Saturday, October 1

Daily WHUFC News - 1st October 2016

Preview - Middlesbrough

When and where?

West Ham United v Middlesbrough
Premier League
London Stadium
Saturday 1 October 2016, 3pm BST

What's the story?

West Ham United will be looking for a boost going into the international break when they host Middlesbrough in the Premier League on Saturday.

A run of four straight defeats in the league has left Slaven Bilic's men 18th in the table, with three points from their opening six games.

Back-to-back losses at London Stadium – to Watford and Southampton – mean the Hammers need to get back on track at home against Boro, with two weeks between fixtures following this one.

Middlesbrough, who include former Hammer Stewart Downing in their ranks, ended a seven-year spell in the Championship with promotion last term, finishing runners-up to Burnley.

Under manager Aitor Karanka, Boro were beaten play-off finalists the year before and were rewarded for their steady improvement last term.

This season, they began with an unbeaten run of three games, drawing with Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion, and defeating Sunderland in the Tees-Wear derby.

However, a sequence of three defeats has followed, with Crystal Palace, Everton and Tottenham Hotspur all getting the better of the Riverside Stadium side.

They currently sit 16th in the table with five points.

Team news

The Hammers will be without Havard Nordtveit, after he underwent a small medical procedure this week.

He joins Andre Ayew, Aaron Cresswell, Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho on the sidelines, although both Cresswell and Carroll are due to return after the international break.

For Middlesbrough, winger Adama Traore is pushing for a start after impressing from the bench against Tottenham.

Defender Fabio Da Silva is back in training and could feature at London Stadium.

Any links between the two?

Yes! Stewart Downing rejoined his hometown club in the summer of 2015 after two seasons with the Hammers.

The England winger scored seven goals in 79 games for West Ham, before returning to Middlesbrough, where he began his career.

Elsewhere, Sofiane Feghouli played with Boro duo Alvaro Negredo and Antonio Barragan at Valencia.

The teams last met in the Hammers' Championship play-off winning season in 2011/12, drawing 1-1 at the Boleyn Ground after West Ham triumphed 2-0 in the north east.

How can I get to the game?

Click here for information on how to get to London Stadium.

Supporters who use Abellio Greater Anglia rail services should take note of route closures. Click here for full information.

Click here for the latest train news and here for info on the Tubes, buses and roads.

How can I watch the game?
The match is not being broadcast live in the UK, but you can follow all the action on We've got live audio commentary, in-running stats, photos and more. Get involved in the conversation on social using #WHUMID

Hammers receive international calls

West Ham United's large band of international players will be in action for their respective nations during the October break.

FIFA 2018 qualifiers will take place across the globe, with as many of 13 Hammers potentially involved in Europa, Africa and South America.

The second round of European qualifiers will kick-off on Thursday 6 October, with Darren Randolph, James Collins, Angelo Ogbonna, Simone Zaza, Adrian and Gokhan Tore all set for duty.

Randolph's Republic of Ireland will try to build on their opening 2-2 draw in Serbia when they host Georgia in Dublin in Group D, before heading for their third qualifier in Moldova on Sunday 9 October.

In the same group, Collins earned his 50th cap in the opening 4-0 win over Moldova in Cardiff and will hope to add to his tally when Chris Coleman's side travel to Austria on Thursday before hosting Georgia on 9 October.

Ogbonna and Zaza could both be involved as Italy host Adrian's Spain in a mouth-watering Group G clash in the pair's old home, Juventus Stadium in Turin, on Thursday. Following that, the Azzurri head for FYR Macedonia on 9 October, while Spain travel to Albania. Italy won their opening qualifier 3-1 in Israel, while Spain thrashed Liechtenstein 8-0. The final squads will be confirmed this weekend.

In Group I, Tore's Turkey drew 1-1 in Croatia in their opening tie, and will next host Ukraine in Konya on 6 October before traveling to Reykjavik to tackle Euro 2016 stars Iceland on 9 October. Turkey's final squad is yet to be confirmed.

Dimitri Payet's France continue their Group A challenge on Thursday 7 October, when they welcome Bulgaria the Stade de France in Paris. Les Bleus, who drew 0-0 in Belarus in September, then travel to Amsterdam to tackle the Netherlands on Monday 10 October.

