Sunday 31 January 2016

Hammers Undecided About Second Striker

No sooner had the ink dried on Emmanuel Emenike's loan deal from Fenerbahce then hungry Hammers looked for another signing. Bearing in mind that Enner Valencia has played most of his football on the left side of the attack, Nikica Jelavic looks China-bound before their season starts later in February, and with both Diafra Sakho and Andy Carroll so injury prone, any logical analysis indicates that another striker is needed. Add that to Emenike's well-documented Balotelli-esque volatility, and the Hammers still look light up top!

Errr...wrong fast food chain
Rumours have been doing the rounds that Andre Pierre Gignac might rejoin his old Marseille teammate Dimitri Payet by jetting in from the Mexican League where he has been playing with Tiexes since last Summer. However, Gignac also represents a risk as although he has the physicality needed in the Premiership, he is not the paciest forward  and his struggles with weight earned him the nickname Big Mac (Gignac....geddit?) which for Hammers fans will remind us of that wonderful january window signing that was Benni (Big) Mac Carthy!

However, Gignac's goalscoring record is impressive and recent footage highlights how he looks fitter than ever before in his career. Will the lads be putting on the Sombreros and flying out for some last minute business?


Gignac Rumours Grow

Call me, amigo...

As we prepare for the annual stampede that is the close of the January transfer window, there is increasing speculation as to the identity of Mauro Zarate's replacement in the Hammers forward line.

With Emenike, Batshuayi, Fletcher, Yilmaz and even Berahino all being whispered as possible recruits, The Brentwood Gazette has identified Andre Pierre Gignac - Dimitri Payet's old attacking partner at Olympic Marseille as a potential recruit.

Gignac has been on fire since his shock decision to move to the Mexican League at the end of last season. Having enjoyed an excellent season in Ligue 1 alongside Payet, Gignac felt at age 30 it was time for a change. After six months at Tigres he has already been to the final of the Copa Libertadores!

It would take somewhere as special as the Olympic Stadium to drag him away from his Mexican adventure.


Hammers Dede-ly Serious About Mexican Goalscoring Phenomenon

West Ham really need a fit and functional striker in order to bolster their chances of securing a Champions League spot for the first time. Looking at our current squad, the ability to score goals and develop a relationship with Dimitri Payet are key desirable attributes....enter the perfect candidate in Andre Pierre Gignac.

Gignac is now 30 years old and playing in the Mexican League after moving from Olympic Marseille in the same clearout last Summer that brought Payet to the Boleyn. The two rampaged through the French league over the past few seasons with Gignac's powerful style a perfect folly for Payets craft.

As a result, Gignac outperformed Zlatan Ibrahimovic for long periods in the Ligue 1 goalscoring charts amassing almost a goal every other game during a five year spoell at Olympic Marseille with 77 goals in 186 appearances. In his final season (2014/5) he achieved his highest goal tally for Marseille with 23 goals making him runner up for the Ligue 1 golden boot.  

However, just like Payet, Gignac fell out with French boss Didier Deschamps and in frustration decided to cash in with a move to Tigres in the Mexican Superleague. Since the move he has been on fire scoring 15 goals in 25 games including the spectacular bicycle kick shown above.

Gignac has already tasted considerable success in Mexico having led Tigres to the final of the Copa Libertadores. This tremendous form has earned him an unlikely recall to the French National side and, inevitably, reignited interest amongst Europe's elite.

Gignac has an aggressive style that is likely to please Slaven Bilic and despite his physicality has a skilful touch that has been underestimated during his career. At 30, he potentially has a couple of years still left to play at the highest level.

David Sullivan recently revealed that the Hammers were focusing upon a striking target from a 'strange' league but who had previously played in a top league. Observers have been quick to jump to the conclusion that this is Emmanuel Emenike but Gignac clearly also fits the description. 

The Hammers are experienced in trading with clubs from Mexico having previously signed Pablo Barrera and Enner Valencia from that league. Gignac looks like he could be a useful option and as a self professed Manouche, 'Dede' (as he is known by team-mates) has the wandering genes that could see him make the move back to Europe!

Would you prefer Gignac or Emenike, both or neither?

Second striker Set to Join West Ham European Push

All the talk about the proposed signing from Al Ain of Emmanuel Emenike has distracted from the fact that with the departures of Zarate and Jenkinson, along with the likely move of Nikica Jelavic to China, West Ham have cleared out a number of berths for potential incoming squad additions.

Although Carroll and Sakho are set to return over the next few weeks, the fact is that even if Emenike joins the Hammers are still short on forwards and with Champions League football a real possibility the chairmen will need to think carefully about the old adage of speculating to accumulate.

Southampton's capture of Charlie Austin for a paltry £4 million was a cracking bit of business and one wonders if a switch to Upton Park might have been possible only for David Sullivan's provocative comments about Austin's ability and injury-proneness during the Summer transfer campaign.

But unfortunately for West Ham, the Austin bird has flown and they have been forced to look elsewhere for the poacher that could fire them into Europe. for now, the rumour mill has gone quiet but with space in the squad and cash freed up by the recent departures, there is every likelihood that the Hammers will make a late move before the transfer window closes tomorrow.

Burak Yilmaz, Michy Batshuayi, Stephen Fletcher, Demba Ba, Andre Pierre Gignac, Saido Berahinho and Ishak Belfodil have all been linked with a high profile move to the Boleyn with Ba, Belfodil and Gignac meeting Sullivan's description of the mystery player who is currently in a strange league but has previously played in one of the major European leagues.

