbed his way through the first half at Old Trafford. He dabbed his way to giving away the penalty, he dabbed his way to nearly decapitating Jordan Henderson. Once again United against Liverpool failed to live up to the hype, but Zlatan was able to make himself the hero once again. Honestly, how would the world survive without Zlatan to continually bail it out? Yes, I know it was offside, but do you want to tell either Valencia or Zlatan? No, thought not.

So Chelsea lead it by seven. With or without Costa, that’s got to be enough hasn’t it?

There is a new FM book out on sale, edited by the supremely talented Alex Stewart and has a foreword from his arch enemy (in the FM sense only) Iain Macintosh – it is an anthology of all kinds of FM writing with contributions from some of our very own FootballFanCast writers (Lee Scott and myself) as well as excellent pieces from others too. 10% of all the sales goes to the mental health charity CALM, which is doing fantastic work. Anyway, if you like James’ FM updates on here then you will love this as much. Go and spend £4 on it which, as I understand it, is less than a large coffee in Costa now. You can get it here.