Saturday 25 March 2017

Dazza Sparkles as Bale's Dragons are Thwarted

Darren Randolph had to endure a terrible sledging at Bournemouth recently as his goals conceded tally against the Cherries increased to an embarrassing 23 goals in five encounters!

Bournemouth fans treated the visitors to a series of amusing chants, including the pick of the crop "It's happening again" as they mocked the hapless keeper.

Things hardly got any better last week against Leicester as despite dominating the game, the Hammers ran out 2-3 losers having conceded three soft goals. Randolph can claim innocence for two of the goals, but was clearly at fault for the opener.

Hammers famsite Claret n Hugh were prompted to run a poll that has so far found that 70% of fans think Randolph should be dropped in favour of Adrian who has been patiently waiting in the wings.

However, Dazza struck back last night with an assured display for Ireland against a Wales side that included a fully fit Gareth Bale. The Irish claimed a useful point that keeps Wales 4 points behind them at the half way stage in what promises to be a closely fought group that also includes Serbia and Austria.

Randolph looked vonfident behind a makeshift back four and apart from keeping a clean sheet, distributed the ball well as he used his ground skills to provide an extra defender as Ireland frustrated the offensive-minded Welsh.

The game was a physical affair with Wales resorting to some unsavoury tactics in the second half - Taylor being red carded cor a disgraceful leg-breaking challenge on Seamus Coleman. The referee has to take some responsibility for the incident as he bottled giving Bale a red card for a similarly cynical and dangerous challenge on John O Shea just minutes before.

Either way, Dazza sparkled in a performanxe that will undoubtedly boost his confidence.

Friday 24 March 2017

Sak-No! But who is the most likely replacement for next season?

As it has become evident that Diafra Sakho's contribution to this seson's campaign is likely to be minimal with news that he is only now entering a 'preseason' regime, Betfair have revealed the odds on the most likely Premiership-savvy strikers that the Hammers will sign in the Summer.

Wayne Rooney is quoted at 10-1! The whole business seems odd given that he has no affiliation to the club and is known to want to return to his beloved Toffees before his career ends.

At 8-1 is Alex Oxlade Chamberlain who has grown tired of feeding off crumbs at Arsenal and wants regular first team action.

Daniel Sturridge has been a long-term target for Slaven Bolic and, despite his injury-proneness is quoted at 5-1.

Favourite though is Jermain Defoe at 9-4. With his Sunderland contract set to end on the Summer he has unfinished business at West Ham.

We reckon none of the above will make the switch.

Wednesday 22 March 2017

West Ham Chase Experienced England Striker

The rumours are on again - prodigal son Jermain Defoe to return to West Ham at the end of the season! Defoe is not quite as old as the three eyed raven from games of thrones, but is approaching 35 years of age and has his best years behind him...or does he? The 5 ft 7 inch dynamo has scored 14 goals in 28 games this season and now been rewarded with an England call up!

Defoe's contract at Sunderland runs out at the end of this season and it seems likely that a host of clubs will be queuing up to grab his services as he looks to have another season of top flight footie left in him!

With West Ham's dreadful injury record, Defoe can expect to get first team opportunities aplenty. What do you think – should West Ham bring him back to the club at the end of this season?


Hammers in Contract Mess up again!

You Wot?
The board at West ham are very fond of loan deals as a means of limiting their exposure to the longer term risks from unsucceszful transfer acquisitions.

This is a policy that backfired earlier this season with farcical consequences in the case of Simone Zaza. The Italian striker suffered aclimatisation after his arrival to the Premiership from Juventus. However after a half dozen games he started to adapt only to find himself unselectable due to a £25 million buyout clause. As Zaza approached 14 games he still had not scored and was duly banished from the matchday squad.

Zaza headed to Valencia where he scored almost immediately, exposing the foolishness of his loan contract at West Ham.

Now, with Winston Reid out for at least a month, with little left to play for this season, its the ideal moment to promote either (or both!) Reece Oxford and Burke to the first team.

However, their loan deals fo not allow for such a recall despite limited game time at their loan clubs. As such, Slaven Bilic looks likely to need to play the likes of Cheik Kouyate as a makeshift centre back if either of Jose Fonte or James Collins get injured!

Mad or incompetent? We really need to get our business house in order!

Monday 20 March 2017

Hammers Grab Hat Trick of Awards

Rice tussles with a fellow development squaddie earlier this year
Future Hammers captain (probably) Declan Rice has been named FAI U17 player of the year at the annual awards. Having enjoyed a fantastic season that included becoming captain of the U23/PL2 side even though he is still only 18 years old!

Rice is the talented lynchpin at the heart of the Hammers defence where he plays behind fellow Irishmen, midfielders Conor Coventry and Anthony Scully. He is signed up on a three and a half year deal until the end of 2020.

There were also awards for ex-Hammers Robbie Keane (inducted to the FAI hall of fame) and John Hartson (international personality of the year) as West Ham were involved in three awards overall.