Havard Nordtveit will miss Norway's Group C fixtures in Azerbaijan on Friday 8 October and home to San Marino on Tuesday 11 October, but Martin Samuelsen, on loan at Blackburn Rovers, could be involved. Norway opened with a 3-0 home defeat by Germany in Oslo.

Completing the European slate of fixtures, Michail Antonio and England host Malta at Wembley on 8 October before heading to Slovenia on 11 October. The Three Lions, who have yet to confirm their final squad, won 1-0 in Slovakia in their first tie.

In Africa, Cheikhou Kouyate's Senegal kick-off their Round 1 Group D campaign by welcoming Cape Verde Islands to Dakar on 8 October. The group is completed by Burkina Faso and South Africa.

Sofiane Feghouli's Algeria also begin their challenge in a fearsome-looking Group B when they host Cameroon in Bilda on 9 October. The group also includes Nigeria and Zambia.

In South America, Enner Valencia, who is on loan at Everton, and Ecuador host Chile in Quito on 6 October before travelling to Bolivia on 11 October.

Away from World Cup qualifiers, Winston Reid's New Zealand have two eye-catching friendly matches to play in Nashville, Tennessee. The first is against Mexico on 8 October, followed by a meeting with the United States on 11 October.

Finally, at senior level, Doneil Henry, on loan at Danish club AC Horsens, travel to Mauritania and Morroco for friendly internationals on 7 and 11 October respectively.

At age-group level, Edimilson Fernandes (Switzerland U21), on-loan Bradford City midfielder Josh Cullen (Republic of Ireland U21), Reece Oxford (England U20), Nathan Trott (England U19), Declan Rice (Republic of Ireland U19), Domingos Quina (Portugal U19), Conor Coventry (Republic of Ireland U17), Rihard Matrevics (Latvia U19) and Malyk Hamilton (Canada U18) have also received call-ups for a selection of qualifiers, international tournaments and friendly internationals.

Byram - This is a massive chance for us

Sam Byram is no stranger to being under pressure and feels well equipped to deal with the current situation at West Ham United. The Hammers are currently in the bottom three and with five defeats from the opening six Premier League games, Byram knows the importance of seeing the Hammers get back on the winning trail when they face Middlesbrough on Saturday and feels all the players will have a major point to prove. The 23-year-old was thrown into the deep end when he made his debut for Leeds United and faced a number of battles during his time at Elland Road. Byram feels that experience has made him a stronger character and given him the belief that he can produce his best form in the Premier League. Byram said: "You hear it a lot with players who go to Leeds and struggle to cope with the pressure. "But I played there for three seasons and enjoyed my time there and got used to that pressure. It is something you have to take in your stride and you have to deal with it. "It is something that has helped me massively with the big move to West Ham and being able to play in front of a bigger crowd who have high expectations for the season. "This is a massive chance for us to turn things around. We have been working on things during the week and will take that into the game.
"From seeing the week of training we have had I can say the lads have the hunger to get the win and there is no doubt there will be 100 per cent effort at the weekend."

It has been well documented that the players held a meeting at the start of the week to address the situation and Byram feels it has helped bring the team together even more. The talented full-back has no doubts there is enough quality in the squad to see them move away from the foot of the table and hopes a victory on Saturday will help turn their season around.
Byram added: "We all know the situation is not great at the moment but we had a positive meeting and with a couple of good results we could be mid-table because the table is so tight at the moment. "This is not the best position for us to be in, but this is the start of the season and we will keep the confidence and will keep working hard in training. "We know the victories will come because we have got so much quality and the passion and the hunger to get the points. "The crowd can play a massive part and if they are behind us and cheering everything, it lifts the players massively. "It is a squad full of big characters and players who have performed all over the world. It is part of the game and you get bad times in football but it is about staying strong mentally and being able to overcome that."

Five Talking Points - Middlesbrough

The hot topics for discussion ahead of Middlesbrough's Premier League visit to London Stadium on Saturday afternoon...

Positive approach needed

Everyone who has spoken publicly since last weekend's 3-0 home Premier League defeat by Southampton – Board, manager, current and former players – has stated the need for West Ham United to remain positive. The Hammers may be on a run of four straight defeats, but they cannot afford to feel sorry for themselves if they are to climb the table sooner rather than later. Prior to the season, West Ham would have targeted three points from this home fixture with newly-promoted Boro, and recent results should not change the mindset of those in Claret and Blue. This remains a very winnable fixture.

