Sunday, 23 September 2018

The Three Factors That Will Decide Today's Clash

Back on track after last week's impressive display at Everton, Manuel Pellegrini's troops will be relishing the chance to show what they can do against Premiership high flyers Chelsea. VERYWESTHAM will be attending in the company of some Chelsea supporting 'friends' and the pre match banter has identified three major talking points that will be central to the outcome.

1. Can the Hammers deal with Eden Hazard? Well rested after missing Thursday's Europa League trip to Greece, Mr Hazard has been on fire this season in a more central roving role. Pellegrini likes to focus primarily on his own team rather than base his tactics on the opposition's strengths, but Hazard poses an exceptional threat that makes you feel that West ham need the pacier Ryan Fredericks instead of Zabaleta, and Aaron Cresswell's better defensive abilities might give him the edge over Arthur Masuaku. Thankfully Diop and Balbuena are starting to develop a decent understanding and will need that today. The Noble/Obiang/Rice triad can provide better cover in front of the defence but need to be careful with Alonso's free kick ability.

2. Will Arnie be leading the line? The rumour mill suggests that Arnautovic is likely to start today. He thrives on big games and let's hope the growing relationship with Felipe Anderson and Andriy Yarmolenko can be a factor today. Chelsea are least impressive at the back with Rudiger and Luiz like a high line and Pelle will be hoping that Arnie and company undermine this from the start.

3. Can the Hammers fans get a good atmosphere going. Against Wolves the London Stadium lacked passion and was not helped by the limp on-field performance. We really need to get a vibe going today - an early goal would certainly help!

Kick off is at 1.30.


Saturday, 22 September 2018

Why West Ham will win against Chelsea tomorrow!

It is a bit tempting to leave this post blank as for many, the bookies included, the Hammers have little hope of picking up a win tomorrow. Although Manuel Pellegrini's men picked up a rare win away to Everton last week, Chelsea are in top form and have recorded five straight victories to top the Premiership.

The reports regarding Marko Arnautovic are mixed with the old 'late fitness test' being peddled as the Hammers try to create a sense of uncertainty! Without Arnie the Hammers would surely struggle up front with the tempestuous Perez as the most likely back up.

At the back, the Hammers rode their luck against the Toffees and you'd have to think that Pelle will be worrying about Eden Hazard's pace against the ageing Zabaleta. Ryan Fredericks could well get the call - a mixed blessing for him given Hazards recent fine form!

Too add to the gloom, Mike Dean is officiating which will at least add to the uncertainty, while Mystic Meg Lawrenson has uncharacteristically tipped us to nip it at 2-1!!!

That said, the Hammers Look to have found a reasonable solution to the midfield conundrum with Obiang / Noble / Rice, and with both Yarmolenko and Anderson in great form we might be in for a toe to toe goalscoring slugfest! Chelsea have had a pretty soft start to the season with a (relatively weak) Arsenal the only top half team they have met so far. Moreover, the Hammers have a decent record against Chelsea in recent times with two wins and a draw in our last four meetings.

Rory Nostradamus is going for a crazy 3-3 draw!!!

What price Decky Rice to pitch in with a goal against his old club?


Probable West Ham United starting XI: Fabianski; Fredericks, Balbuena, Diop, Masuaku; Rice, Obiang, Noble; Yarmolenko, Anderson; Arnautovic.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Hammers Dispel the Bogey Boys - but who was MOTM?

Sunday's victory at Everton is likely to go down as a major landmark in the Pellegrini era, marking the end of a troubling start to his leadership and the beginning of what should be a push up the Premiership rankings. Having only beaten Everton twice in our previous 22 attempts at Goodison, it was especially pleasing to get the better of our bogey team. The significance of the result was further emphasised by the fact that in their Premiership history Everton have scored more goals against West Ham than any other team!

That said, the manner of the win was a major talking point as Pellegrini's team demonstrated pace, mobility and precise passing that simply left Everton chasing shadows for long periods. Despite a four game losing streak, his calm assuredness was demonstrated by a team that looked confident and determined. There was a sense right from the beginning that this was West Ham's day! 

Add to that the presence of Theo Walcott on the Everton team (have we ever beaten a team he was playing for before?) and with our least popular referee, Martin Atkinson, officiating, this was a day when we picked a few bogeys! 

The one uncertainty from the game was who should get Hammers MOTM? Declan Rice was superb and seemed to be everywhere, Felipe Anderson was a constant thorn in Everton's side - both in attack and defence where he provided tremendous support for Arthur Masuaku in keeping Walcott quiet, Diop followed up his MOTM performance against Wolves with a similarly assured display at the heart of our defence, while Arnie created one and scored another - all the while urging his teammates on to keep the pressure on the tired looking Toffees, but with two goals in his first starting competitive game, Andriy Yarmolenko surely gets the MOTM award? 

You'd imagine that it's a pretty happy training ground this week out in Romford! Let's hope we can be as fluid against an impressive Chelsea side who come visiting next Sunday! 




Sunday, 16 September 2018

Birthday Boy Shakes it Up as Hammers Go In Search Of Kick Start to Season

The team sheets are in and Manuel Pellegrini has opted to change things once again as Andriy Yarmolenko gets a big chance to impress with a starting spot with Rice, Obiang and Noble in the centre. Arthur Masuaku is fit, while Pelle is keeping it tight at right back with Zabaleta starting. Diop and Balbuena will be hoping to build upon the Wolves showing where Diop was excellent.

Anderson and Arnie are up front as Snoddy starts on the bench.

West Ham: Fabianski, Zabaleta, Balbuena, Diop, Masuaku, Obiang, Noble, Rice, Yarmolenko, Arnautovic, Anderson.

