Thursday, June 29

Lack of signings so far means West Ham risk falling behind likes of Everton

There seems to radio silence around West Ham at the moment, with no transfer activity following the signing of Pablo Zabaleta on a free. It's early days yet, but it's still rather worrying that clubs like Everton (who finished seventh and should be the sort of club we'e competing with) have strengthened quickly. 

Admittedly the Toffees are likely to sell Lukaku and Barkley so will have a lot of money coming in. But they've already signed keeper Jordan Pickford for £30 million, midfielder Davy Klaassen for £23.6 million and look set to sign strikers Sandro Ramirez from Malaga for £5m and Henry Onyekuru from KAS Eupen for £7million. While they're also rumoured to be about to buy Michael Keane from Burnley. You'd like to think West Ham have some big signings lined up for July and August, because our competitors are not standing still. 

Monday, June 26

Walcott unlikely to be the answer for West Ham

Latest speculation in the tabloids (so it's probably rubbish) is that West Ham might be about to launch a bid for Arsenal's Theo Walcott. He's a good player who's never quite fulfilled his potential, but I'm not sure he'd be the answer for West Ham. The last thing WHU need is another player where no-one is quite sure what his best position is. Walcott might be a striker or he might be a winger, which all sounds rather like Andre Ayew. Walcott had a good season last time out, scoring ten goals in 24 games. He has pace, but at 28 he's not young and he's quite injury-prone. If we sign a striker he has to be someone who is a specialist and can adopt the Andy Carroll role when AC gets his inevitable injuries.

Friday, June 23

If the kits are United

The new 2017-18 West Ham home kit is a pretty decent traditional shirt. Personally I prefer the all-blue sleeves with claret body of last season rather than a splash of light blue on the shoulder, but we can live with this. There's also a little splash of blue on the collar which makes it look a little as if our lads have mistakenly put a tee-shirt on under their shirt, but never mind. 

What's also encouraging is that Andy Carroll appears to have made the photo-shoot without getting injured slipping over on a West Ham United coaster or de-luxe bathroom gift set. Could this be the season he finally makes it beyond September? Though worse news for Andy is that according to my Guardian the man-bun is going out of fashion…

Wednesday, June 21

So farewell Havard

The departure of Havard Nordtveit gets five lines in today's Guardian. The Norway midfielder has signed for Hoffenheim for an undisclosed fee. Havard was mainly played as an emergency right-back and never looked comfortable there, while Obiang and Kouyate were much better options in midfield. 

Nordtveit actually had a decent game in the must-win game against Swansea when he was played in his proper midfield position, but he was always an odd signing. A squad player when what WHU needed was quality. Now Bilic is clearing out the dead Norwegian wood. Nordtveit seemed to be a good pro and he came into a chaotic side, but he was one of the players we needed to sell to free up wages for a (hopefully) quality signing.

Tuesday, June 20

How West Ham made it into Doctor Who's Planet of the Ood…

Thanks to my fellow season ticket holder Michael the (Possible) Whovian and pal Charlie Ross for a great joint birthday bash on Saturday that included a host of Doctor Who luminaries. This resulted in a world exclusive revelation about the only-ever mention of West Ham in Doctor Who.

In Planet of the Ood David Tennant's Doctor asks Catherine Tate's Donna where she learned to whistle like that. Donna replies, "up West Ham!" As the writer of Planet of the Ood Keith Temple was present at the party I was able to ask him directly how this came about. 

Temple revealed that he didn't actually write this line, it was added in by script editor Lindsey Alford. Could Ms Alford be a Hammers fan? Told that this was the only ever mention of the Irons in Doctor Who Andrew laughed and said his home-town team of Newcastle have never got any mentions at all. The only other team to be mentioned in Doctor Who is Charlton Athletic, who got a name-check from Sophie Aldred's Ace in 1988's Silver Nemesis. Not a lot of people know that.

Monday, June 19

Reece Oxford off to Borussia on loan

Reece Oxford has signed for a season-long loan at Borussia Munchengladbach. It will be good experience for him, though I'm still not sure what Slaven's policy with Reece is. It seemed that we sold James Tomkins to give Oxford more games last season, only to then loan Oxford to Reading as West Ham struggled at the back and bought Jose Fonte. If the 18-year-old really is a future England and West Ham captain, as some claim, then shouldn't he be getting some experience in with games for West Ham? If you're good enough you're old enough and all that. Or has Bilic decided he might not make it with WHU after all?

Saturday, June 17

Traore set to join the Hammers?

The Evening Standard claims that West Ham are close to signing Middlesbrough's Spanish winger Adama Traore. He certainly has pace and usually caused problems when he came on, often as a sub, for Boro last season, although their then gaffer Karanka never seemed to trust him to start. At 21 Adama's clearly a player of potential, though he would have to provide more end result to his game. 

More worrying is that he has played for two teams in succession that have been relegated, in Aston Villa and Boro, though he started out with Barcelona. Having already got Feghouli and Snodgrass, West Ham don't need another mid-list winger — we have to hope that Traore is a potential top talent that Bilic can get the best from.

Thursday, June 15

Chim chim Giroud?

Arsenal's Olivier Giroud is the latest striker West Ham have been linked with. He might not have great pace, but I've always rated the Gunners striker who invariably scores great goals again West Ham (but then again most players score against us). 

There's a chance he might join WHU if Arsenal signed another striker, as he's not getting full games and wants to stay in London, though there would presumably be a lot of other suitors. Giroud is 30, so if he was added to the possible signing of 30-year-old Joe Hart and 32-year-old Zabaleta, along with 33-year-old Jose Fonte, we'd have a pretty old team. And it could be a case of Sullivan and co mentioning big names to impress the fans, as per last summer.

