Friday, September 30

Six steps to improve West Ham

There's a lot more to say, like sorting out our best centre back pairing, but here are my six steps that might improve WHU's fortunes…

MAKE A DECISION ON ZAZA
Apparently there’s an obligation to buy Zaza after a small number of games, rumoured to be 15 (who negotiated that?). He certainly hasn’t looked worth £25 million so far. But is he a confidence player? If either of the scuffed shots he had cleared off the line against FC Astra and Southampton had gone in would he suddenly have gone on a scoring run? Zaza scored one in three over three full seasons in Italian football and broke into the international side so he can’t be too bad. It’s pretty clear he can’t play with Calleri as they go for the same balls. Could he play with Fletcher? With that obligation to buy after 15 games we have to make a decision quickly.

STRENGTHEN THE DEFENSIVE SHIELD
Our defence has come under so much pressure because Noble and Kouyate haven’t looked as dynamic as last season. There’s a clear case for bringing Obiang into the midfield to help shield the back four and perhaps playing all three. That would mean Lanzini dropping to the bench and coming on against tiring teams.

PLAY A SPECIALISED RIGHT BACK
Better to play Arbeloa or Byram at right-back rather than Nordtveit. (Thankfully Bilic has given up on the Antonio experiment.) At least we’d have one full back playing on their natural side then, even if whoever plays on the left will be on their wrong foot.

IMPROVE THE TEAM SPIRIT
A team meal was a good idea even if it generated a few headlines and boosted the profits of McDonald’s. The side just don’t look like they’re fighting for each other at the moment and it’s surely a case of two many new arrivals over the summer taking time to bed in. Somehow Bilic has to inspire them and up their work rate.

REINTEGRATE SAKHO AND GET CARROLL FIT
Diafra Sakho is coming towards fitness and we know he’s a great finisher when motivated. Whatever has passed behind Bilic and the player in the past we need him as an option. And when Carroll returns we’ll at least have a focus to our attack and a Plan B when things go wrong. Without Andy we made Accrington Stanley look brilliant in the air.

STOP BLAMING THE STADIUM

The side should be able to scrap and fight wherever they play. Terry Venables once said with footballers you have to take their excuses away. Too many WHU players are hiding behind the stadium excuse. Watford and Southampton have shown us it’s possible to play well on what is a great playing surface, even if it is bigger than Upton Park.

Wednesday, September 28

Team bonding West Ham style

Meanwhile the Daily Mail and the Sun have reports of a West Ham team bonding session on Monday night. First the lads went to Signor Sassi restaurant in Knightsbridge for a 'quiet dinner'. Shame they didn't invite Hayden Foxe and Frank McAvennie too as they know a bit about bonding sessions… Some interesting gear too. In the pictures James Collins looks like the Lord of Stratford Manor with his ginger beard, tweed jacket and flat cap, while Andy Carroll is wearing white trousers that might be Albert Steptoe's long Johns. Some of the lads then went on to the Cirque le Soir nightclub and at it seems made quite a night of it as the Sun prints a picture of Andy Carroll and Aaron Cresswell getting some sports nutrition at McDonald's at 7am. 

Normally you'd say they should have been in bed early with a hot water bottle. But these are desperate times and if having a few Sherbets and a McDonald's is what it takes to unite the team then perhaps that's a good thing. Part of the problem seems to be that we have recruited a lot of players from around the world who all speak different languages and hardly know each other and we didn't look like a team who would fight for each other on Sunday. A big night out might at least improve the banter and give us something that smells like team spirit.

Big Sam undone

So Big Sam has been undone by greed. An England manager on £3 million a year shouldn't need to do deals with 'businessmen' from Singapore to be a 'keynote speaker' at £100k a pop. If it's too good to be true chances are it's a Daily Telegraph sting. Allardyce was clear he was going to notify his employers of the offer, but it's unlikely they would have ever agreed. 

It's also worrying that West Ham have been dragged into it, with Sam mentioning ways of 'getting round' the FA's third party ownership rules and bringing up the Enner Valencia deal. He did say that West Ham had bought the 'whole player', though some clarification from the club is now essential as to what type of deal it was and how much the agents received. David Sullivan is quoted in the Sun saying: "Valencia's economic rights were wholly owned by Pachuca when we bought him. Sam is wrong. But he didn't know much about the actual transfer deal other than wanting the player. We have not broken any rules on third party ownership."


