TALKING FOOTBALL - with Paul Kendrick

Ali Al Habsi
Ali Al Habsi
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IT’LL be a real case of Friends Reunited on Saturday afternoon as Ali Al Habsi lines up against West Ham United.

With player movement being so rife these days, it’s more of a rarity to not find yourself lining up against one of your former colleagues.

But even so Al Habsi will be forgiven for making his way towards the visitors’ dressing room prior to kick off.

Sam Allardyce was the man who brought Al Habsi to English football back in 2006, when the pair worked together at Bolton.

And it was during his Reebok days that Al Habsi also played alongside Kevin Nolan, Matty Taylor, Ricardo Vaz Te, Joey O’Brien and Jussi Jaaskelainen. Speaking to Ali this week, he rates Jaaskelainen up there with the best in the Premier League.

And the Finn is not the only player who is enjoying a fresh start in East London under Big Sam.

It’s fair to say it hasn’t been all plain sailing for Allardyce since he rocked up at Upton Park, with his style of play being a regular bug bear for critics.

But you can’t argue with results – and promotion at the first attempt and a top-half position is not bad going for starters.

AFTER Hugo Rodallega and Leighton Baines have scored against Latics in back-to-back home games, the last thing we need to see is Momo Diame lining up in enemy colours on Saturday afternoon.

The midfielder certainly came a long way in his three years at Wigan, before joining West Ham over the summer.

And he has shown already during his short spell in the capital that the quality identified by Roberto Martinez in the Spanish Second Division remains in abundance.

IT’S often claimed that modern-day footballers are too detached from the fans who pay their wages.

In recent years, the medium of Twitter has become a way of bridging that gap.

When used correctly, it allows the opportunity for the man on the street to communicate with his hero on the pitch.

However, when abused, it can go badly, badly wrong.

Take Kyle Walker, for example, who suffered so much Twitter abuse for his gaffe against Chelsea at the weekend that the Tottenham defender deleted his account.

Thus robbing the vast majority of his quarter-of-a-million followers that valuable interaction and insight into his life.

Of course, not one of those abusers would have said boo to Walker had they met him in the street.

But their “keyboard-warrior” actions threaten to spoil it for the rest of us if allowed to go unchecked.