Something's got to give

While West Ham's recent form has been nothing to write home about, with four straight Premier League defeats in the books, Middlesbrough have also struggled for positive results since opening 2016/17 with five points from three matches. Boro lost all three Premier League games in September, with 2-1 defeats at the Riverside Stadium by Crystal Palace and Tottenham Hotspur bookending a 3-1 loss at Everton, so confidence will not be high in the visitors' dressing room on Saturday. With neither club collecting a single point in the month, both will hope to start October with a morale-boosting victory.

Key man

While West Ham may have struggled collectively this season, Dimitri Payet remains key to their hopes of turning things around sooner rather than later. The France playmaker has continued to create chances, making 3.8 key passes per game in his four Premier League appearances so far – third in the top flight behind Chelsea's Willian and Liverpool's Roberto Firmino. Those passes have helped him chalk up three assists in just 293 minutes of action – two for Michail Antonio against Watford and a third for the same player at West Bromwich Albion – to put him joint-second in the Premier League standings behind Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne. Payet is also unleashing 3.8 shots per game on average, good enough for fourth in the league behind Manchester United's Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Manchester City's Sergio Aguero and Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho.

Battle of the Spanish stoppers

Saturday's fixture could come down to which Spanish goalkeeper performs best – West Ham United's Adrian or Middlesbrough's Victor Valdes. Adrian, who will hope to be included in Spain's squad for their upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifiers with Italy and Albania, has made a joint-Premier League high 24 saves in six appearances this season, and looked to be back to his best against Southampton last Sunday. The experienced Valdes, who signed for Boro this summer following spells with Barcelona and Manchester United, has been far less busy, making eight saves in four appearances, but has still conceded an average of two goals-per-game. The battle of the Spanish stoppers could go a long way to deciding who comes out on top at London Stadium.

Downing's return

Finally, Stewart Downing is set to face West Ham for the first time since leaving east London to return home in summer 2015. Some eyebrows were raised when the England international swapped the Premier League for the Championship, but Downing's self-stated hope of being involved in a promotion battle came true last season. Now 32, the Middlesbrough-born winger remains an important player for the club where he started his career 15 years ago, and Hammers fans will be wary of his elusive running and ability to deliver quality and shoot accurately with either foot.

U18s full of confidence ahead of visit to Chelsea

West Ham United's travel to Chelsea on Saturday (11am kick-off)
The Hammers have won their last two matches scoring eight goals in the process
Mark Phillips says his team are full of confidence going into the match

Mark Phillips says his team are relishing the prospect of a battle with London rivals Chelsea this Saturday in the U18 Premier League South Division. The young Hammers are brimming with confidence after two successive victories against Fulham and, most recently, Brighton and Hove Albion last weekend. However, Phillips believes that Chelsea will present a completely different proposition compared to the Hammer's two previous opponents, but said his team are more than up to the task. "Chelsea will think they can outpass us and outscore us and have the lion's share of possession but we're also confident in ourselves," said the U18s assistant manager. "They'll set up in their own way and won't change their style no matter who their playing against. They move the ball around really well in midfield. It should be a good encounter and it's one that me and the boys are looking forward to."

The Hammers strong form over the last few weeks is thanks in large to striker Jahmal Hector-Ingram, who scored a hat-trick against Fulham and twice against Brighton. The 17-year-old's form is no surprise to Phillips who expects him to continue his purple patch in the games to come. "Jahmal's love to score in bunches. Once he's confident and on a roll, he'll score lots for us," he added. "It's five in two for him now and that's not a bad record to have so hopefully he can continue that against Chelsea."

The U18s travel to west London without their tricky No7 Dan Kemp who's earned his place Terry Westley's PL2 squad to face Leicester City in the Premier League Cup. Phillips' team kick-off their league fixture with Chelsea at 11am on Saturday at Cobham Training Ground.

Feghouli - I am representing the Algerian people

Algeria hero Sofiane Feghouli is the cover star for Saturday's 100-page Official Programme for the Premier League visit of Middlesbrough.

The winger talks about his summer move to West Ham United, his pride at representing his national side and relishing the challenge of facing former Valencia teammates Antonio Barragan and Alvaro Negredo, who are now with Boro.

The No7 could make his first Premier League start for the Hammers on Saturday before jetting off to represent his country in a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier with Cameroon next week, and the player himself knows the importance of performing well in both fixtures.