For a man who often spoke about perception, Allardyce seems very poor at understanding how certain things will be perceived. He didn't seem to understand that ridiculing the West Ham way in his first press conference would immediately alienate the fans, as did his ear-cupping against Hull, or that the England manager has to be above grubby deals and can't be indiscreet about Roy Hodgson or the players or offer advice on ways around FA rules with people he's just met and had a social drink with. 


You do wonder why Allardyce was so foolish two weeks into the England job and why his agent Mark Curtis didn't stop him and was instead trying to bump up Sam's fee. And the sad part is that if he sticks to football he's a decent manager, not to everyone's taste admittedly, but he just might have instilled some more self-belief into the England side. Now England are in turmoil too. 

Monday, September 26

Saints go marching in against shambolic Hammers

We can see you sneaking out…
West Ham United  0 Southampton 3

The best part of the day is a pre-match Ruby Red ale at Hackney Wick’s Tank with my near-neighbour Will, who’s a Saints fan, and my daughter Nell who has a hipster Coke.

Inside the stadium Nigel’s away discussing the new Bridget Jones film, but Alison and Scott are back from New York, perhaps wishing they were still watching the New York Jets, particularly as the sun is in our eyes all game and they said that wouldn't happen at the reservation centre.

The first half is uninspired with neither side getting in a shot until Saints take the lead after 40 minutes. Antonio and Nordtveit go to sleep, and Bertrand crosses for Austin to get in front of his man and flick home. Adrian prevents a second from Cedric just before the interval.

Bilic subs Lanzini for Feghouli at half-time. We mount some pressure and Zaza dives to try and get a penalty, receiving a yellow card for simulation. Soon it’s 2-0 as Reid and Kouyate dither in the middle and lose the ball. Tadic is unmarked and rounds Adrian to score.

Adrian has to make a further great save to keep us in it and there’s a brief rally. West Ham have a strong shout for a penalty as Feghouli’s shot is blocked by the arms of a defender. Van Djke clears off the line from Zaza’s scuffed shot and Antonio crosses for Payet to shoot wide when he should score.

WE'VE GOT MORE FANS THAN YOU
But there’s no disguising that Southampton are better than us as they threaten every time they break. Adrian has to make another couple of great saves and Nordveit a fine saving tackle before Antonio loses his man and Ward-Prowse sneaks in to score the third in added time

“We’ve got more fans than you!” chant the Southampton fans at the rows of empty white seats.

Still, it’s not as if anyone’s travelled 5351 miles to see it. Oh hang on, that’s Steve ‘North Bank Norman’ Rapport who’s travelled all the way from San Francisco, writing on Facebook, “Well, that was fun.” Things are so bad Matt is going to have to resurrect his lucky Dukla Prague away kit.

Hammers getting tanked…
Will and myself stop for two thirds of a pint of IPA in Tank before I’m refused admission to Crate for wearing a West Ham shirt, even though I plead that Matt was reading Ferment magazine about Colorado beers at the interval and that no one is going to be dancing on the tables after a game like that.

It’s been a thoroughly dispiriting performance though Saints fan Will diplomatically suggests that our relegation talk is premature. Not on this form though. There’s a real lack of tempo and urgency to our game, which is mystifying as these players did so well last season. And it can’t just be adapting to the new stadium. We have to make changes and get some more hunger in the team — bring in Fletcher, Obiang, Oxford, Fernandes, anyone really. And we have to get some confidence back from somewhere. Nurse, the screens.

PLAYER RATINGS: Adrian 7; Nordveit 4 (Fletcher 5), Reid 5, Ogbonna 5, Arbeloa 5; Antonio 4, Noble 4 (Fernandes n/a), Kouyate 4, Payet 5, Lanzini 4 (Feghouli 5); Zaza 4.

Sunday, September 25

Hammers versus hipsters: Crate expectations

Friday's Evening Standard has another report on the Hammers versus Hipsters fixture at Hackney Wick. Canalside bar Crate has been handing out flyers saying that people wearing "football merchandise" will only be served before the game and that chanting is banned. I can see that fans jumping in the canal at the Bournemouth game is going too far, but in the colder weather that's unlikely to happen, at least as long as we don't lose to Southampton. Surely Crate needs to accept that it's on to a nice little earner with football fans and might have to be a little less family friendly on match days. The beer's excellent  so my policy will be to do up my jacket to conceal my West Ham shirt, arrive on a paddle board and start growing a beard. And as an alternative the nearby Howling Hops Tank bar also does very good ale and seems slightly more accepting of fans.

