Thursday, 27 July 2017

How Bizarre, How Bizarre!

It's a laugh a minute at West Ham right now - with the arrival of a host of top signings, fans are now finding amusement in some of the sad efforts of our Premiership rivals to steal some of our Jewels on the cheap!

First up - The Jewel- is reportedly wanted by Liverpool as a replacement for Philippe Coutinho. While that would make for a good deal for Mr Klopp and Co., it's hard to see why the Hammers would undo all the good work of the transfer window by selling their principal playmaker. In short - No, No, No...go away Liverfools!

Staying in Merseyside, it has also emerged that Everton are looking to sign James Collins as a replacement for the injured Ramires Funes Mori. Happily, in a recent interview Ginge made it clear that at 33 years old he expects to see out his career at West Ham and, as last season demonstrated, he still has plenty to offer when called upon. Moreover, although the Reece's and Declan Rice are all top prospects, they are not quite ready to step up to first team football on a regular basis.

And then the most amusing of them all - Palace want Adrian for a mere £3million!!! NO, apparently that's not a season long loan fee but a full transfer bid. With Darren Randolph departed it would make NO sense to let Adrian go, especially for a comedy fee!

As the Otaro Millionaires Club remarked in their 1995 hit - 'How Bizarre'!

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Is It Boomerang Time For The Striker That Got Away?

With the arrival of Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez we are reminded just how 'unlucky' Messrs Sullivan and Gold have been with previous strikers - with more than 90% of their previous three dozen or so acquisitions failing to get anywhere close to reaching even double figures in their periods at the club.

During that time, the Hammers signed a young Irish talent to their development squad - Sean Maguire. Arriving from Waterford United in 2013, he was tipped as a potential Cottee-Defoe type striker, but never quite made the grade and returned to Ireland in 2015. Since then he has topped the League of Ireland goal scoring for two consecutive seasons netting an incredible 52 goals in 68 appearances for Cork City.

Still only 23 years old, Maguire has just returned to England, having signed for Preston North End and last night signalled his intentions by scoring an excellent individual goal on his debut against Burnley. Picking the ball up some 40 yards from goal, Maguire carved open the Burnley defence before coolly slotting home from just inside the penalty area - classy!



Maguire looks set to get a call up for the Republic of Ireland senior squad in the near future which will give him an opportunity to demonstrate his talents even further. Who knows. perhaps a return to the Hammers at some point in the coming seasons is on the cards?   

Arnautovic Update

The Hammers new winger in full flight!

The arrival of a host of possible new fan favourites during the Summer window has put West Ham fans under considerable pressure in order to find suitable nicknames for the new arrivals. In particular, Marko Arnautovic poses a real challenge as Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez comes with a ready made label.

So far, fans have suggested 'Arnie' after that famous Austrian actor / politician Arnold Schartzenegger, but given that his most famous role was playing a Sci-Fi version of Julian 'The Terminator' Dicks playing space soccer, that would unacceptably impinge upon an existing club legend.

Amongst the Schwartzenegger alternatives would be 'Predator', but that might cause all manner of confusion as the football boot of the same name have been discontinued since 2015 and there is also the appauling spectre of unnecessarily awakening the image of Craig Johnson and Co. in their 1980s pomp - yeuch!

No No No

Other Schwartzenegger options include 'Conan the Barbarian', 'The Running Man', the Hammers appropriate - 'Pumping Iron' or, if he succumbs to the Tore-Feghouli-Snodgras syndrome, 'Raw Deal'.

However, given the focus upon Marko's Austrian-ness, maybe we should look towards the second most famous Austrian of all time - Bruno. Whatever else about the faux-Austrian model, he has a consistently cutting edge that we will be needing next season if we are to realise our top-six aspirations! 

COYI!!!

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Home and Away: These are the West Ham formations that can bring a top six finish next season

With the arrival of Javier Hernandez there is a sense that West Ham are now truly ready to push for a place amongst the big boys of the Premiership! A key issue for Slaven Bilic will be how best to employ his resources to bring the necessary results - both home and away.

Last season, West Ham initially struggled at home and found it hard to break visiting teams down. Where a team decides to park the bus we need to be able to open them up and the addition of Chicarito and Arnautovic adds the kind of offensive quality that will bring goals - even against the most determined and well organised visitors!

Playing the Carroll - Chicarito two up front card is an absolutely mouth watering prospect (if Sakho gets fit then he would add another dimension to this) and with the intensity of Antonio and Arnautovic down the wings while Lanzini waves his wand in the centre it looks hard to see how opposition defences will cope! Obviously, some visiting teams (Chelsea/Man City / Arsenal) require that we play a less open formation and for these sides perhaps Away option A is better suited even though we will be the hosts.

Away from home, we can play a tighter formation with just one forward and keeping Big Andy and / or Sakho as game-changing substitutes (or maybe start with Carroll as he is also so useful from defensive set pieces). Away option B includes three centre backs which emerged towards the end of last season as an effective defensive set up where we want to suffocate opponents. This is likely to be even more effective with the added pace to our counterattacking that Hernandez and Arnautovic will bring.

Obviously, for the formations below one can readily substitute Noble for either Kouyate or Obiang, Masuaku for Cresswell, Fonte for Ogbonna and Adrian for Hart.

Exciting times - it looks like we have the squad to match our stadium and aspirations. This will be a big year for SuperSlaven - he needs to deliver upon what we have been patiently moving towards over the past five years. This year can be the one where we finally break into the top six.