"I know that when I play abroad that I am representing the Algerian people," said Feghouli, who will also represent his nation at the African Cup of Nations finals in Gabon in early 2017. "They are back in Algeria supporting me and so I always try to give my best to give the best impression possible of Algeria and to make my fellow countrymen and women proud.

"The Algerian national game has never been as strong as it is today and we have a very talented squad. We have been playing together for a couple of seasons and we are maturing as a team. Hopefully, this will show on the pitch in the upcoming tournaments, especially during the African Cup of Nations next year."

Elsewhere in Saturday's issue, fans can find out more about the star-studded FIFA 17 launch, which was held at London Stadium this week and featured West Ham's very own eSports star Sean 'Dragonn' Allen.

Interview-wise, former player and lifelong Hammer Ian Pearce shares stories of his career and first visit to London Stadium, Ian 'Moose' Abrahams chats to Boro-supporting Olympic table tennis star Paul Drinkhall and new England U19 goalkeeper Nathan Trott talks about his eventful career history.

Supporters can also find out more about Saturday's visitors Middlesbrough and read exclusive columns penned by Joint-Chairman David Sullivan, manager Slaven Bilic and captain Mark Noble.

Fans will also be able to collect the latest four stickers for their Hammers Heroes Sticker Album, which was given away free with the Official Programme issued for the AFC Bournemouth fixture in August.

Steinberg - Slaven could change the system

Guardian football writer Jacob Steinberg believes Slaven Bilic is ready to make some important changes to the system for the game against Middlesbrough on Saturday and hopes it will be a turning point for the Club as they look to turn their season around.

With the Hammers suffering five defeats from their opening six league games, Steinberg knows the importance of the Hammers getting back on the winning trail before the international break takes place.....

Despite the situation that West Ham are in, I still thought Slaven came across really well during the press conference and had a good sense of humour. He is obviously trying to remain positive.

He was fairly honest about the meeting which took place after the Southampton game clearly he knows it is not working at the moment.

That is not just from a defensive point of view, but also a collective point of view as well.

At least he is not under any illusions about what is going on at the moment.

If they play like they did against Southampton last weekend, then Middlesbrough will have a very good chance of winning the game.

It really depends what kind of response they will have at the weekend and I will be very interested to see what team Slaven names for the game.

Will he change the formation because if you analyse what he said during the press conference, he said he has spent a lot of time thinking about the system which suggests he could be considering a change.

Maybe Payet could move into the middle and will this be the game that Feghouli get his first Premier League start?

Even giving someone like Zaza more support upfront could be another option.

I look at someone like Pedro Obiang who does not get much of a chance from the substitutes bench.

The defence might not be playing well but it is a collective issue and there is a case for adding a bit more steel to the midfield.

I think the West Ham fans should be concerned by what is going on at the moment. I think they have got a good squad of players, but you can say the same back in 2003.

They went down that year with 42 points so these things can run away with you.

If they don't get a victory on Saturday, they will then face two weeks of negativity over the international break before another difficult game against Crystal Palace who are playing pretty well at the moment and have a striker in form.

They then face Sunderland which is huge and a difficult run after that.

The top teams have improved so you need to start winning games against the likes of Middlesbrough and Sunderland.

West Ham United v Middlesbrough
Venue: London Stadium


West Ham manager Slaven Bilic says he will give "almost" the same squad that lost at home to Southampton a chance of redemption this weekend. Havard Nordtveit will miss the game following a minor medical procedure, while Aaron Cresswell, Andy Carroll, Andre Ayew and Diafra Sakho remain out.

Middlesbrough winger Adama Traore is pushing for a start after an impressive cameo against Tottenham. Defender Fabio Da Silva is back in training and could feature.


Jonathan Pearce: "West Ham's new home seems badly disconnected with their fans, and their season is desperate on all fronts. "They've lost five of their opening six league games of a season for the first time ever. They are reportedly investigating claims that players were drunk this week. Their signing of Enner Valencia may now face probes after the Sam Allardyce allegations. "Boro also look troubled. Three defeats on the spin, just five shots on target away and only two wins in 22 trips to London. The Hammers need a redemptive win to calm concerns but it's crucial for both sides."


West Ham manager Slaven Bilic on a club-sanctioned night out on Monday: "The team bonding was completely my idea. I told Mark Noble to take the guys out and go for a meal. "I am totally concentrated on the game on Saturday. It is good for us all to stick together and good for team building." Middlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka: "We need to improve our performances. We are learning but we have to learn quickly. When we play in our intensity and our style, and with the right attitude, we will win games. "The players need to know that we can compete, but we must compete from the first minute."


