Saturday, January 21

Daily WHUFC News - Jose Fonte

Hammers capture Euro 2016 winner
WHUFC.com

West Ham United have won the race to sign UEFA Euro 2016 winner Jose Fonte.

The outstanding Portugal international centre-half joins the Hammers from
Southampton on a two-and-half-year contract with the option to sign for
another season for a fee of £8million.

Fonte was linked with a range of clubs in the top flight before opting to
move to London Stadium

The experienced central defender has enjoyed a successful career in English
football since initially joining Crystal Palace in 2007, before going on to
make 154 Premier League appearances and captain Southampton for the past
three-and-a-half seasons.

A strong and technically-gifted defender and respected leader, Fonte wants
to take his career to another level at London Stadium and revealed that he
cannot wait to pull on a Claret and Blue shirt for the first time.

Fonte said: "I signed for West Ham because they are a great club and a very
big club. They have a lot of fans and I have known for a number of years how
passionate they are.

"The manager was also a very big influence. I thought that he really wanted
me and that he sold me the project and the ambition of the Club.

"I also have part of my family living in London and they are big West Ham
fans. It just made sense for me at this stage to join West Ham. It is a new
challenge and a new beginning and I am looking forward to it.

"With the way that West Ham is going we can only look to be challenging in
the top eight.

"I told the manager in conversations that we want to win and we want to win
trophies. The ambition is big and we need to aim high.

"West Ham are a massive club and it is an exciting challenge and it should
be for everyone. We all need to get together and start working."

Fonte began his career in Portugal where he spent a decade at Sporting B and
eventually caught the eye of Lisbon's other giant, Benfica.

A move to the Estadio da Luz followed in 2006, but with first-team
opportunities limited, he moved to England in the summer of 2007 and signed
for Crystal Palace, where he made 92 appearances over three seasons.

In January 2010, Southampton manager Alan Pardew moved for Fonte, and he was
part of the team that won the Football League Trophy at Wembley just a few
weeks later – featuring alongside a certain Michail Antonio.

FonteFonte was a central figure in the League One title-winning squad of
2011/12 – a season that also saw him named the club's Player of the Year for
the first time.

As the Saints marched to a second consecutive promotion – narrowly beating
the Hammers to second place in the Championship – Fonte's own reputation
grew as he seamlessly settled into life at a higher level.

That trend continued as Southampton established themselves in the Premier
League from 2012 onwards, with their Portuguese defender a virtual
ever-present under managers Nigel Adkins, Mauricio Pochettino and Ronald
Koeman.

After being appointed captain in summer 2014, Fonte won his second Player of
the Year award at the end of a season that also included his senior
international debut in a friendly win over Argentina in Manchester.

Since then, he has been a regular member of the Portugal squad, and forced
his way into the starting XI for the knockout stages of UEFA Euro 2016.

There, he played every minute as the Portuguese defeated Croatia, Poland,
Wales and France to achieve a historic success.

Fonte will not be available for Saturday's Premier League fixture at
Middlesbrough, but could make his West Ham debut at London Stadium when
Manchester City
visit on Wednesday 1 February.

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From the Boardroom - David Gold
WHUFC.com

I am thrilled that we have been able to complete the signing of Jose Fonte
from Southampton.

Jose has a wealth of experience at the highest level and is a proven winner
having won the European Championships with Portugal last summer.

We need quality experienced players who have played in the Premier League
and will settle in straight away. You can never have too many quality
players in the squad and this is an important signing.

He has played over 250 games for Southampton in the top flight and is a
seasoned professional who will settle in straight away. This is great news
for the Club and he will be a great acquisition.

We have invested a lot of money to secure his signature but we have to face
facts that there is inflation in the market and the prices are going up and
we have to match the demand.

But we have always said that if the right player becomes available we will
do everything to get them into the Club and that has proved to be the case
on this occasion.

Supporters are constantly asking me how many players will be brought into
the squad in January.

I can tell the fans that we have a fantastic team working behind the scenes
headed by David Sullivan, who works closely with Slaven Bilic, and they are
working tirelessly hard to find players who will improve the team.

People also ask me about a new right back but we cannot forget that we have
a talented full-back in Sam Byram who has just returned to first-team action
following a lengthy injury, and he looked very impressive in the second half
last weekend.

This is a very short window and it is very tough to get the players you
want, but we have always said that we will only sign a player if it is the
right deal for the football club.

What more can I say about the memorable victory over Crystal Palace last
Saturday. Can we have experienced a better second half display?

There was so much expectation on the game with Sam Allardyce coming back to
West Ham and all the issues surrounding Dimitri Payet going into the game,
but we needed to come away with the three points.

This was one of the biggest victories I have been involved in since I came
to the Club.

We saw three incredible goals and three fantastic assists from Michail.
Sofiane Feghouli managed to kick-start his season and score his first
Premier League goal.

We then witnessed a wonder goal from Andy and it was a sensational strike.

His performance throughout the game was outstanding and he was all over the
pitch. It was one of the best performances from a centre-forward I have ever
seen.

To cap it off Manuel Lanzini produced a superb finish to make it 3-0 and it
was a fantastic performance from everyone in the team.

I was so happy for the players and also for Slaven Bilic who came out and
changed the system at half-time and reverted to a 4-4-2 formation.

He pushed Michail upfront and the manager should take a lot of credit for
that. The fans certainly showed who they are behind and showed their support
towards the manager and the team.

The fans were sensational and you cannot say to me that there is no
atmosphere inside London Stadium.

The victory has given renewed hope to the fans and the confidence back to
the team. I spoke to Mark Noble before the game and he assured me that the
players were determined get the victory and everyone was behind the football
club.

We now face a trip to to the north east on Saturday and another tough game
against Middlesbrough.

All the away games in the Premier League are difficult, but our confidence
is high and there is no reason why we cannot go to Middlesbrough and win the
game.

We are back to our best following that second half performance last week and
long may that continue.

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Jose Fonte - Ten Fast Facts
WHUFC.com

Find out more about West Ham United's first signing of the January transfer
window – Jose Fonte

Has appeared in the top three divisions in both Portugal and England
Appeared alongside Michail Antonio in the 2010 Football League Trophy final,
in which Southampton beat Carlisle United at Wembley
Named in the 2010/11 League One Team of the Season alongside Southampton
teammates Adam Lallana and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and current New York Red
Bulls striker Bradley Wright-Phillips
Younger brother Rui is a winger who spent three seasons with Arsenal as a
teenager and currently plies his trade with Portuguese club Braga
Made his senior Portugal debut on 18 November 2014 as a substitute in a 1-0
friendly win over Argentina at Old Trafford – nearly nine years after making
his final appearance for Portugal U21s
Played 154 Premier League matches for Southampton, winning 59, losing 56,
keeping 51 clean sheets, scoring seven goals and assisting two
Made 224 clearances last season – the eighth-highest of any Premier League
player
Started all four knockout stage matches for Portugal at UEFA Euro 2016,
conceding just one goal in 450 minutes of football as Fernando Santos's side
beat Croatia, Poland, Wales and France.
Was awarded the Portuguese Order of Merit after helping his country to win
the first major tournament in their history – UEFA Euro 2016
Perhaps unsurprisingly, he is the only player to have won both the Football
League Trophy and UEFA European Championship!

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Manager on Matchday
WHUFC.com

Good morning everyone,

The players have been full of confidence this week following the big win
over Crystal Palace and we are hoping to see the same level of performance
at the Riverside Stadium this afternoon.

We just need to keep taking it game by game and build on this situation.

First of we need to secure staying up and reach the magic 40 points. Then we
need to try and get to 50 and as high as possible. We are in a much better
situation than a couple of months ago.

I am expecting a very tough game against Middlesbrough on Saturday and I
have respect for them.

Aitor Karanaka has done a very good job and to get promotion in two seasons
is brilliant – especially in the Championship as it is a unique competition.

He got them in the Premier League and was brave to add some players like
Negredo, Valdes and others. You need character and to be a decision maker.
He's done it all. They are hard to beat and very organised, credit to him.

They have organisation, quality and they are playing with confidence but we
have a chance and I'm expecting my players to be how we were in the second
half against Palace.

We need to be on top of the game, brave on the ball, to be lethal, to
deliver crosses, break through them and defend in numbers. When we do that
we have a chance against every team.

Hopefully the players with knocks will be okay and that is crucial as well.
Against Palace we had to work very hard to get the three points even though
the scoresheet says 3-0. It wasn't easy.

I was asked in the pre-match press conference about the possibility of more
young players going out on loan and the chances of Toni Martinez breaking
into the first-team squad.

Will he (Toni) be good enough? You never know. He should be good enough. He
has scored a lot of goals but it is very hard to judge players from
different levels and different leagues.

Last year I saw British clubs putting young players in and I am asking are
they putting them based on training and then I found out they have a policy
of 15 games so they send them on loan for a year or too and then if they are
good, they take them back and put them in the team.

For me that is the key. The U23s is really good for young players but the
stage comes when the players should go. Is it one season, two seasons….

We have all been there. Even the big players like Frank Lampard and Rio
Ferdinand, you should play and live with the people who are feeding their
families out of those Saturdays and Sundays and that is the key. We send
them and look at them.

We then decide if he is good enough and put him in a game or he is not good
enough, lets release him or sell him.

Frank and Rio both went out on loan. Rio was great in training but he didn't
get a chance ahead of myself, Marc Rieper and Julian Dicks.

He went to Bournemouth and that is what Harry Kane done and many others like
that. That is why Josh Cullen is on loan and Reece Burke is on loan. Marcus
Browne has gone into the Championship and that is the way for me.

Reece Oxford had a situation with the contract and now it is signed, but he
also didn't train for six weeks because of injury, but now he is back and it
is too late for a loan. He might get a chance here.

The plan with Reece is he has a great future with us and he should be in
West Ham if he is centre back three or four, but not five. If that is the
case he should go out on loan for one-year to emerge and improve and then
come back and play. That is the very simple philosophy but definitely the
best one.

I was also asked about Andy Carroll and where I rate his scissor kick
against Palace last weekend.

That was a perfect goal. A few of those think 'could the keeper have saved
it?' or 'that was lucky because he hit it with the shin pad'.

This was like it was for a book - when you have a page for a great
scissors-kick goal you would have it go in a corner and that was exactly
what he did.

People have asked if it is better than the scorpion kicks that were scored a
few weeks ago.

I am not objective but for me this was better because those goals that they
scored, they were magnificent but they were a little bit lucky. They had
nothing to lose, the ball was there and they thought 'OK, let's try it' and
suddenly they are celebrating.

Andy's was planned from the moment the cross came in.

I wish all our fans making the long trip to the north east a safe journey
and hope we can come away with another three points.

Enjoy the game.

Slaven

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http://vyperz.blogspot.com

Friday, January 20

Daily WHUFC News -

Preview - Middlesbrough
WHUFC.com

When and where?

Middlesbrough v West Ham United
Premier League
Saturday 21 January 2017, 3pm GMT
Riverside Stadium

What's the story?

West Ham United make their first trip to Middlesbrough in five years on Saturday as Slaven Bilic's men look to make it back-to-back Premier League wins.

Boro ended a seven-year absence from the top flight when they finished second in the Sky Bet Championship last term, pipping Brighton & Hove Albion to the second automatic promotion slot.

Aitor Karanka's success in leading the club back to the Premier League came just a year after they suffered the bitter disappointment of defeat to Norwich City in the play-off final.

They've made a decent start to life back at the top table, with 20 points from their first 21 games leaving them 16th in the table – a place above last season's champions Leicester City.

Karanka's team have been frugal at the back this term – 22 goals conceded gives them the joint-fourth meanest defence in the division – but they have been equally economical with their goals scored. 17 is the fewest scored by any Premier League team in 2016/17.

Their two league games of 2017 have both ended goalless, against Leicester and Watford, while their meeting with the Hammers back in October also ended in stalemate, with Dimitri Payet cancelling out Cristian Stuani's opener.

The Hammers bounced back from defeats to Manchester United and Manchester City with a comprehensive beating of Crystal Palace last weekend.

Sofiane Feghouli, Andy Carroll and Manuel Lanzini were all on target to help fire the Hammers up to 12th in the Premier League standings, just four points behind West Bromwich Albion in eighth.

Team news

Andy Carroll is expected to recover from a whiplash injury sustained against Crystal Palace in time to take on Boro, while the Hammers will also hope that Winston Reid, Sofiane Feghouli and Sam Byram shake off knocks.

Dimitri Payet will not be involved, while Alvaro Arbeloa, Arthur Masuaku and Gokhan Tore are all injured.

New Middlesbrough signing Patrick Bamford could feature in Saturday's game. The striker joins from Chelsea having enjoyed an excellent 2014/15 season on loan with Boro.

Gaston Ramirez and Antonio Barragan are injured, while Daniel Ayala will miss the game due to suspension.

Any links between the two?

Middlesbrough winger Stewart Downing spent two years with the Hammers between 2013 and 2015, scoring seven goals in his 69 league games for the Club.

He left the Boleyn Ground to rejoin his hometown club in the summer of 2015 and helped them win promotion last term.

The Hammers won 2-0 on their last trip to Middlesbrough, when goals from Frederic Piquionne and Carlton Cole sealed victory.

How do I get to the game?

Click here for directions to Riverside Stadium.

The latest news on the trains can be found here, and click here for up-to-the-minute traffic news.