Subs: Adrian, Cresswell, Ogbonna, Sanchez, Antonio, Snodgrass, Perez.



As If Things Aren't Bad Enough.......And Now This!

What's in that ciggie?

It's been a trying start to the Pellegrini era to say the least. After a £100M investment and a decent preseason campaign, West Ham have lost all four Premiership games and look set to break our own embarrassing record of consecutive defeats at the start of a season with a tough trip to our bogey team in Everton! 

When you are down on your fortune there is no shortage of fools to offer 'friendly' advice as to how to improve your lot and luckily for Pellegrini Stan CollyWobbles, football Yoda, has stepped up with some to quality advice - to sell Marko Arnautovic!!!

Arnatovic was our player of the season last year and has offered the few moments of respite so far this season with his two goals. He has run and run despite playing in an underperforming side and has set an example with his work rate and commitment that is surely the basis of West Ham's desired recovery? Many fans would agree with the sentiment that 'if only we had eleven players like Marko'!

But the world of football punditry is no stranger to gratuitous controversy which seems the best explanation for Collywobbles unprovoked attack upon the Hammers star. Referring to Marko as a fancy Dan, he has suggested that "he (Pellegrini) needs to get rid of players like Arnautovic and build a proper spine ­before adding the players around the periphery".  

Perhaps Stan should stick to his other hobbies and leave Pellegrini and his 35 years of managerial success to work out what to do next? Let's hope that we can get a result today - if only to get away from this type of speculative nonsense! 



Monday, 3 September 2018

Reflections on West Ham's Defeat to Wolves

It all started so well for the VERYWESTHAM crew, catching the 7am flight from Shannon to Stansted and then off to a family event in East Ham before making the walk to the London Stadium. The atmosphere was a tad restrained, but understandably so given our three opening defeats. Still , Arnie was fit and we were at home, right?

Wrong! After 15 minutes I wondered if the lads had been segregated in training as we were struggling to complete simple passes while Wolves looked sleek. After half an hour it was obvious that we lacked leadership and, for all his lack of pace and vulnerability beside Wilshere, we were missing Mark Noble. At half time I wondered how many Pellegrini would substitute at the break. Fab, Arnie and Diop aside, we looked lacklustre.

No changes at half time but we had a decent first 20 minutes in the second half before we slackened off and Wolves took over again, creating three really decent chances before Arnie almost stole a winner with a break against the run of play. Wolves were saved by their goalkeepers's face and thereafter we looked to have settled for a draw.

Until Wolves scored in injury time. In all honesty, it made for a fair result. We look lost, almost Abram Grant level of bewildered. Hmmm.  It's early days but with a series of tough games ahead you'd have to wonder where any points might be coming from. My sense is that the noard will stay calm for a dozen games. Hopefully we will do a typical Hammers and beat a few big boys to kick start things. Failing that, the Claret n Blue cup against Burnley is looking like a big big game for Pellegrini!


Ratings of starting XI: Fabianski 7, Diop 8, Balbuena 6, Cresswell 5, Fredericks 5, Wilshere 5, Sanchez 6, Antonio 5, Anderson 4, Snodgrass 5, Arnautovic 7.

Crowd Rating 4/10. In fairness, we had very little to get energised by in this drab performance. It was all too easy for Wolves.

Friday, 31 August 2018

Unsettled Hammers Look to Beat the Odds

West ham have endured a pretty disappointing start to the new era under Manuel Pellegrini. Having lost each of their opening three games they languish at the bottom of the Premiership table. The midweek win against Wimbledon may have provided some light, but given that they trailed for an hour despite having an extra man will not have gone unnoticed as yet more evidence that the new squad is far from firing on all cylinders!

Wolves, meanwhile, enjoyed a morale boosting draw with Man City last weekend and then dispatched the Owls during midweek, using their back up players. If the Hammers lose tomorrow it will equal their worst ever start to a season - the other coming under Avram Grant's doomed tenure. No pressure then!

However, in better news, Marko Arnautovic and Mark Noble are available. In reality, when 2 of your first 3 games are away at Enfield and the Emirates it is not a total disaster to come away with little to show, but Pellegrini's men really need a win to kick start their campaign. First up, Pellegrini needs to sort out a stable CB pairing, with tomorrow's selection likely to reveal where his longer term intentions lie. The Hammers boss has been singing the praises of both Masuaku and Cresswell, so selection at left back will also provide an interesting talking point.

But perhaps the biggest question is whether Mark Noble will walk straight back into the starting XI. Carlos Sanchez had a mixed performance against Arsenal, so it looks up for grabs. Javier Hernandez will hope that his goal in midweek might swing a starting berth for him, while Andriy Yarmolenko had a lot of the ball with modest impact against the Wombles. In truth, there is considerable uncertainty regarding most of the side with plenty of positions up for grabs.

Interestingly, BETWAY have the Hammers at 8/5 for a win, which seem like generous odds. Rory Nostradamus at VERYWESTHAM predicts a 3-1 win for the Hammers.


Saturday, 25 August 2018

Wholesale Changes for Hammers Highlight Chaos of New Squad

Manuel Pellegrini has made a host of changes to his squad for the trip to Arsenal with Antonio, Fredericks and Rice (bench) all back in the frame. Diop gets a first start in CB alongside Balbuena, while Carlos Sanchez will try to add some beef to midfield. 
Pellegrini has plenty of options on the bench with Hernandez, Yarmolenko and Perez all looking for a chance to impress. Arnie is captain for the day, replacing the 'injured' Mark Noble.
All in all its like musical chairs just now.
West Ham XI: Fabianski, Fredericks, Balbuena, Diop, Masuaku, Sanchez, Wilshire, Antonio, Snodgrass, Anderson, Arnautovic.
Substitutes: Zabaleta, Adrian, Obiang, Hernandez, Yarmolenko, Lucas Perez, Rice.​

Friday, 24 August 2018

In Search of the Sky Blue Yonder

There has been much discussion regarding the disappointment of West Ham's choice of kit design for this season. In particular, the lack of blue on the sleeves of our home kit gives a very 'Burnley-like' feel to the strip - ironically, just as Burnley have added more blue to their claret- heavy top!

