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!