How can I watch the game?

The match is not being broadcast live in the UK. However, you can follow all the action as it happens with our whufc.com Match Centre. With live audio commentary, social media updates, and in-running stats and photos, it is the place to catch all the action.

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'Sofiane deserves his chance big-time'
WHUFC.com

Slaven Bilic backs Sofiane Feghouli to establish himself in the West Ham United team
Algerian scored on his full Premier League debut against Crystal Palace on Saturday
Manager says an early-season injury had slowed the 26-year-old's progress

Manager Slaven Bilic believes Sofiane Feghouli can make up for lost time and become a first-team regular for West Ham United. The Algerian winger scored a fine goal on his home debut in a UEFA Europa League win over NK Domzale in August, only to suffer a hamstring injury in the Betway Cup defeat by Juventus at London Stadium just days later. That issue kept Feghouli out for a month and set back his chances of establishing himself in Bilic's side following a summer move from Spanish giants Valencia CF. After making nine substitute appearances, the 26-year-old was handed his full Premier League debut against Crystal Palace on Saturday – and he responded with a goal to cap an eye-catching performance in the Hammers' 3-0 victory. Speaking to the media ahead of Saturday's trip to Middlesbrough, where Feghouli is again expected to start, the manager says he has faith in his No7's ability to make his mark in English football. "I said about Sofiane that he didn't have a great start but that was mainly because he got injured against Juventus and that was before Chelsea in our first game of the season," the boss recalled. "Then, instead of being three or four days out, he was out four or five weeks. "Then, when he came back it was hard to put him straight into games. I gave him the second half against West Brom when we were losing 3-0, then half-an-hour here, 15 minutes there, and he played in the cup games he but couldn't get rhythm.
"In the last six weeks I told him he improved a lot, he's making a difference in training. For me, that's the key. The players nowadays come with agents and say 'Why am I not playing?' but it's not a clash of interests, because I want you to play and you want to play. "A lot of time the starting position is different. Many of them go 'Give me five games and then I'm going to show you, so I go 'Show me a bit in training, because that's what training is for'. "We are not talking about pre-season when you have five or six friendly games, but the Premier League, where you also have the pressure of getting points. "Sofiane deserves his chance big-time because he was really good and has got better and better in sessions, then you think about him more, you give him a chance because he is a good trainer, he is fitter and because he makes a difference on the pitch because he gets more minutes. "Then it can end with him becoming a very regular player for us – it's so simple."

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Feghouli – The boss can count on me
WHUFC.com

Algerian winger Sofiane Feghouli said Slaven Bilic can count on him as West Ham look to improve their Premier League position
The 27-year-old insisted the confidence is high after the 3-0 win over Crystal Palace last weekend
Feghouli scored the opener in last weekend's victory at London Stadium

Summer signing Sofiane Feghouli is ready to play a major part for West Ham United as the Club look to move up the table following last weekend's win over Crystal Palace.

The Algerian scored in the side's 3-0 London derby win and hopes the Hammers can put back-to-back league wins on the board on Saturday with a win over Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium.

Since signing from Spanish outfit Valencia in the summer, the winger has suffered with injuries but, now fit and firing, Feghouli hopes he can show his quality in Claret and Blue on a consistent basis.

He said: "I haven't played that much in recent months, and I must say that I thought adapting to English football would be much harder, but it shows that I must be fit and adapted to the game.

"I scored the other day and the coach [Slaven Bilic] knows he can count on me. I'm ready to play every week, and hopefully I will stay clear of injuries and help the Club move up the table.

"I am very happy at the moment. I was delighted to score in my second start here. My first start, I think I was quite unlucky to get sent off against Manchester United after only 15 minutes, but on the weekend I played the whole game and the whole team, the supporters and everyone was very happy."

Slaven Bilic's side could only record a 1-1 draw with Boro earlier this term at London Stadium, but having beaten Palace comfortably, Feghouli insisted the confidence is high ahead of the clash on Saturday.

"It's always tough to predict how matches go in the Premier League," he continued. "It will be a very intense game and they're very good at home, so it will be hard.

"The win against Crystal Palace was a big boost to our confidence but of course there are areas in our game that we need to work on.

"Every game in the Premier League is difficult and Middlesbrough are a very hard team to beat, especially at home. We go there with lots of confidence and we will be going for the win.

"As a team, we have been conceding too many goals, and I'd say that the defensive work does start with our attacking players. The win against Palace did boost our confidence and we're aiming high now. We're all very humble players that are capable of improving.

"We want to get the win but we know that we will need to be patient and take our chances. If we go there in good spirits there is no reason why we can't win the game."

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Browne joins Wigan on loan
WHUFC.com

Marcus Browne has joined Wigan Athletic on loan until the end of the season
The midfielder signed a new three-and-a-half year deal at West Ham last week
He joins fellow Hammers Reece Burke and Kyle Knoyle on loan at the DW Stadium

Attacking midfielder Marcus Browne has joined Sky Bet Championship side Wigan Athletic on loan until the end of the season.

The dynamic playmaker has been in great form for the U23s this season and was rewarded with a new 3-and-a-half year deal last week.

The 19-year-old now joins fellow Hammers Reece Burke and Kyle Knoyle on loan at the DW Stadium until the end of the 2016/17 season.

Browne joined West Ham at the age of eight and quickly became known as one of the brightest young prospects in the English game.

After three seasons of progression with the U18s and U21s, he made his breakthrough into the first team setup, appearing on the bench in last season's 2-2 draw with Norwich City at Carrow Road.

Browne played a key role for the U21s during the 2015/16 season, helping the young Hammers win the Premier League Cup with a penalty shootout victory over Hull City in May.

The U23s' playmaker has carried on in the same vain this year scoring five times and proving a real driving force in the midfield, behind top scorer Toni Martinez. Both were nominated for Premier League 2 Player of the Month in December.

Browne's form this season has not only seen him rewarded with a new contract, but also a place on Slaven Bilic's first team substitutes bench yet again.

Browne joins the Latics who are 23rd in the Sky Bet Championship, but only three points from safety.

Everyone at the Club would like to wish Marcus the best of luck for his loan spell.

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Middlesbrough betting preview with Betway
WHUFC.com

That's better. An emphatic 3-0 win at London Stadium last weekend against Crystal Palace restored some much-needed cheer to east London and moved West Ham United up to 12th in the Premier League table.

This weekend is a chance to climb even higher as the Hammers travel to Middlesbrough hoping to secure back-to-back wins.

But despite their superior league position, West Ham are slight outsiders for this one. There looks to be good value on an away win at 11/5, while a Middlesbrough victory is 7/5. The draw is priced at 11/5.

Three of the last four wins for the Hammers have been achieved with clean sheets. Middlesbrough, meanwhile, have scored the fewest goals of any team in the league.

So could another clean sheet be on the cards? You can get 11/5 for West Ham not to concede, or 15/4 on the Irons to win to nil.

But even though the Teeside side don't score many, they don't concede many either. If you think it'll be a tight affair, you can back under 1.5 total goals scored at 7/4.

The Hammers haven't lost to Middlesbrough in the league for eight games, a run stretching back over ten years. Their previous meeting in October saw a 1-1 draw at the London Stadium – a repeat of the same scoreline is 5/1.

With Boro's blunt attack, one goal may be enough for a West Ham win. It's 7/1 for a 1-0 Hammers win.

One of the most encouraging aspects of last weekend's victory was the spread of goalscorers. If the likes of Manuel Lanzini can chip in with more goals from midfield, it bodes well for the London side.

The Argentine is 100/30 to score at any time while Michail Antonio – in good form after three assists last time out – is 11/4 to grab a goal.

Although West Ham's second half performance against Palace was outstanding as a whole, there was one moment that stood out.

Andy Carroll's stunning scissor-kick volley will live long in the memory. His next goal may not be as spectacular, but it could be even more important. He's 11/2 to open the scoring on Saturday afternoon and 7/4 to score at anytime.

All three goals in their last outing were scored in the second half. If you think the Hammers will score their first goal of the game after half time, you can bet with odds of 21/10.

There are more than 100 markets on Middlesbrough vs. West Ham available at Betway. And if you're an existing customer, you can join our Free Bet Club.

It's the simple way to guarantee yourself £10 in Free Bets every week. Just opt in at Betway and place at least £25 on football multiples (trebles or higher) before midnight every Friday*. And why not include West Ham in your multiple?

Visit betway.com or download our app from the App Store or Google Play for more.

*Available to new and existing customers. Opt-in required. Minimum stake(s) per week: £25. No minimum stake per multiple. Enhanced prices excluded. Single Line Multiples including 3 or more Football selections only. Min. overall odds: 2/1. Real money bets only. Total Amount of Free Bets Awarded: £10. Two £5 Free Bets, per customer, per promotion week. Free Bets credited in two instalments on Saturday and Monday. Bets must be settled between Saturday 00:00 GMT and the following Friday 23:59 GMT to count towards the promotion for that particular week. Other conditions apply. All odds and returns shown may fluctuate. Correct at time of print.

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Five Talking Points – Middlesbrough
WHUFC.com

Clean sheets, bottom-feeders, Alvaro Negredo and Michail Antonio are among the big topics for discussion ahead of Saturday's Premier League trip to the Riverside Stadium...

Clean sheets – Part One

Middlesbrough's success over the past season-and-a-half has been based on their miserly defence, with Aitor Karanka's side conceding just 53 goals in their last 67 league matches.

In that time, Boro have kept no fewer than 29 clean sheets, including three in their last five Premier League matches.

This season, only leaders Chelsea (12) and second-place Tottenham Hotspur (nine) have kept more clean sheets than Middlesbrough's seven, while Liverpool and Chelsea are the only sides to have scored at the Riverside Stadium in Boro's last six home matches.

It is organisation that has seen Boro compile the best defensive record outside the top six, too, with goalkeeper Victor Valdes making just 51 saves in 18 appearances – Brad Guzan made ten in total in Boro's other three league games.

In short, West Ham United can expect to find it difficult to break their hosts down on Saturday.


Clean sheets – Part Two

West Ham United have visited the Riverside Stadium eleven times in the Premier League since losing 4-2 in December 1995 – and never kept a clean sheet!

In eleven visits, West Ham have conceded 22 goals, scored only nine, lost on eight occasions and won just once – a 2-1 success courtesy of Scott Parker's late winner in December 2007.


Bottom-feeders

Unlike last season, when they feasted on the Premier League's big guns, West Ham United have dined out on clubs in the bottom half this term.

The Hammers have won just six of their 25 points from teams who currently occupy places in the top-ten – from a home win over Burnley and draws with Stoke City, Manchester United and Liverpool.

The other 19 have been collected from six victories over clubs in the bottom half – AFC Bournemouth, Crystal Palace (twice), Sunderland, Hull City and Swansea – and a home draw with Saturday's opponents Middlesbrough.

A seventh win at the Riverside and West Ham could well find themselves in the top half of the table come Sunday evening.

Negredo nightmare

It is three years this month since Alvaro Negredo almost single-handedly ended West Ham United's hopes of reaching the League Cup – now EFL Cup – final.

The Spanish striker scored five times as Manchester City romped to a 9-0 aggregate semi-final victory, including a hat-trick at the Etihad Stadium and two more in front of just 14,390 fans at the Boleyn Ground.

The striker, who won UEFA Euro 2012 with Spain playing alongside West Ham full-back Alvaro Arbeloa, is Middlesbrough's leading Premier League goalscorer with five this season, and will no doubt have his targets trained on the back of the Hammers net again this weekend.

Main m-Antonio

With no Dimitri Payet available for the trip to the Riverside, Middlesbrough need not worry about the man who danced around half of their team to score at London Stadium back in October.

Instead, however, Boro have to be concerned about West Ham United's new creative spark – Michail Antonio.

After failing to register an assist in his opening 19 top-flight appearances, the 26-year-old chalked up three in the space of 18 minutes against Crystal Palace last Saturday – becoming the first West Ham player to do so in a Premier League match since Paolo Di Canio against Coventry City in 2000.

Playing off centre forward Andy Carroll, the No30 was a constant threat to the Eagles defence, and Boro will need to keep a close eye on the south Londoner if they are not to suffer the same fate this weekend.

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Wigan Athletic: Ryan Tunnicliffe and Marcus Browne join Championship side
BBC.co.uk

Wigan Athletic have signed midfielders Ryan Tunnicliffe and Marcus Browne from Fulham and West Ham on loan until the end of the season. Tunnicliffe, 24, worked with Wigan boss Warren Joyce when he was coming through the Manchester United youth system. Browne, 19, made his professional debut in the Europa League this season and has also played in the EFL Trophy. "Marcus is a young player with great potential and will strengthen our group," said manager Joyce.
"Ryan has got a terrific attitude first and foremost. He has built up considerable experience now in this division and we are confident he can be a really positive influence to the group in the immediate future." Both players are available for Wigan's Championship game against Brentford on Saturday.

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2019 Cricket World Cup: London Stadium major step closer to staging matches
By Stephan Shemilt
BBC Sport

London Stadium is a major step closer to hosting matches at the 2019 Cricket World Cup, after it was found to have a potential playing surface big enough for one-day internationals.

It emerged last month the England and Wales Cricket Board was considering high-capacity venues at the request of the International Cricket Council.

The 60,000-seat London Stadium is much larger than any UK cricket ground.

However, a number of other feasibility issues must be addressed.