The team are certainly doing their best to make up for our lack of blue in a sartorial sense with some depressing on field performances that have left many fans feeling very .....well....'blue' about our prospects for this season which promised so much until the real action commenced a fortnight ago.

So where has the sleeve blue gone? A walk through Nashville airport last Sunday provided a surprising clue - we seem to have lent it out to legendary baseball outfit, the Phillys, who have a very Hammers like strip this season - as evidenced in their clash with the Mets!

With a trip to the Emirates this weekend, Hammers fans might be forgiven for developing a sudden interest in baseball as we could well find ourselves looking at our worst ever start to a Premiership season with three straight defeats!

Then again, maybe it's time for Pellegrini's side to find their rhythm and start to deliver upon our considerable Summer investment?

Failing that, the home clash with Wolves on the following Saturday has the feel of the earliest six-pointer in our history!!!

Brady Takes the Pressure off Pellegrini's Underperforming Players

All the top managers have ways of distracting media attention in order to take pressure off their players when the team is underperforming. At West Ham we have the additional mechanism of using our board to get stuck into a dispute - usually about the London Stadium - that inevitably grabs the media's interest.
And so we have the latest dispute with the stadium owners, the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), who are refusing to re-erect the Hammers' honours board (that sign which shows three FA Cup wins and a European Cup Winners' Cup triumph) until the club pay allegedly outstanding bills from last year!
The signage was removed for athletic and music events during the summer and has not re-appeared yet this year. Vice-Chairman Karren Brady has accused the LLDC of attempting to hold the club to ransom to pay a fee that it is not liable for stating that "we do not owe a fee for maintenance of the big screen and it has nothing to do with the Mid-Tier Honours".
In reality, at the moment we look unlikely to add to those major honours after a shaky start to the season with what looks like an unbalanced squad. That is, of course, unless you want to add the Betway Cup to our list after we stumbled home 7-6 on penalties against Mainz in the annual preseason friendly tournament. Hmmm.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Another Injury But Feel That Silver Lining...

As West Ham prepare for their annual Wedgying away to Arsenal, a gap has appeared in the clouds - one with a definite silvery tinge!

Manuel Pellegrini announced that Captain Claret, Mark Noble, will be unavailable for the Arsenal game due to a back injury.

Like most Hammers fans, I love Nobes and despite his advancing years he can still bring a canny football brain to proceedings, as we witnessed during our relegation- dodging run in to last season!

However, as a midfield partner for Jack Wilshere, many observers expressed their concerns about a lack of pace in the West Ham engine room, and the displays against Liverpool and Bournemouth have suggested that their pessimism is well founded. It's no coincidence that Cheik Kouyate's dip in form last year coincided with a dwindling partnership with Noble.

The big question on everybody's lips is who will come in as a replacement? Pedro Obiang seems out of favour, while new recruit Carlos Sanchez is catching up on in match fitness. Personally, I hope Decky Rice comes in from the cold as his energy and physical presence can hopefully stunt Arsenal's free flowing midfield.

So far, Pellegrini has been tight lipped on the matter, but after a poor start to his tenure it looks like any number of changes are possible as we try to identify our best starting XI.


Saturday, 18 August 2018

Pellegrini the Charmer shows his Ruthless Side!

Manuel Pellegrini has sent out a strong message to his players by imposing three changes for today's clash with Bournemouth. 
At the back, he sticks with the Balbuena-Ogbonna partnership that 'enjoyed' a torrid time at Anfield. Zabaleta comes in to shore up at right back, while Masuaku can feel a bit fortunate to hold onto his place ahead of Aaron Cresswell. Ryan Fredericks, who looked so impressive in pre-season, is totally absent from the matchday squad!
In midfield, Robert Snodgras comes in as poor Declan Rice has been jettisoned out of the picture and is not even on the bench as Carlos Sanchez and Pedro Obiag are the reserve midfielders. 
Up front, Antonio is also completely out of the picture as we get a chance to look at the tantalising Arnie-Hernandez pairing that has had very little opportunity so far in the 13 months they have shared at the club...

Eddie Howe's Bournemouth won against Cardiff last week. 
Starting XI: Fabianski, Zabaleta, Balbuena, Ogbonna, Masuaku, Noble, Wilshere, Anderson, Snodgrass, Arnautovic, Hernandez.
Substitutes: Adrian, Diop, Cresswell, Obiang, Sanchez, Perez, Yarmolenko

We are bottom of the league, we are ....

After all the excitement of the transfer window and a strong preseason campaign, we really blew it at Anfield! What was always going to be a tough opener was made even more challenging by some truly awful officiating - with Liverpool's 2nd and 3rd goals clearly off side. But 4-0 didnt really flatter an impressive Reds side, while we rarely threatened.

VERYWESTHAM watched the game from Boston - early morning on terrestrial tv added to the surreal sense, while the game had that early season low intensity that made for the feeling that we weren't trying hard enough! In all honesty, we looked off the pace across the team leaving Mr Pellegrini with plenty to think about.