With Sullivan and Gold, we will never get bored or complacent!

Saturday 30 January 2016

Hammers all set for fifth round draw and Tuesday week replay date

In reality, this evening's draw was a good result for the Hammers who are in the hat for tomorrow evening's 6.15pm fifth round draw.

The replay looks set for Tuesday 9th February at 7.45. We can look forward to a fantastic night of Cup drama under the Boleyn lights....who wouldn't want that?

Liverpool Reserves Face Strong Hammers side

The teamsheets are in - Antonio and Adrian are rested, Noble is out with flu and Byram is cup tied, but otherwise its a very strong side. Liverpool have ten changes from midweek!

West Ham: Randolph, Tomkins, Reid, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Obiang, Song, Kouyate, Moses, Payet, Valencia
Subs: Howes, O'Brien, Collins, Oxford, Cullen, Antonio, Jelavic

Liverpool:Mignolet, Clyne, Caulker, Lovren, Smith, Stewart, Allen, Brannagan, Ibe, Teixeira, Benteke
Subs: Ward, Enrique, Ilori, Chirivella, Sinclair, Ojo, Randall

Hammers Look to Dominate Exhausted Reds

Who would ever of imagined that we would be talking about West Ham attempting a treble over Liverpool this season? After a wait of more than 50 years for an away win at Anfield, West Ham will be confident that they might pull off a second Anfield triumph within a few weeks!

It appears that Jurgen Klopp will be forced to turn towards youth after a gruelling midweek League Cup battle with Stoke that went to penalties after 120 minutes of action. In contrast, two places above Liverpool in the Premiership and with a ten goal superiority in goal difference, Bilic's boys look like a decent bet.

Liverpool stumbled home against Exeter needing a replay in the last round while the Hammers looked solid if offensively unimpressive against Wolves. Since then, Dimitri Payet has returned and Enner Valencia has hit top goalscoring form.

At 3/1 against the Hammers are bloody good value. Even better, Payet to score in a Hammers victory is 10/1!

Go for it!!!


Fletcher Fails Medical due to Bad Feet

As Norman Stanley Fletcher famously remarked when confronted by the Slade prison medics as to his disability "with these bad feet who'd have me".

And so it is as the rumour mill gathers suggesting that West Ham are about to swoop for wantaway Sunderland striker Stephen Kenneth Fletcher, one wonders at the wisdom of taking on board a player who has amassed a mere 12 goals in 76 league and cup games over the last three seasons.

As a comparison, Andy Carroll, hardly the most prolific striker, has scored 17 goals in just 45 games many of which have been as a substitute when returning from injury. Even more illuminating is that his scoring rate (0.15 per game) is less than Carlton Cole's has been for West Ham (0.16) during the same period.

Moreover, its hard to see how Fletcher can add more to the squad than the departing Jelavic or departed Zarate. if we really do harbour Champions league pretentions we surely need to look fmore closely at our up and coming players rather than fading (modest) talents. All of this must be very frustrating for Elliot Lee and Jaanai Gordon who are out on loan at Colchester and Sligo Rovers respectively.

Hammers New Signing will Inject Pace into their Attack

After a successful medical yesterday, it looks like West Ham are going to take a gamble on misfiring Nigerian ex-international striker Emmanuel Emenike. Currently languishing in Dubai football after falling out with the fans at Fenerbahce, Emmenike will be hoping to rediscover the form that made him so successful during his two year spell between 2011-3 with Spartak Moscow.

Emmenike notched up 21 goals in 42 appearances for the Russian outfit averaging an impressive  goal every second game but his time at Spartak was marred by a bizarre sending off incident during a key clash with rivals Zenit St Petersburg. After netting an equaliser, Emenike celebrated with a mock vein-tapping in preparation for an imaginary heroin injection! The match referee responded by issuing a red card for the irresponsible gesture.

Bilic's troops are unlikely to follow Big Sam's success last season in the Fair Play league for which the Hammers were rewarded for coming first with a Europa League spot. The Hammers are currently joint top with Stoke City in the Premiership red card count with four - and managed another three in their caution-ridden Europa League campaign!

Maybe Bilic should go for bust and sign Mario Gjurovski. The Macedonian plays for the ironically appropriately name Muang-thong United in the Thai Super League and is best known for  a 2013 sending off after removing his shorts and putting them on his head to goad opposition fans in a bizarre goal celebration!
All eyes will surely be on Emenike if he scores on his proposed debut against Villa on Tuesday.


Hammers to Sign the New Balotelli

It has been a mighty exciting season so far and many fans justifiably believe that the Hammers can make it to Europe if they can manage to get a supply of fit strikers. With Diafra Sakho and Andy Carroll sidelined, the spotlight has fallen on Enner Valencia and Nikica Jelavic. Both have responded well, with Valencia finally finding the form that was promised when he first arrived after a super 2014 World Cup with Ecuador.

However, the Hammers board have decided to take a gamble in the January transfer window in order to bolster our attacking resources with Nigerian striker Emmanuel Emenike having undergone a medical yesterday. Things are thus set to get even more exciting as the troubled hitman has plenty of previous form and has even been compared to the infamously unstable Mario Balotelli!