To stage cricket, the stadium's seating configuration would be similar to that used for athletics, rather than as employed by tenants West Ham United for football matches.

Obstacles to overcome include the cost-effectiveness of turfing the entire playing area and the suitability of drop-in pitches, which are rarely used in the UK.

And, even though the tournament, which runs from 30 May to 15 July, is unlikely to encroach on either the football season or athletics' Anniversary Games, there must be sufficient time to convert the stadium.

If all of these challenges can be met then it is likely the stadium, which hosted the 2012 Olympics, will be used for a small portion of the World Cup, perhaps a one-week window, rather than throughout the seven-week competition.

Eleven traditional cricket venues - Lord's, The Oval, Trent Bridge, Edgbaston, Old Trafford, Headingley, Cardiff, Southampton, Chester-le-Street, Taunton and Bristol - are in line to host matches.

Of that list, Lord's has the highest capacity - about 30,000.

However, the ICC is keen to replicate the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, which saw attendances in excess of 90,000 in Melbourne, and games held at other large stadiums in Sydney, Adelaide and Auckland.

Of those, Auckland's Eden Park, traditionally a rugby ground, has dimensions that left the straight boundaries incredibly short.

London Stadium has previously been considered by Essex for domestic Twenty20 matches.

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Middlesbrough v West Ham United
SAT, 21 JAN 2017PREMIER LEAGUE
15:00
Venue: Riverside Stadium

TEAM NEWS

New signing Patrick Bamford could feature for Middlesbrough after joining from Chelsea on Wednesday. Gaston Ramirez and Antonio Barragan are injured and Daniel Ayala is banned.

Sofiane Feghouli, Sam Byram and Winston Reid should all shake off knocks for West Ham, and Andy Carroll is expected to recover from whiplash. Unsettled playmaker Dimitri Payet will not be involved, while Cheikhou Kouyate and Andre Ayew are both at the Africa Cup of Nations.

MOTD COMMENTATOR'S NOTES

Martin Fisher: "Sixteenth in the table and four points clear of safety, Middlesbrough would definitely settle for that on the last day of the season. However, some improvement between now and May would be welcomed. "Aitor Karanka's team have conceded fewer goals than the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City but they're the lowest scorers in the Premier League so it's easy to identify their chief problem. "Resolving it is much harder. If Patrick Bamford can rediscover his form when with the club in the Championship, he'll prove a bargain. "While the Dimitri Payet saga rumbles along, Andy Carroll has inspired the Hammers' recent improvement. "On a day when chances will be scarce, he might be writing the headlines again rather than the want-away Frenchman."

Twitter: @martfisher1

WHAT THE MANAGERS SAY

Middlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka: "It's an important game because if we win we can open a big gap at the bottom, but it's a tough league and I'm sure we will be fighting until the end. "The game we played against (West Ham) in London was the game that changed everything. "We arrived after losing against Tottenham and the reaction of the players to that game was really good. From that day we've improved and I hope we can continue to improve."

West Ham manager Slaven Bilic on Dimitri Payet's future and reports of a bid for Southampton defender Jose Fonte: "His (Payet's) departure is not inevitable. I like to solve situations in-house to protect the team. I said everything then and what has changed now? Nothing. "It is not a good situation for the club, it is not good for football in general. We took our stand very clearly and it stays the same. We aren't going to sell our best players on the cheap just because somebody wants to sign them. "(Fonte is) not having a medical. We are not talking about transfers, we are working on some though. There are one or two players we need; it won't be easy, but we are trying."

LAWRO'S PREDICTION

Middlesbrough have bolstered their attacking options by signing Patrick Bamford.
A point would probably suit them and the Hammers because it will keep them ticking over.
Prediction: 1-1

MATCH FACTS

Head-to-head

West Ham have won four of the last five league meetings with Middlesbrough, drawing the other.
There have been only two away wins in the 23 Premier League matches between Middlesbrough and West Ham.

Middlesbrough

Boro have only won one of their last seven league matches, and failed to score in five of them.
They and Hull have failed to score in a joint league-high nine matches overall this season.
Middlesbrough could register three successive goalless draws for the first time in the top flight.
Patrick Bamford scored 19 goals in 44 appearances on loan at Middlesbrough in 2014-15.
West Ham United

The Hammers have earned four wins in six league matches - as many as they managed in the previous 18 attempts.
Michail Antonio has scored or created 11 league goals this season.
Dimitri Payet has created a league-high 74 goalscoring chances this season, 51 more than any other West Ham player.
Since the beginning of last season, West Ham are winless in all six league away matches in which Payet has not played (D3, L3).

SAM's verdict
Most probable score: 1-0 Probability of draw: 33%
Probability of home win: 37% Probability of away win: 30%
SAM (Sports Analytics Machine) is a super-computer created by @ProfIanMcHale at the University of Salford that is used to predict the outcome of football matches.

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Middlesbrough v West Ham United
KUMB.com
Filed: Friday, 20th January 2017
By: Preview Percy

We swear we saw Preview Percy smiling after THAT goal last week. He'll deny it of course. Here's his look at this weekend's visit to Middlesbrough. Extra information provided as ever by www.kickoff.co.uk

Next up its up to the frozen North we go where our opponents will be Middlesbrough. Kick off at the Riverside is 3pm which is ok. Trains in the area should be ok – though there are diversions for East Coast trains via Hartlepool which might have a knock on effect on the connections between Darlington and Middlesbrough. Check before you leave and all that.

So Boro' then. Safe to say that they have been under everyone's radar this season. I mean everyone is sort of vaguely aware of the fact that they are in the Premier League but nobody could tell you precisely where. Until I got the work-experience girl wearing the Chris Rea t-shirt without knowing who he is to do the research I had absolutely no idea of where they were in the league or how they had been getting on. It was as if nothing of interest ever actually happened in their matches and, had they not been Watford's opponents on the weekend that football said farewell to Graham Taylor, I probably wouldn't have been able to tell you who they played last week. The suspicion was that they were just phoning in their results every Saturday evening. For the record it seems that they have actually played 21 matches from which they have gained 20 points. This leaves them in 16th place, four points clear of Palace and Hull in 17th and 18th spot respectively, and another point away from Hull and Swansea who seem to be playing pass the parcel with each other over the bottom two places. Their last two games (away at Watford and at home to Leicester) have finished goalless and the Watford match was their fourth such result this term so maybe it's not surprising I'm struggling to remember their matches - the effects of 8 pints of Byram's Old Peculiar in the Swan and Superinjunction means that I'm usually asleep by the time they turn up on Match Of The Day on a Saturday evening here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered.

In what (outwardly anyway) has been a relatively quiet transfer window so far, Boro' are one of the few clubs that has actually signed anyone, though even that didn't actually make too many headlines. An undisclosed fee (or £6m if you read the papers) was enough for them to obtain French-born Benin striker Rudy Gestede. Gestede marked his debut by breaking a record as the 0-0 draw against Watford (you'd forgotten already, hadn't you?) marked his 32nd consecutive Premier League match without a victory. This seems amazing until you factor in the fact that his previous club was Aston Villa. Those of you who are nervous of our past reputation as sequence-busters might like to look away as I tell you that Gestede is available for selection as he was not selected for the African Cuppasoup for Benin.

At the time of writing Boro' look set to spend another £6m (+£4m in add-ons) on Chelsea Loan FC striker Patrick Bamford. A curious one this. He's been up on Teesside before, becoming their top scorer with 17 goals in the league that season, an effort that gained him the Championship Player Of The Year award. However since then he has played for three different clubs in the Premier League without once troubling the goalscoring statistic monitors. He was supposed to spend 2015-16 at Palace but the loan was cut short after Christmas with a lack of first XI opportunities being cited as the reason. Sometimes that happens because a player can't dislodge someone who is performing well (see Moses/Antonio). However you might recall from last week's preview that Palace are a side for whom strikers simply do not score. In the middle of a goal drought Bamford wasn't considered as an option. With bridges burnt at Palace, Norwich stepped in to take over the loan documents. That spell ended in tears as the Canaries went down. Burnley were next to have a look at the player, signing him up on a season-long deal for the current campaign. However, again chances were few and far between and he was recalled from Turf Moor prematurely as a deal was struck to take him back to Boro'. A (possible) £10m fee seems a lot for someone with his mixed record but should they go down at least they will have someone proven at that level.

Top scorer so far this season is former Man City striker Alvaro Negredo. Negredo is on a season long loan from Valencia and has hit 6 goals in all competitions this term (5 in the league). He also has 21 caps for Spain but with the last one having come back in 2013 it's probably fair to describe him as a "former" Spanish international rather than a current one. He had a spot of bother a season or so ago as he went public on exactly what he thought of the tactics employed by the then Valencia manager Nuno Espirito Santo. My Spanish isn't that hot but reading between the lines I think it translates as "not a lot". Esprito Santo left the player out before he himself got the push. Negredo was welcomed back to the fold by the new boss, a certain Gary Neville. However, Neville's spell at Valencia was not the greatest of times, unless you happen to be one of the many players he's criticised over the years as a Sky pundit of course. Neville went and, at the end of the season, Negredo decided to seek fresh pay packets, I mean challenges, in the Premier League.

At the time of writing the future of Uruguayan midfielder Gaston Ramierez is less than clear. His injury listing is rather ambiguous – he's listed as having both "no return date" and as a "slight doubt". Given that he wants away from Boro' that probably means that the former applies on Teesside, the latter to any new club that might be interested. The Fray Bentos-born (that's only amusing to those of us of a certain age I suspect) midfielder is another who has had problems with his bosses (I see a theme developing here). He had a bit of a contretemps with the then Southampton manager Ronald Koeman who eventually told him he would never play for Southampton again. They shipped him up to Boro', presumably as some kind of punishment. He spent the last few months of his Saints career up at Boro' as his contract – which he had theatrically torn up in a display of how much he wanted to leave – came to an end. He signed a three year deal with the Smoggies in July but sometime between then and now he changed his mind – possibly they had carefully planned his route to the ground so he didn't see all the chemical works beforehand. It looks like Leicester are favourites to take him off their hands at the moment. He will no doubt have a good time there until someone points out that it was LAST season's league table that they had shown him. In the meantime rumour has it that they will bring in the out of favour Bojan from Stoke as a replacement.

Another who may be on his way is ex-Hammer Stewart Downing. It was alleged that crowd-favourite Downing was at the centre of the storm that saw manager Karnaka take an unscheduled weekend off last season. The full circumstances are not clear but following a team meeting on the Friday the team travelled south to an away fixture at Charlton sans manager. Having lost 2-1 at the Valley a crisis meeting was held between manager and Chairman at which point Kaenaka was put back in charge. Whatever the relationship between Downing and his boss the player has not been a regular starter this season – being on the pitch at the start of only half of their games. Even the simple way out of sending the player out on loan seems to have become complicated though. Allardyces's ears pricked up at the player's possible availability for a move to Selhurst Park, a move that one would have thought would have been right up Downing's street. However, Karanka threw in a "…but you can only go to a Championship club" clause into the deal. Since presumably everyone wants the deal to go through this season rather than next the additional clause would appear to have killed off the potential move at birth. Still Stewart, at least you won't have to spend any time in Croydon.

Elsewhere in the world of football I see that, about 20 years too late, The FA are to consider retrospective bans for diving. Liverpool and Manchester City are said to be getting their lawyers on the case as we speak. Personally I would prefer points deductions to player bans. That would hit the clubs where it hurts. Some clubs are known to drill their players in such "dark arts" or blatant cheating as we should call it. I still recall the depressing sight of a youth team player from one of this country's top clubs being slated by his coach for failing to go down in the box in a youth team match against our kids a few years back. When the player, not unreasonably, pointed out that nobody had touched him the coach reminded him that that was irrelevant and he had been brought up to go down whether or not there had been a foul. "Then it's for the referee to decide". Just suspending players might actually prove popular amongst some of them – Zabaletta is probably even now thinking of how much extra beach time his exploits will be able to earn him from suspensions.

Which brings us on to us. Well as I'm sure you will have read elsewhere the events of the last week or so appeared to unite players and crowd alike. Bilic found his name being sung from early on in the match – something that must have irked his predecessor quite a bit as I don't recall his name being sung in the four years or so he was at the helm – well not without the previous two words being "**** off" anyway. Now we are well used to Allardyce's ability to rewrite history instantly in his post-match musings. However the suggestion that the three goals we scored were "gifted" can't go unchallenged. Goal one owed much to a sublime pass. Yeah Hennessy came rushing out but frankly he was damned if he did, damned if he didn't. The third goal was a breakout while his side were trying to undo 80 minutes of not conceding too many (rather than trying to score). And as for that second. Gifted? Yeah right. That goal was simply magnificent and to comment that your team "gave it away" would prompt me to ask which part of Churl it is you actually hail from.

It wasn't all sweetness of course. The first 45 were a bit nervy and, had the second half in any way shape or form resembled the first my 0-0 prediction would have earned me the easiest money I have ever gotten out of Winstone's The Turf Accountants. As it was Slav saw that in typical Allardyce fashion, the visitors had failed to smell the blood that had been let over the preceding week or so and, Tomkins' miss notwithstanding, had clearly come to suck the oxygen out of the place in an attempt to get a point – with the extra two coming as a bonus if they could snatch something on the break. This resulted in something of a midfield stalemate in the first 45 as Carroll held the ball up well but was far too isolated.