Home Option
 
—– Hart —–
— Zabaleta — Reid — Ogbonna — Cresswell —
—– Kouyate —–
—  Antonio — Lanzini — Arnautovic
— Hernandez — Carroll —
 
 
Away Option A
—– Hart —–
— Zabaleta — Reid— Ogbonna  — Cresswell —
— Obiang — Kouyate —-
—  Antonio — Lanzini — Arnautovic
—– Hernandez —–
 
 
Away Option B
—– Hart —–
— Zabaleta — Fonte — Reid— Ogbonna  — Cresswell —
— Kouyate —
—  Antonio — Lanzini — Arnautovic
—– Hernandez —–
 

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Arnautovic: Big Questions Emerge Already


The arrival of Austrian international Marko Arnautovic for a club record £24 million fee is a real signal of intent by West Ham. With Javier Hernandez due to undergo a medical in the coming days. Things look rosy in the Hammers garden!

But already there are uncertainties as to the appropriate nickname for our new talent...should it be 'Arnie' after his famous bodybuilding countryman, which in turn might impinge upon the territory of Hammers legend Julian 'Terminator Dicks? Maybe we could just call him 'Vic' with the readymade Department S chant on offer? Or maybe in anticipation of some of the shenanigans that characterised his earlier career we might follow the tabloids example and call him 'Mad Marko'. Let's hope the latter is not needed.

And then there's the issue of his squad number. Arnautovic prefers the number 10 but that has become owned by Manny Lanzini. Maybe Arnautovic might take number 4 from the departed Havard Nordtveit? Or, given the likelihood that Arnautovic's arrival will hasten the exit of Sofiane Feghouli, maybe he should wait for the number 7 to become vacant?

Or maybe he might bring the number 27 back into the equation? Maybe...

Friday, 21 July 2017

Have the bookies got it wrong about West Ham?


Things are looking up at West ham with the arrival of series of exciting signings to join a squad that already has a decent amount of quality players. Factor in that the club have survived their first year at the new stadium, which was finally starting to feel and sound like home towards the end of the season, and things look very positive indeed.

However, the team at Paddy Power don't quite see it that way quoting the Hammers at just 8/1 for relegation and manager Slaven Bilic as second least likely boss to get the manager of the year award (33/1)!

Many fans will feel that with the new signings ahar the Hammers might push on for a top six spot but the odds are 16/1 - making us twice as likely to get relegated as to qualify for Europe!

That sounds a bit harsh and some fans might want to seize the opportunity to prove the bookies wrong.

By the way, we are 200/1 to finish as the top London club, with a top 4 finish is quoted at 45/1, while being crowned outright Premiership champions is 500/1!

Remember the last time it felt this right?


After a quiet start to the Summer suddenly things are looking very interesting at West ham. With Pablo Zabaleta string to sort out the right back problem and Joe Hart to add presence between the sticks, the defence looks solid, and now the arrivals of Marco Arnautovic and Javier Hernandez look imminent, suddenly we've got a decent looking team!

So mush so that Jose Mourinho is tipping us as a good outside bet to challenge for the Premiership! Wow!

However, one suspects all Hammers fans have that inner naysayer who is whispering into our ears a terrifying loop that includes " ...2006 / Magnusson / Ljungberg-Dyer-Bellamy...".

That said, it's a mouth watering prospect to think of putting out a starting XI that could include Hart, Zabaleta, Reid, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Kouyate, Obiang, Lanzini, Antonio, Arnautovic, Hernandez.

Maybe the special one has got a point!

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Striker, Striker, Striker!!!


After last night's toothless encounter with Austrian third tier outfit Sturm Graz 2 it's surely time that fans started to shout louder for that much needed striker - NO, not the 1970's board game, but a real 2017 player who can score goals at the highest level!

Having created a host of gilt-edged chances in the first half, with last season's star offensive signing Andre Ayew chief culprit with at least three unconverted one on ones with the keeper, the game petered out for a 0-0 draw!

On the positive side, there were good performances from young Nathan Holland and Pablo Zaballeta, as well as welcome returns for Pedro Obiang and Arthur Musuaku, but we looked blunt and lacking in the final third. There's a long way to go before we can set the Premiership alight!

Both Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho sat out proceedings as their seemingly endless rehabilitation programmes continued. The rumour mill suggests that Chicarito is edging closer towards a move to West Ham - let's hope we can finally bring a consistent and injury-free forward to the club.... 

Monday, 17 July 2017

Hammers Sign Ghidorah - but is three a crowd?


There can be no doubting that West Ham fans are hungry for new signings to boost a squad that stuttered through much of last season. The arrival of Pablo Zabaletta was a decent start as the right back berth has been an open wound for much of the campaign, but the arrival of Joe Hart on a one year contract seems to make little or no sense at all!

At present, West Ham have two excellent keepers who both endured dodgy spells last term trying to shore up a defence that was creaking and lost its confidence. Both paid the price with demotions to the bench but in all honesty most Hammers fans would admit that, apart from brief dodgy spells last year, both Adrian and Darren Randolph have been largely excellent during their West Ham careers. "Usually excellent but prone to the odd gaff" - sounds like a description that would readily fit Joe Hart - so now we have three similarly talented/error-prone keepers??? 

Even worse, keepers thrive on confidence and stability - hardly something that will be boosted by the arrival of an interloper on loan for just a year. Destabilising or what? It's hard to fathom what the management are thinking! If this arrival forces out either Adrian or Randolph (which seems inevitable) what will we have gained? 

In the fifth Godzilla movie, Ghidorah was a three headed reptilian monster from Mars who waged war on Earth until Godzilla and Rodan got fed up and sent him back into outer space! Ghidorah's weakness was having too many heads to choose from - something Slaven Bilic might want to consider as we prepare for next season where we will need a more assured defence than last year!

Is There Something Amiss In Our Coaching Set Up?


Well who would have thought it - Jonathan Calleri arrived at West Ham last year hailed as the next Carlos Tevez. Just like Tevez he endured a difficult start adjusting to the Premiership, but unlike the Apache his luck did not improve and he became a forlorn looking figure before exiting for Las Palmas last month. In total he managed just one goal in 18 games for West Ham and amassed a series of terrible howlers, including a highly amusing attempted rabona shot against Stoke City in April when a tap in would have sufficed!