Friday, September 23

Who can replace Arthur?

More disastrous news on the left-back front. Aaron Cresswell is still a long way from fitness and now Arthur Masuaku is out for six weeks with the ankle injury sustained against Accrington Stanley. No idea who will replace him. Arthur might have had a 'mare at WBA but he's looked a decent buy in his other games. We could perhaps shift Byram or Arbeloa to left back, but they'd be playing on their wrong foot, while Ogbonna might be able to do a job there. Or Bilic could play three centre backs and two wing backs. Pretty worrying for Sunday as Southampton have payers like Tadic and Redmond who can do a lot of damage from the flanks. We've certainly had no luck this season, losing Cresswell, Ayew, Carroll and now Masuaku. Nurse, the screens.

Thursday, September 22

Sir Trev at the Newham Bookshop

One for your your diaries… Sir Trevor Brooking will be signing copies of Andy Hooper and Lee Clayton's Farewell to Upton Park (Trev wrote the foreward) at the Newham Bookshop in Barking Road, E13, before the Southampton game on Sunday at 12.30pm. Though we'd best all avert our eyes walking past the bombed out Boleyn Ground… personally I'd much rather it was demolished in private with some dignity rather than blown up for a movie.

Payet wins it at the death

West Ham 1 Accrington Stanley 0 (EFL Cup)

It’s down to diehards Fraser, Matt and myself for this one, though the attendance of 39,877 is very respectable and is more than Upton Park could have held. It’s a squad line-up and as Matt points out there can’t have been many West Ham teams where only two players have scored for the club (Ogbonna and Feghouli have one goal each).

It’s a tepid first half as we bemoan the lack of any Pardew-esque ‘tempo’. Accrington’s fans are noisy in the away end and almost see a goal when McConville gets acres of space on the let and Randolph has to make a fine save. We’re playing four forwards who look bereft of all confidence in Feghouli, Calleri, Zaza and Tore. When Feghouli is sent clear by Fernandes he appears be held back by an invisible tractor beam and is tackled after hesitating too long.

WE'VE GOT A SUB, DIMITRI THE SUB
In the second half Bilic has to bring on a three-man team of Payet, Lanzini and Antonio. Payet and Lanzini instantly make us more creative though Antonio, on after 70 minutes, has a more frustrating game, rarely beating the defenders with his crosses. In a more central role Fenrnandes looks promising. Payet wriggles through on the left and crosses for Zaza to shoot at Parish’s legs.

“Premier League you’re having a laugh!” chant the Stanley fans. They almost nick it as McConville blasts another fine chance over the bar. Obiang has a steady game and almost scores as Parrish tips his long range effort wide.

There’s another injury worry as Masuaku is carried off on a stretcher and West Ham go down to ten men. It looks like extra time as we go into the 96th minute. Then Zak Vyner fouls Payet on the edge of the box. The little magician steps up and places a wonderful free kick past Parish.

STICK YOUR BLUE FLAG…
Dimitri rushes into the corner celebrating like West Ham have just won the Champions League. Apparently we've got Payet. In a strange way that could be the most vital goal of the season. Going out to Accy would have really signalled an early-season crisis. We’ll take a clean sheet and a win whoever it’s against. Matt reminisces about past League Cup struggles against Southend, Aldershot and Chesterfield.

There’s no kettling with a 40,000 crowd and we escape through a ghostly Westfield to find the Tap Bar. The Number 6 Blonde is really very good, and we also try the Boleyn Bitter. Simon who sits in front of us introduces himself and recommends the craft beer at Hackney Wick — who says we’re all fighting each other?

So now it’s Chelsea at home in the next round with no police in the stadium. Now that should be interesting.


PLAYER RATINGS: Randolph 6; Arbeloa 5, Ogbonna 5, Nordtveit 6, Masuaku 5; Feghouli 4 (Payet 8), Obiang 6, Fernandes 6, Tore 4 (Lanzini 7); Calleri 4 (Antonio 5), Zaza 5.

Tuesday, September 20

Oxford stalls on new contract?

Rather a worrying piece in the Daily Mail, claiming that 17-year-old Reece Oxford is stalling on signing a new contract and could leave for Man United when his contract expires a the end of the season. The only reason I can think of for selling James Tomkins was to give Oxford more games, and now it could be we lose both players. West Ham fans are always slightly wary of discussing teenage potential — Stuart Slater was a future genius and Alan Dickens was billed as the next Trevor Brooking and Freddie Sears the next Tony Cottee — but Oxford's performances for England U-18s and West Ham do suggest rich promise. So let's hope the contract impasse is sorted out soon. Meanwhile if Reece is as good as everyone thinks, after eight goals conceded in two games by WHU he might be worthy of a place either in defence or midfield. Some more first team action might convince him where his future lies.