The switch to a flat back four was key to the change of fortunes. With Antonio a willing foil, Carroll could afford to come deeper and bring the midfield into the game more. Yes it took us a while to break through but the main point is that we did so. The goal brought confidence flooding back and the final score was justified. In that respect we can be thankful that Palace were thrown up for this particular weekend by the good people at Atos. A team managed by any other manager might have looked at the turmoil and wondered exactly how they could go about making it worse for us. Thankfully the Allardyce preoccupation with starting off with a point makes it difficult to get out of that headspace and when you do have to react it can often be difficult to push up a gear. Good.

Incidentally the next time a Palace supporter bangs on at you about how wonderful their so-called "ultras" are, ask them where all but 7,149 of them were the other night when they played Bolton in the Cup. Yup they found something better to do. On a Tuesday night. In Croydon.

We are down to four on the sicklist. Sakho is listed as 4 March at the moment whilst Masuaku, Tore and, er, Arbeola are all shown as no return date. At least Arbeola has been given the dignity of being given a proper injury next to his listing. Up to now he has been shown as having that "knock" that players seem to pick up all the time now. He's been upgraded to "calf injury" which presumably refers to his leg rather than to any young cattle that he may be looking after at present while he's not playing for us.

Payet? Well that smoke you can smell comes from the bridges that he has burnt over the last week or so. Marseilles have possibly dropped a clanger here you know. Years ago we'd have been had over a barrel as our usual lack of funds that everyone knew about would have found us selling the player for less than his proper value. Now we have a figure in mind and we don't actually NEED to sell. So coming in with a second bid of £1m more than the first was probably not the wisest of moves. I mean at least go up in £5m increments guys if you don't want to annoy us. I suggested that Payet's departure might bring Lanzini out of his shell and, though it's early days, the signs from Saturday were encouraging.

So prediction then. Team spirit is good as is confidence in the camp after a decent win last weekend. This is not an unwinnable match but we need to keep our feet on the ground a bit. They've had trouble scoring this season – only 17 in the league - and they are without a win in a month. I was going to go for a draw but since this paragraph started I have talked myself into throwing caution to the wind and going for an away win like the wild-eyed, devil-may-care life-on-the-edge sort of chap that I am. So the £2.50 that I was going to spend on a taxi to the Eurostar Terminal for Payet will, instead, be placed on a forecast wager of a 2-1 away win down at Winstone's The Turf Accountants – and to hell with the consequences!

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met At Not The Ayresome Park: Won 2-0 (Championship November 2011) An early goal from Piquionne and a late one from Carlton Cole saw us home despite the handicap of playing against Mike Dean.

Referee: Martin Atkinson. For the last couple of years they have thrown this referee at us like we were some sort of dumping ground. Then we had him at Palace when he managed to send off Cresswell for two non-existent yellows. Had we been able to appeal yellows that would have been another red chalked off against us. After that someone appeared to notice that we had had him more than twice than any other ref in recent seasons so they inflicted him on someone else. Now he's back…

Danger Man Alvaro Negredo – Top scorer in a side that doesn't seem to have too much in the way of goal threat.

Percy's Poser: Last week we asked how bad a dive had to be before a ref will issue the caution one deserves. Congratulations to Mrs Dymphna Fine-Fare for her correct answer which was " if you are wearing a Man City Shirt the question would appear to be irrelevant – the referee will award a penalty anyway". Mrs Fine-Fare wins a leg of lamb supplied by Dicks The Master Butchers. Well done Dymphna.

For this week's poser we look at the Teeside area and ask: If we assume that Chris Rea still lives on Teesside, and that he drives home for Christmas, what time will he have to leave to ensure that he arrives home on Christmas Eve and how bloody early will he be if he starts driving the day they first play that bloody song on the radio every year.

First correct answer out of the digital hat will wear a set of earplugs for use the next time that song comes on the radio.

Good luck!

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It's just not cricket!
KUMB.com
Filed: Friday, 20th January 2017
By: Staff Writer

The Olympic Stadium could be one of the venues used to stage cricket matches at the forthcoming 2019 World Cup, it has been revealed.
And that is because it is one of the few football grounds considered to have a large enough playing surface to host the nation's summer sport. Should the OS be chosen as one of the 2019 venues, it would provide the largest capacity by some margin, with its closest rival like to be Lord's, which can cater for approximately 30,000 fans - around half that of the OS. However any cricket played at the venue would necessitate the overlaying of turf on the running track to produce a circular playing surface - and the installation of a pitch (or) two at the ground's centre.
The ten-team tournament (reduced from 14 in 2011 and 2015) is scheduled to take place between 30 May and 15 July 2019 and is being staged in the UK for the fifth time, following previous tournaments in 1975, 1979, 1983 and 1999. Essex County Cricket Club had previously expressed an interest in playing occasional 20/20 fixtures ta the ground, although those plans have never come to fruition.
The current seating configuration at the Olympic Stadium takes in the region of three weeks to either dismantle or reassemble.

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Pollution campaigners claim Olympic Park victory
KUMB.com
Filed: Friday, 20th January 2017
By: Staff Writer

Plans to build up to four new factories on the site of the Olympic Park have been shelved - for now. KUMB revealed last November how residents of Stratford had launched a petition aimed at preventing the erection of four factories adjacent to the Olympic Stadium.
And it was revealed earlier today that the London Legacy Development Corporation had snubbed developers by recommending that the plans be withdrawn. "The LLDC has recommended the applications for the three concrete batching plants and an asphalt plant at Bow East be withdrawn," campaigner Hanan Maayan said. "This is a direct result of our campaign and the pressure that we have put on our representatives and the media for the right to clean air and less noise in East London. "However, the war is not won yet. While this represents an important benchmark and means that the applications in their current state will be probably dropped, the applicants may still re-apply with a different scope. "We will keep our eyes and ears open, stay vigilant, and update on any development that arises."

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Marseille to pull out of Payet race?
KUMB.com
Filed: Friday, 20th January 2017
By: Staff Writer

Marseille are reported to be on the verge of pulling out of the race to sign West Ham United's Dimitri Payet. The 29-year-old has spent the week training at the club's Chadwell Heath base with the Under 23s after effectively going on strike, having refused to feature for the first team again. However his chances of forcing through a move to the Ligue 1 club received a major blow this lunchtime (Friday) when, it was claimed, L'OM informed West Ham they will not be pursuing their interest in Payet again during the current transfer window. That's accoring to journalist Kaveh Solhekol, who claims to have the inside track on the deal. "Marseille are resigned to not signing Dimitri Payet from West Ham during this window," he told SSN. "They do not think it will be possible to sign him during this window and they will be moving on to other targets this month. They have almost given up on signing him this month. "West Ham are demanding £30m and Marseille are not willing to pay more than £25m so is this just a game of poker between the clubs? What I'm being told is they're resigned to not signing him in this window."
Payet, who is currently being paid £125,000 per week to train with Academy staff for two to three hours per day has not featured for West Ham since the 0-5 home defeat against Manchester City earlier this month.

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L'OM lodge third Payet bid
KUMB.com
Filed: Friday, 20th January 2017
By: Staff Writer

No more than an hour after it was claimed Marseille have pulled out of the race to sign Dimitri Payet, news of a fresh bid has emerged...

Whilst Sky Sports' journalist Kaveh Solhekol was busy shring the news that L'OM have declared they are no longer interested in signing Payet during the January transfer window, L'Equipe have countered that information by insisting a new offer has been made.

According to the French source, Marseille have today (Friday) lodged a third bid for the 29-year-old, said to be worth around €30million - considerably higher than their previous offer but still some way short of West Ham's £35million valuation.

And the Ligue 1 club - who have already invested heavily elsewhere during the current transfer window - are reported to have announced that they will enter no further negotiations with West Ham regarding the sale of Payet.

Two previous offers - said to be in the region of £18m and £20m - have both been rejected byu West Ham. Meanwhile Payet, who has indicated that he no longer wishes to play for West Ham continues to train with the Academy staff at Chadwell Heath.

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MIDDLESBROUGH V WEST HAM PREVIEW
BY EXWHUEMPLOYEE ON 20 JANUARY 2017 AT 5:13PM
TheWestHamWay.co.uk
This is written by @Deportivo Hammer

I love writing these previews after a good performance and 3 more points. Which is exactly what the team gave us last weekend against Palace. With our backs firmly against the wall we came out fighting and put as good a performance as we have seen all season. Not only did we see a magnificent goal from Andy Carroll, but I loved seeing Manuel Lanzini running through on goal and rounding off a great day with a superb finish. Lets hope for more of the same tomorrow afternoon up North.

Middlesbrough are struggling this year as most newly promoted teams do. With only 17 goals scored this year they need to find a better way of finding the net and bringing back striker Patrick Bamford who made his name at Boro while on loan a couple of seasons ago. He joins Rudy Gestede who joined from Aston Villa earlier this month. At the back though they are doing well and have one of the best defences in the league. They are at the wrong end of the table in 16th place, 4 points away from the relegation zone. But they are only 5 points away from The Hammers up in 12th.

West Ham United have jumped up the table thanks to the victory against Big Sams Palace and if you look at our last 6 games we have won 4 from our last 6 which is pretty good form at the moment. We have drawn only 4 games this year where as last year we seemed to have drawn alot of games so maybe this is the time to go on a consistent run and go some games without defeat and climb into the top 10 of the table and take a lot of pressure off of Bilic.

Earlier this season we managed to fight back from a goal down at the London Stadium, thanks to a good goal from a Frenchman whose name escapes me now. But I do fancy our chances of getting a positive result against a team who have not found the net in 5 of their last 7 games.

Team news for Middlesbrough is obviously the two new strikers available for Karanka but also Daniel Ayala misses out due to suspension while Antonio Barragan and Gaston Ramierez are out injured.

West Ham United have the usual suspects out, Diafra Sakho and Gokhan Tore while Andy Carroll hopes to be fit after a whiplash injury received during the Palace game. Winston Reid, Sofiane Feghouli and Sam Byram have sat out of training due to small knocks, but all should be available for the visit to the Riverside Stadium. Cheikhou Kouyate and Andre Ayew are still on international duty.

Predicted Line Ups :

Middlesbrough : Valdes, Espinosa, Chambers, Gibson, Da Silva, Friend, De Roon, Leadbitter, Forshaw, Negredo, Bamford.

West Ham United : Randolph, Byram, Reid, Collins, Cresswell, Feghouli, Noble, Obiang, Lanzini, Antonio, Carroll

I am hoping that Bilic keeps with the formation and personnel that impressed during the 2nd half of our previous game.That we also really take the game to an organised, but limited Middlesbrough team. I can only predict a win for us and think it will be a comfortable 0-2 victory. Antonio and Cresswell getting the goals. There are lots of reports of Fonte and Hogan joining us soon but I try not to get excited till people sign on the bottom line. At the moment it seems our want away midfielder will not be joining anyone just yet, so expect more drama regarding him until window closes.

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LUNCHTIME ROUND UP: FONTE FEE AGREED, FEGHOULI WANTS TO STAY, PAYET'S CAR VANDALISED, CALLERI ON HIS WAY OUT
BY DAN CHAPMAN ON 20 JANUARY 2017 AT 1:06PM
TheWestHamWay.co.uk

Good afternoon Hammers, here is Friday's lunchtime round up.

AC Milan star M'Baye Niang is not interested in a move to West Ham or Manchester United. (Talksport)

Never heard of him, not interested in this one. Stick to Hogan.

Andre Gray has ruled out a move to West Ham, and says he is happy at Burnley. (Express)

He is another one who doesn't interest me. I don't think he is as good as what he is being made out to be.

Dimitri Payet's car has been vandalised outside his home. (Mirror)

He has done wrong, but this is too far. He wants to leave but he shouldn't have to face stuff like this from our fans.

West Ham have agreed a fee of £8m for Southampton captain Jose Fonte and are now closing in on the signing of the defender. (Teamtalk)

A great signing. He will make our defence a lot more solid alongside Winston Reid.

Sofiane Feghouli says he is happy at West Ham and wants to stay at the club. (HITC)

I'm happy that he is starting to find his feet in England. He has proved to be a good player for the team in his last few games for us.

Jonathan Calleri is set to leave West Ham and sign for Las Palmas. (Talksport)

He won't be missed by many in my opinion. A poor signing from the start, and we need to avoid these signings in the future.

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Ayew contracts Malaria
KUMB.com
Filed: Friday, 20th January 2017
By: Staff Writer

Andre Ayew's contribution to the African Cup of Nations could be over - after he was suspected of contracting Malaria. The Hammers forward, who is currently representing Ghana at the AFCON tournament is almost certainly out of this weekend's clash with Mali as a result of the illness. The news was confirmed by Black Stars boss Avram Grant, the former West Ham United boss, who addressed the press during a conference. "He wasn't feeling good on Wednesday or this morning as well," Grant told the media. "But we have our last training on Friday evening to take a final decision on him."
Meanwhile 61-year-old Grant, who spent one season at West Ham (2010/11) has hinted that he will step down as Ghana's coach at the end of the tournament.
"I came for two years in Ghana, we extended to two years and three months because we qualified for the Nations Cup," he told the BBC. "I will always take good memories from here, but hopefully the last memory will be the best one." Ghana currently top Group D of the competition having beaten Uganda 1-0 in their opening fixture - the only goal coming from Ayew via the penalty spot.