It will therefore come as a bit of a shock to Hammers fans that he scored not once, but twice for Las Palmas in his debut last night! Add this to the fact that the goalless Simone Zaza notched 6 in 18 appearances for Valencia after his West Ham nightmare ended midway through last season, you'd have to wonder whether our attacking coaching set up is getting the best out of these players?

One solution would have been to bring back Teddy Sheringham but he has recently moved to the Indian Super League as manager of Atletico de Kolkata. As we seek a big name striker to address our lack of attacking firepower, maybe we also need to ask some questions about our support network for these players?


BTW if you want to take a look at Calleri's rabona howler check out this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SbKGFt5fQo&t=19s
 

Sunday, 16 July 2017

West Ham and the Green Eyed Monster


Two Peas in a Pod...
It's hard not be a little envious of fans of other clubs who have already made their mark on the transfer market as the Hammers go cap in hand seeking the signature of a variety of overvalued players who are ready to cash in on the endless wealth of the Premiership. Man United and Everton have been quick out of the blocks and will be feeling well satisfied with their business to date. Envious, we may be, but perhaps the green-eyed monster is the solution to our woes. 

Javier Hernandez AKA 'Chicarito' (the little pea) is well known to West Ham fans from his spells at Manchester United, Real Madrid and most recently Bayer Leverkusen. His goalscoring record speaks for itself and of all of the potential striking signings that have been mooted so far this Summer, he looks the one most likely to deliver the 15-20 goals per season that we need to push for a European spot. 

Having both a father (Chicaro - pea due to his green eye colour) and grandfather as Mexican Internationals, he has considerable pedigree (and has notched 48 international goals in 96 internationals). Having just turned 29 years old, his last three seasons in Germany have seen him grab 39 goals in 76 appearances. He has a season left on his contract and a E13million release clause, but his demands of apparently £140k per week pose the main stumbling block.  

The bookies have installed the Hammers as 5/6 favourites to sign the little pea, with a stay at Leverkusen quoted at 11/8. Interestingly, although Chelsea are rumoured to be interested, Spurs (8/1), Man United (14/1) and Liverpool (20/1) are the other English clubs quoted.

Hernandez looks like the sort of quality capture that the Hammers need to set out their stall as a ‘big’ club who want to compete with the best. Fingers crossed…

 

Friday, 14 July 2017

Hammers Still Stuck at the Wrong End of the Pitch


Zzzzzzz. It's been a much quieter transfer period so far this year as the Hammers board have realised the wisdom of keeping your cards close to your chest. So far, the striker speculation has mostly been about a variety of modest performers Premiership - Gray, Bony, Rondon, Slimani...Let's hope we can find something a bit more exciting further afield as it's hard to see any of that list of sub 20-goals per season strikers changing us into top six contenders.

Otherwise, we seem stuck looking at the option of a new netminder. In all honesty, the Randolph / Adrian competition is very positive and although both experienced dips in form last season, the reality is that over the past few years they have both excelled and are reaching the peak of their careers. All of which raises the question - do we really need Joe Hart? A season long loan would surely just serve to destabilise an area of the squad that thrives on stability and confidence?

Also, it looks like our first two signings will both be defensive. While you can argue that defensively we were weak last term, in reality apart from the silly situation at right back, our lack of an attacking threat allowed teams to push on to us and exposed us defensively. Add some pace and a cutting edge to our attack and the defence will inevitably improve without major changes in personel (apart from Zabaletta, who looks like a good acquisition).
Happily, Slaven Bilic has revealed that the club is not interested in bringing in lots of unproven squad boosting players but are focussing upon trying to acquire players who will slot straight into the starting XI. Next season truly is a big one for the club - there can be no more whinging about adapting to a new stadium or building financially as we are now a big club with the finances and structures that big clubs have. It's time to think big and stay away from the bargain basement - Payet was an aberration and even then we eventually got to discover why he was a budget buy! 

Let's hope the silence is a measure of the fact that we are doing serious business.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

It's Cheggers Time as Hammers Try to Get Transfer Engine Rolling


Most West Ham fans are relieved that our board seem to have opted to maintain a more dignified silence in their efforts to capture new talent in this Summer's transfer market. Last year the club became a laughing stock as despite all the bravado we ended up having to make disastrous last minute deals for Simone Zaza, Jonathan Calleri and Andre Ayew. Of these, only Ayew has enjoyed any success and even with that many question his £20 million fee.

This year it’s entirely different. As a result, the headline-starved media are coming up with all sorts of bizarre suggestions for transfer deals. One amusingly outdated concept is the player swap - something that has not been a part of transfer dealings for many a year (Think Harry Redknapp and his genius 1993 deal swapping Julian Dicks for Mike Marsh and David Burrows). In the past 48 hours alone, the Hammers have been linked with three separate outlandish swap deals! 

First up, HITC have suggested that West Ham get into bed with West Brom and swap Robert Snodgrass for Nacer Chadli! Chadli can be good, albeit frustratingly inconsistent, but Snodgras surely deserves another run at least until Christmas next year?

Then Football London have suggested Snodgrass could be swapped for Marco Arnautovic at Stoke!

Finally, HITC have decided to really put it out there with suggestions that the Hammers might swap Andy Carroll for Leicester City's misfiring Islam Slimani! Hardly good value to swap the Premiership’s most physically adept forward for a player who has not adjusted to the Premiership with any great success? 

All of which suggests that the days of folk redistributing unwanted underperforming possessions on Swap Shop are unlikely to return! Patience looks to be the best policy in this transfer market - we are not (yet) big enough to drive the market but will be ready to respond once the merry go round starts to gain momentum. 

 

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Ex Hammer to get another chance in England

Ex-Hammer Sean Maguire's goalscoring exploits over the past two seasons in the Aitricity League of Ireland have really caught the eye and now have earned him a return to England. During the week he netted a hat trick in Cork City's Europa League game against Estonian outfit Levadia Talinn thus bringing his season's haul to 22 goals in 22 games!