Included amongst Emenike's many difficulties are dropped charges of match fixing, fisticuffs with teammates, legal action over media claims that he is 7 years older than his passport indicates, fines for making inappropriate gestures during matches and walking off the pitch early in the first half in response to abuse from his own fans - the latter during a match against Slaven Bilic's Besiktas!

Hammers fans will be somewhat reassured by Bilic's record of dealing with players who step out of line but perhaps more worrying is the fact that at the heart of Emenike's problems has been a terrible loss of form dating back over the past two years. Between 2011 and 2014 he excelled at Spartak Moscow and Fenerbahce even grabbing the attentions of Arsenal and Chelsea with rumours of a move to the Premiership.

However, Emenike then suffered a dramatic loss of form. He was forced to retire from international duties in 2015 after falling out with the National coach due amidst allegations of disrespectful behaviour to his teamates and, most crucially, failing to score in his final 15 matches. After the walking off the pitch incident he left Fenerbahce being farmed out on loan to Abu Dhabi side Al Ain. He has somewhat rediscovered his goalscoring form but undoubtedly represents a massive risk for the Hammers.

All of which makes Nikica Jelavic's rumoured departure to China sound like foolish business. Moreover, Bilic's determination to maintain squad harmony may well be in jeopardy! Tuesday night's game against Aston Villa looks set to provide the first chance to view Emenike. Hammers fans will be hoping for a good showing as his history suggests that even more than most strikers he is a confidence player.

Either way, this signing is unlikely to be boring!


Friday 15 January 2016

As Byram Negotiations Hot Up, Who are the Two Makeweights?

It wasn't me, honestly!
Latest news is that West Ham are still very actively seeking the services of talented Leeds right back Sam Byram, currently tussling with Everton and West Brom for his signature. With the current deal rumoured to involve cash plus two un-named players, specualtion is growing as to the identities of the two who are deemed surplus to requirements.

The strength of Slaven Bilic's first team squad is such that it's hard to find anybody who might fit the description of un-needed! Joey O'Brien's time at Upton Park may well be coming to an end but his injury history is such that he is unlikely to leave until his contract runs out. The rest of our defence is either still developing or untested (Stephen Hendrie) or not for sale.

Otherwise, Mauro Zarate is one player who might wish to move elsewhere but Leeds would represent a massive step down in status for the Argentinian. Moreover, although Zarate is quite inconsistent, on his day he is undoubtedly a useful part of the Hammers offensive set up and with both Sakho and Carroll out Bilic is likely to want to hold onto as many of his attacking options as possible.

Another possibility is that Nikica Jelavic might be on his way back to the Championship, although for similar reasons one would expect Bilic to be looking to bring in like for like were an attacker to depart.

Is this just speculation or could we see two first team squaddies exit? The Davids have repeated emphasised the need to prune back our wage bill before we can add reinforcements....The plot thickens

Thursday 14 January 2016

Morrison To Get Another Chance at the Boleyn

No he's not - at least not as a permanent part of the playing staff! Since his announced inclusion for the Mark Noble testimonial, the rumours have grown regarding a possible return to West Ham for Ravel Morrison. Currently stranded at Lazio, where he has once again failed to settle in, Raveldo needs an out and many observers (e.g. Footballfancast) believe that could be Slaven Bilic's West Ham!

However, such speculation is silenced by any logical review of the facts. Slaven Bilic has spoken candidly about the need for "harmony" in his squad (ask Morgan whazhisname!). Moreover, with the current riches in terms of attacking midfielders, Bilic simply doesn't need Morrison, who even at his best wouldn't get within an asses roar of this much improved Hammers side due to the presence of Payet, Lanzini et al.

Bilic is far more likely to gamble upon more game time for the eager, focused and disciplined Josh Cullen, who has been skirting the margins of a first team start for weeks now. It's simply tantalisingly exciting for Hammers fans to reflect upon the effect training alongside Payet and Lanzini is having for Cullen and Reece Oxford.

West Ham are unlikely to gamble in this window, unless a decent striker becomes available (err NOT Chaz Austin, quoted at £12M with only 5 months left on his contract and only having played once since November). Meanwhile the Morrison speculation continues to attract the attentions of the poorly informed. Quite simply, despite multiple opportunities, Ravel blew it!

In an effort to finally communicate the true odds of a Ravel return we contacted everybody's favourite bookmaker - Paddy Poormaker - to seek odds on a Morrison return. After a delay caused by much guffawing they offered us the following odds;

We think legendary Doors frontman Jim Douglas Morrison is a decent bet, especially given new evidence to support the fact that he faked his own death to escape the twenty-plus paternity suits he was facing at the time of his disappearance. He has apparently been spotted playing for a second tier team in Senegal and if he's one tenth as useful as Cheikidh Kouyate we would love him!

Much less attractive, is the possibility of Van 'the grumpy man' Morrison joining the Hammers. However, his recurrent difficulties in getting on with anybody would make him a poor investment. Meanwhile, the Baggies James Morrison is a decent Premiership performer but simply to 'average' for the current West Ham side!

Click below to hear Jim's Doors playing Van the Man's 'GLORIA'.

The Reason Payet is NOT the New Tevez

Dimitri Payet has undoubtedly been the Premiership's signing of the year to date. The midfield talisman is blessed with outrageous skills and, despite a two month absence of late, is already being hailed as a Hammers legend!

The comparison points for such status are fascinating - Carlos Tevez being the most recent benchmark. While Tevez's contribution to our survival in 2007 was outstanding, there are many key differences between Payet and 'the Apache'.