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Fonte completes medical
KUMB.com
Filed: Friday, 20th January 2017
By: Staff Writer

West Ham United are on the verge of completing the capture of Jose Fonte from Southampton. According to reports, the 33-year-old Portuguese international completed a medical this afternoon (Friday) and will be announced as a Hammer within a matter of hours. Fonte, who had 18 months left to run on his existing contract at St Mary's is set to cost the Hammers in the region of £8m with add-ons. He is unlikely to be available for tomorrow trip to Middlesbrough.

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Jose Fonte completes West Ham medical ahead of £8m move - Sky sources
By Sky Sports News HQ
Last Updated: 20/01/17 6:38pm
SSN

Southampton defender Jose Fonte has completed a medical at West Ham ahead of a planned move to the London club, Sky sources understand. Sky Sports News HQ reported on Thursday that Southampton and West Ham were in talks over the move, with an £8m fee being agreed. Southampton manager Claude Puel confirmed earlier this week that Fonte had "different possibilities" regarding a transfer, and it now appears that he has chosen a move to the London Stadium.
The Saints captain informed the club that he wanted to leave in the first week of the transfer window and he was forced to clarify on social media reports that he had rejected a new deal. He said: "Just to set the record straight I did not reject a new contract. In fact, I have been informed by Southampton that they are not offering me a new contract."
Liverpool were also reported to be interested in Fonte but Sky sources ruled the Reds out of the running earlier in the window. Fonte has made over 280 appearances for the South Coast club, but he hasn't been included in the squad since requesting a transfer.

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Marseille make new €30m offer for Dimitri Payet
http://www.getfootballnewsfrance.com/

West Ham United have received a brand new offer from Marseille worth €30m for French international Dimitri Payet, according to L'Équipe. Will this be enough to convince the Premier League side? Not certain. West Ham were previously demanding €35m. Marseille remain deep in negotiations to bring Payet home, contrary to reports emanating from the other side of the Channel that suggested that OM were resigned to not signing the French international this month. Not a single Marseille representative when approached by the French media outlet said that negotiations had stopped for the moment. This is however likely to be Marseille's final offer for Payet, and if it is not accepted, they will very likely move on. OM have already began activating talks for other targets in the meantime.

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Marseille table new £26m bid for Dimitri Payet: West Ham to make decision
MARSEILLE have made an improved £26m bid for Dimitri Payet, according to reports.
By Luke Gardener / Published 20th January 2017
Daily Star

L'Equipe claim the Hammers want £30m for the France ace but Marseille will struggle to meet them demands. Payet has made it clear he wants to leave West Ham but Slaven Bilic will not sell his star man on the cheap. The new bid was tabled today amid reports suggesting Marseille had pulled the plug on chasing the 29-year-old. Yesterday Bilic made clear what he expected from Marseille if they want to complete the signing of Payet. He said: "The ball is in their court. They are the ones who expressed interest. Now they should act. "I don't talk about numbers. All I'm saying is we were very firm, we know the market, we know how good or great he is as a player. Like everybody he has his price. "Dimi took his stance clearly. We took our stand very clearly and it stays the same, we are not going to sell our best players on the cheap just because someone wants to sign them or even because they want to go home."

West Ham bought Payet for £10.7m in 2015 from Marseille. The midfield maestro has made 18 Premier League appearances this season, scoring twice and providing seven assists. But since the news became public that he wanted to leave the London Stadium, Payet has been training with the Under-23 squad.

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Middlesbrough v West Ham United preview: Patrick Bamford in line for debut
Last Updated: 20/01/17 10:47am
Daily Mail

Middlesbrough could hand Patrick Bamford his second debut when they host West Ham United on Saturday. Boro, who have the fourth best defence in the Premier League but have scored just 17 goals - a league low - have struggled to find the balance between attack and defence. However, they are four points above the relegation zone and have won three of their last six home Premier League matches.
West Ham, who are in the midst of a transfer saga involving Dimitri Payet, are 10 points worse off than at this stage last season.
Slaven Bilic's side were dropping towards the bottom three after a run of three straight league defeats, but last weekend's 3-0 win over Crystal Palace has eased some of the pressure on the former Croatia boss.

Team news

Bamford, who scored 19 times in 44 appearances on loan for the club during the 2014-15 season, has played little football in the last 18 months after making temporary moves to Crystal Palace, Norwich and Burnley and is likely to be involved only as a substitute. Daniel Ayala sits out the second game of his three-match ban, while fellow defender Antonio Barragan (hamstring) and midfielder Gaston Ramirez (knee) remain on the sidelines.

West Ham striker Andy Carroll hopes to shake off a neck injury in time to make the trip. Defenders Winston Reid and Sam Byram and winger Sofiane Feghouli have also sat out training this week with knocks, but Bilic expects all four players to be available.
Payet will not be in the squad as he is reportedly linked with a move to Marseille.

Opta stats

Boro are winless in their last eight league meetings with West Ham (D3 L5), including two games in the Championship in 2011-12.

West Ham have only won one of their 11 Premier League trips to the Riverside Stadium (D2 L8), winning 2-1 in December 2007.

Middlesbrough have never failed to score in any of their 11 Premier League home games against West Ham.

In fact, Middlesbrough are the only side West Ham have visited at least 10 times without keeping a clean sheet in the Premier League.

The Hammers have won four of their last six Premier League games, as many as they had in their previous 18 matches.

Merson's prediction

For 70 minutes against Palace, West Ham weren't very good. Then they got the first goal and the confidence flooded back into Bilic's side. However, Boro are very tight at home and don't let in a lot of goals. They are very hard to beat in front of their own fans.

PAUL PREDICTS: 1-0 (11/2 with Sky Bet)

Betting

Middlesbrough are 11/8 favourites as they play host to West Ham on Saturday. The visiting Hammers are 21/10 for the victory, while Sky Bet offer 11/5 against the draw. Boro are 11/2 to pick up their second 1-0 victory of the season, while the correct score betting is topped by 1-1 at 9/2.

The hosts' Alvaro Negredo heads the first goalscorer odds at 5/1 and he's closely followed in the betting by team-mate Rudy Gestede and West Ham's Carroll, who are both 11/2.

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Dimitri Payet transfer saga takes fresh twist as West Ham consider complaint to FIFA over Marseille 'tapping up'
The Hammers believe that the Ligue 1 club are to blame for turning the 29-year-old's head in recent weeks
The Mirror
BYDARREN LEWIS
09:20, 20 JAN 2017UPDATED09:40, 20 JAN 2017

West Ham are considering a complaint to FIFA over Marseille's pursuit of Dimitri Payet . The France playmaker, 29, has been vilified by fans for refusing to play or train since becoming aware of his former club's determination to re-sign him. Claims that Payet's car and home have been vandalised by angry fans are being investigated but have not yet been verified by the Hammers.But as the increasingly acrimonious affair takes another twist, the club believe the whole controversy has arisen from th e manner in which Marseille have gone about their business. Marseille, sixth in the French top division, have already made two offers for Payet but both have been way below West Ham's £30million valuation. The French club, however, are believed already to have made contact with Payet's camp behind West Ham's backs, to make him aware that they want him. The club were bought by American businessman Frank McCourt in October. He has pledged to lift them to the top of Ligue 1 and to make them a force once more in Europe. He is understood to have be ready to invest substantial funds into reaching his goal and, despite the insistence that Payet would be taking a pay cut, there is understood to be a lucrative deal on the table for him.Payet's camp continue to maintain he wants to return to France for family reasons. Claims that Payet's wife, Ludivine, has already left however have also been dismissed by West Ham.

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http://vyperz.blogspot.com

Daily WHUFC News - 20th January 2017

Bilic hopeful of new Antonio deal
WHUFC.com

Slaven Bilic hopeful that Michail Antonio will sign a new contract in the
near future
Winger has been in outstanding form for West Ham United over the last 18
months
Antonio has scored 16 goals in 46 Premier League appearances in Claret and
Blue

Slaven Bilic hopes Michail Antonio will sign a 'deserved' new contract with
West Ham United in the near future. The No30 has been outstanding since
breaking into Bilic's starting XI in December 2015, scoring 16 goals in 46
Premier League appearances and assisting six more. Just 18 months after
moving to the Hammers from Championship club Nottingham Forest, Antonio's
form has seen him become an automatic pick for the manager, while he was
also called-up by England for the first time last October. Speculation has
been rife that Antonio would be offered a new contract to warn off potential
suitors since the January transfer window opened, and Bilic hopes the deal
will be completed shortly. "The players have deals, but he is the player who
came last season to us and he has improved a lot and came from being a
player for the future to one who we gave a chance to one of our most
important players," he said, speaking during his press conference ahead of
Saturday's Premier League trip to Middlesbrough. "It's been long-term, too,
and not just the last few games. Last season, since he scored that goal
against Southampton, he has basically not stopped. "He was very good for us
last season and he has continued to do it for us this season and when
players are playing like that, at a good age as well, then a lot of clubs –
at least in the papers – are interested in them and that puts them in a good
position for a new deal. "He definitely deserved it, so it's a Club decision
together with my own but for me he has a big-time green light to sign a new
deal with us! "I think it [talks] just started but I don't know all the
details about all that, as I leave it to the Chairmen, but I hope it's
close. Well, I hope it's done, to be fair! "I see no problem there because
he is definitely the one who totally deserves it with his behaviour, with
his work-rate, with his quality and, at the end of the day, with the goals,
assists and energy he is providing us with."

When asked how Antonio has blossomed into one of English football's top
performers, just a few years after plying his trade with non-league Tooting
& Mitcham United, Bilic praised the winger's determination to succeed above
all else. "It's a character and that's the main thing," he confirmed. "When
you are a manager judging players, you can say 'he has a great left foot, a
great right foot, pace, skills, vision' and all that, but it's the character
that makes the difference. "For me it's not enough only to have character,
you have to have quality, but what makes the difference long term in your
improvement on a daily basis is character and his character is spot-on.
"Last weekend, for example, he wasn't supposed to play in that game because
he had a temperature of 38.4 degrees the day before the game, which was
definitely high enough to rule him out, but he wanted to play and to play in
those conditions is unbelievable. "To contribute as he did with three
brilliant assists was amazing, so he deserves credit for that game, big
time."

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Four face fitness race
WHUFC.com

Andy Carroll, Sofiane Feghouli, Sam Byram and Winston Reid all hoping to
shake off knocks
Carroll suffered whiplash injury but Slaven Bilic is optimistic he will be
fit to face Middlesbrough
Feghouli, Byram and Reid all trained with the first-team squad on Thursday

Slaven Bilic is hopeful of naming an unchanged squad for the Premier League
trip to Middlesbrough on Saturday. The Hammers will again be without Dimitri
Payet, while Cheikhou Kouyate and Andre Ayew are at the Africa Cup of
Nations, and Alvaro Arbeloa, Arthur Masuaku, Havard Nordtveit, Diafra Sakho
and Gokhan Tore are injured.

Bilic revealed in his Thursday press conference that Crystal Palace
goalscorers Andy Carroll and Sofiane Feghouli are both carrying knocks,
while defenders Winston Reid and Sam Byram also picked up minor injuries in
the 3-0 win over the Eagles. However, the boss is confident all four will be
fit to face Boro at the Riverside Stadium.

Byram, Reid and Feghouli all trained at Rush Green on Thursday, while
Carroll worked on an individual basis and is expected to return to the squad
on Friday. "Andy has got a bit of a whiplash injury," said the manager.
"That's what I have been told by the physios, so I went to a dictionary to
find out what that is! "He has a sore neck so hopefully he's going to be OK.
It was at the end of the game [and not when he scored his scissor kick
goal]. He trained on Tuesday and was brilliant in training, but then he
reported some neck pain, but hopefully he's going to be OK. "We have a few
with knocks – Andy, Winston Reid has a painful one and Sam Byram has a knock
on his knee and it was swollen and he missed training on Wednesday, but he
will train on Thursday and he should be OK. "Also Sofiane Feghouli missed
training on Wednesday because of a minor problem with his Achilles, but I'm
very optimistic that all of them are going to be fit for the game on
Saturday."

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Collins has special memories of facing Boro
WHUFC.com

James Collins will always have special memories of facing Middlesbrough and
hopes to be celebrating another big victory at the Riverside Stadium on
Saturday.
Collins enjoyed one of his best moments in a claret and blue shirt when he
helped West Ham record a memorable FA Cup semi-final win over the north east
club back in April 2006 to reach the FA Cup Final for the first time since
1980. Marlon Harewood's second half winner at Villa Park made it a day to
remember for the thousands of Hammers fans who made the trip to Birmingham
and the Welsh defender will never forget the celebrations that followed.
Collins said: "It has to be one of my best days in a West Ham shirt and one
of the highlights of my career. "Everything about it was fantastic. It was
my first year at West Ham and we knew it was going to be a big day. If we
got the victory, we were going to Cardiff to play in the FA Cup Final. "We
played really well and I probably have most of my memories from after the
game when we were celebrating in the big bath tub and enjoyed the
celebrations. That will stay with me forever."