In midfueld in particular we looked short of the required pace. Its been a concern of VWH that although Wikshere is a pleasing addition, can he really play alongside Noble without being over run by pacey midfield opposition?. Even worse, Decky Rice was well off form. Its great to hear him in the media talking about his attitude to havibg a bad performance - he really is a rock of sense and seems to be future captain material.

Out wide, Antonio was all over the shop. On form, he can be unmarkable due to his direct aggressive style, but when its isnt going for him he looks Chumpionship quality. One wonders what January will bring and if he has the first touch that posession-hungry Pellegrini sides require?

At the back, we were disorganised and rattled by awful offside calls. Pellegrini likes to defend with a high line but against the lace up front that Pool have and with a lineman who was shy with his flag, it was a recipe for disaster.

So, Bournemouth today. VWH have been in Clarksdale, Mississippi all week and have gotten to understand how to rejoice in the blues! Today, we will be watching from Nashville and hoping that we will have left the blues behind.

If not, away at Arsenal is not an ideal place to look for salvation but lets see how Pellegrini's troops react to last week first. Bournemouth are a solid side who outmanouvred us last season. We have a lot more quality now, but it may take more time to gel into results. Either way, this one will be fascinating!


Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Greedy Hammers Look to Grab at Least Two More Prizes!

We have entered the final stretch of the transfer window and now face the day when it all gets a bit weird - in a fun way. West Ham have enjoyed a productive transfer period and look well equipped to launch a decent assault upon the Premiership next year. At last, the board have splashed the cash and also let the experts get on with the business of acquiring top talent, and without all the media hype.

As such, anything seems possible in the next few hours, including some under the radar business. Pellegrini has been coy about his plans but its pretty clear that he likes to have options and wants players who are mobile and skilful - attributes that are required throughout the side in order to allow the kind of free-flowing attack-minded football we are all hoping for next season.  

So, what can Hammers fans expect? Almost certainly top of the list is a midfield enforcer. Kouyate has gone and although Rice is improving at a remarkable pace, Nobes is ageing. Obiang looks set to stay but....we could see all manner of high jinks in the midfield area, but expect at least one new signing. 

Up front, Hugill has gone out on loan so that frees up space for another striker. With Arnie and Chicharito at the top of the list, it'll probably be a player who will settle for being second string or perhaps an understudy.  

At the back we need to ask how bad is Winston Reid's injury as this will dictate whether one more recruit is needed. Diop and Balbuena have looked impressive in Preseason, but it remains to be seen how they handle Mo Salah et al when the real business starts this weekend!

So, at least another midfielder, probably an extra striking option and maybe another CB. You'd better strap yourself in cos there's a high likelihood of more action in the 24 hours ahead.

Aren't you glad you renewed your season ticket?


Sunday, 5 August 2018

A super transfer window that could become truly Marvelous!

With all the talk about further recruits for West Ham, it is worth bearing in mind that Manuel Pellegrini has a lot of options at striker and attacking midfield areas, especially when Lanzini and Carroll return. 

The Chilean has also added significantly to West Ham's leaky backline, but it is the holding defensive midfield berths that the club looks to most need reinforcements. With Kouyate gone and Obiang possibly on the way, Pellegrini clearly has ideas for replacements.

Reports today in the Zimbabwian media suggest that Bruges Zimbabwe International Marvelous Nakamba may be heading for the London Stadium. after three consecutive seasons where he has excelled in Holland and Belgium (playing a major part in Club Brugge winning the Belgian title), many feel that at 24 years of age he is now ready to make the big step up to one of the major leagues of Europe. 

An all action, physical presence, he is not the tallest (5ft 9) or most prolific (2 goals in 100 games over the past three seasons), but his energy and strength can provide the drive that West Ham need to support what is now an impressive attacking line. have suggested that Nakamba is on Pellegrini's radar, but it is also of note that Everton and Liverpool have expressed interest in the past.

The transfer window closes this coming Thursday so either way we will have an answer in the next few days. 



Kouyate Cheiks Out: So Who are the Likely Replacements?

Cheikhou Kouyate's departure from West Ham signals the extent of the club's ambitions for the new Pellegrini era. As a mobile midfield presence with Premiership experience and now a seasoned international having played in all of Senegal's World Cup matches, he is a great capture for Crystal Palace.  

Kouyate's disarming positivity will undoubtedly encourage Hammers fans to wish him every success at his new club. However, many have felt for some time that he needs a switch as his Hammers career seems to have reached a plateau. 

The transfer gives a clear indication that West Ham's spending is not yet complete as they really need a mobile defensive presence in midfield. Declan Rice looks set to get plenty of game time in that role but otherwise the options are limited with age catching up on Mark Noble and Pedro Obiang apparently on the verge of a return to Italy.  

Although Pellegrini's team have looked good in Preseason, in reality the opposition has been very modest and the capacity of his new look back line to withstand the kind of high tempo assault that is typical of Premiership encounters remains untested.

The big question amongst West Ham fans is who will arrive to add muscle to the midfield. Pellegrini has used a 4-2-3-1 formation quite a bit in pre-season, so the question is who will fill the two berths in front of the back four? Recent speculation has focussed upon Maximi Gonalons (Roma), Danny Drinkwater (Chelsea), Stefano Sturaro (Juventus), Marvelous Nakamba (Club Brugge) and Oriol Romeu (Southampton).

Under the current management, the Hammers are playing their cards much closer to their chest so fans should prepare themselves for the unexpected!

Thursday, 2 August 2018

Important Dates for International Hammers...

While television money may be the biggest thing that fuels the Premiership merry go round, changes to fixture dates and times is the bain of many fans lives, especially those who travel great distances to see their heroes in action. Booking flights and accomodation as early as possible is a key concern for International fans and with the new stadium so easily accessed from Stansted airport, it is a Godsend for foreign-based Hammers fans.