"2017/18 promises to be a big year for the star who looks set to jump ahead of the Reeces in the Yoof pecking order as he pushes for first team squad time.

Friday 17 March 2017

Randolph Takes His Place in St Patrick's Hammers XI

Happy St Paddy's Day all you Hammers folk! On the day we get to drink green Guinness and celebrate all things Irish let's consider how a the greatest Irish Hammers XI might look.

Goalkeeper: One of the big stories of this season has been the meteoric rise of Darren Randolph as the Hammers first choice keeper ahead of the also impressive Adrian! He has been excellent all season and as a result  'Randy' has fully usurped the likes of Gerry Peyton, Roy Carroll, Stephen Henderson and, dare I mention him....... Allen McNightmare!

On the defensive front the situation is less impressive, even worrying! Unbalanced and not endowed with aerial presence. There would undoubtedly be much sweating at set pieces.

As full backs Joey 'the Lips' O'Brien and Georgie 'Linda' McCartney are solid if a little uninspiring in attack, but Centre back is a real patch up and forced us to bring Georgie more centrally alongside Gary Breen, with Noel Cantwell taking the left back spot.

Just to remind you that Stuttgart wasn't the first!

Midfield is by far our strongest zone. Steve Lomas as enforcer and water carrier and a nice partner for Chippy Brady. Although Brady is primarily a Gooner, we got two very decent seasons out of him that included some cracking moments, and a delightful strike against the Gooners!.

Wee Michael Hughes was a great seizure from Wimbledon - gamey, if lacking in physicality, and with a useful habit of scoring at key moments. Both Frank O’Farrell and Tommy Moroney were key contributors in the early fifties but Tommy Moroney gets the final nod, mostly based upon his presence on the glorious Ireland team that was the first foreign team to beat the old enemy on their own turf at Goodison Park in 1949.

The rise and rise of Josh Cullen gives cause for hope that the 2018 March 17th update will see him seize a midfield spot but with Noble, Kouyate, Lanzini, Obiang, Fernandes et al on the books first team opportunities are rare for the talented youngster.

Up front, David Kelly underachieved – too light for top-level English football. David Connolly was too, well, David Connolly (i.e. perfectly average). Jimmy Quinn was a decent contributor in the late 80s while Robbie Keane came and went in the blink of an eye, with most of that time spent on the injury room table, but on the basis of what might have been he gets the nod, just!

And finally, Iain Dowie – a true Hammer who was not prolific by any means but always gave 100% and created opportunity for those around him. A real servant who had two determined spells at the club and is one of the more refreshing TV pundits about. Loyalty – a rare thing amongst our footballing folk these times.

So, a team that would by no means be worldbeaters, but we might expect plenty of effort and any team with Liam Brady could always find a moment of magic, while Michael Hughes would be sure to spoil a few Man United celebrations and Robbie could always find cause for a party!

Noble Lashes Out at Fans

It's been a tough season at West Ham and one where they have needed the commitment of Captain Mark Noble to maintain a sense of identity during the transition to their new home. Nobes has been a key face in reassuring fans that we are still, and always will be, West Ham United. Through the early season dip in form and whole Payet-fiasco, Captain Claret has been the voice of reason that has calmed emotions.

Meanwhile, a section of fans feel that Noble is past his best and struggling in the wide expanses of the new stadium. At 29 years, Noble's all action Duracell style is increasingly difficult to maintain, but he still tops the West Ham stats charts in terms of ball touches and passes per game. Quite simply, Nobes is the fluid that oils our team and keeps things ticking over - often quietly in a way that many fans fail to appreciate.

Not surprisingly therefore, Noble was somewhat irked when asked about some fans criticisms this week and countered with the surprisingly candid observation “If I am really honest, a lot of people who now go to football don’t really understand the game.”

Whether he is referring to fans in general or the Olympic Stadium attenders - where the average attendance per Hammers home game has almost doubled this year is unclear.

Either way, Noble's stats continue to support his position as first on the team sheet and he deserves a chance to rest and recover from his recently sustained dead leg.


Saturday 11 March 2017

Loadsamoney Hammers' Wages Revealed: But Who is the Best and Worst Value?

Those intrepid sleuths at the Daily Star have done a bit of digging this week and revealed the estimated weekly wage earnings of the Hammers squad - with some startling revelations!

Of our current front line stars the 'lowest' earner is first choice keeper Darren Randolph on a misery £6K per week - one sixth the wages of his 'understudy' Adrian who is bagging £35K!

In defence, Winston Reid hammered out a decent deal during the last round of contract negotiations two years ago and has duly delivered as the lynchpin of our defence - receiving £60k per week making him the highest earning Kiwi footballer ever! However, his earnings are topped by Angelo Ogbonna on £65K per week.