Collins will be making his first appearance at the Riverside Stadium since
2008 when Hayden Mullins got on the scoresheet during a 1-1 draw and will be
hoping for a better outcome this weekend. Following the memorable 3-0 win
over Crystal Palace last weekend, the experienced defender admits the
players are full of confidence as they prepare for the trip to the north
east and hopes to see a repeat performance. Collins added: "It has been a
while since I last played up at Middlesbrough. It is always a tough place to
go and they are doing well back in the top flight. "But we took a hell of a
lot of confidence from the performance on Saturday and all the players look
sharp back in training. The boys who are in the team are hitting top form
and hopefully we can re-produce the form we showed against Crystal Palace.
"We have been threatening to come away with a performance like that. A
couple of games we have conceded a lot of goals, but we knew if we could
keep a clean sheet that we had the players going forward to score us the
goals. "We are delighted to have scored three and it could have been a lot
more."

One of those goals included a memorable scissor kick from Andy Carroll and
Collins says it is one of the best he has ever seen during his career. "I
said to Andy after the game that I don't think I have seen a goal as good as
the one he scored on Saturday. "I was standing right behind it and I have
not seen a strike as good as that. All credit to Andy and he has been trying
it a couple of times in training since I have known him. "To pull it off in
such a big game and such a big goal for the club is great for him. He is
hitting top form now and long may that continue. It comes down to technique
and I have seen a few in my time but that is the best bicycle kick I have
ever seen. A lot people probably thought he was going to head it, but he has
tried it in training and lucky for him it has paid off in the game."

Collins also had nothing but praise for Michail Antonio who was forced to
miss the build-up with a high temperature and produced one of his best
performances as he completed a hat-trick of assists. "It was a brilliant
performance from Michail. He didn't really train with us last week and
credit to him for the way he has played. He was still pretty ill before the
game but the performance he put in was fantastic. "He said it wasn't going
to be a problem and he set up three goals and it could have been more. He is
hitting top form as well so we hope they can do the same again on Saturday.
"He is a top footballer and can do a good job wherever he is asked to play.
He played right wing-back in the first half and did well and then he went
upfront and it gives us a totally different dimension when he is playing
alongside Andy. "Andy can flick the ball into Michail and he has got the
pace to get in behind. He can set up goals as well and is the all-round
footballer at the moment."

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Slaven - We want to keep this positivity
WHUFC.com

Slaven Bilic wants his team to achieve back-to-back victories by winning at
Middlesbrough
West Ham United defeated Crystal Palace 3-0 at London Stadium last time out
Manager admits four players are battling to overcome 'knocks' to be fit to
face Boro

Slaven Bilic wants his team to build on the momentum they built in beating
Crystal Palace when they head to Middlesbrough on Saturday. West Ham United
ended a challenging week full of speculation about the future of Dimitri
Payet by downing the Eagles 3-0 at London Stadium. Having notched their
first victory of 2017, Bilic wants the Hammers to maintain their feelgood
factor by collecting another three points at the Riverside Stadium. However,
the manager knows defeating a Boro team that has conceded just four goals in
their last six home Premier League matches will be no easy task. "We have a
game on Saturday where we definitely want to keep all this positivity around
us," he confirmed. "We have had it on the training ground this week and we
don't want to lose the momentum. "We have a very difficult game on Saturday
against a team that is very, very solid. They don't score a lot but they
don't concede a lot or give away too many chances. But again, it's a good
opportunity for us and we've got to be on top of our game and I think we
have a good chance. "We're in a good situation now but we want to be in a
really good situation and for that you need points and for points you need
performances and for performances you need confidence and atmosphere and
everything."

Slaven Bilic and Aitor Karanka saw their teams play out a 1-1 draw at London
Stadium in October revealed his respect for the Spaniard, who guided Boro to
promotion last season and has already seemingly established them as
resilient Premier League team. "For every foreigner, especially a manager,
to come a foreign country, is much more difficult than it is for a player –
it was easier for me as I played here," he observed. "For him [Karanka],
especially in the Championship, which is a unique competition where you play
every day basically, to get a promotion in two seasons is brilliant. "He got
them in Premier League and he was very brave to add some players. Although
he got very connected with that squad because they were successful, he knew
he couldn't rely only on them and he needed more quality players. "So, to
get [Spain internationals Alvaro] Negredo, [Victor] Valdes and a few others,
you need character and to be a decision-maker. He has done it all. They are
hard to beat and very organised so Chapeau to him."

While Karanka will set his team up to stifle the Hammers, Bilic himself
hopes to take an unchanged squad to Teesside, but admitted Andy Carroll,
Winston Reid, Sam Byram and Sofiane Feghouli will need to shake off knocks
if they are to feature this weekend.

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PAYET THE LOVE AFFAIR IS OVER!
BY EXWHUEMPLOYEE ON 19 JANUARY 2017 AT 9:34PM
TheWestHamWay.co.uk
This was written by: Aaron Lee aaronlee90@hotmail.com

As we come towards the close of the transfer window many are wondering if we
will see the departure of Dimitri Payet. In my honest opinion last season
Dimitri Payet was probably the best player I've seen pull on a claret and
blue shirt in my time as a West Ham United fan. I absolutely adored Paolo Di
Canio and Joe Cole but Dimitri made a habit of continuously getting people
off their seats on a regular basis. West Ham gave Payet the platform to
perform in the best league in the world and he grabbed his opportunity with
both hands. I'm sure his free kicks against Crystal Palace and Man United
will live long in the memory for us hammers fans but where did it all go
wrong?

Rewind to February 2016,Payet had just been given a new five year contract
and a pay rise for his outstanding performances earlier on in the season and
he was more than happy to sign it. He stated his love for the club and the
fans and made a statement saying the love affair continues,he vowed how he
wanted to be with West Ham for many years to come. Payet swept up award
after award at the end of season player awards ceremony and not many could
argue that he didn't deserve the awards. He stated how much Slaven Bilic was
a father figure to him,he loved the club and was grateful for the tremendous
support from the fans and once again mentioned the love affair he had with
our supporters. Shortly after this he lit up the European championships
showing displays that West Ham fans had become accustom to throughout the
season scoring a stunning strike against Romania and scoring against Albania
to confirm France a place in the last 16. As many of you remember this was
the game where Slaven Bilic climbed on the announce table arms aloft in
celebration at our midfield genius, Payet was voted in the Euro 2016 team of
the tournament and also became shortlisted for the Ballon D'or becoming
only the fourth West Ham player to get nominated for the coveted award
following in the footsteps of Sir Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters and Bobby
Moore.

Fast forward nearly a year from when he signed his improved contract,the
same man who declared his love for our club and how proud he was to wear our
famous shirt has now decided to down tools refusing to play so he could
engineer a return to Marseille. This isn't the first time Payet has tried to
force a move by going on strike. He done the same while at Saint-Etienne in
2011, threatening to fake injuries to rule himself out of selection, not
turning up for training sessions. This was revealed by Slav in his press
conference, the same man who only a few months earlier Payet was claiming he
considered a father figure. Slav had the look of a broken man and claimed
how upset and angry he was about the situation. When Dimitri has played this
season the flashes of brilliance that we adored last season have been few
and far between. Many had questioned his commitment and desire this season
suggesting that Payet has the look of a man who didn't want to be here. For
me this became clear even more so in our game in the league cup at Old
Trafford when Ashley Fletcher scored his first goal for the club, Dimitri
decided to jog back instead of celebrating with the rest of his teammates.

As many of you would have picked up on the media have tried to claim that
Slaven done exactly the same back in 1997 when Everton tried to sign him,
this could not be further from the truth as Slaven insisted to the Everton
officials that he had a debt of loyalty to West Ham and he would stay with
the club till the end of the season to ensure we was not relegated and that
turned out to be the case before he departed for the blue half of
Merseyside.

After the brilliant second half performance against Palace on Saturday you
could tell the players were together and behind the manager there was a
sense of urgency to prove that we don't need Payet. Our fans who were
fantastic were behind the team and especially Slaven Bilic from the first
whistle to the last. The good thing to come out of this Payet situation is
that it has seemed to bring us all back together that was without doubt the
best atmosphere in a Premier League game at the London Stadium and I hope
this continues. Obviously the owners and super Slav have stated Dimitri
Payet will not be sold in this window but for me the sooner he goes the
better, there is no way back for Payet at West Ham and as far as I'm
concerned I wouldn't want to see him in our shirt again. His actions and
attitude will do nothing to help the team and this has been stated by the
likes of Andy Carroll and Mark Noble, no player will ever be bigger than the
club and West Ham United will be around long after Payet has gone so as much
as you was adored because of your genius and brilliance the love affair is
now over Dimitri.

Come on you Irons

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Fonte set for Hammers switch
KUMB.com
Filed: Thursday, 19th January 2017
By: Staff Writer

West Ham United are hoping to complete the capture of experienced
Southampton captain Jose Fonte by the weekend.

The 33-year-old central defender is on the verge of joining the Hammers in a
deal worth in the regoin £8million + add-ons, according to reports, with his
current deal at St Mary's coming to an end.

A Portuguese international, Fonte - who is contracted to Soton until the end
of next season (2017/18) - arrived in England ten years ago when he joined
Crystal Palace on loan from Benfica, a deal that was made permanent in 2008.

Two years later he joined Southampton on a permanent basis, signing for the
Saints in a cut-price £1,2million deal. Since then, Fonte has made more than
250 appearances for the South Coast club.

Fonte is understood to have handed in a transfer request when his current
club failed to offer him an extended contract. The defender is said to have
been seeking a deal worth in the region of £70,000 over two-and-a-half
years.

Slaven Bilic, when asked about potential incomings during his press
conference this morning (Thursday) replied: "I am not talking about names;
all I can say is that we hope to settle something in the next 24 hours."

Speaking about the Fonte situation yesterday, Saints boss Claude Puel
claimed that the club has received several enquiries. "I think he has some
opportunities," he said. "We will see if Jose leaves Southampton; we will
see over the next few days."

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West Ham poised to sign Jose Fonte from Southampton
Last Updated: 19/01/17 9:02pm
SSN

West Ham are close to agreeing a deal to sign defender Jose Fonte from
Southampton, according to Sky sources. Talks continued on Thursday and a fee
of £8m is being discussed for the 33-year-old, who helped Portugal to Euro
2016 glory last summer. Fonte has been at Southampton since 2010, having
joined from Crystal Palace, but expressed his desire to leave the club
earlier this month. Southampton manager Claude Puel confirmed at his press
briefing on Thursday that Fonte could depart. "Jose has different
possibilities," said the Saints boss. "He has the solution and the
opportunity to see this, and we will see what the situation is in a few
days. "He was in training this morning with the players and he works
normally with good spirit, and like a professional."
Southampton have lost their last four Premier League games and Puel admits
the speculation regarding Fonte's future has been a distraction. "This
situation with Jose is difficult for the squad," Puel said. "It's difficult
for him also. "It's not just about this market; it's been since the
beginning of the season. "It's been a difficult situation for Jose because
he's always in discussions with the club, about contracts, or no contracts.
"I took a decision at the beginning of this window to keep Jose out the
team, to study different possibilities, and to protect the team from all
this speculation about Jose. "With this many games it's important to keep
focused about our game, not just on the situation of Jose. It's difficult,
but the squad can take the responsibilities."

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Andy Carroll doubt for West Ham's Middlesbrough trip with whiplash
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 19/01/17 5:14pm
SSN

Slaven Bilic has revealed Andy Carroll is a doubt for West Ham's trip to
Middlesbrough after suffering a whiplash injury. The striker scored a
spectacular, acrobatic scissor kick during last weekend's 3-0 win over
Crystal Palace. But at the end of the match he was feeling a problem with
his neck and had to sit out training earlier this week. We take a look back
at some of the best Premier League overhead kicks after Andy Carroll's
brilliant effort against Crystal Palace. Manager Slaven Bilic was surprised
by the unusual diagnosis, but still expects his big frontman to be fit for
the trip to Teesside. "He's got a whiplash injury, that's what I was told
from the physios," said Bilic. "Then I went to the dictionary basically to
find out what that is. It was a sore neck, but hopefully he will be okay.
"It was at the end of the game, I don't know how he got it. "He then trained
Tuesday very hard, he was brilliant in training, but then reported some neck
pain. But as I say, hopefully he will be okay. "We have a few with knocks -
Winston Reid has a painful one and Sam Byram has a knock on his knee, it was
swollen and he missed training on Wednesday. "Also Sofiane Feghouli missed
training on Wednesday because of a minor problem with his Achilles. "But I'm
very optimistic that all of them are going to be fit for the game on
Saturday."