Having already made arrangements for the August and September action, fans can start booking for October and November from next Tuesday when the finalised TV arrangements for the home games against Spurs, Burnley and Man City will be announced. Bets are on the Spurs and Man City games being rescheduled, but come Tuesday we will know for sure!

Proposed dates for rescheduling announcements in the 2018/19 season:
October/November - August 7th
December/January - October 12th
February - December 12th
March - January 25th
April - February 22nd
May - April 5th

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

All Hail Adrian!!! The Penalty King is Back!!!

Hammers fans will never forget the night in January 2015 when we finally ended the Everton hoodoo by smashing the Toffees out of the cup 9-8 on penalties! Last season was a patchy one for the Spanish stopper but as today's Betway cup clash with Bundesliga side Mainz demonstrates, our penalty king is back!

In a lively encounter there were plenty of positives to ponder but the tie was forced into a penalty shoot out after Mainz claimed a late equaliser to level Toni Martinez's opener. And so to was nip and tuck (one miss each) until Adrian smashed in our sixth penalty and then a few moments later saw Gaetan Bussman bottle it and blast over the bar to gift the cup to the Hammers 7-6 on penalties.

It'll be a hell of a battle to see who claims the number one spot as Adrian and Fabianski do battle next season!

Elsewhere, Jack Wilshere looked sharp and there was a decent shift from Issa Diop. Both Robert Snodgras and Michail Antonio, the subject of seemingly endless exit rumours, gave Manuel Pellegrini something to think about as they both played well. Next up is a game against French side Angers on Friday night where Felipe Anderson and Andriy Yarmolenko are set to return for another viewing.

Monday, 30 July 2018

Ten Days To Go As Hammers Move For Midfield Backup

This season sees a much earlier end to the transfer window as clubs have agreed to tidy up business before the season kicks off, thus avoiding the early season chaos of the past. In previous seasons the transfer deadline was set for August 31, which meant that transfers continued for a weeks after the start of the season but under new agreed rules clubs will no longer be able to buy after August 9 (but will still be able to offload unwanted players to other clubs in Europe).

Looking over the squad it's clear that the Hammers have decent cover across their defence and have added a host of attacking options. With the front players coming from any of Arnautovic, Yarmolenko, Anderson, Antonio, Lanzini, Wilshere, Snodgrass, Hernadez and Carroll, Pellegrini has plenty of options, but it is in the defensive midfield berth where the resources look slim.

It looks very possible that both Pedro Obiang and Cheik Kouyate will depart, leaving Noble and Rice as our more experienced players for the role. Clearly back up will be needed but no clear target has emerged with much of the media attention focusing upon attacking midfielders and strikers. In reality, this reflects the more considered approach of recent times by the club where transfer activities are much less public - an approach that is almost certainly better for the club!

To that end, the club's new Director of Football Mario Husillos deserves credit. A quick scan of google reveals few pictures of Husillos since joining West Ham, emphasising his quiet but effective style. He has quietly built a squad that is stronger up top than in living memory. If he can sort out the defensive berths of midfield then we can look forward to the season with a genuine sense of hope - and even confidence!

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Pellegrini Gives Big Hint As To His Preferred XI

They are almost ready to start at Portman Road with Manuel Pellegrini starting with what many believe is his strongest XI at present.

The side would readily fit into the 4-2-2-2 formation that the Chilean favours with Kouyate and Obiang in front of a back four where youngsters Diop and Rice give way to Balbuena and Ogbonna.

Arnie is captain for the day.

Just how much a fit Antonio, Reid and Chicharito might impact upon this starting XI is debatable.


Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Brace Yourself! It Looks Like the Rumours are True

Hammers fans have been less than impressed with our latest round of club strips with both home and away kits described as insipid and not maintaining of the club's history. Even worse, pictures emerged last week of the new third kit that were even more disappointing.  

In reality, the third kit only gets an occasional airing and is a great chance to cut loose and try out a bit of more risqué design. Instead, the Hammers have come up with a real shocker. Off white with apologetic claret n blue on the shoulder area, it looks like a poor man's Palace kit. Awful! 

The snap of the kit being worn during training at Rush Green by new signing Andriy Yarmolenko is even more concerning as it highlights the remarkable disparity between the standard of our training facilities and the club's position as the 16th wealthiest on the planet.

In recent years the issues around our (statistically proven) elevated rate of injuries and the training facilities have been suggested, especially by Slaven Bilic who moved training for a period in an attempt to reduce our injury rate. Even more concerning is that one wonders what our international recruits make of the standard of the facilities? As we are reported to be trying to prise top players away from the likes of Juve and Barcelona, we really need to look at our training set up.

Until then, let's try to keep pictures of a crumbling wall out of the media!

Monday, 23 July 2018

Pig Farmer Delivers the Bacon!

Apologies, the title was simply too compelling to pass on. However, the facts of the matter are that unlike a lot of high profile signings, West Ham Ladies' Leanne Kiernan has hit the ground running with a scoring debut against the London Bees at The Hive. The game finished 1-1 with Kiernan a stand out performer.

A native of Bailieboro in Co. Cavan, 19 year old Kiernan enjoyed a prolific career with Shelbourne in the League of Ireland befote recently making the move to West Ham. She will be spearheading their attack after their recent promotion to the women's superleague.

The 11-team league includes teams from Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man City, Yeovil, Everton, Brighton, Bristol City, Brighton and Birmingham City. The team plays at Rush Green - surely worth a visit to watch our team in theur efforts.