Monday, September 19

Stadium woes

The Observer used a couple of my quotes in their news piece yesterday, "How football's working-class fans were sold out for a packet of popcorn." Click on the link to read. There's abother feature on West Ham's problems with the London Stadium in the Sport section and a lotos coverage in the other p[apers — the stadium problems seem to be generating an unwarranted degree of publicity. Not sure it's as simple as a case of working-class fans being priced out, the days of local dockers walking to Green Street went in the 1970s and the new stadium offers kids' tickets for £99. But there is something in the fact West Ham fans have never been as docile as some other fans.

There have been some scuffles and no-one wants to see children in tears — but let's remember there were many more children in tears during the hooligan heyday of the 1980s. If the problems are still there after this season it really will be worrying, but at the moment it's a learning process for club and fans and we should be aware that in the social media age every fracas is filmed and everything seems to create more sound and fury that it merits. Stewarding needs to improve, we need the police in the stadium, families need to sit together and stewards perhaps turn a blind eye to standing among the singing fans. But it should all be solvable.

Saturday, September 17

More defensive howlers cost Hammers

West Brom 4 West Ham 2

Another shocker at the Hawthorns as we become the first team since the dawn of time to concede four to a Tony Pulis side. More comment to come after the application of smelling salts…

Having watched Match of the Day, we conceded four terrible goals. The penalty was a crazy hand ball from Masuaku and for the second Ogbonna should have hit row Z, while Kouyate and Collins didn't get tight enough on their men. Masuaku lost his man for the third and the fourth was ridiculous with ten men up for a corner allowing an easy breakaway. At least we showed a little spirit to pull back two goals and Payet hit the angle with a brilliant free kick, while Collins also went close. But it was very worrying defensively. If we play like this we'll be in a relegation fight.

We shouldn't be losing games where we have 71 per cent possession and 23 shots (though only five on target). Antonio is the joint top scorer in the Premier League but it's all undone by our defensive woes and lack of protection in midfield. Noble was hauled off at half-time and Kouyate hasn't matched last season's standards. Surely Obiang deserves a game in front of the back four? Byram and Reid missed the game, apparently with knocks. Nortdveit doesn't look the answer at right back and we still badly miss Aaron Cresswell. Winston Reid will surely come back in and Arbeloa, Oxford and Randolph might also be in contention after the last two weeks. We have to find a way of stopping the goals against us and no-one should be undroppable.

Friday, September 16

Reasons to be cheerful?

After a testing week perhaps it's time to be positive. Slowly West Ham are getting their strongest side on the pitch and for 40 minutes we played some great stuff against Watford. Payet and Lanzini will be getting fitter and Zaza is a quality striker who will improve once he's bedded in. Though that's only of use if we can get our hunger back. 

The capitulation against Watford reminded me of the way the side fell apart against Swansea at the end of last season. We forgot to do the basics, or as Slaven says in tonight's Evening Standard, we forgot about "playing all the time like it is the last minute of the final game of your life."

It's surely time to bring Ogbonna back into defence, while Byram's confidence looks shot at right-back. He's backing off attackers and making basic errors, though he hasn't been helped by the more experienced players around him. Arbeloa is earmarked to make his debut against Accrington Stanley and when fit will surely get a run at right-back, though Byram is still one for the future.

Ironically, what we need at West Brom tomorrow is a Big Sam-style performance, winning the percentages against Pulis's men and sneaking a 0-0 or 1-0. Bilic expects a "big-time" response and let's hope we get one. 

Tuesday, September 13

Old Bill do a runner…

This stadium stewarding business is now becoming less teething problems and more like a case for a new set of dentures. It has emerged today that the police are refusing to help inside the London Stadium as an Airwave radio system has not been installed. Did they have one of those when they used to tiptoe through the North Bank confiscating high-leg steel-toecapped DM boots? 

There will be a police presence outside the stadium and the police will enter if there is a serious disturbance. The Airwave radio might be ready by December, apparently, which leaves E20 and West Ham halfway up the River Lea without a paddleboad. It's a bit like a footballing Lord of the Flies. Leave enough fans poorly stewarded with no police in a new ground and see how long it takes to kick off. 