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Slaven Bilic reveals West Ham are close to making new signing
By Andrew Dickson
Last Updated: 19/01/17 1:10pm
SSN

Slaven Bilic is optimistic West Ham will make a new signing before the
weekend as Dimitri Payet's future remains in the balance. The France
midfielder is still working with the London club's U23 squad after initially
training on his own when he said he no longer wanted to play for Bilic's
team. Payet remains intent on rejoining Marseille and Sky sources understand
he has turned down weekly wages of £500,000 from three Chinese clubs because
he wants a return to the Velodrome so much. The 29-year-old is understood to
be willing to take a pay cut of at least 30 per cent from his current wage
of £125,000 per week in order to make the move happen. All the while, West
Ham - who have so far rejected two bids and want at least £30m for Payet -
are planning for the future and Bilic is optimistic of an imminent arrival.
He said: "We are not looking for big numbers as I have strong belief in our
qualities now in the dressing room, but we need one or two players. "Are any
deals close? Close is very relative in football. Many times something that
looks close doesn't happen. And sometimes something that looks distant
suddenly happens. But in 24 hours, hopefully."
One name West Ham have been linked with is that of Jose Fonte, with the
Southampton defender wanting to leave St Mary's this month. Liverpool have
said they will not be signing the Portuguese defender in the January
transfer window and Bilic has denied the 33-year-old has had a medical with
his club. "Not a medical," the Croatian coach added. "Look, I said a few
times already I'm not going to talk about names."
The ongoing situation with Payet is clearly one which attracts much
attention given the spectacular impact he made in his first season in the
Premier League last term. While it might continue making headlines, Bilic
maintains a stand-off means there is no sign of compromise either way. He
said: "Is his departure inevitable? I don't know. "What has changed?
Nothing. Dimi took his stance clearly. We took our stance very clearly and
it stays the same. "We are not going to sell our best players on the cheap
just because someone wants to sign them or even because they want to go
home. "I left it with the chairman and I'm sure he's going to do the best
thing. The ball is in Marseille's court. They are the ones who expressed
interest. Now they should act. "I don't talk about numbers. All I'm saying
is we were very firm, we know the market, we know how good or great he is as
a player. Like everybody he has his price."

Bilic, meanwhile, revealed West Ham are working to convince winger Michail
Antonio to sign a new contract, with Chelsea reportedly interested in him.
Antonio, 26, whose current deal expires in 2019, set up all three goals
against Crystal Palace last weekend and has scored eight times this season.
Bilic said: "When players play like that and are at a good age then they are
attracting interest from other clubs and that puts them in a good position
for a new deal. Definitely, he deserves it.
"It's a club decision, of course, but Mikey's got a big time green light to
sign a new deal. I leave it to the chairman but I hope it's close. I hope
it's done to be fair."

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
West Ham boss Slaven Bilic says Michail Antonio's new deal is 'close'
By Joe Shread
Last Updated: 19/01/17 1:47pm
SSN

West Ham manager Slaven Bilic says that Michail Antonio deserves a new
contract and hopes an agreement is "close". The winger is the Hammers' top
scorer this season with eight Premier League goals in 20 matches, and Bilic
is keen to reward Antonio for his fine form. Antonio only signed a new
contract until 2020 in July last year but the Croatian confirmed the club
are discussing improved terms for the attacker. Bilic said: "He definitely
deserves it, with his behaviour, his work-rate, his quality, his energy, and
his goals and assists that he's providing us. "The player came to us last
season and he improved a lot. He came basically from one of the players for
the future to the stage where he is one of the most important players for us
in the long term. "It is not like a few games or whatever. It was last
season since he scored that goal against Southampton (his first for the
club), and basically then he didn't stop. "He was very good for us last
season and then he continued to do the same this season. When the players
are playing like that, in a good age as well, that has put him in a good
position for a new deal." "It's a club decision of course, together with
mine. But I give him a big time green light to sign a new deal with us. I
hope it is close. Well I hope it is done, to be fair, but I see no problem
there." Antonio, 26, who had no top-flight experience before signing for
West Ham from Nottingham Forest at the start of last season, has scored 16
goals in 46 Premier League games. He chose to represent England over
Jamaica, who he was also eligible for, last year and was called up to an
England squad by former boss Sam Allardyce earlier this season, but he is
yet to win his first cap.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
Dimitri Payet should take a leaf out of Alexis Sanchez's book - a warrior
who wants to play EVERY minute
The Frenchman is refusing to play for West Ham, while his Chilean
counterpart across London runs his blood to water for Arsenal
The Mirror
BYSTEVE STAMMERS
17:34, 19 JAN 2017

Three of the Premier League big hitters have been in the headlines in the
last week. Down at West Ham, Dimitri Payet claims he family cannot settle in
England and wants to go back to France with Olympique Marseille in his
sights. He will move in this window. He has to… West Ham fans are an
unforgiving lot and his life will be hell in claret and blue. Strange all
seemed well domestically last season when the Hammers gave him the platform
on which to excel and help him all the way to the European Championship
finals with France. Down at Chelsea, Diego Costa opted to take on
billionaire owner Roman Abramovich using an offer to move to China on
£30million a year as the reason to leave. Only one winner there, Diego.
Abramovich has the financial resources to let him rot in the background
rather than cave in to Chinese pressure. Then there is Alexis Sanchez at
Arsenal. A totally different character to the other pair. Payet has downed
tools. Costa has been ostracised by manager Antonio Conte while he gets his
head right and realises that Abramovich is an unbeatable foe. With Sanchez,
he captured the limelight because he actually WANTS to play. He was pictured
sulking because he was taken off late in the 4-0 win against Swansea. The
Chilean had contributed massively to the win. His persistence and sheer will
to win had created the crucial first goal when he made an apparently lost
cause into a profitable one. He got possession of a ball the rest had given
up as an inevitable throw-in, crossed and that created the goal for Olivier
Giroud. Then he scored the fourth before manager Arsene Wenger decided to
take him off. Sanchez was furious NOT to finish the game. Unlike Payet, he
wants to play every minute of every match. Wenger is protective of him.
Sanchez reckons he doesn't need protection. At the start of last season,
after helping Chile to win the Copa America after a penalty shoot-out
against Argentina after extra-time on July 4, Sanchez was back in at Arsenal
training after a fortnight. Wenger was staggered. Even more so when Sanchez
said he wanted to play in the opening game against West Ham. In the end, he
was on the bench and played the 23 minutes. Sanchez, you see, is a warrior.
He has an aggressive streak to go with his undoubted ability and football is
his life. He cannot understand why he is NOT playing. He cannot understand
if he is taken off. That philosophy is why he seemed to sulk at Swansea.
That is why he kicked away his gloves and sat draped in a stadium coat. That
is why he is a winner and has qualities that Wenger so admires. He wants to
play every minute of every game. Not that Dimitri Payet would understand. He
just wouldn't understand.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
Dimitri Payet's car vandalised outside his house as wantaway West Ham star
is deleted from team WhatsApp group
West Ham United's Dimitri Payet had his car was targeted outside his house
Payet has refused to play for West Ham and has trained with the Under 23s
The 29-year-old wants to move away from England and back to France
West Ham manager Slaven Bilic says the club won't sell its best players
By MATT LAWTON FOR THE DAILY MAIL
PUBLISHED: 22:30, 19 January 2017 | UPDATED: 22:30, 19 January 2017

Dimitri Payet's return to France appeared inevitable on Thursday night after
it emerged the West Ham rebel's car had been vandalised. The car was
targeted outside Payet's house, with suggestions a brick was thrown through
a window. The 29-year-old is refusing to play for West Ham and has been
training with their Under 23 team. He has been ostracised by some
team-mates and senior players have cut him out of their WhatsApp group, with
the Frenchman also unwelcome at team meetings and bonding dinners. Wantaway
Payet is desperate to join wife Ludivine in the south of France. His former
club Marseille are set to make a third bid, this time of £25million, and are
confident that will get the deal done. West Ham bought Payet from Marseille
for £10.7m 18 months ago and Hammers boss Slaven Bilic insists they will
hold out for the best price.
Bilic said: 'Dimi took his stance clearly. We took our stand very clearly
and it stays the same. We are not going to sell our best players on the
cheap just because someone wants to sign them or even because they want to
go home. We know the market. Like everybody, he has his price. 'The ball is
in Marseille's court. They expressed interest, now they should act.'

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
West Ham fans jailed after violent clash with Arsenal supporters at
Islington pub
MARK CHANDLER
The Evening Standard

A horde of fans have been handed prison sentences and banned from football
after a violent clash between Arsenal and West Ham supporters at a north
London pub. The rival supporters confronted each other outside the White
Swan in Upper Street, Islington, after the Hammers won 2-0 last August.
Tables, chairs and bottles were hurled during the melee before police
arrived to break-up the carnage. Terrified families with children were left
trapped inside the pub as the violence raged. Matthew Fallon told the
Standard: "My nan, auntie and her kids were in the back of the Wetherspoon
when fans ran in flipping tables around. "The kids were scared with them
being eight and five because they have never experienced anything like that
before."
A group of men were later charged with violent disorder after being
identified through CCTV footage. James Bevan, 40, of Grantham Road, Manor
Park, Danny Butler, 38 , of Colyton Way, Edmonton, 43-year-old Mark Gittins,
of Basildon, Essex, and Tony Hackett, 57, from Nottingham were all
convicted. West Ham fans Christopher Love, 28, of Benfleet, Essex, and Paul
Ogden, 36, of Church Island, Staines, had previously admitted violent
disorder . On January 13 at Blackfriars Crown Court, they were each given
football banning orders ranging from five to eight years and prison
sentences totalling nine-and-a-half years. Arsenal fans Charlie Barker, 22,
of Redhill Street, King's Cross, Jack Bulley, 23 of Wanstead Park Road,
Ilford, and 43-year-old Lee Bowering, of Percy Road, Romford, all pleaded
guilty.

They were sentenced on January 11 to six months, suspended for 18 months,
and ordered to pay £500 costs. Speaking afterwards, Detective Chief
Inspector John Oldham, from the Met's Public Order Crime team, said: "This
group of men were involved in serious fighting and violent disorder outside
a pub; behaviour that, quite simply, is totally and utterly unacceptable.
"Through our investigations, we have identified a large number of those
responsible and they are now facing the very serious consequences of their
actions. "Those involved in the worst of the disorder are now facing lengthy
custodial sentences and this should serve as a warning to other fans that
this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated."

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
West Ham in talks to sign Jose Fonte from Southampton
By Nick Lustig
Last Updated: 19/01/17 6:17am
SSN

West Ham are in advanced talks to sign defender Jose Fonte from Southampton,
according to Sky sources. The Portugal international, who has 18 months
remaining on his contract at St Mary's, expressed his desire to leave
Southampton earlier this month. Fonte revealed on social media in December
he had not rejected a new deal to stay at Southampton and confirmed he would
not be offered fresh terms by the south-coast club. The 33-year-old, who
helped Portugal win Euro 2016 last summer, has played 286 times for the
Saints since joining from Crystal Palace in 2010. West Ham manager Slaven
Bilic is looking to bolster his defensive ranks this month, with Winston
Reid, James Collins and Angelo Ogbonna currently his only recognised senior
central defenders. The Hammers also remain in negotiations for Brentford
forward Scott Hogan and have had an improved £6m bid for Robert Snodgrass
rejected by Hull City.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
AC Milan pave way for West Ham to sign £13m forward M'Baye Niang
PIETRO LAZZERINI
Evening Standard

AC Milan are willing to let M'Baye Niang leave — paving the way for West Ham
to follow up their interest in the forward. Milan coach Vincenzo Montella
has lost patience with Niang after a disappointing first half of the season.
The 22-year-old has other admirers, with Leicester also interested, but West
Ham will need a replacement for Dimitri Payet should the France
international get his wish to return to Marseille. Niang does not want to
leave Milan but the feeling is that he will go in either this window or the
summer.
The Serie A club will want around £13million and they might be prepared to
let Niang leave on loan, with any deal including an agreement to buy him at
the end of the season. Meanwhile, striker Jonathan Calleri, who is on loan
at West Ham from Deportivo Maldonado, is set to join Las Palmas on loan.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
Slaven Bilic tells Marseille to cough up the cash if they want to sign
Dimitri Payet from West Ham
KEN DYER
Evening Standard

West Ham manager Slaven Bilic has called on Marseille to cough up the cash
if they want to sign Dimitri Payet this month. At last week's pre-match
press conference, Bilic revealed that Dimitri Payet had refused to play for
the Hammers, telling the club he wanted to rejoin Marseille. The France
international has been banished to train with the Under-23 squad, with his
future in limbo. West Ham want £35m, but Marseille's best bid so far has
been £22m. Bilic said: "You want to solve the problems in-house but it was
not possible. I am sad it happened, it's not good for him, for us, for
football in general, but it happens. "We will not sell our best players on
the cheap just because someone wants him. The ball is in their court. They
are the ones who expressed interest. We are very firm, we know the market."

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
West Ham will only sell Dimitri Payet for 'best possible price', says Slaven
Bilic as Marseille prepare £25m bid
West Ham manager Slaven Bilic says Dimitri Payet likely to be sold this
January
Payet is keen to return to Marseille because his wife is ill and his family
live there
The Ligue 1 outfit are preparing a £25m bid but the Hammers want £35m
Bilic also confirms West Ham star Michail Antonio has almost agreed a 'long
deal'
By Adam Shergold for MailOnline
PUBLISHED: 12:12, 19 January 2017 | UPDATED: 12:12, 19 January 2017

Slaven Bilic says West Ham will hold out for the best possible price for
Dimitri Payet, insisting their talisman won't be 'sold on the cheap.'
Marseille are expected make another bid, this time of £25million, before the
end of the week but West Ham are holding out for £30million for the wantaway
Frenchman. Payet, who has spent the week training with the under 23 squad,
will once again not be involved in the Hammers' Premier League trip to
Middlesbrough on Saturday as he tried to force through his return to
Marseille. The 29-year-old wants to return to France because his wife is ill
and his family are still living there. Bilic said: 'Dimi took his stance
clearly. We took our stand very clearly and it stays the same, we are not
going to sell our best players on the cheap just because someone wants to
sign them or even because they want to go home. 'I always like to solve the
situations in-house but sometimes it's impossible. You have to draw the line
to protect the team, there's nothing more important than the team. 'I'm sad
the situation has happened. It's not good for anyone, for him, the club,
it's not good for football in general but it's happened, it's not the first
time, it's not the last time. 'We know the market, we know how good or great
he is as a player. Like everybody he has his price.'
Firing a message to Marseille, he added: 'The ball is in their court. They
are the ones who expressed interest. Now they should act.'
As Payet departs, one player Bilic is keen to tie down to a longer-term deal
is Michail Antonio, who has impressed in a number of matches this season.
And the manager hinted that progress has been made in securing his future at
the club. He said: 'Mikey's got the green light to sign a new deal. He's got
a long deal. I leave it to the chairman but I hope it's close. I hope it's
done to be fair.
'I see no problem there, he totally deserves it with his behaviour, his
quality and his work rate, his goals, his assists, his energy. He was very
good last season and has continued this season.'