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Putting Diop's Shaky Start at Centre Back into Context

New West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini has wasted no time ringing in the changes and in turn splashing plenty of cash to strengthen his squad. Having inherited the leakiest defence in the Premiership - one that conceded 68 goals in 38 games - it has been no surprise that he has looked to change defensive arrangements.

Bringing in French starlet Issa Diop was a particularly bold move, costing £22 million at the tender age of 21! However, having already risen to the role of club captain at Toulouse, Diop had established his leadership credentials.

That aside, Diop has featured in West Ham's Preseason friendlies against Wycombe Wanderers (where he had a solid 45 minutes) and Preston - where he looked off the pace of the game and was the shaky half of a partnership with Declan Rice.

However, its very early days. Reece Oxford's Premiership debut against Arsenal 3 years ago suggested we had unearthed the new Rio Ferdinand, but he has struggled ever since. Conversely, Winston Reid's debut gave little to suggest we had captured our solidest centre back of recent times as he had an underwhelming debut in 2010 in a 3-0 thumping by Villa and was part of a side that was relegated! Similarly, Angelo Ogbonna has been a decent performer since arriving from Juventus, but in his first game looked very nervy and even conceded a crucial own goal as we were spectacularly bounced out of the Europa League by Romanian minnows Astro Giurgui!

Early days then. All the same, he'll need to sharpen up by the time we travel to Anfield in a few week's time as Messrs Salah et al will be only too happy to demonstrate how the Premiership is a place of little sympathy for those hoping for time to catch their breath and get bedded in!

At the other end of the spectrum, Ryan Fredericks has settled in very quickly at right back and along with Andriy Yarmolenko looks set to bring real threat down the right wing next season!


Saturday, 21 July 2018

Bizarre Scenes at Preston as Hammers Shoot themselves in the foot!

West ham continued their preseason campaign with a lively encounter at Preston this afternoon. The game finished 2-2 as Marko Arnautovic continued his excellent form with two well taken goals, while the youthful centre back pairing of Issa Diop and Declan Rice were caught napping for both Preston goals.
However, the big talking point was a rare sighting of a missed-Noble penalty. Last seen in 2016, Captain Claret rarely fails to convert but the Preston keeper pulled off an excellent save to deny Noble!
During his career, Noble has missed just 4 penalties and has converted 31 (in competitive matches).
In contrast, our most prolific penalty taker was Ray 'Tonka' Stewart who scored 76 penalties for West Ham and missed just 5 in his career.
Julian Dicks was undoubtedly the most flamboyant and missed 5 while scoring 34 penalties for the Hammers.
However, the best overall record is still that of Sir Geoff Hurst who converted 18 and missed a single penalty in his Hammers career.

Kiernan and the Cavan Connection

The news that West Ham have signed Irish striking sensation Leanne Kiernan to their Ladies squad brought a smile to all at VERYWESTHAM. For those who aren't aware, the fan site's name is a play on the fact that it originates from very west of West Ham, Ireland in fact. Having moved from Essex just after the 1975 Cup final, the VeryWestHam crew lived in Bailieboro - Kiernan's home town - for many years before the shift to Munster.

The 19-year-old Kiernan has signed from League of Ireland side, Shelbourne, for whom she scored a hat-trick in the 2016 Women's FAI Cup final! In an interview with the club website she revealed "my job used to be at home looking after the pigs, but now things are very different now"

Indeed they are! There won't be much pig farming to be done in East London. Kiernan follows in the footsteps of ex-Hammer Terry Dixon, who joined the club in 2009 but didnt quite make the jump from the reserve team to the first team. Dixon's Bailieboro connection is via his mother who is a native of the town. 

Here's wishing Leanne every success and also good luck to Terry next season as he is currently on the books of Aylesbury.

Here's a snap of the VeryWestHam crew making the long trip on the ferry to see the Hammers take on Aston Villa at Villa Park in the early 1990s.

Seamie Meagher RIP.


West Ham Raid the Palace in Latest Craziness!

With a bright new era looming under Manuel Pellegrini, Hammers fans are looking forward to parading themselves in club colours to let fans of other clubs know when we are 'loving it'!

Irritatingly, the new home and away kits are underwhelming, with the home kit in particular looking like a Burnley top with a Villa emblem on the arm!

But the Hammers have really ramped up the ghastliness with our third kit. If the leaked pic on is to be believed, we seem to have 'borrowed' from Crystal Palace with a superbland design.

Its time to sack our kit designers and bring in somebody who knows our history - which includes having one of the most recognisably attractive colours in World football.


Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Obiang Italian Exit Looming - is this a big mistake by Pellegrini?

Hammers best goal of the season?

Manuel Pellegrini has certainly brought a new broom with him to West Ham as they have already brought in 7 new players since the Summer transfer window opened. With a squad that is actually starting to bloat, it is becoming necessary to offload sone of our players to make space for further rumoured signings and to ensure financial fair play compliance.

One player who looks like he may not be staying for the Pellegrini revolution is Spanish midfielder, Pedro Obiang. Singned from Sampdoria in 2015 at age 23 he looked all set to boss our midfield after an excellent 2016/17 season but then suffered a nasty injury and missed most of the second half of the season last year.

However his return to the squad for important wins over Leicester and Everton where he came on to help seal a rare win over our bogey team was received with delight by fans. The sense amongst many fans is that next year will see him further develop feom these decent beginnings.

Now reports from Italy (Bergamo Corriere Della Sera) suggest that he may be going on a year long loan for 1 million to Serie A's Atalanta with a 9 million purchase clause if all goes well for him.

