Sunday, July 30

Oh Carroll! Getting our injury crisis in early…

Andy Carroll is set to miss the first three game of the season while he recovers from a thigh injury. I'm not even sure what part of his body is injured anymore. Last season Slaven said AC was "feeling his groin" after the game at Sunderland in April and then we never saw him again. That was three and a half months ago. He's still a great player if he can make the pitch, but Andy's body just doesn't seem up to the rigours of the PL anymore. Meanwhile Antonio is on course with his recovery but will miss the first game of the season at Old Trafford and Kouyate has picked up an injury too. Oh well, at least we've got our injury crisis in early. 

On a more positive note, it was good to see Toni Martinez get a game and score with a well-taken header against Werder Bremen. With Andy forever crocked, he may well get a few more run-outs this season.

Friday, July 28

£6.5 million for Fletcher?

If West Ham can get £6.5 million from Middlesbrough for Ashley Fletcher then it's a great piece of business. That's £1.5 million more than Enner Valencia went for, who was an experienced international and World Cup star. Fletcher is a promising youngster and didn't really get enough chances last season when he could have replaced Jonathan Calleri. But even so, when he did come on late in games he didn't take the chances that came his way, such as his late dink wide against Spurs. 

He only started in two league games and scored one goal in the League Cup against Man United, though he had proved he could score regularly for Barnsley the previous season in League One. But even so, I'd say he's a £1.5 to £2million million player on current stats, not a £6.5 million player. Garry Monk presumably remembers that Fletcher was a promising youth player at Man United and is now taking a massive punt. Prices really are going crazy, with Swansea asking for £50 million for Sigurdsson, fine player that he is  — it's almost as if they're being set by our old midfielder Shaun Newton after a year of celebrating his birthday…

Thursday, July 27

Are West Ham's signings too old?

Interesting piece in today's Guardian by Jacob Steinberg, headlined, "A great window for West Ham… or sticking plasters in lieu of a plan?" He points out that though the Irons have made great signings on paper, they do not provide the pace Bilic said he wanted and they're all on the old side. Zabaleta is 32, Hart 30, Hernandez 29 and Arnautovic 28. 

In the piece David Sullivan admits that the club have gone back on their plan of recruiting youth: "We made a decision with the manager to buy players proven in the Premier League, who've been here before and who are of an age where they're not being bought for tomorrow but today. Long term it's not a great strategy, but short term it is." 

I'd agree with Sullivan that football is a short-term game and that if West Ham win a cup or get in the top six in the next couple of years then they'll look like great signings. And remember that the likes of Calleri were signed for the future. 

But Steinberg also has a point in the way the club is seemingly always changing strategy: "Robert Snodgrass, signed as Payet's replacement six months ago, has been replaced by Arnautovic after half a season. That is the price of short-termism: it exposes the lack of a plan." Click on the link to read the complete feature.

Tuesday, July 25

Little Pea joins the ranks of Psycho and Terminator

The signing of Javier Hernandez brings a welcome upgrade to the quality of Hammers' nicknames. He is nicknamed Chicharito, meaning Little Pea. His dad, also a footballer, was nicknamed Pea because of his green eyes. It's certainly a change from the likes of Mooro, Bonzo, Pottsy, Keeny, Tonks and Nobes. West Ham have had some interesting nicknames in the past. Alvin Martin was nicknamed Stretch because he used to stretch out watching television while the lads nicknamed Trevor Brooking Hadleigh because he resembled the lead character in a 1970s TV series. Paul Goddard was Sarge due to his involvement in the Boys Brigade.

Other nicknames have been performance-related. We had David 'Psycho' Cross and Stuart 'Psycho' Pearce, Julian 'Terminator' Dicks and our favourite canine midfielder, Martin 'Mad Dog' Allen. While the very large Papa Bouba Diop was simply The Wardrobe. Of the current squad, we're pretty short of nicknames even if we do have Ginger Pele in James Collins and the Enid Blyton-inspired Snoddy in the case of Robert Snodgrass and Manuel Lanzini is called 'The Jewel' in Argentina. Let's hope the arrival of Little Pea inspires a host of new vegetable-inspired monikers. If only we still had Michael Carrot and Florin Radish-cioiu.