Firstly, Tevez arrived at Upton Park in that bizarre transfer in poor shape - overweight and unfit, both he and Mascherano initially struggled to adapt to English football such that Tevez's first nine games consisted of one draw and eight defeats!

And no goals. In fact, the gamble on the two Argentinians was a key reason why West Ham faced certain relegation in 2007. Moreover, Carlos also had a few tantrums during his time at Upton Park - most notably storming out of the ground after a match versus Sheffield United.

And then there was THAT run in with all those key goals, and that crucial goal on the final day that ensured legendary status in what surely was the greatest ever Premiership escape (yes, better than Leicesters recent efforts!).

In stark contrast, Payet has hit the ground running and already has almost surpassed the Apachhe in goals and, one suspects, has quadrupled his assist count. For sure, Dimitri is part of a better team, but his contribution in terms of leadership and example is tremendous. Tevez tried (and ultimately succeeded) to do it on his own. Payet, as Bilic keeps reminding us, makes everybody better.

We can debate who has the greater innate skills (surely Payet also wins this?) but in the comparison of team leader versus maverick there can only be one winner! It's time to go back much further in seeking our comparison points for this evolving legend, much further indeed!


Wednesday 13 January 2016

Jenkinson Rehabilitation Continues

When can i go back to my real position

At half time on Tuesday night's encounter with Bournemouth West Ham looked all at sea. However, among the many impressive attributes of manager Slaven Bilic is the capacity to make effective tactical changes. In particular, he has no inhibitions on making early substitutions.

And so it was, even though James Tomkins had again been solid at right back, Carl Jenkinson with his attacking nous was brought on on the hour mark. The change was immediately evident.

Suddenly we had more forward presence on the right flank and Bournemouth's defence was forced to swivel. This created more pressure across the defensive line that (1) led the the Payet free kick, (2) caused the throw in deep up the right side that resulted in the Payet-Valencia first goal, and (3) created pressure for the Valencia free kick.

Tomkins is a great defender and excellent centre back. Right back is nowadays a highly specialised role that is a hybrid between a winger and a traditional full back. Last season, Jenkinson excelled in this role but his defensive efforts have declined this term, resulting in him losing the starting berth at RB.

Slaven Bilic is demonstrating his astute man management skills in bringing Jenkinson back into the side. Some fans had commented how a nervous hush had started to descend upon Upton Park each time Jenkinson received the ball. In such circumstances, the Tomkins solution was inevitable.

However, Jenkinson has been gaining more and more game time again and has had a part in each of the Hammers last four games. Of note, since his reintroduction we have gone on an impressive winning spree. Tuesday night's gamechanging substitution was an example par excellence of his contribution to the side, and apart from an unfortunate own goal against Southampton, his defensive contributions have steadied.

It's hard to find anything to criticise Bilic about just now and the Jenkinson affair provides yet more evidence of his assertive and astute management style.

Payet was a sensational signing, but so was Bilic!

Does anybody really prefer the FA Cup to the Champions League?

Feel the romance!
There can be no doubting Slaven Bilic's ability to say the right thing when talking about his Hammers side. His passion and honesty flow freely and do make you wonder why so many of his counterparts at other clubs insist on filling us with vacuous drivel. His recent comments about the romance of the FA Cup were classic Bilic, serving to rally fans around the cause with a realistic focus.

However, citing an FA Cup run as a preference over Champions League qualification is possibly overstating things. The cup is great fun, and has been disgracefully downgraded by a generation of myopic and passionless managers trying to emulate Fergie, but it is still the second prize. What we really dream of for the 'new' West Ham is that we can compete at the same table as Europe's biggest clubs - and there's only one place for that.

After last night's proceedings at Bournemouth Mr Bilic may have to row back a little on his comments! With 17 games to go, we are sitting in fifth and very much in the ascendency. This season is a strange one that seems more capable than most of throwing up a surprise. Arsenal and Man City look to be the two most likely to be fighting it out for the title. Elsewhere, Leicester look more vulnerable with Jamie Vardy's availability not guaranteed, Tottenham are the eternal almost club, while Man United are in chaos.

At 35 points we have every right to feel we have been unlucky with injuries. One wonders how many points the Payet injury cost us? So many of our recent draws would surely have been wins if he had been on the pitch, but spilt milk comes to mind! Our solid defence can provide the rock upon which we push for the top four, if Payet stays fit and we get a modicum of decent fortune with injuries, then it really could be game on for the Champions League.

One issue is whether we should splash some cash in the transfer window as it really does seem like a speculate to accumulate situation, especially with Andy Carroll gone again for four weeks (and noting that, in contrast to our other players,  his injuries are always longer than first announced). Diafra Sakho will hopefully be welcomed back in three weeks or so but if not we have a problem that could decide our Champion's League fate. Despite his recent success against Wolves, and Bilic's fondness for him, Jelavic does not look like the striker to lead us into Europe. Would spending 5-6 million on Charlie Austin (his contract expires in the Summer so previous figures no longer apply!) bring us the financial rewards of first tier European football next year? It makes for an interesting conundrum for the Davids!


Tuesday 12 January 2016


Entering the final quarter at the Vitality stadium this evening things were looking mighty bleak for the Hammers. One down and without a clear focus of our attack, Bournemouth by far and away looked more likely to score the next goal.

Then the game turned on it's head as the Hammers brought proceedings to another level and eventually ran out clear winners. The Cherries deserved more, but football can be harsh.

