Friday, July 21

Hernandez knows where the net is

We're having a much better transfer window this summer, opting for proven PL quality rather than numbers. With West Ham agreeing a £16m deal for Javier Hernandez, subject to his medical, the Irons have a proven goalscorer. Hernandez has a great goals to game ratio; he scored 59 goals in 156 appearances (quite a few of these as a sub) for Man United and 39 times in 76 games for Bayern Leverkusen and 7 in 23 while on loan at Real Madrid. Not to mention 48 strikes for Mexico. Interestingly, Jose Mourinho was openly critical of David Moyes for allowing Henandez to leave Man United. Yes, he's a little old at 29, but should have a good few years left.

Javier's also the third player with a title medal to join his summer. That doesn't guarantee anything of course, QPR signed title winners Park Ji Sung, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Jose Bosingwa only to end up relegated. But our players look more solid characters and we should now have a mentality for grinding out results. Hernandez will also be the first West Ham player to be nicknamed Chicharito ('Little Pea') which makes a change from Nobes and Ginge.

Thursday, July 20

What is West Ham's strongest side?

With three new signings (and possibly a new striker in Javier Hernandez) it's interesting to speculate on just what will be the first choice West Ham X1. It would probably be something like this: 

Hart; Zabaleta, Reid, Ogbonna, Cresswell;  Kouyate, Obiang, Lanzini; Antonio, Carroll (or a new striker), Arnautovic. 

While the subs would come from the likes of Fonte, Collins, Noble, Ayew, Snodgrass, Feghouli, Fernandes, Sakho, Byram and Masuaku. Though Fonte or Ginge could also come into the side to make a back five. It certainly looks a lot stronger than last season's line-up. Any views on this? Though this is all hypothetical as as I'm sure the obligatory WHU injury-crisis will soon hit…

Wednesday, July 19

Stoke fans gutted to see Arnautovic go — a good sign for West Ham

More transfer progress. The Irons have signed Marko Arnautovic from Stoke City for £24 million. That's a lot of money, but in this inflated market, when Swansea's Sigurdsson, a great player but not a genius, is valued at £50 million, it's what you need to pay. 

Looking at the Oatcake fanzine online, most Stoke fans seem gutted to see him go and are complaining about Stoke's lack of ambition, which is encouraging for us, though one fan does warn that, "he's only up for it three out of ten games." My cousin Dave, a Potters fan, messages: "With Arnie you have a match winner, just never sure if he is going to turn up." He also points out that Arnie's agent is his brother Daniel, so the family will have done quite well out of this move. 

Arnie seems to have all the ability but not the consistency —  though if Bilic can coach him into performing well regularly he should certainly add something to the side on the left. With Hart, Zabaleta and Arnautovic signed I'm starting to feel more optimistic about next season.

Tuesday, July 18

Hart stopper

Joe Hart has passed his West Ham medical, even if the loan move is taking an awfully long time to finalise. The Sun claims that Man City will still be paying Hart £55,000 a week not to play, which says a lot about modern football, while West Ham will make up the other £120,000 a week of Hart's salary. 

It's a little tough on Adrian, who had a fine end to the season, but if Hart can get back to anything like his best then we have a top class goalkeeper. Crucially, Joe is also a shouter and organiser, something West Ham have long needed at the back. Added to the experience of Zabaleta at right back, West Ham's defence looks a lot more solid than last season, when we often had to score three goals to win a game. Hart will also bring a winning mentality having won two league titles, two League Cups and one FA Cup. And he's got a point to prove to Pep Guardiola, which is no bad thing.

Certainly the 30-year-old Hart has had a worrying dip in form in the last two seasons, so the success of the move may well depend on Bilic's man management. But if Hart can be made to feel wanted again and regain his confidence we will still have a great keeper. Just checked out some of his greatest saves on YouTube and it's hard not to feel a little excited about him guarding our onion sack.

Saturday, July 15

He only cost ten grand…

Just another everyday story of cocaine, booze, burglary and treasure hunting. Ex-Hammer Shaun Newton has been spared jail after burgling a flat in Mitcham, because while high on cocaine and alcohol he thought he was on a treasure hunt. Newton hadn't slept for two days and had apparently been celebrating his 40th birthday for a year, as you do. As nothing was taken from the flat Newton received 100 hours community service rather than a spell inside. 

Newton's defence counsel explained: "He has not found his feet after leaving football. He now lives a hand-to-mouth existence." So we shouldn't really laugh, though a lot of people are on twitter. Many comments suggest that whatever Shaun was on we could all do with some as it appears to be good stuff. While James Brown, author of Above Head Height, quips: "Between 1990 and 1997 it was one long treasure hunt."

Friday, July 14

Boleyn up for auction

Just donated a signed copy of Goodbye to Boleyn to the Newham Bookshop's raffle and auction for the Grenfell Tower residents. Boleyn is sitting proudly alongside a signed copy of Bruce Springsteen's Born To Run memoir, a signed dvd of Ken Loach's I, Daniel Blake and a signed copy of J K Rowling's The Casual Vacancy. Place your bid by email to info@newhambooks.co.uk or by Twitter to @NewhamBookshop, mentioning the item and your contact details. Full details on the Newham Bookshop's website. All proceeds go to the Kensington and Chelsea Foundation charity.

Thursday, July 13

This is the Enner

Enner Valencia has joined Mexican side Tigres for a fee thought to be around £6 million. He had his moments, but for a £12 million striker he never scored enough goals and often seemed too fragile for he Premier League and more at home on the wing. 

Valencia started really well in 2014-15, scoring a 30-yard screamer at Hull and making many of Sakho's goals, as under Sam Allardyce the Irons reached 4th position at Christmas. But then Enner managed to injure himself stepping on a broken teacup, as you do, and on his return was often forced to play alone up front as injuries hit. The Hammers slumped to 12th. He only scored four league goals that season and just another four in the first Bilic season, though they were noticeable braces against Bournemouth and Manchester City. 

He scored three times while on loan at Everton last season, but sadly his stay in England will be best remembered for Enner escaping on an ambulance cart while being chased by the Ecuador rozzers in pursuit of child maintenance money. 

He seemed to score virtually every game on international duty for Ecuador, but he's yet another example of how buying a player who has a good World Cup (as he did in 2014) can often be a mistake.