The Hammers looked all over the show at the back against Southampton last week. But Boro are probably the perfect team for them to play at the moment, because they don't pose much of an attacking threat - they have had the fewest shots per game on average of any Premier League team so far this season.

Prediction: 2-0



West Ham have won their last seven Premier League home games against Middlesbrough. It's their second longest winning streak against a Premier League opponent: they won nine in a row against Blackburn. Middlesbrough have not scored more than once in an away league game at West Ham since a 2-1 victory in April 1989, managing only four goals in 14 subsequent games.
West Ham United

West Ham have lost five of their opening six matches of a league season for the first time.
They could lose five consecutive Premier League matches for the first time since May 2011.
Slaven Bilic's side have conceded as many as 16 goals in their opening six games of a top-flight season for the first time since 1967-68, when they let in 18.
The Hammers have conceded at least two goals in 13 of their last 16 league matches, letting in 36 goals overall.
Dimitri Payet has lost all four Premier League games he has been involved in this season - he only lost six games in the whole of 2015-16.

Middlesbrough have won only one of their last 12 Premier League matches (D4, L7).
Boro have lost their last five Premier League away games in London.
Alvaro Negredo has scored in only one of his last 18 Premier League appearances.
Víctor Valdes has played six Premier League games (two for Manchester United, four for Middlesbrough) and never been on the winning side.

SAM's verdict
Most probable score: 1-0 Probability of draw: 23%
Probability of home win: 60% Probability of away win: 17%
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.

West Ham's Slaven Bilic: It hurts when I look in the mirror, it hurts when I look at the Premier League table
Evening Standard

I have been told that I looked very "down" in interviews after the defeat by Southampton. Well, yes, I was "down" but how am I supposed to be? I don't think there is a problem if a manager is like that after his team have lost, especially four times in a row. The defeat did hurt, so why should I pretend that it didn't? It hurt me personally, totally. It hurts me when I look at the Premier League table, it hurts me when I look in the mirror. What is the point of smiling? Does that make me a brave leader? I am a leader and I am very brave but I hurt after a defeat. Most of the managers are the same. It doesn't mean I have lost my faith or determination — on the contrary – but we lost again and I don't like it. It hurt me. I can hide it, I can pretend but what is the benefit? Yes, I was "down" but it didn't drag on. I was ready to do my job soon after and prepare for the next game, which is Middlesbrough tomorrow.
In every team the players don't always start from zero. It helps the manager to know, from previous experiences, what your players can do on the pitch, what is their capacity. After a good season, you remember what every player did to bring you to that position and that helps you set the goals and standards for the following season. It enables you to set the bar higher. That is why, on paper, the players here have the credit. When, however, things are not going well, some of those players inevitably lose that credit. These players are not robots. We know even before the season starts that some of them will gain and others lose. If other players within the squad are training well, then I must consider them seriously.

We can't say that anyone in this squad hasn't been involved. Because of the Europa League and injuries, everyone has had their chance. No one can say they didn't get their chance. The reason why I'm saying now the credit has run out is to mobilise the players, put them on red alert if you like. There's no more: "We're going to do it next week." It has to be now. That's the message I want to get across. I'm not suggesting that everyone will lose their place in the team but I am no longer saying: "I'm not worried, it will come." I am worried.
What I am saying is: "It's time to mobilise yourselves. Do it — and do it now. Don't be too casual, too calm."

In training they are not like this, they care — but you have to do it in a game. At the moment the confidence is low. That is to be expected. When we concede, we sink down. Against Southampton, they scored in the 41st minute and then created more chances in the four minutes before half-time than they had done in the rest of the first half. We have had our meetings but talking can only go so far. I will never give up but, now, we have to do it. On Monday, I said to our captain Mark Noble: "Why don't you all go out? You are off tomorrow. Have a meal, a few beers."