This follows on from a prolific season last year when Maguire was top scorer in the Airtricity Premier League with 18 goals.

Maguire spent two years at West Ham between 2013 and 2015. He was hoped to be the next Tony Cottee, but things stalled at the Hammers and was let go at the end of 2015 after loan periods at Colchester, Sligo Rovers and Accrington Stanley.

Now, at 23 and after two season's where he looks to he has signed for Preston North End and will get to ply his wares in the Championship next season and will leave Cork City at the end of July (note the League of Ireland runs over the spring and Summer.

We wish him the very best.

 

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

All not so quiet on the West Ham front?


Thankfully it appears that so far this Summer our chairman and his son have realised the need to keep transfer speculation to a minimum. It doesn't make for fun media, but perhaps we might see a better product than Calleri-Zaza-Tore that emerged after last Summers bragfest concluded with some late panic shopping bag filling.

As a consequence, the most pertinent news this week is that the first team squad return to training today! While the internationals get a few extra days (if they want them), most of our squad checked in to Rush Green this morning ready to start preparing for next week's Austrian trip. Speaking of which, it's a bit of a pity we seem to have opted for Germany/Austria as a preferred location for preseason work given that its not the most interesting region for the more addicted fans to enjoy a short break in and catch a few games.

In other news, West Ham fans have been identified by a Daily Star report as the worst for hooliganism in terms of matchday arrests aboard public transport, accounting for 10% of the total. Hopefully, the teething problems of last season have finally settled down - certainly, inside the stadium the atmosphere improved considerably towards the end of the season with the delicious victory over Spurs a galvanising moment. It's a pity that this is the only number 1 rating we picked up last year (how about fastest growing club?)

Its early days yet in the transfer market but clubs with real ambition often lay out their stalls with a major investment that sends out a message to other potential recruits. Messrs Sullivan and Gold can moan all they like about non-Premiership proven players not working out but the truth is that top players do tend to slot into the Premier League quickly. Now that we are in the top 15 richest clubs on the planet, with surely the most financially efficient stadium arrangements in the League, it's time to realise the dividend of moving on from Upton Park. For sure, it's great that we can be relatively confident that Reid-Kouyate-Lanzini-Antonio will not be poached by 'bigger' clubs but it'd also be nice to bring in some players of proven similar calibre.

One last thing - re the Feghouli situation; another season looks like a good call as at times he did look the real deal and was unlucky with injuries. It'd be a pity if the most abiding memory of him is to be the hilarious miss against Man City!
 

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

West Ham's First Big Disappointment of 2017-18

As the new home strip hits the shops Hammers fans have had a chance to decide whether its a winner or not. The view at VERYWESTHAM is that it lacks ambition and creativity and bodes next season. In particular, the weird purple triangle on the upper chest looks out of place and better suited to an episode of Star Trek or the like (and we mean the Next Generation rather than Captain Kirk and the lads!).

As reports from ReadWestHam (see ex-WestHamEmployee)suggest that SuperSlav will have less money to invest than last season, maybe the kit reflects the mood at the club as one of consolidation.

However, as the 15th richest club in the world perhaps it's time to push on boldly and start building the 15th best team? A big signing at this stage of the Summer would send out a strong signal to other potential recruits that we are a club on the rise. Let's hope we don't find ourselves having to splash out big money on the end of Summer leftovers - we could do without another painful Zaza-like saga!


Monday, 26 June 2017

The Curious Case of Arbeloa Unfolds

Alvaro Arbeloa arrived at West Ham from Real Madrid with much expectation that he would tighten up a porous defence by bringing his experience to the right back position that has so troubled Slaven Bilic's reign as West Ham manager. However, Arbeloa quickly fell out of favour after a number (three actually) of lukewarm performances and was suddenly out of the frame even despite Sam Byram picking up an injury.

In truth, many Hammers fans were bemused and befuddled by the whole affair. Arbeloa had no apparent injury issues and his history pointed towards a consummate professional. Just exactly what was wrong was very unclear indeed.

However, announcing his retirement today, Arbeloa spoke to La Marca and shed some light on his difficulties at West Ham citing that it was not a physical problem but rather " in the end it was a head and motivational issue".

Arbeloa went on to describe how he has no interest in playing in the lucrative US or Chinese Leagues as for him they represent something that he finds less appealing about modern football. Hammers fans will note that he found motivation an issue despite his rumoured £50k per week wage!

As the 15th richest club in the world, surely it's time for West Ham to stop buying past it burned out players who lack the desire that a club with our ambitions needs?

Remembering our friend Foe



It's hard to believe it but today is the 14th anniversary of the sudden death of ex-Hammer Marc Vivien Foe! Marc lost his life at the age of 28 in 2003 after suffering a cardiac event whilst on the pitch whilst during a confederations Cup Semi Final clash for Cameroon against Colombia. In tragic scenes, Foe collapsed near the centre circle and could not be revived as players and the watching world looked on in horror. 


The Cameroon international joined the Hammers in 1999 from Lens for £4 million in a season that saw them enjoy a UEFA adventure under then boss, Sir Harry Redknapp. He played 38 games scoring once but then returned to Lyon in France for a 6 Million fee in 2000. He subsequently enjoyed a loan spell at Man City where he was under contract when he died due to Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

A likeable and hugely talented giant of a man, he is remembered fondly.

Rest in Peace big fella!





Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Hammers Left With No Room for Last Gasp Heroics



Next Season's fixture list was released this morning and it makes for some interesting thoughts about how SuperSlav's men will need to consider their campaign.

With a high profile start away to Man United, there is then a run of relatively 'soft' fixtures and it's not until December that things get testy with games against Man City and London derbies versus Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham!

If the Hammers find themselves in trouble they will be under pressure in the final six games where they have a tough run in that includes games against Chelsea, Arsenal, Man City and Everton!

