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t'other side u't' fence

T’Other Side u’t’ Fence; I Don’t Know Jack

We’ve gone opposition view crazy on Viva Rovers, as already this season we’re halfway to matching last year’s total of T’Other Side u’t’ Fence features. After getting the views from a side promoted to the Championship courtesy of We Are Brighton’s Scott, this week its the turn of a side coming into the division in the other direction. Matthew Pratt of the general, but increasingly West Ham focussed, blog I Don’t Know Jack was kind enough to wade through the burnt out cars and buildings of the nation’s capital and face our questions.

Name: Matthew Pratt

Website: I Don’t Know Jack

Stand of choice at Upton Park: These days it seems like the further away from the away fans you sit, the deader the atmosphere. For that reason I sit at the front of the East stand, in the corner near the away support. You get a good banter with the away fans and volume from the vocal home support in the Trevor Brooking Stand lower.

How do you feel about Saturday’s game?
A bit nervous really. With the recent optimism at the club, losing to Cardiff was predictable, but it makes beating you really important.

This is your first Championship away game, what are your expectations of West Ham for the season ahead?
Around the media we’re being tipped to romp this season, but I’d say most Hammer fans know better. I know it’ll be tough and it might take us some time to find our feet, but I think we’ll be in the top six come the end of the season, hopefully in the top two.

Where do you think this West Ham team is strongest?
Even if Scott Parker finally leaves we’ve still got strength and depth in midfield. Nolan had an average game last weekend but his class will show soon. Mark Noble, Jack Collison and Matt Taylor are all quality players.

What do you consider your side’s weak point as being?
We’re still weak up front. We’ve brought in John Carew, so will hopefully ship out Freddie Piquionne. We desperately need a better scorer.

Who’s the key Hammers’ player that Rovers should be worried about?
I’m going to have to say Scott Parker. When you’re in possession watch out for him – he won’t give you a second of peace until he wins the ball back.

Which Doncaster player are you most wary of (assuming of course you know any of them)?
Just took a look at your site and saw you have Giles Barnes. He was a great prospect a few years ago, so hopefully he’ll prove his worth for you. A few of my mates are Bournemouth fans, so I’m fairly familiar with James Hayter, but he went off injured last week, didn’t he?

He did indeed. Justified or not, every side has a scapegoat, who would you say is West Ham’s?
Our entire team were scapegoats last season, when the real problem was Avram Grant. This year I’d expect Mark Noble to bear the brunt of supporter criticism because he gets some unfair stick.

Are you happy with the appointment of Sam Allardyce?
Definitely. Had you asked me that three years ago I would have said no, but he is just what we need. He is our first proper football manager for a few years, after the amateurism of Zola and ineptitude of Grant. He brings a level of professionalism that has been absent for too long.

Song or chant to listen out for: ‘Come on you Irons’

Finally, a match prediction: 1-3 away win for the Irons

As ever we have reciprocated the favour – well it beat scribbling correctional notes in the fanzine for an hour – and our responses to Matt’s questions can be viewed on his I Don’t Know Jack site here.

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