There's a good overview of the situation in today's Guardian, with some quotes from Knees Up Mother Brown. Most of the problems are occurring at the ends in the Bobby Moore and Trevor Brooking Stands. Whereas everyone in the old Bobby Moore Stand used to stand up all game, now the situation is complicated by the club having sold 25,000 family tickets. Clearly there's been little planning in how to separate families and old-style Bobby Moore Standers. A designated singing area where people could tacitly agree to stand might have helped. 

At least the club is now trying to help families with children who can't see to swap to different parts of the stadium. Certainly where we sit in the East Stand there's been no problem with standing so far. If like-minded people are seated with each other then some of the problems might be solved. Otherwise we'll need Billy Bonds to sort it out…

Monday, September 12

Fighting among ourselves?

Plenty of coverage in the media about the isolated disturbances in the crowd on Saturday. There was a minor fracas behind me in the East Stand, which seemed to be about rudeness. Although a lot of people stood up and tried to calm the incident the response from stewards was very slow, even if it did prove to be all bluster. 

Many of the stewards look lightweight and appear to be more used to controlling concerts rather than high-profile football matches. Certainly the segregation between the West Ham fans and Watford fans looked woeful, with just a few empty seats and some overworked stewards dividing the fans. And not having any police presence in the stadium seems a huge risk.

The Daily Mail gives quite a good overview, revealing that West Ham don't control the stadium security, it's the E20 partnership, set up by the London Stadium Legacy Corporation and Newham Council. E20 employs the Orwellian-sounding stadium operator LS185 (actually named after Britain's medal tally) to steward the stadium.

Leaks on twitter suggest that experienced stewards from Upton Park are being sidelined and you really hope that the new stewards are properly paid, on proper contracts and fully motivated rather than the cheapest option. Where fans are standing up it's clearly best if stewards who know the fans get involved first.

It's inevitable there will be some early problems with the new stadium, but this clearly needs sorting fast. I'd say it's ok to stand up if there's a goal or near miss, but if fans behind you object to standing up all game then don't do it. Though there are also reports of heavy-handed stewarding and unnecessary expulsions, so perhaps a period of calm is needed on all sides. At least the club and E20 are now having urgent talks.

And while we're at it, could everybody stay in their seats for 90 minutes. We should support our team for the whole match, whatever the score. We're not Arsenal. Please, no more fire drills.

Sunday, September 11

West Ham fail to plug Watford Gap

West Ham 2 Watford 4

The news in the Clyde Best Café is that Nigel likes the grub and is muttering approvingly about coffee machines and the café having a gents, as Michael the Keeper of the Moral Compass accuses him of possible disloyalty to the memory of Ken’s Café. My daughter Nell still thinks the chips were better in Ken’s but seems happy with waitress service. Michael's been in his lock-up and presents Nigel with a new WHU lanyard, attached to a claret and blue stick of rock in the shape of a child's dummy. We then go the backstreet way to the stadium, discovering a new pub the Carpenters Arms and feeling relief at being off the concrete walkways.

Inside the stadium Steve the Cornishman is away starting his new job as a postman (he’s rumoured to be better at delivery than Payet), while Alison and Scott are up the Empire State Building in New York. So we’re joined by Alison’s sister Roz, fresh from her Laindon Hills golf course, and her pre-hipster bearded son Joe. We’re joined by Fraser and Matt, who arrives after kick-off having taken in WHU’s Premier League 2 side’s 2-2 draw with Wolves at noon and the Under-18s 2-2 draw the previous evening.

FIESTA FOOTBALL
It all starts off with 40 minutes of great football. Zaza’s overhead releases Antonio who draws a save from Gomes. The keeper then stops Payet’s follow-up effort. Watford threaten going forward though, as Masuako’s intervention denies Ighalo.

WHU take the lead after five minutes when the prolific Antonio heads in Payer’s corner. Janmaat hits his own post, Lanzini shoots with a rabona flick and Antonio has several attempts before West Ham double their lead on 33 minutes. Payet produce the assist of the decade to cross with a rabona leaving Antonio with a simple header. The whole ground rises in a chorus of “We’ve got Payet!” and it’s the best atmosphere we’ve had at the Olympic Stadium.

“Dad, have West Ham turned into a good team?” asks a puzzled Nell.

”Steady on, we can still lose this,” I quip, secretly looking forward to a tonking of the Hornets.