The biggest controversy for Hammers fans is to decide which free kick was better? Payet's spinning sizzler or Valencia's wicked dipper? At VERYWESTHAM we simply cannot decide!

Take a look for yourself....which free kick do you think was better?


The Man Who Fell To Earth

It's an all too familiar story to Hammers fans; the plucky 'smaller' club dominates the first two thirds of the game but doesn't make enough of their dominance. Then the bigger club gets a lifeline, seizes it and goes on to win 'easily' by two goals.

The one difference about this evening is that we were the 'bigger' club. 3-1 was a dreadfully harsh scoreline on the Cherries, who could have been out of sight by half time. Sadly for them, the Hammers have Dimitri Payet on their books and when they needed something magical, the sorcerer duly delivered.

His free kick was scintillating. Poor Boruc had NO chance whatsoever. But then, as Bournemouth were still reeling, Payet plonkered their defence before slotting the ball across to Enner Valencia. Without a goal in 11 months, the Ecuadorian lapped up the gift, 2-1. Valencia's confidence visibly swelled such that when another free kick opportunity arose but with Payet by now withdrawn, he had the audacity to shoot from an acute angle. The ball dipped weirdly and crashed into the net with Boruc again helpless. Game over.

Somewhere in all that Alex Song came on for Payet, again adorned in those  goggles that make him look like he's from another planet BUT there was only one player who was truly other worldly in his brilliance, and that was Monsieur Payet...


Heroes?...More like Absolute Beginners!

In the week that we lost David Bowie most things seem relatively insignificant. Life trundles on regardless, in all its mundane predictability.

Anyhow, it's a familiar story down at the Vitality stadium. An on the rise Hammers have lost their way after Andy Sicknote departed proceedings in the 11th minute and then gave away a silly goal due to a rare Adrian error.

In truth, we look off the pace and second best in most departments, including desire. Payet has kept the Cherries vigilant but our passing is so poor we repeatedly end up hoofing the ball up to Jelavic- to no gain.

Slav needs to use half time to roll in the chchchanges!

Vitality Teamsheets: Big Opportunity for Pedro

The starting lineups for the Hammers visit to Bournemouth's Vitality stadium are in. While the Cherries will be looking to build on their improved recent form, West Ham are unbeaten in eight and now pushing again for a European spot. The Cherries have boldly decided to start newboy and record signing Benik Afobe, but have left their two other new transfer window acquisitions on the bench (Juan Iturbe and Lewis Grabban).

With Cheikidh Kouyate still recovering from injury and Alex Song struggling to recover his optimal form, the Hammers have given a start to David Gold's MOTM against Wolves last weekend, Pedro Obiang. The positive signs are that Obiang is starting to fully acclimatise to the Premiership and tonight represents a big opportunity for him to impress.

Not so long ago!
Otherwise, the Cherries will hope that Hammer's Academy graduate Junior Stanislas can continue his good form against his old club. With 5 goals in 14 appearances so far this season he seems to be finally realising the potential he showed as a youth at West Ham.
Enner Valencia is fit, thus providing the Hammers with a variety of attacking options as he lines out alongside Payet, Antonio and Andy Carroll.

The Hammers will be looking to make a better start than in the Upton Park meeting in August when a series of laughable defensive gaffs left them chasing the game. Of note, their reconfigured defence has performed so well of late that there is no automatic starting spot for the returning Winston Reid. Similarly, a measure of Slav's perception of Carl Jenkinson's rehabilitation is evident in the continued use of James Tomkins as a makeshift right back.

Can Bournemouth cope with the pace and power of Valencia and Antonio, the physicality of Carroll and the craft of Payet?.....No. Unlike media footie expert Mark Lawrenson, who has predicted defeats for West ham in 14 of 16 games this season, We predict 3-1 to the visitors!

Starting XIs:

WEST HAM UNITED: Adrian, Tomkins, Collins, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Obiang, Noble (c), Antonio, Payet, Valencia, Carroll. Substitutes: Darren Randolph, Carl Jenkinson, Reece Oxford, Winston Reid, Josh Cullen, Alexandre Song, Nikica Jelavic.

BOURNEMOUTH: Boruc, Francis, Cook, Gosling, Surman, Arter, Daniels, Smith, Stanislas, Afobe, Ritchie. Substitutes: Adam Federici, Sylvain Distin, Eunan O'Kane, Marc Pugh, Lewis Grabban, Juan Iturbe, Glenn Murray.

Monday 11 January 2016

Noble Embroiled in BBB Campaign!

As the furore around selections for the West Ham Allstars XI to play in the @noble16mark testimonial unfolds, recent footage suggests that Nobes is desperately in need of help if he is to optimise one of our last opportunities to savour the West Ham Way at Upton Park.

As cries gather for one last fond look at a whole host of living legends, our intrepid research team at VERYWESTHAM have stumbled upon terrifying footage of the testimonial recruitment effort!

Frantic fans are desperate to direct Nobes towards the 'right' Bishop - the one who entertained the Boleyn brigade during the decade leading up to Mark's arrival in 1988 as a bubbly baby ready to embark upon a career of Hammers dedication that is rare in the modern game.

Bish was in the Brooking mould, Applying pin point accuracy to a repertoire of passes that frequently left the faithful breathless. Perhaps not the paciest, Bish made up with a tenacious tackling spirit and was rarely caught out due to his impeccable position sense.