Hopefully, we will be viewing those games as Champions League qualifying six pointers!

It's already only 9 weeks until it starts all over again.

August
12 Man Utd (a)
19 Southampton (h)
26 Newcastle (a)

September

9 Huddersfield (h)
16 West Brom (a)
23 Tottenham (h)
30 Swansea (h)

October

14 Burnley (a)
21 Brighton (h)
28 Crystal Palace (a)

November

4 Liverpool (h)
18 Watford (a)
25 Leicester (h)
29 Everton (a)

December

2 Man City (a)
9 Chelsea (h)
12 Arsenal (h)
16 Stoke (a)
23 Newcastle (h)
26 Bournemouth (a)
30 Tottenham (a)

January

1 West Brom (h)
13 Huddersfield (a)
20 Bournemouth(h)
30 Crystal Palace (h)

February

3 Brighton (a)
10 Watford (h)
24 Liverpool (a)

March

3 Swansea (a)
10 Burnley (h)
17 Man Utd (h)
31 Southampton (a)

April

7 Chelsea (a)
14 Stoke (h)
21 Arsenal (a)
28 Man City (h)

May

5 Leicester (a)

13 Everton (h)

Monday, 29 May 2017

Ayew Edges Ahead in Hammers Annual Award



After the first day of voting Andre Ayew has pushed ahead in the 'Miss of the Year' competition at West Ham. Having managed to hit the post not once, but twice from a yard out against Liverpool the majority of fans (60%) have so far voted for his outrageous miss.

However, a substantial minority (40%) feel that Jonathan Calleri's botched rabona is a better miss! Considering that he had been so unproductive up front one might have thought that a more straightforward effort to claim a goal would have been warranted but...

Disappointingly, Sofiane Feghouli's remarkable scuff from 3 feet out against Man City has not attracted any great support and languishes well behind the twin leaders of Ayew and Calleri....

With another six days to go, its all up for grabs! Why not check out the action courtesy of youtube:


Sunday, 28 May 2017

Your chance to vote for the Hammers MISS OF THE SEASON


Anyone feeling bored yet without a weekly fix of footie? After last season's stuttering campaign, many Hammers fans are left with a sense of being unfulfilled. Undoubtedly our chairmen will keep us in the news about possible signings, and who knows, might even actually splash some big cash, but otherwise there is little to savour from last season.

One area where the Hammers did excel was in respect of spectacular misses! With a misfiring attack that seemed woefully lacking in confidence, we managed to notch up some of the most amusing misses that we have ever managed! We have compiled a list of the top three for you to select your favourite and here they are!


Option A: Sofiane Feghouli (6th January, FA Cup versus Man City). The Hammers started well against Man City before conceding to a super goal. Despite this, we fought on and were still very much in the game when Michail Antonio's shot was spilled into the path of the on rushing Feghouli. Two yards out and with the goal gaping.....somehow he missed - slicing the ball back across goal!!! Bizarre. We ran out 0-5 losers but you'd have to wonder what if we had converted this simple chance?

Option B: Andre Ayew (14th May Vs Liverpool). Liverpool arrived needing points and although understrength we hoped to frustrate their efforts. The game was tightly balanced  until Coutinho opened up our defence for Mr Sturridge to put the reds ahead. However, undeterred we hit back and seemed destined to equalise from a delicious Lanzini corner where the ball fell to Andre Ayew just a metre from the goal line. Somehow the £20 million signing managed to hit the post - twice!!!


Option C; Jonathan Calleri (29th April Vs Stoke City). Calleri arrived with a big reputation but struggled with the pace of the Premiership and soon fell down the pecking order. Towards the end of the campaign injuries forced Slaven Bilic to give the young Argentinian a run of games to prove himself. He fluffed it, managing a single goal in 19 appearances. This miss - whereby he has a gaping goal and decides to showboat with an unnecessary rabona - is surely his most bizarre miss!

So which miss do you think wins the greatest miss of our season competition? 

 

The Truth Behind West Ham's Drab Season


For West Ham fans the 2016/17 season was a frustrating campaign, with the title crushing win over Spurs and the Cup victory over Chelsea the highlights. While there are a number of explanations - adjusting to a new stadium, another harsh run of injuries to key players, the lack of pace in midfield - undoubtedly the main problem was in attack where none of their forwards managed to make double figures.

Perhaps the writing was on the wall with the panic signing of World Cup penalty comedian Simone Zaza after efforts to lure the likes of Carlos Bacca or Michy Batshuayi came to nothing. Thereafter, an impotent Hammers attack laboured away to limited effect with Manuel Lanzini and Michail Antonio the main lights in what was a drab offensive campaign. 

As usual, Andy Carroll popped up with a few decent strikes and an overall decent strike rate of almost a goal every third game - which was our most potent scoring percentage per game. When twinned with his contribution in terms of general physicality and at both attacking and defensive set pieces, it's hard to not be lured into continuing to hope that he will find a consistent run of fitness. However, it's fair to assume that Andy cannot ever be relied upon as our principal starting striker as he only managed 110 appearances in five seasons at the club.

Similarly, after a tremendous start to his career at the club, Diafra Sakho has succumbed to sustained injury problems and has been almost constantly absent for the past 18 months. With squad numbers at a premium, it's hard to justify having so many injury-prone forwards on the books (and Daniel Sturridge seems unlikely to improve matters!). As such, either Carroll or Sakho need to leave this Summer - Carroll is the more consistent performer but his wages are considerably higher. The outcome will tell us something important about how cash rich we really are!

Otherwise, the departure of Jonathan Calleri comes as no surprise but perhaps what confused some fans is that he was started ahead of Ashley Fletcher for the final half dozen or so games of the season? Andre Ayew seemed to find form after his early injury setbacks but is clearly not the natural poacher that the club need if they are to push into the top half of the Premiership next season.