West Ham’s collapse is heralded by two blokes behind us is having a handbags confrontation over impoliteness when asked to move. Seems we’ve recruited a few Herberts among our new fans.

CALAMITY JAMES
On 41 minutes Ighalo twists and turns past Byram before getting in a shot that deflects into the net off Collins. it gets worse for James. As we reach the second minute of added time he tries to head a routine long ball to Adrian but misses the onrushing keeper, giving it straight to Troy Deeney, who scores with a clever chipped finish. Adrian must also share the blame for rushing from his goal, but Collins really should have aimed for Row Z.

“Well, we’ve silenced the crowd,” I mutter. Forty minutes of domination ruined in six minutes.

Watford have all the psychological impetus in the second half. They score a third as Reid backs off Pereyra who crosses for Capoue to chest and volley home off the post — Adrian gets a hand to it and should possibly have saved it. That’s three in 12 minutes. Heads really go down. Watford surge forward and after 63 minutes West Ham appeal for a foul on Payet, as Watford play on and Holbas fires home with a shot that Adrian should save.

Bilic doesn’t react either. With Payet and Lanzini tiring and huge haps in front of the defence he doesn’t bring on Obiang or Nordveit to offer a midfield shield.

STUNG BY HORNETS
Watford nearly get more as Kaboul has a goal disallowed for offside and Pereyra dribbles right through our defence only to be foiled by Adrian. Sub Calleri is wrongly ruled offside when he heads against the post, but we offer little in the way of a fightback. And we should never have sold James Tomkins.

It’s so bad Matt doesn’t even get angry, instead, possibly suffering a system error after three games in two days, insisting we take the positives, like we kept it down to four.

The ground is half-empty at the end. An absolutely bizarre game has left the crowd stunned, though the terrible defending has at least made me forget all about moving stadiums. As Slaven says after the game, we won’t win any games defending like that. In mitigation, Lanzini, Payet and Zaza were playing their first full games of the season and Watford have some good players, but it’s all still very worrying. Nigel muses sagely that all managers are only ever six games away from a crisis. We haven’t played well for a full 90 minutes all season.

THIS IS MORDOR
At Hackney Wick Overground we spot Doctor Who actor Donald Sumpter looking as if he wants to disappear into his Confession Dial.

On Facebook Brian Williams, author of Nearly Reach the Sky, publishes a picture of Westfield with the word ‘Mordor’. Continuing the Tolkein-esque theme it seems our defence went on an unexpected journey. A worrying afternoon.


PLAYER RATINGS: Adrian 4, Byram 4 (Tore n/a), Collins 4, Reid 5, Masuaku 5; Payet 6, Noble 4 (Calleri 5), Kouyate 5, Lanzini 6, Antonio 7; Zaza 5 (Fletcher 5).

Thursday, September 8

Simply the Best

Looking forward to reading The Acid Test, the new autobiography of Clyde Best, published by deCoubertin. The former Hammer was one of the first black players in English football and scored 47 goals in 146 games for the Hammers. Hammers in the Heart will be reviewing it presently. In the introduction Harry Redknapp says: "These days there's so many fantastic black footballers but they all owe a debt of gratitude to Clyde. He was English football's first real black role model. To adapt as he did was incredible. How he didn't run home after two weeks, after leaving that lifestyle, I just don't know."

Tuesday, September 6

Another World Cup winner at West Ham

Just back from a break in Paris as we're now turning our thoughts back to the Premier League after Big Sam says England just need to be more clinical. Alvaro Arbeloa was a shock signing on deadline day. It's not often a player moves from Real Madrid to West Ham (though Julien Faubert once went the other way on loan). Arbeloa's 33 and was only a fringe player last season, but he's a World Cup winner and has won the Champions League twice with Real and has Premier League experience with Liverpool — experience of winning trophies that will prove invaluable in the dressing room. Sounds like it will take him a few weeks to get match fit, but with West Ham now have good options at right back. It seems the new stadium is already having an effect on player recruitment, as it's doubtful we'd have attracted Arbeloa or Zaza without the offer of 60,000 gates.

Enner Valencia has gone to Everton on loan and he's clearly a talented player, but always looked lightweight in the PL  The early promise of that thunderbolt against Hull and a few headed goals never materialised and you wonder if he might be more suited to playing in Italy or Spain. Diego Poyet has been released after being eclipsed by bigger signings, but the best news is that we have kept Dimitri Payet. If we can get Payet, Lanzini, Zaza and Arbeloa on the pitch together then things look a lot more optimistic.