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
West Ham still have option to sign classy midfield target, could be a coup
By Sport Witness Team - 19th January 2017

In November West Ham were linked with Lyon's Clement Grenier by France's
Canal+, who, in our experience, are in the top bracket for transfer claims.
Grenier is at the stage with Lyon where he needs a fresh start and an exit
in January is very much on the cards. French newspaper L'Equipe touch on the
situation on Thursday and say no transfer has been sorted out yet. West Ham
aren't mentioned, no clubs are, it's all very much waiting for someone to
come in and do the deal. A central midfielder with a natural instinct to go
forward, West Ham could likely sign Grenier on a try-before-you-buy basis,
with a loan mentioned as a possible outcome.
Earlier this month the Lyon player said: "I have a few approaches from
French clubs. A little bit in Germany, Italy and two in England. But nothing
is done yet. We move a little faster with one club than others."
It's an opportunity for Slaven Bilic to look at, with West Ham needing to
strenghten their squad in several areas before the January transfer window
closes. Grenier is 26 years of age, right footed, and has a contract with
Lyon until June 2018.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger rules out January move for West Ham's Dimitri
Payet
SAM LONG
Evening Standard
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insists he is not interested in signing West
Ham's Dimitri Payet this month. Payet is determined to leave the Hammers,
having refused to play in last week's London derby against Crystal Palace.
Marseille have had two bids for the Frenchman knocked back, with West Ham
determined not to let their talisman leave on the cheap. The Ligue 1 club's
latest offer of £20milliion is believed to have fallen some way short of
West Ham's asking price. And Wenger is adamant the Gunners are not actively
trying to sign Payet, despite his admiration for the 29-year-old's talent.
"I don't need Payet. I rate Payet as a player but it's not an area where we
look," Wenger said. "We have many players who can play in this position.
You're interested by the quality of the player but we have no need in this
domain."

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
A Blessing in Disguise
Written by Rhys Paul.
http://alloutfootball.co.uk/

With the dust settling on the Dimitri Payet situation, West Ham's future
without the Frenchman continues to look much clearer. Saturday's 3-0 victory
over Crystal Palace was the first indication of life post-Payet and it
certainly did not look as bleak as many had suggested. In fact, I hope this
will be the last time I write about Payet, because the team showed that we
are much better without him. In all honesty, all this talk of Payet is
beginning to get a bit boring and, to many of us, he is no longer a part of
West Ham. It has been clear that there has been something going on behind
the scenes at West Ham and if there is one word that can be used to describe
this season it would be unsettled. The extent to which Payet has caused this
disruption will only be known once the player inevitability leaves the club.

As I have previously said, it seems obvious that Marseille have tapped the
player up with players and fans already anticipating his return and the club
itself were quick to try and get their former star on the cheap. West Ham's
official stance on the situation appears to have loosened just as the
supporters has. The anger stemming from Payet's betrayal saw the immediate
response be to hold 'Le Sulk' to his recently signed long-term contract
(currently with four-and-a-half years still on it) and let him rot in the
reserves. Truthfully, the owners and the manager should be admired with
their handling of the situation. Had they conceded that they wanted the
player out of the club, they might have been forced to sell the player for a
lower price than they would have otherwise received.

Saying that, it still has not stopped Marseille from testing the water with
a £19 million and £20 million bid. Rumours of his family moving back to
France and Payet's claims that he only wants to leave for Marseille suggest
that there is only one destination for the player. Officials from the two
clubs have already met to negotiate a transfer fee, but West Ham have made
it abundantly clear that is a case of Marseille meeting their demands as
opposed to the former wanting a quick sale. It really would not be
surprising to see the deal fall through and Payet to be stuck in limbo if
David Sullivan's hard-ball tactics are anything to go by. Plus, the player
realistically only has two or three years left at the top level, so it is
possible that he could disappear just as quickly as he came to relevance at
West Ham.

There has been a lot of talk on social media about the Frenchman
apologising. It is difficult to believe personal reasons have been the sole
driving force behind his behaviour, especially when you consider this is not
the first time he has acted like this. Regardless of what happens next,
there should be one certainty. Dimitri Payet should never play for West Ham
again. Some journalists (who shall remain nameless) have suggested that
everything would be forgotten if Payet was to take to the field again and
others have claimed there is no loyalty left in the game. The former shows a
complete misunderstanding of West Ham supporters, though that is
unsurprising given the fact he compares the situation to Chris Martin's loan
at Fulham. The latter might be true among players, but it is still a trait
many supporters value – perhaps even more so at West Ham with the likes of
Billy Bonds and Trevor Brooking having their talents elevated by the fact
they stayed with the club. When all this is said and done, we might actually
be willing to thank Payet. Not for the goals or moments of magic, but for
something far greater. This whole saga has made it all feel like the fans
have their West Ham United back.

For the first time this season, the board, the manager, the players and the
supporters are all united. That was shown in the second half against Palace.
Everyone was playing for each other on the pitch and the atmosphere itself
was arguably the best the London Stadium has produced so far. It felt like
West Ham again. The passion of Feghouli, Carroll and Lanzini's celebrations
embodied that. Payet's (hopefully soon-to-be former) teammates seem relieved
that everything is out in the open. Before, they seemed desperate to get the
ball to Payet and that, whilst occasionally paying off, was detrimental to
the team's overall performance on the pitch. This season a temperamental
Payet has ensured that's been the case for many games this season.

On the pitch, Manuel Lanzini is primed to benefit most from Payet's
departure. The Argentinian has already made a name for himself in East
London, but it is fair to say he has still found himself in Payet's shadow.
At times, it has felt like he has been played out of position to accommodate
the playmaker. Lanzini would thrive if deployed in a free role in midfield
and it might allow him to achieve some consistency to his game. He might
only be 23 years old, but Bilic needs to give the 'Jewel' a licence to roam
freely. It would certainly get the best out of the player and the opposition
would struggle to contain him – as has already been proven against Palace.

Bilic also looks like a changed man on the touchline. Gone was the brooding
and frustrating figure that has marshaled the Hammers bench, he demonstrated
an energy and passion that has rarely been seen since last season. He had
almost become disillusioned after seeing the sudden breakdown of a
relationship with a player he valued so highly. The team responded and that
can only spell the beginning of better things from them and Bilic.

West Ham's willingness to part with last season's 'Hammer of the Year' has
also grown in appeal. Whilst I think the club should be aiming to cash in
for more than £30 million (a measly sum when you consider that Yannick
Bolasie and Moussa Sissoko moved for the same amount in the summer), it
could act as a catalyst for better things. A similar thing happened at
Tottenham with the money from the then-world record transfer of Gareth Bale
being spent across the team. Payet might not go for a sum anywhere near
that, but it would be a considerable amount nonetheless. It should be enough
– when combined with the money that should be available (e.g. what was saved
on Zaza, the £10 million for Tomkins, etc) – to finally bring in the players
the squad has been crying out for since last season.

The pursuit of a natural goalscorer was an issue even before David Gold &
Sullivan took over. Not only should a decent replacement for the want-away
star be signed, a right-back, a centre-back and a marquee January signing
should also be targeted. Robert Snodgrass fits the bill as a replacement
(although it will take more than £3 million), but recent links to Swansea's
Gylfi Sigurdsson would represent both shrewd and smart business – words not
commonly associated with West Ham in recent transfer windows. Sigurdsson
would be an alternative to the club's existing midfielders. He would
represent something entirely different to Payet and that could be refreshing
after all this recent drama.

West Ham might have lost their former star, but they have gained something
far more invaluable: a team.

Adieu, Dimitri

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
West Ham star Dimitri Payet would reject lure of China wages to return to
Marseille
JAMES BENGE
Evening Standard

Dimitri Payet would turn down the lure of huge wages in China to return to
his former club Marseille. It has been reported in France that Chinese
giants Hebei China Fortune would be prepared to offer Payet £520,000 a month
after tax in a bid to bring West Ham's playmaker to the Far East, a dramatic
increase on what he could hope to earn in Ligue 1. Standard Sport
understands that the French club are, as yet, the only suitors to have
formalised their interest in Payet, though their £20million bid fell well
short of West Ham's asking price of £35m, a fee that Chinese Super League
clubs would have no difficulty in matching. The French international likely
still has other suitors in the Far East and turned down an approach from
Shanghai Shenhua a year ago to sign a new contract with the Hammers. However
such is Payet's desperation to return to Marseille he would not consider a
move anywhere other than the Stade Velodrome even if he could earn
significantly more elsewhere. Indeed he is expected to take a pay cut on
his £125,000-a-week salary at the London Stadium if and when he joins
Marseille. Such a move may be a long time coming with West Ham joint
chairman David Sullivan refusing to be pressured into selling a prime asset
on the cheap. Should Marseille fail to reach Payet's asking price then it
remains a possibility that the Hammers player of the season will remain at
the London Stadium beyond the closing of the transfer window. Payet's
family, however, have already left London and the 29-year-old and his wife
Ludivine are looking for a new home and school for their two sons. West Ham
would take an even dimmer view of Payet, who is training with the Under-23
team, if he were to choose any club other than Marseille having made plain
that he is unhappy in London. Though they remain reluctant to lose their
star player and would prefer he apologise to fans and return to the first
team squad, West Ham are not blind to Payet's desire to return to France.
Indeed they have already begun making plans for his departure and today
upped their bid for Hull's Robert Snodgrass to £6million.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
West Ham are reaping the rewards of London Stadium move as they join
Europe's financial elite
JAMES BENGE
Evening Standard

In 1997 Slaven Bilic quit West Ham for the lure of a "bigger club" when he
signed on at Everton. Would he make the same decision today? A review of the
two clubs' finances might suggest that in 2017, players are more likely to
be trading in Goodison Park for the London Stadium. Ultimately finances can
only provide part of a picture in the great debate as to which team is
"bigger", but what the 2017 Deloitte Football Money League unquestionably
reveals is that when it comes to the business of football West Ham are going
places.

Just four years ago, in their first season back in the Championship and
their second full season under joint chairman David Gold and David Sullivan,
West Ham's revenue was a paltry £43million. By the 2015/16 season – the
final year at the Boleyn Ground – saw West Ham earn £143.8m in revenue to
reach 18th in the standings, their highest position in the 19 years of
Deloitte's ranking. That placed them ahead of the likes of Inter Milan, Lyon
and Fenerbahce. Everton were 23rd, their revenue around £20m lower than the
Hammers. If this term has not seen the Hammers hit the heights of Upton
Park's final months on the pitch there is at least a sense that off-field
progress will ensure that the footballing storms can be more easily
weathered, with greater funds available to Slaven Bilic and, as Dimitri
Payet is discovering, no pressure to cash in on any star names.

Of course West Ham's financial confidence can predominantly be attributed to
the much-maligned London Stadium. Whatever its merits as a football arena,
its 60,000 capacity will help raise the club's matchday revenue
significantly from the £26.9m they took home in the final year at the Boleyn
Ground. In commercial terms Dan Jones, partner in the Sports Business Group
at Deloitte, told Standard Sport that one season in their new ground could
propel West Ham into a battle with the likes of Schalke, Roma and even
Atletico Madrid for a place in Europe's top 15 earners. At £3m a year in
rent the new ground is certainly proving itself to be the "deal of the
century".

It is paying itself back. Standard Sport understands that the latest
agreement reached over shirt sponsorship between the club and Betway in
August was worth in excess of £10m-per-season, significantly more than the
sort of teams West Ham might consider their current rivals – Southampton,
Everton, Stoke – are believed to be earning. More than that, the London
Stadium projects an aura of where West Ham wants to be - even if they may be
going through growing pains to make it there.

As branding expert Peter Knapp told Standard Sport in October: "Having the
London Stadium is iconic. Having a history with such an interesting
backstory – the Thames Ironworks – is great. "Bringing that together around
the capital gives you accelerated brand recognition as being the London
club."

Branding is one step forward but could West Ham hope to fulfil Gold and
Sullivan's ambitions to overhaul Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham to become
London's most powerful club? Deloitte's report warns they have a very long
way to go. Jones says: "For West Ham to go from 18th to top 10 they would
need to be twice as big financially as they are now and even that wouldn't
put them at where Arsenal and Chelsea are. "The top 10 is a long way off for
them, not least because Chelsea and Tottenham will be growing just like they
are and will be in new stadiums of their own soon." Perhaps London supremacy
is beyond the Hammers – for the time being at least – but in their new
stadium they can at least feel assured that they have firmly arrived among
Europe's financial elite. Now the challenge for Bilic and company is to get
them closer to their peers on the pitch.

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