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!