Nobes was recently pictured with comedian John Bishop who is a devout Liveroool fan and, in definite similarities to Benni McCarthy and Marco Boogers, has never actually contributed onfield to the Hammers cause. As such, he most certainly does not qualify as a Hammers legend and would be unwelcome in the Allstar XI!

Staying up North, Ernest ' Ernie' Bishop - the unassuming spouse of Emily Bishop in Coronation street also does not meet the qualification criteria - apart from probably supporting Stockport or Macclesfield town, Ernie was the unfortunate victim of a botched armed raid on Mike Baldwin's factory in 1978 during which he was fatally wounded. Sadly, he is therefore unavailable on the day.

Similarly, despite his keen interest in football, Bishop Desmond Tutu is unlikely to appear as he is reported to have recently tweaked a hammy and, at 189 years of age, the journey from South Africa would likely be too demanding for the versatile playmaker.

However, for those who wish to add to the BRING BISH BACK campaign, Tutu does have some fine words of wisdom:

"Instead of raising your voice...try improving your argument"

Sunday 10 January 2016

The Olympic Stadium is Simply a Dream for International Hammers!

As the move to the Olympic Stadium draws ever closer, VERYWESTHAM decided to take a trip to road test the Olympic experience. On the weekend of the Stoke City game,  we flew in on Friday and pretended that the game was at the new Stadium... Given our hopes of taking in more live action over the coming years, we approached the visit with a sense of trepidation - would the stadium be as impressive as reports suggest, and how easily accessed will it be for the foreign visitor who wants to support their Hammers heroes in person?

No room at the inn.....yet!
Taking the early morning flight from Shannon, we arrived at Stansted airport and proceded to the information desk. Lo and behold there was mughty good news as it turns out that we shall no longer incur the extreme costs of the Stansted Express into London (£34 which is often more than the Ryanair flights!).

Even better, no we are also no longer behoven to the tired old district line. While it has been a (mostly) efficient source of transport during our matchday trips out to Upton Park, for the time-pressurised long distance visitor it is frustratingly slow! 

Instead, to our delight we find that there are multiple bus companies willing to regularly ferry us to Stratford station in a mere 50 minutes!

Upon arrival, one can ditch any non-footie inclined and/or whinging family members, who are then free to shop to their heart's content for the day at the fancy shopping centre or local markets while we take in the footie action. 

If they get peckish, they can even dine at Jamie Oliver's restaurant nearby, although we couldn't find Jamie anywhere when we visited.
Maybe it was his day off? 

One issue that was evident is that it's not really clear where fans can congregate for a perimatch pint or two. Undoubtedly, our intrepid fanbase will resolve that uncertainty pretty soon after we move!

For those with Exercise Nervosa, immediately astride the stadium is the Olympic swimming pool which provides an ideal spot to work off those prematch tensions (£6 for entry to the state of the art facilities) before making the short walk across the Queen Elizabeth Park to the stadium proper.

For those with youngsters who have serious gaming addictions, or who for whatever reason get tetchy at the thought of being without wifi even for short periods, there are a number of conveniently positioned free wifi spots! This is also welcome news for international visitors who want to avoid crippling roaming charges while staying in touch to co-ordinate their visit!

Unfortunately, we were unable to gain access to the stadium proper. However, there can be little doubting that it is impressive, as those who follow independent Hammers media will know that the vast majority have expressed positive opinions when viewing stadium seats in the race for season tickets. This includes a host of previously sceptical fans who seem to have quickly been won over to the new place.

Finally, there's even some humorous signage that is likely to further irritate Latent Orient and the spies down at No Heart Lane! How many times do we have to tell you guys....NO, we won't be sharing our new home with you!

For the international fan the new stadium represents a fantastic opportunity to realise those season ticket aspirations that you have been harbouring for years; attractive, accessible, affordable.

All we need now is to fill the stadium with atmosphere and celebrate the new chapter in our great history!

Fans Plead With Noble

Bish NOT receiving the HOTY award
The excitement is certainly building ahead of Mark Noble's testimonial at Upton Park on Easter Monday.

Inevitably, as the inclusions in the Hammers allstars are announced, attention is turning to those not yet confirmed but whom fans would dearly love to see turn out on the hallowed turf for one last time.

One such legend is nineties midfield maestro Ian Bishop. Bish played almost 300 games for the Hammers between 1989 and 1998 and with his precision passing typified the much lauded 'West ham way'.

Bish has lived in the US for many years and is currently head coach for Evergreen FC in Leesburg, Virginia. Contacted on twitter earlier this week, Bish left no doubt about his willingness to appear if he gets the call.

Undoubtedly Bishop would be one of the first names mentioned by fans if asked to identify top Hammers in living memory, but interestingly, he never received a Hammer of the year award and is thus not among the 33 living HOTY specially invited to the final game at Upton Park later this year.

Equally bemusing is that Frank McAvennie also never made HOTY as he was beaten into second place by Tony Cottee in 1986.

Let's hope we get some chance to see the Bish again before the Upton Park era comes to a close. Now 50, he remains in good shape and one suspects could manage a half an hour cameo role to keep the older Hammers faithful happy in the testimonial.

To date, among those confirmed are Joe Cole, the Ferdinand bros, Trevor Sinclair, Jack Collison, Jimmy Walker, Danny Gabbidon and Carlton Cole. PDC is provisionally booked.