Many fans will ask if this is good business given that he is now reaching his peak at age 26 and is a proven Premiership performer who's main flaw has been to get injured last season. Otherwise, he has grown during his time at the Hammers and is a decent all rounder with good physical presence in a holding role, decent mobility, accurate passing and a good shot (as Spurs can attest to!). All said and done, he seems like an ideal Pellegrini player!

Let's hope these rumours are nonsense!

Even Sherlock Holmes Couldn't Solve The Mystery of This Hammers Transfer Madness

Just when you had written off Jordan Hugill's signing as a moment of last minute Winter window desperation, reports are emerging that the real reason for bringing him in was in case we got relegated!?!

However bonkers that sounds, it is just as plausible as that Moyes might have thought he could make a difference as the poor lad has had just 22 minutes action and during that time has looked as clued in with things as Simone Zaza!

Now it looks that he will be shipping off to Leeds or QPR for a knock down price to make room for another Andy Carroll understudy.

While thete can be no doubting that David Moyes restored stability at the club and steadied a ship that was rocking its way towards relegation, the Hugill saga along with letting Jose Fonte depart when we were short of CB options endure as moments of bizarre decision making!

All of which begs the question - will we return to our circus management antics next year despite the arrival of Pellegrini? Time will tell.

Best of luck to Jordan Hugill whatever direction he takes. It must have been a frustrating and farcical adventure for him as well!

By the way - Zaza may have been a laughing stock at West Ham but has pretty done well since switching to Valencia 18 months ago, notching 19 goals in 53 appearances - better than his big zero for the Hammers!

Monday, 16 July 2018

Payet? No way - here's where discerning Hammers should put their cash

With less than five weeks until the Premiership kicks off again, its time to start thinking about realistic aspirations for the season ahead.

With a new Pellegrini-led era upon us and a board who seem determined to make up for perceived previous parsimony in the transfer market, just about anything seems possible.

One thing that has certainly changed is that our transfer activities are bringing in players that the manager actually wants and who fit in with his set up. Last season it was apparent that Chicharito was not suited to either the Bilic or Moyes method and, as the World Cup highlighted, we ended up wasting his undoubted talent.

For these reasons, Hammers fans have reason to feel positive - sonething that has not yet transferred to the bookies! While the odds of a Dimitri Payet return are a mere 5/2, the likelihood of West Ham getting a top six finish is quoted at a 18/1, with the top four at 66/1!

With Yarmolenko and Anderson ready to set the league alight, Chicharito essentially a new signing and an astute manager at the helm who has succeeded in pretty much every club he has managed, a top six finish is by no means out of the question and surely worth a 20 quid punt - if it comes up next season you will find yourself watching top class entertainment on a free season ticket! If you go for the top four bet you could afford to be next to the board the following year!


Forget formations: with Pellegrini it's about the quality of your players!

The volume of action involving West Ham in the transfer market since Manuel Pellegrini arrived has come as a surprise to many fans but an analysis of the Chilean mastermind's history quickly reveals that the Davids have gone for a truly bold selection as new manager.

Pellegrini has been hugely successful as a coach both in South America and La Liga, as well as winning the Premiership with Man City in 2014, scoring 102 goals while conceding just 37.

Pellegrini's emphasis is undoubtedly an attacking one - often playing with two strikers in a 4-2-2-2 formation. He demands great mobility from his players - expecting each forward to drift wide to link in with  marauding full backs and create space for passing triangles with the attacking midfielders. Played correctly, it makes for an exciting spectacle and one that will undoubtedly please fans!

Pellegrini firmly believes in dominating possession and is an advocate of that old truism that the opposition cannot score without the ball! He is equally ebullient about playing your own game and has been critical of managers who base too much of their energies upon tactics designed to  stifle the opposition's game. That said, he can be very flexible and frequently shifts to a 4-2-3-1 against better sides and also at times has used a 4-1-4-1 or even a simple 4-4-2 usually to accomodate the skillset of particular players. Pellegrini sides like to defend high up and therefore he prefers players with pace and expects his teams to cover lots of yards and dominate possession - he surely would not approve of Moyes' method that often resulted in West ham conceding two thirds or more of possession - and not just against the top sides!

So, what are the implications for West Ham's set up? The loss of Andy Carroll may not be so big an issue given that he really is not a Pellegrini-style forward. Chicharito, on the other hand, should fit in much better than he did in the 4-5-1 of Moyes which exposed his lack of physicality. Ryan Fredericks has lots of pace and along with Aaron Cresswell should prosper in a more traditional full back role. In the holding role we might expect Wilshere/Noble to pair up with Obiang/Kouyate in front of the back four, while the attacking midfield of Anderson and Lanzini (after Christmas) would make for an exciting link with Arnie and Yarmolenko / Hernandez.

Add to all of that the unpredictable creative mayhem of Masuaku and Antonio and its looking very exciting up top. Pellegrini's preferred centre back pairing remains unclear and the opening game against Liverpool will tell us how close to the required standard he considers Declan Rice and the exciting French youngster Issa Diop. For such a big game one suspects he may go with the greater experience of Ogbonna and the newly arriving Balbuena - aka 'The General'.

And then there's the small issue of more arrivals to add to the mix!

I am so glad to have a season ticket for next year - it is going to be very exciting and whatever else, we will have committed attacking football from the home side at the London Stadium!

How about this? Note that the common formation building sites do not include a 4-2-2-2 function even though it is quite common in South America.


The Major Upside of West Ham's injury crisis

In typical fashion, just as it looked like West Ham might be ready to push on having put our annus horribilis behind us, our talisman gets seriously injured on World Cup duty and then we lose our principal centre back and striker. Hmmm.