As for developing talent, for all the talk of Toni Martinez being the next big thing, he endured a disappointing spell at League One Oxford, while Jaanai Gordon fared no better at League two's Newport County.

The bottom line is that we need to invest in at least two top class strikers this Summer.

NOTE to Messrs Sullivan and Gold: Top class players are rarely available on loan!

Let the transfer games begin!!!


 

Saturday, 27 May 2017

The contrasting fortunes of West Ham's 2017 escapees


The 2016/17 season can at best be described as one of consolidation for West Ham as they trundled in 12th in the Premier League having endured a frustrating first season at their new home. Undoubtedly the story of the year was the departure of Mr Payet, who returned to Marseille claiming that the London club lacked true ambition. Meanwhile, their marque signing was supposed to be Italian hitman Simone Zaza, but he was shown the door in January after failing to score in eleven miserable appearances. 

The departures served to galvanise SuperSlav's troops who went on a decent run before running out of steam and succumbing to a series of frustrating injuries. Meanwhile, Mr Payet huffed and puffed but his Marseille side finished precisely where they were when he arrived - in a Champions League missing 5th. He managed 4 goals in 15 games - therefore averaging a similar strike rate to his West Ham career, and despite playing in the relatively easier environs of Ligue 1.

Zaza meanwhile rediscovered his scoring boots and notched a decent 6 strikes in 18 appearances for Valencia who have decided to take up the purchase clause in his loan deal and he will stay at the club for the coming season. As such, while Payet  looks to have hit a plateau, Zaza is back in the ascendency.

Let’s hope that whoever comes as replacements fares better at the Olympic Stadium than these two wannabes did last year!

 

Hammers prepare for Superman's return


As the transfer merry go round kicks into gear the Hammers gave moved quickly to address their longstanding problem at right back by capturing Pablo Zabaleta from Man city. Zabaleta is no spring chicken at 32 years of age, but will bring his experience and discipline to the position with the hope that young Sam Byram can learn from the Argentinian veteran.

Meanwhile, the rumours about regarding their other key area of deficit as they have been linked with a series of forwards.

In other news, it appears that Enner Valencia will be returning from his loan spell at Everton. After 21 appearances and three goals, his contribution at the Toffees has mirrored his in and out form over the two previous seasons at West ham where he managed 8 goals in 54 appearances.

Valencia has not managed to bring his prolific scoring at International level to the Premiership but with Gokhan Tore departed, he may be deemed a useful squad member as Superslav looks to push for top six status next season.

What do you think? Should we hold on to him in the hope that he has finally adjusted to the physicality of the Premiership or let him go?

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Rice Decision Shows How Premier League Need to Change Payments


West Ham travelled to Burnley for what was on paper a dead rubber from the outset. Perhaps the only issue of note was the possibility for each club of finishing as high as 11th or as low as 16th. That equates with a whopping £9 million up to play for - not so boring for the respective club's management all of a sudden!

However, although the prize money system keeps clubs focused until the very last kick of the season, today's game demonstrated how it may be impeding the development of young players. It had been widely rumoured that Declan Rice, Captain of the U23 side that recently won the PL2 trophy, would be rewarded with a first Premier League start but the lad had to settle for a 90th minute entrance as Angelo Ogbonna was preferred in the starting XI.

Rice looks the real deal, but it seems a terrible pity that the pressure to finish as high as possible in the league rankings can discourage managers to take a punt with young but inexperienced talent.

Let's hope the lad gets his chance next season but with Reid, Ogbonna, Fonte and Collins in the mix and with the two Reece's looking to push on, it'll be hard for the Irishman to break into the team. The preoccupation with end of season placings further detracts from the opportunities available to blood new talent.

A season of disappointments for CNB armies


The Claret n Blue wearing clubs have endured a pretty drab season of football. Poor Scunthorpe United managed a third place finish in EFL One but were beaten in a close semi-final by the Lions of Millwall and failed to make it to the Championship for next year.

Aston Villa's time in the wilderness looks unlikely to end any time soon after a disappointing 13th place finish in the Championship and it is clear that they are very much now a mid-table standard club in England's second tier.

In Ireland, Drogheda United are struggling in the Eircom Premier League and lie in relegation zone after a 5-0 thumping by Cork City on Friday in which ex-Hammer Sean Maguire bagged a brace to bring his total to 13 for the season.

In Turkey, Trabzonspor are chasing a Europa League spot and after 31 games are sixth but are 22 points behind SuperSlav's old club Besiktas who, at five points clear with two games left, look set to bag the Super League this season.

And so, back to England, where the Hammers and Burnley face off in the Premiership Claret Cup. The Hammers bring a 1-0 lead into the game having overcome Burnley in December, but with a diminished squad and no real attacking threat, the season cannot end soon enough for SuperSlav's men. Meanwhile, Sean Dyche's Burnley have had a good season and are secured as a premiership side. They could move above West Ham as high as 11th if they win today.

It's mostly about pride, and the Claret Cup today. Don't expect fireworks!

Saturday, 13 May 2017

It's The Jewel Against the Little Magician - But Who is More Effective?


West Ham prepare to host Liverpool in their final home game of the season tomorrow in what is being billed as the battle of the South American tricksters. Manuel Lanzini, AKA the 'Jewel', has really stepped up to the plate since the departure of Dimitri Payet, while Philippe Coutinho, AKA the 'Little Magician' is Liverpool's most creative force. 

Lanzini has enjoyed a fantastic season and can rightly be disappointed not to have been voted player of the year as his ratings are much higher than Michail Antonio who bagged the award earlier this week. Lanzini is West Ham's MVP on Squawka with a performance score of 898 from his 32 appearances. His eight goals have been key to steadying the club during a turbulent first season at their new home, but it is his passing (total of 1197) with 87% accuracy that really stands out, resulting in 48 goal chances.  