The latest ticket news from @noble16mark is that there will be tickets available to purchase in the next week or so.

Saturday 9 January 2016

Slaven: At least it wasn't another Wrexham!

Slaven Bilic was his usual honest self after a drab 3rd round FA Cup tie versus Wolves where his stifled Hammers sneaked a 1-0 win.

The goal came in the 85th minute by virtue of a Nikica Jelavic strike after good eork from Payet and Carroll - thus converting perhaps the only decent opportunity in the game.

Bilic commented on the challenge of breaking down well organised opposition, reminding everybody of the embarrassing defeat to Wrexham back in 1997.

Bilic was centre back in the Harry Redknapp managed Hammers who succumbed to a 90th minute sucker punch goal from Kevin Russell.

And so the FA Cup dream continues. We are such a distance from the Allardyce era when the cup was viewed as a nuisance that had to be endured rather than enjoyed.

Upwards and onwards!

Bilic Dances With Wolves!

Happy days right now at the Boleyn and right on cue the FA cup arrives just in time to further lift our buoyant spirits. Ex-Lion tamer, Kenny Jackett, and his pack of Wolves travel to Upton Park on the back of three straight victories that have pulled them up to a lofty 11th in the Championship. However, with the Hammers in scintillating form it would be disappointing if they dont progress to the next round. Having only failed to score at home twice in the last 20 games, and with a defence that is currently as tight as the proverbial gnat's arse, it's little wonder that the Bubbles boys are odds on to win.

Slaven Bilic has stated his affection for the FA Cup and a clear intention to make a strong challenge as he views a cup run as a decent target for his side this year. With Dimitri Payet needing game time, Wolves will need to be vigilant if they are to prevent the skilful midfielder from running matters. A key question is whether Bilic will give a run out to his up and coming youngsters, with Reece Oxford, Stephen Hendrie and Josh Cullen all hopeful that they might get some game time.

Wolves should not be underestimated, with Benik Afobe and Jordan Graham up front as their key attacking threats. However, in good news for the Hammers that 'controversial' pundit Mark Lawrenson has predicted a shock win for Wolves!

We reckon 2-0 to the Hammers as the momentum right now is strong. Kick off is at the traditional 3PM. We have produced a Slaven Bilic dance video to get you into the mood....ENJOY!!!

Wednesday 6 January 2016

Say Hello to the New Cuddly from Dudley!

With the departure of Sam Allardyce, the West Ham ranks were shorn of their very own 'Cuddly from Dudley'. That is until the arrival of England U20 midfield star and Birmingham City graduate Reece Brown - who also hailes from Dudley in the West Midlands.

Reece has impressed sufficiently after a trial to gain a month long loan at the Hammers to assess his suitability to join the ranks with our two other Supertalented Reece's - Burke and Oxford!

Reece is pictured above with ex-Hammer Jonathon Spector, who seems to have helped him pack his stuff for the journey south on trial!

VERYWESTHAM wishes him the very best of luck.

Rio in Reverse!

The growing rumours that Leeds United's top prospect, Sam Byram, will be joining West Ham during the transfer window is a cause for reflection on the state of the Hammers in 2016. While the troubles at Leeds of the past decade are only too well documented, it's worth reflecting how back in 2000 young Rio Ferdinand, who at the time was our best young prospect, exited Upton Park for the then staggering fee of 18 million!

At that time there was a sense that Ferdinand's departure was inevitable as West Ham were essentially a feeder club for bigger outfits. In fact, the Hammer's faithful were already bracing themselves for the inevitable subsequent departures of Frank Lampard, Michael Carrick and Joe Cole, which duly followed a few years later.

Wind forward to 2016 and West ham are no longer a feeder club for Manchester United, Chelsea and (dare i say it!) Tottenham. Of all the arguments for the move to the Olympic Stadium, the improved capacity to build a brilliant team that includes our best home-produced talent is surely the most compelling?

So as we hoover up young Byram into our ranks to serve as understudy to Tomkins and Jenkinson (sorry Leeds fans!), let's all reflect upon how times are changing. When the 'big' clubs inevitably come calling at the end of this season for the services of Payet, Reid, Lanzini, Adrian, Cresswell, Sakho etc we no longer look at the sports news with the previous sense of trepidation.

As Goldie and Sullivan keep reminding everybody.....we are no longer a selling club. Upwards and onwards...


Monday 4 January 2016

Is this the new Ravel?

News coming in indicates that 19 year old Birmingham city starlet Reece Brown (not to be confused with Wes Brown's 26 year old brother at Bury) is on trial at the Hammers. With almost 20 appearances at underage level for England and a handful of starts for Birmingham, Brown is considered a gifted talent with huge potential.

Birmingham City fans have expressed their disappointment that Brown looks set to leave as he has threatened in fits and starts to break into their first team set up but, with his contract running out in the Summer, is clearly now surplus to requirements at the streamlined Blues. Interestingly, Brown is described as a stylish midfielder but who comes with a definite 'attitude' warning.

All of which will sound familiar to the Hammers faithful, but undoubtedly the lad deserves his chance. Moreover, the Bilic regime has already demonstrated its capacity to deal with suboptimal commitment which augers well for discipline levels amongst our up and coming talents.

Brown seems to have enjoyed his outing against Brighton Development squad at Rush Green this evening where he had the honour of lining out alongside Alex Song who is working on his match fitness. The Hammers ran out 2-0 winners.