However, it has become apparent that Manuel Pellegrini is not at West Ham just for the money - his transfer dealings this Summer have demonstrated that he has a point to prove and West ham are benefitting from his knowledge of the international transfer market with players arriving from all sorts of sources including leagues in Brazil, Germany, France and Italy.

With 7 in, no majir departures and every sense that more good news is to follow, this is a truly remarkable time at West Ham. Moreover, the recent injurues may also have a positive - Carroll's injury almost certainly means that we will hold on to Michail Antonio, Reid's issues will prolong Ogbonna's Hammers career, while the continued interest in creative midfield talents (e.g. Bernard) is almost certainly a function of Lanzini's absence.

Many seasoned observers will be pleased to see Antonio and Ogbonna remain. Both are proven Premiership performers and deserve the opportunity to prove that they can contribute to the Pellegrini revolution.
That said, imagine tge squad we will have for the run in next year - if we can get close to the top six our squad depth should mean that we don't fade in the final furlong like we did under SuperSlav 2 seasons ago.


Sunday, 15 July 2018

World Cup Signals Simple Solution to Long Running West Ham Dispute

England had an excellent World Cup campaign, reaching the semi finals and bringing a sense of pride back to the shirt. However, Mr Grumpy himself, Roy Keane, brought everybody back to reality when he observed that most of the England players had not won anything and that it was a pretty unlikely scenario for your first trophy to be the World Cup!

Losing for a second time to Belgium in the 3rd and 4th place play off game highlighted that whatever about being unlucky against Croatia, the are clearly better sides out there. As such, a second World Cup seems a long way off and may never happen!

As such, England should cherish their one success. In recent times there has been an ongoing debate about whether the World Cup statue should move to the new stadium. In a recent poll fans were split 50:50 on the matter! While a spot has been identified at the Olympic Stadium, Newham council have changed their minds on letting the statue go.

All of which seems ridiculous - many Hammers fans see the statue as the best reminder of where our home was and as Green street continues to change that looks likely to become even more so over time. The statue cost £730,000 when it was erected in 2003. Putting It in perspective, thats a few weeks wages for Andy Carroll!

If we can afford to pay £10million for Jordan Hugill and then never even give him a chance to show us what he is capable of, surely we can afford a second and separate statue for the new stadium?


P.S. When you host the best league in the world it is inevitable that you will eventually assemble a squad that is good enough to mount a serious challenge for the World Cup, but the statue should stay regardless.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Yarmolenko, Anderson, Wilshere...Back to the Future?

West ham have had a remarkably busy transfer period so far this Summer, with 7 major recruits. While you might debate the extent to which supporter unrest has contributed to the Pellegrini cashsplashing revolution, having a 60,000 stadium at very attractive rent does create a cash rich wealth that is needed to progress up the Premiership rankings.

However, its not all about money! In the Summer of 2007 Alan Curbishley was allowed to blitz the transger market and signed a host of desirable players including Scott Parker, Craig Bellamy, Kieron Dyer, Freddie Ljungberg and Julien Faubert. Sadly, only the first two on the list delivered on their billing with Ljungberg and Dyer especially costly mistakes.

Was Curbishley to blame? Interestingly, he had an excellent managerial record prior to that but clearly somebody lost the run of themselves. Soon after West ham were in serious trouble as the Icelandic consortium were bankrupted and the club endured its closest ever brush with a humiliating demise.

Thankfully, the ship was steadied and soon after the Davids rolled into town bringing a much smarter financial philosophy that has pushed West ham into the top 20 richest clubs on the planet.

Hopefully this season is tge one when tge club can push on. Let's hope its not another false dawn like that of 2007!


West Ham Rediscover that Lions feeling - but at a cost!

We all know that West ham won the World Cup in 1966 with the three Lions of Hurst, Moore and Peters leading the charge. However, since then its been hit and miss for West Ham players getting into the England side.

Our beloved neighbours over at Tottenham tried to bridge the gap but came up short against a modest Croatian side who look set to be mauled by France in tomorrow night's final. Put simply, an England side without a healthy dose of Hammers cannot expect to win anything significant!

With the current squad as international as West Ham have ever been, there are few players likely to break into the England set up - with the most likely in Michail Antonio possibly on the move out of the club!

As a consequence, if the Lions don't invite you to join them maybe its best to create your own and thats what West ham have done with their new sponsor, Bassett and Gold will bring a Lion logo to the claret n blue.

Frankly, its awfully Villa-like and along with the Burnley-esque home jersey not in keeping with our tradition.


Wednesday, 11 July 2018

How Unlucky England Could Have Done With Hammers Ace! close for an unfancied England side in the World Cup. A little more composure in the second half and they surely would have skipped home. But, alas, they stopped passing the ball and let Croatia back into a game that could have been all but done at half time.

On reflection, it was in the early exchanges of the second half that a youthful English side lost composure and started to look for 'safer' long ball options. That was the moment that they needed a real leader in the middle of the park to talk the centre backs into keeping their composure and maintaining a link with a forward line that was until then keeping Croatie guessing.

For my money Jack Wilshere could have provided that link. Instead, Eric Dier was brought on in an effort to get a misfiring England ticking over again but struggled as England gave up possession and stumbled home.

Having said all of that, the England side deserve much praise, surprising many with their effectiveness in a tournament that has been fantastic. Well done Mr Southgate - calm, assured and tactically astute. All said and done, the regret will be that a young side didn't beat a Croatia side that really looked there for the taking.

So its back to all things West Ham and we have every right to be optimistic for the season ahead. The influx of ball players will surely bolster our capacity to use the space of the new stadium. The performances of Premier league players also enhances our belief in the league that we watch each week.

A final thought - who would have thought Spurs could have performed so well on the biggest stage? A big push and West Ham can be up there with the best!