Coutinho, meanwhile, has a performance score of 1022, with ten goals and 58 chances created in 29 games. His passing accuracy is somewhat  lower than Lanzini's at 83%. 

With Jonathan Calleri likely to lead the Hammers attack once again and Roberto Firminho ready for Liverpool, there's a real Argentina versus Brazil subplot. Liverpool will be under most pressure as they need the points to maintain their Champions League aspirations while SuperSlav's men are looking to end the season in the top half.

Rory Nostradamus predicts a lively game ending in a 2-2 draw.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

This is what Bilic needs to do next



Perhaps Spurs are, as many pundits suggest, the best side in the Premiership at present, but there was no doubting that they came off second best against their 'friendly' neighbours last night. Put simply, an understrength West Ham outfought Mauricio Pochettino's men throughout the match and emerged deserved winners. In fact, including the previous tussle between these two earlier in the season, West Ham deserved more than the three points they acquired from the Hotspurs this season.

Undoubtedly, many fans will focus upon the suffocation of Spurs title aspirations, but the depth of team spirit was surely the most remarkable aspect of the match. With the injury situation as it is, West Ham were again forced to play without a noted striker and, Manny Lanzini apart, one wondered where our cutting edge might come from? In comparison, Spurs seemed to have all the likely gamechangers but, just like last season, they failed to show up and floundered. 

However, once the celebrations settle down - and yes, this was our best result this season, where to now for the Hammers? 

First up - Mr Bilic. SuperSlav has endured a frustrating season with wisdom and class. Underperforming recruits, tedious injuries, fan unrest, new home anxieties, and that man who shall not be mentioned by name. Quite a series of headaches yet Mr Bilic never lost his cool and kept focused upon surviving the season. We are currently ninth and in all honesty would be much higher if we had the composure and striking edge to put away the likes of Sunderland, Stoke et al. Last night's game surely puts an end to any rumours of Bilic being shown the door as another season at least makes sense. 

In goal, Adrian and Randy will battle it out and keep the pressure on eachother. We do NOT need Joe Hart! Randolph suffered a disappointing lack of form before being dropped after the Sunderland game, but all in all has been reliable in goal for most of his game time. No change needed here.

In defence, we suddenly look solid having reverted to three centre backs. However, there's no getting away from the fact that Collins and Fonte are well into their fourth decade and we need to think ahead. Angelo Ogbonna will be welcomed back next year and maybe its time we gave the Reece's their chance. An additional recruit at CB makes sense. We've said it before, but letting Tomkins go was silly - both in terms of CB cover as well as his ability to shore up the right back position if needed.

At full back we suddenly look half-healthy again. Cresswell played well last night against a Spurs side that has very decent wing backs. Prior to that, Masuaku's recent performances have been tremendous. At right back we clearly need to invest as Sam Byram is still developing. Acquiring a top class right back is surely a major priority for the Summer.  

In midfield, we need more pace and creativity. Pedro Obiang has made the transition to Premiership standard and will surely be looking forward to next season. Kouyate looks increasingly like the new Patrick Viera and can push on. Nobes has a fantastic footballing brain and, as long as he has a pacey partner in central midfield, remains our heartbeat. Nordtveit has not done enough to justify a starting place in a side with aspirations of top six status. Fernandes will surely push on next year and looks a real prospect. The continued development of his relationship with Lanzini has massive potential for next year. However, with the departure of 'that' person, we need another creative force in midfield. 

Out wide, Antonio needs to allowed to play on the right wing without all this being flexible for the team nonsense. Feghouli has failed to deliver and is on top wages. Most of us remain unsure where Andre Ayew actually plays and despite his recent improved form, his role is debatable. He has not been good value for £20 million.  

Up front we could very reasonably clear out the lot and start from scratch. Slav's decision to start with Calleri in recent games ahead of Fletcher makes little sense as he really doesn't look the part and lacks either pace, physicality or the poaching instinct that makes up for lack of the former two attributes. Andy is excellent when fit but that is an occasional occurrence. He will never be a dependable force and the board need to consider his true value to the club. Sakho seems crocked and has not really recovered from the injury he picked up on international duty two years ago.

So - a decent centre back, a top quality right back, an experienced and creative midfielder and three strikers. £70 million should sort it. With our stadium lease arrangements, increased TV money, massively increased attendances and expanding fan base - that should be no problem.  

Maybe the board should swear an oath of silence about all transfers until they are actually completed!



 

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Five Reasons to Watch Stoke Versus West Ham



For many West Ham fans, our season died some months ago. However, a run of sensationally dreadful results suddenly pitched us back into the relegation frame until a series of half decent results in the last three games have pushed us to the brink of safety again. In all honesty, one more result in our final four games will put to sleep any likelihood of the Hammers slipping into the bottom three.

As such, an away trip to Stoke is hardly the most enticing fixture of the campaign. The Brittania stadium is not one where the Hammers have enjoyed great success over the years and for the purists the style of football that is usually on offer requires some imagination in order to reconcile it with the notion of 'the beautiful game'! So, my friends, to put it simply - why would you bother to engage with today's mid-table dead rubber against the Potters?

1. With the injury room busier than an NHS A&E, our fringe players are getting a chance to save their squad positions for next season. From today's confirmed starting XI Collins, Fonte, Calleri, Nordtveit and even Ayew are playing for their West Ham lives. One might add Arthur Masuaku to that list as his battle for the left back starting berth with Aaron Cresswell is the kind of tussle that we need to see more of in the squad as it brings an undeniable focus to the players efforts. This is no dead rubber for most of our players!

2. With Mark Noble starting on the bench we will get a chance to take a good look at how well Cheik Kouyate plays in a more attacking role with Havard Nordtveit sitting deep in front of our three centre-back formation. In all honesty, we have not found a stable defensive formation this season and have suffered by repeatedly conceding goals at crucial times. This week it's another chance to consider the three CB set up that allowed us to keep a clean sheet against the terrifying goalscoring prowess of Romelu Lukaku last week.  