Meanwhile, poor Ravel Morrison continues to struggle to fit in at Lazio, with suggestions that the Italian club would be happy to cut their losses after less than six months of his four year deal.


Time to Stop This Tomkins Right Back Nonsense

West Ham's fortunes are very much on the rise at the present as they face 2016 with high expectations. With their key attacking talents returning from injury and a solid defence that is parsimonious in the extreme, Hammers folk are in danger of becoming smug!

At right back most observers are trumpeting the qualities of James Tomkins. Last season, Carl Jenkinson was excellent and looked destined to make the switch to the Hammers on a more permanent basis. However, Arsenal offered him a new five year deal and then pushed him back out on loan to the Boleyn for another season.

however, things have not gone smoothly and Jenkinson has suffered a dip in form and confidence. A series of defensive errors prompted Slaven Bilic into action and the versatile James Tomkins was switched to right back. Suddenly we looked defensively intact again and everybody has been happy.

Everybody except yours truly. Tomkins is an excellent centre back - strong in the air, astute in the timing of his tackling, and although not lightening quick, he is reasonably pacey for a centre back. However, right back is a highly specialised position that has possibly changed more than any other position in the modern game and now represents a hybrid of the old role and a traditional outside right.

Watching Tomkins against Liverpool a number of issues were evident. His capacity to push forward is clearly limited compared to a natural full back but more importantly, he was continuously pulled in centrally leaving space out wide that thankfully Liverpool failed to capitalise upon. For sure, he was compelled to come across as we became stretched, but his natural inclinations towards the right centre back position were clear to see.

By no means is this to criticise Tomkins - on the contrary, its a measure of his footballing maturity that he has adapted so well to his current role. If anything, he should be a starting centre back for West Ham and should be looking to add to his international credits. Roy Hodgson attended the recent game against Southampton and one wonders which players most attracted his attentions? For the Hammers it was known well in advance that Aaron Cresswell would be missing, which leaves Tomka and Mark Noble.

As for Carl Jenkinson, he looks to regaining his confidence with some useful performances off the bench. Whethere he can re-establish himself as our starting right back is uncertain, especially as his new contract with Arsenal makes an end of season exit more likely. With rumours that Sam Byram may be on his way from Leeds, it is clear that Bilic has recognised right back as an area where we need cover. Byram is very much an attacking full back in the mould of Cressy and Bilic's preferred system ultimately requires full backs who are offensively inclined.

With James Collins in such sparkling form it seems prudent to maintain the current defensive set up, but longer term Tomkins needs to be restored to his centre back role and a specialist right back should occupy that position. With our pattern of injuries it shouldn't be long before we have to reshuffle at the back again!

Sunday 3 January 2016

Comedy Duo Welcome Payet back into Action

Saturday's drubbing of Klopp's flopps was a most pleasing occurence, made all the better by the return of chief creator Dimitri Payet - a moment that brought smiles to Hammers faces all around the world.

We at VERYWESTHAM were perfectly positioned to capture the moment with the North Tipperary Hammers supporters club president and chairman - Trevor & Robbie. The duo, otherwise known as Ballina's Derek and Clive, were so moved that they engaged in a complex bowing ritual to greet the East End Maradona back into the action.

Payet, for his part, responded by performing a triplet of reverse stepover twirls to bemuse and befuddle the Liverpool defence- much to the amusement and titillation of the Tipperary supporters.

Happy days!!!


Homer Slays the cy-Klopps

Just as in Homer's odyssey, where Polyphemus, the evil man eating giant cyclops is outwitted and blinded by our here Odysseus, the Hammers slayed the the monocular tactics of Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool, as yesterday's final visit to Upton Park ended in tragedy for the Merseyside 'giants'.

After an epic encounter, the Eastenders prevailed by scoring two heroic headed goals whilst once again keeping a clean sheet. Michail Antonio was the main hero as Liverpool's defence struggled all afternoon with his pace and physicality. Once again, he could have had a hat trick and with his ever growing relationship with Andy Carroll, must now have cemented a place in the Hammers starting XI for the forseeable future.

The one disappointment of the day for the Hammers was the early departure of Manuel Lanzini with a groin strain. Just prior to that, the little Argentinian had rattled the post with a wickedly swerving shot from outside the box. However, the return of Dimitri Payet serves to soften the blow of losing Lanzini and the talismanic midfielder was marked by repeated demonstrations of his compelling trickery as he immediately set about teasing and tormenting a mesmerised Liverpool defence!

MOTM went to James Collins for another awesome display in defence. West Ham really do have an incredible surplus of talent in the centre back position and who would ever of thought that Winston Reid might struggle to get back into the side when he is fit again!

Ex Red Andy Carroll will undoubtedly have enjoyed netting the second goal as he proved simply too strong for the Liverpool backline. As in the second half against Southampton, Carroll demonstrated how he can be virtually unplayable when fit and on form. With Payet back and ready to fire in a healthy supply of tantalising crosses, things are looking up for Andy and the Hammers in general.

Next up, the FA Cup and two interesting away games at Bournemouth and Newcastle. From a tactical perspective, Slaven is equally comfortable playing home or away and, as such, the Hammers will be hoping to build on their four away wins this season.

This season was always going to be notable as the final spell playing at the legendary Boleyn ground, but with historic wins like yesterday's which hailed the first double over Liverpool since 1963, 2015/16 will go down as a memorable season for so many good reasons.