Aaron Cresswell is on £50K a week while Sam Byram did well in moving from Leeds to a £35K per week deal. Many fans will feel that Byram needs to step up if he is to justify those wages while Cressy as an England international is decent value in today's market.

Perhaps the most interesting figures are for our mostly unused back up full backs - Alvaro Arbeloa (£50K) and Arthur Masuaku (£35K) are costing us £85K a week! It doesn't take a genius to work out that we could do better in those positions - both from a business and footballing perspective!

In Midfield, Captain Claret is on £50K a week along with Pedro Obiang, while Cheik Kouyate and Michail Antonio are, in comparison, playing for peanuts at £30k each a week. Gokhan Tore's £27K a week is pretty pricey but the shocker is Sofiane Feghouli who is apparently bagging a massive £65K per week - just £5k short of our principal playmaker, Manny Lanzini at £70K! 

New signing Robert Snodgrass comes in at £40K per week - excellent value in comparison to Jonathan caller who is also costing £40K per week! 

Up top, Ashley Fletcher is on a mere £4k per week, while Diafra Sakho is still apparently on £20K despite all the off-season shenanigans last year. Big Andy is on £70K per week but ranks only third in wages behind Jose Fonte at £75K and Andre Ayew at a massive £80K.

In short - our 'best' value rankings are as follows:

1. Dazza Randolph
2. Michail Antonio
3. Cheik Kouyate
4. Robert Snodgrass
5. Winston Reid.

The worst are:
1. Jonathan Calleri
2. Gokhan Tore
3. Alvaro Arbeloa
4. Sofiane Feghouli
5. Andre Ayew

Waddayou think??? 



Tuesday 7 March 2017

West Ham 1-2 Chelsea: How the Hammers Got it Right and Wrong

In the end it turned out to be a frustrating evening at the London Stadium as the Hammers seemed to do very little wrong yet were punished for two minor errors by a clinical Chelsea side. There was much to ponder about the performance which had many positives but revealed key problems in the side.
Darren Randolph: Solid. Randy almost matches Adrian for agility shot stopping but wins in terms of presence in the box. Couldn't be blamed for either Chelsea goal and pulled off a few excellent saves - the second half one from Diego Costa was the stand out. 8/10.
Cheikhou Kouyaté: We have been a mess at right back all season. Kouyate is wasted at right back and lacks the defensive positioning nous to cope with clever wingers like Hazard. Feghouli's lack of defensive ability added to the problem. Kouyate's versatility showed as he moved to CB when Reid went off but we need to stop abusing his willingness to play for the team and position him in central midfield. 7/10.
José Fonte: Looked a bit wobbly at times but then again it was Chelsea.  Tends to give the ball to reid to bring it out of defence. The second goal was disappointing for our CBs. 6/10.
Winston Reid: Looked solid all night - let's hope his 'knock' isn't serious as he is our backbone. Will be annoyed with Costa's goal as we rarely concede from set pieces with Reid marshalling the defence. 7/10.
Aaron Cresswell: Looking shaprper with each game but not quite back to his old self. hard to say whether he will maintain his place in the England squad and this performance didn't swing the Jury in either direction! Good to see him getting forward again. 7/10.

Mark  Noble: Getting older but still crafty and uses the ball well. Kante's pace provided a comparison point of what the very best central midfielders do but Nobes kept us ticking over as always . 7/10.
Pedro Obiang: Our best midfielder again. Real energy and his distribution is improving. Maybe a wiser head would have blocked Hazard for Chelsea's opener and taken a yellow for the team. Still developing but has really blossomed and did not look out of place in this company. 8/10.
Manuel Lanzini: Has really taken to the Payet role and was a constant source of inspiration. Could of had a hat trick as he had a series of decent chances . His relationship with Snodgrass is developing with every game. Took his goal well. 9/10.
Sofiane Feghouli: In and out, again. Not good defensively and tends to go too wide and get blocked out down the wings.  The Jury really is out as to whether he is at the required standard but his confidence is better and the remaining ten or so games this season will tell a lot. 7/10.
Andy Carroll: a really positive force and made it through the full 90  mins. Always an option . Will be annoyed at the Costa goal as apart from his attacking prowess. Andy is a major factor when defending set pieces. Please will the footballing Gods let him stay fit! 8/10. 
Robert Snodgrass: Good game. He is a real presence around the field and has a tasty touch in attack. His various efforts didn';t quite come off for him last night but a decent showing. Gave the ball away for the Hazard breakaway goal but could justifiably blame Nobes for a poor decision in not crossing the ball into the box. 8/10.

André Ayew: Decent 25 minutes shift but he has displayed nothing yet to justify his £20 million transfer fee.
Sam Byram: Still finding his feet at Premiership level. He tends to feign to go down the wing and then retreat in field with terrible predictability suggesting that he lacks confidence. 7/10.
Edimilson Fernandes: Great first touch and some more valuable game time. Next season will be a big one for the lad.