Sunday, July 23

Farewell Darren Randolph

Best of luck to Darren Randolph who is moving to Middlesbrough for £5 million following the arrival of Joe Hart. He's a good keeper, if sometimes a little inconsistent. In his first season he did really well in the Cup games and also when called upon to deputise for Adrian, such as a fine performance in the 3-0 win at Liverpool. A long run in the first team found the pressure getting to him a little bit last season and he was dropped after a couple of mistakes at Sunderland — although in fairness he was playing behind a very shaky defence. But Randolph could also produce brilliant saves, not least a spectacular tip-over from Jordan Henderson's rocket at Anfield, which is being shown on the club's website tribute. Thanks for a productive two seasons, Darren.

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 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.

Tuesday, July 11

Will Arnie say 'hasta la vista' to Stoke?

Some action at last. West Ham have had a £15 million offer for Stoke's Marco Arnautovic rejected and the player has apparently asked for a transfer. Though just as it seems someone actually wants to join us, Arnie's got injured in a pre-season friendly for the Potters. The Stoke winger come striker would be an interesting signing. He's netted quite a few screamers for Stoke, but doesn't seem to score enough tap-ins (he scored seven goals last season). So there's room for improvement, but the City fans seem to like him and the big Austrian is a proven performer in the Premier League with his own "Arnie!" chant. He'd certainly add a bit of size and skill to our forward line. And the latest news is that the Hammers are in for 'keeper Joe Hart as well…

Monday, July 10

Boleyn on the beach

Thanks to reader Ryan Andrews who tweeted this picture of his holiday reading. For those who still wish to remember a stadium where a motorised stretcher car wasn't necessary, Goodbye to Boleyn is available from Amazon (see panel to the right) and all good bookshops. Lay back on the beach, ponder how we managed to win at Man City, Liverpool and Arsenal and reminisce about the days when Andy Carroll was fit and Ken's Cafe was packed. And then wonder if we'll ever sign anyone again.

Saturday, July 8

Bilic opts out of £25m Iheanacho deal

According to last night's Evening Standard Slaven Bilic has opted out of a deal for Manchester City's Kelechi Iheanacho, deciding that £25million is too much to pay for a player with lots of potential but limited experience. He's made just 46 league appearances, many of those as a sub. Now it looks like Leicester are going to nab him. 

It seems like David Sullivan had got quite a way with setting up this deal, though you can see Slaven's point. £20 million might have been a fairer price for the young striker, but £25 million is a hell of a lot for a kid who has thrived as an impact sub with a Champions League team but might not be so effective if he was the main striker in a mid-ranking team. Really it comes down to just how much potential Tony Henry and Slaven Bilic felt the kid had. But let's hope there's another option lined up quickly or once again WHU will look desperate and end up with a Zaza-type panic signing.

Thursday, July 6

West Ham sell out

West Ham announced today that the club has sold all 52,000 season tickets at the London Stadium. Whatever the merits of the new ground, it's proved successful in terms of bums on seats so far and proves just how loyal West Ham fans are. There's only going to be 5000 tickets that aren't season tickets and around half of those will be for away fans. So the revenue's in and there's even less excuse for dithering in the transfer market…

Wednesday, July 5

Striker light: are West Ham pursuing the wrong kind of striker?

West Ham spent much of last summer pursuing strikers who were always unlikely to sign, such as Carlos Bacca, Alexandre Lazazette and Michy Batyshuayi. A similar pattern is emerging this summer. The Daily Telegraph reported that the Irons had record £20 million-plus bids rejected for Cologne's Anthony Modeste (not the first time West Ham would have fielded a Modeste strike force) and Villareal's Cedric Bakumbu. There are also rumours of interest in ex-Man United forward Javier Hernandez and Arsenal's Olivier Giroud — though again Everton look likely to below West Ham out of the River Lea on that one. 

It seems West Ham are still trying to buy established star strikers when we can't even offer European football. Surely a better approach would be to go for up and coming talent from Europe or the Championship or younger PL strikers from smaller teams such as Joshua King or Andre Gray. The most successful WHU purchase of a striker in recent years, until injury struck, was that of Diafra Sakho who cost £3 million and was relatively unknown. We've had all last season to formulate a clear plan but it still seems that West Ham are going scattergun for any big names who might to be on the market.