But Giroud is great in the air and a proven international striker for France (27 goals in 64 games). An Andy Carroll who keeps fit. He's scored 69 goals in 164 games for Arsenal (including that scorpion kick) which is a very respectable rate, and he'd be an upgrade on what we have.

Wednesday, June 14

Easy opener at Man United…

So the fixtures are out and West Ham kick off with an away future at Old Trafford followed by another away trip to Newcastle. Two pretty difficult matches early on, complicated by the fact that the Southampton home game on August 19 will have to be rescheduled as the London Stadium will be transitioning from athletics into football mode. At least we get to see the new navy blue away kit early doors. So the first home game will be against Huddersfield Town on September 9. Up against a team of newly-promoted, over-achieving, plucky underdogs bought for the price of Andy Carroll's plantar fascia. What could possibly go wrong?

Tuesday, June 13

Would Joe Hart be a good signing for West Ham?

Joe Hart is now back at Manchester City after his season-long loan at Torino and is still unwanted by Pep Guardiola. West Ham are said to betraying to sign him, although is Hart he player he used to be? The two free kicks Leigh Griffiths scored for Scotland raised further questions about whether Hart should remain England's number one ahead of Butland and Forster. They were great efforts, but should a top keeper have been beaten twice on different sides from that range? Hart was also at fault last summer for Iceland's winner against England in the Euros and Guardiola clearly doesn't rate him, which is worrying. 

But Hart can't suddenly have turned into a bad goalkeeper. He's capable of brilliant saves and has won the title twice at Manchester City, plus two League Cups and one FA Cup. At 30 Hart is a good age for a goalkeeper and should have another eight years left at the top. He's learned his trade the hard way at Shrewsbury Town and had a very successful loan season at Birmingham. He doesn't look the sort of character to turn into a Fancy Dan and his attitude should still be sound. 

Perhaps his recent problems are more about confidence and he simply needs to feel wanted. It could be that with a supportive manager in Bilic and less expectation at West Ham he'd become the country's top keeper again. Yes, there's a case of going for a younger keeper like Sunderland's Pickford, but Hart would be an upgrade on Adrian and Randolph. He is used to winning trophies and is a strong character who can organise a defence so it's probably a gamble worth taking. Though with the reservations about his recent form, perhaps a loan deal for an initial season with an option to buy might be the ideal scenario.

Monday, June 12

Mayday Mayday…

Losing an unassailable lead. Failing to turn up on the big occasion. Hopelessly underestimating your opponent and blowing it at the death. Starting off strong and stable with a sound defence policy but ending up weak and wobbly. Just a thought, but has Theresa May ever considered supporting West Ham?

Thursday, June 8

Seven London Stadium questions…

Well, the popcorn has settled on the first season at the London Stadium and according to the club, most season ticket holders have renewed. We all know about the initial problems, although to some extent the segregation and stewarding issues have improved. At times the stadium could seem like a bland soulless bowl when we were getting thrashed at home, though when we beat Chelsea, Palace and Spurs we all tended to forget where we were and it seemed like Upton Park again. It’s now being put back into athletics mode after a series of concerts and we’ve got another 99 years of our lease to try and get it right. A few questions still on my mind are:

Has a satisfactory new company been found to move the retractable stands? The previous company went bankrupt and there was talk of it costing the landlords £8m a year to move the stands.

Is there any way of redesigning/recalibrating the retractable stands so they can come forward a few more feet? That would make the ground seem more enclosed.

The biggest distance from the pitch is the seats at the halfway line. Would it be possible to fit a few more rows of temporary seats around the halfway line to reduce the bowl effect?

Would it be possible to rearrange the advertising hoardings so they were in a square shape? Psychologically that might male the ground feel more like a traditional stadium.

Could the subs and coaches benches be moved close to the managers’ technical areas so that Slaven looks less isolated?

In the long term is there any prospect of lowering the pitch and getting some more seats in if the club offered to help pay for this? And is there a problem with toxic waste if this is done?


With so much TV money coming into football now, how about knocking £1 off all stadium refreshment prices so the fans feel the club is on their side?

Sunday, June 4

Irons make £5m loss in final season at the Boleyn

West Ham made a loss of £5 million from the final season at the Boleyn Ground. There's a good round-up of all the Premier League clubs' accounts from David Conn in the Guardian. In 2015-16 West Ham's turnover was £142 million, while the wage bill was £85 million, the joint eighth highest in the division (the club finished seventh so slightly overachieved). Wages as a percentage of turnover were a fairly sustainable 60% however, which is better than 14 other clubs in the league. A £31 million bank loan taken out in 2013 has been paid off and the club has debts of £67 million, most of which is owed to David Sullivan and David Gold. 

The finances of the club are looking much healthier than in the Eggert years and it could be a lot worse when you consider that in the same season Sunderland lost £33 million and Aston Villa a whopping £81 million. The accounts for the first season at the London Stadium should show a huge increase in turnover and match receipts, so it will be interesting to see just how rich we've become. Click on the link to read the full article.

Thursday, June 1

Let's get physio

Interesting to see that West Ham have appointed former Arsenal and England physio Gary Lewin as the new head of medical services. This suggests the board and Bilic were clearly not happy about the club's injury record last season and have opted for a new approach. Was there something in the way the Hammers trained or recovered that affected the injury list? The move from Chadwell Heath to Rush Green doesn't seem to have helped. 

At various times we lost Cresswell, Carroll, Ayew, Tore, Arbeloa, Obiang, Ogbonna, Byram, Reid and Antonio with medium to long-term injuries and Mark Noble ended the season with a hernia. The 53-year-old Lewin comes with a lot of experience and if he can get anything close to a full season out of Andy Carroll he'll really be earning his wages.