3. Yet another chance to see if a non-specialist right back can cope in that position - or to rephrase things, in the era of highly specialised and usually horrifically pacey wingers, we can gather yet more evidence that the role of full back is now equally specialised and cannot be filled by natural midfielders! SuperSlav REALLY needs to movce on from this farce next season and bring in at least one more right back as even the checkout staff in the Westfield Shopping Centre know that the Antonio/ Kouyate/Fernandes experiments of this season have been a sickening failure!

4. Stoke are on an impressively poor run and we might get a rare win - they have lost their last five games while we are unbeaten in our last three and should have won each of those games. We have managed 4 draws and three defeats in our last 7 clashes with Stoke, last winning in 2013 1-0 at the Brittania. West Ham are 3-1 to win with Stoke at evens. Both sides can still make the top ten so a hard fought draw is a decent bet at 5-2.

5. The current Stoke side are pretty decent to watch and have evolved from the assaultative long ball tactics of previous campaigns to play some decent footie these days - perhaps that's why they keep losing! With Arnautovic and Shakiri they have two very skilful players who are capable of keeping fans from both sides amused and titillated throughout the game.

Starting XI: Adrian, Masuaku, Reid, Fonte, Collins, Fernandes, Kouyate, Nordtveit, Lanzini, Ayew, Calleri.
Subs: Randolph, Noble, Cresswell, Snodgrass, Feghouli, Byram, Fletcher
 

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Wow! We rate the model home kit for 2017/18


The speculation has started already regarding the Hammers new kits for next season. With Premiershio safety essentially guaranteed, there is little else to focus upon until the transfer window opens.

In one intriguing development, David Gold retweeted a shot of a delightful new kit - apparently drawing from the AVCO years, it looks very smart indeed and has already received the thumbs up from many supporters.

Our rating is as follows;

1. Overall balance of colours: 9/10. The blue hoop across the chest tilts the percentage of colour towards blue over claret, while the socks and shorts emphasize our third (important) colour in white - contrasting with the tendency to over emphasize blue on our shorts and socks in recent years.

2. Sponsor logo: 8/10. Traditionalists would prefer no such adornment but in fairness 'Betway' is pretty neutral and not too cumbersome compared to the cumbersome 'Jobserve' or embarrassing 'XL' of past kits.

3. Neck: 7/10. A crucial component of any kit. The V neck is a little too informal for many who prefer a more dominant neck when combining the jersey with a standard black collared jacket. However, mercifully there are no tedious neck buttons or similar tedious adornment. Overall, the neck presents a definite area for improvement.

4. Material: not rated. Again crucial to every kit but not really clear from this picture. In recent years the quality of jersey material has improved greatly and hopefully will be maintained.

5. Cost: Again tbc. The outlandish price of kits in recent times seems likely to continue but at least for Hammers fans we know that the canny club owners have made sure that the vast majority of income generated through kit sales goes directly to the club and maybe, just maybe, this year all that dosh will be used to bring in the striker that we need rather than a bunch of untested loanees!

Overall, what we can see here gets our thumbs up.

COYI!!!


Sunday, 23 April 2017

Everton Performances Cause Planning Headache for Bilic


Yesterday's game brought another useful point as West Ham stumble towards Premiership safety. Most fans will probably be happy with the result given our poor form and injury problems. In addition, ending the embarrassing Lukaku goalscoring run against us was pleasing. Barring a bizarre conclusion to the season, West Ham are all but safe and next week's visit to a horribly out of sorts Stoke City should finally end all doubt about Premiership survival.

As such, the club can start looking to next year after a disappointing start to life at the Olympic Stadium. In truth, the Payet saga spurred the fans into a position of solidarity against the bad guy and brought some much needed unity to the club. At this stage the players are playing for their West Ham careers as the Summer will surely see a major clear out.

Against Everton, Arthur Masuaku had his best game yet for the club and looks like he might be a long term fixture at the club providing some much needed competition for Aaron Cresswell. Meanwhile, the return of Adrian will probably prevent him from seeking a new club to get first team football. Even Havard Nordtveit played well but one suspects that his goose is cooked as he has struggled to find first team action. James Collins was again excellent and will surely get the contract extension he is seeking.

Up front, Jonathan Calleri was again very disappointing and is surely set to leave in the coming months, while Andre Ayew has still to justify his transfer fee and salary. The Andy Carroll question goes on and on and although most fans would agree that he is a top striker when fit, he seems unlikely to ever become a reliably available force and is an expensive commodity given that he typically starts less than 50% of games for us.

All in all Slaven Bilic has plenty to ponder over the coming weeks as he plots the second season at the new stadium. The financial situation at the club is very healthy indeed and it looks like we can afford to really splash out this Summer.

COYI!!!

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Hammers To Re-sign Striker Who Can't Stop Scoring?

Ex-Hammer Sean Maguire's goalscoring exploits continue as the 22 year old has netted 9 times in 9 games this season and Cork City have gone on a record breaking run of straight victories to start the League of Ireland season.

This follows on from a prolific season last year when Maguire was top scorer in the Airtricity Premier League with 18 goals and a total of 28 goals in 43 appearances for Cork City last year, not surprisingly making the Premier League team of the year.

Maguire joined the West Ham youth squad from Waterford United in 2013 and was considered to be the next Tony Cottee, even being likened to Lionel Messi by his youth coach at Waterford!

However, things stalled at the Hammers and he struggled with the physicality of the English game ultimately being let go at the end of 2015 after loan periods at Colchester, Sligo Rovers and Accrington Stanley. Maguire's shot at the limelight looked to have slipped away.

Now, with his continued goalscoring antics, the talk amongst Cork City fans has turned to a possible return to England. Perhaps instead of trying to lure 35 year old Jermain Defoe back to the club, West Ham should be looking at Maguire?