Generally it was good and a lot of time it helps. Okay, I've seen some stories about one or two of our players maybe staying out longer than others and we will deal with that after the Middlesbrough game. When you are not doing well there seems to be many of these stories. I understand that. There was another one this week about players' children at the training ground.
I am tempted to give a two-word reply to that but if my mother in Croatia saw it, she wouldn't be happy. Seriously, come on. I know how it works with these stories, though. It was the same for Chelsea last year, for Newcastle, for Manchester City, a few Italian and German clubs as well. When it happens to them, you might think about it for a few minutes and ask yourself: "What is happening there?" When it happens to you, though, it is a little different. Last season there were more kids at the training ground at Chadwell Heath, so that's it. The bottom line is that your methods are great — when you are winning. If you are not, your methods come under question. You are either too strict, or too soft. If you are winning, you are good because you are strict or good because you are friendly with them. I want to say, though, that these things are my responsibility and I take it. These kind of stories don't keep me awake at night but do they affect me? Yes, for a few minutes. The only way you can stop these things are by starting to win matches and there are three reasons why, I believe, we will: Training — the players are doing well, they remain hungry, they know the situation, they want to change it — they are a good bunch. We have some players coming back from injury.
It is still early and it is not so hard to catch up. We can't keep waiting, though. It has to be now.

West Ham United v Middlesbrough
Filed: Friday, 30th September 2016
By: Preview Percy

Whatever it is Preview Percy drinks when he writes these previews, he assures us that he has a "therapeutic use exemption" for it. You may wish to apply for one yourself before reading any further...

Next up we play host to Middlesbrough. It's a Saturday 3pm kick-off which is just how it should be of course. Travel? Well the bad news is that all the stuff that is going on in and out of Liverpool Street, including replacement buses to Newbury Park, will still be going on. Worse still, if you come in from east of Pitsea on C2C be prepared for diversions and replacement buses between Pitsea and Upminster. If you left the ground early last week you might just wish you had stayed put.

So Boro' then. They have 5 points from 6 games so far leaving them two points and two places above our good selves. All their points thus far came in the first three games which consisted of a 1-1 draw at home to Stoke, a 2-1 win in the "other" North East derby at Sunderland and the world's least surprising 0-0 draw at West Brom. Since then they have lost their last three at home to Palace & Spurs (both 1-2) and away at Everton (3-1). They were also knocked out of the League Cup 2-1 at Fulham. So they have a few things to think about then.

Of course this time last year they were in the Championship having been relegated in 2008-09. Their promotion last season, which was achieved by virtue of their finishing in second place on 89 points, four points behind champions Burnley. They were there or thereabouts for most of the season though it wasn't all plain sailing. Manager Aitor Karanka is said to have had a bit of a contretemps with club owner Steve Gibson over none other than Stewart Downing. Now Downing's a bit of a favourite up there, not least with Gibson. However, it seems that Karanka doesn't share the general enthusiasm for the player that abounds on Teeside. Things came to a head in March when a frank exchange of views between chairman and manager took place at the club's training ground. Convention dictates that any disagreement that takes place on a training ground should be referred to as a "bust-up". At the end of the bust-up it looked as if Karanka would be on his bike as assistant Steve Agnew took charge of the team for the trip to Charlton, a match that they somehow contrived to lose 2-1 against a team destined for relegation with a whimper. The result may or may not have had something to do with the fact that on the Monday hands were shaken, backs were patted and bygones allowed to be bygones and Karanka returned to lead the team to second place. In a neat spot of predictive processing by the fixture computer (or more likely, by fluke) their last game of the season saw them play Brighton with whom they were level on points, carrying a two goal goal difference advantage. The 1-1 draw thus saw them promoted on goal difference.

According to the work experience girl wearing the Department S t-shirt without knowing who they are, the promotion gave us a bit of a windfall as the Downing deal provided for an add-on payment of a reported £1m to be paid should they get promoted. Hurrah. Whatever Karanka's misgivings about the player – and with the exception of one or two matches I myself could never quite see what all the fuss was about – that particular hatchet would seem to have been buried as Downing has started all 6 league games this season.

The biggest fee shelled out this summer was the £12m that went out on Dutch midfielder Marten de Roon who is probably known as "Wayne" to his mates. He came in from Atalanta where he had spent just the one season following three years with Heerenveen. Although he got 36 matches under his belt with Atalanta last season It seems the new boss didn't fancy him and the lure of Middlesbrough's lights (red, amber , green) proved too great to resist.

Between the sticks they brought in veteran custodian Victor Valdes from our old friends FC Unattached, with whom he had been training since the expiry of his contract with Moan Utd. He spent much of his time at Old Trafford on the naughty step having fallen out with management after refusing to play in a reserve match. The latter part of last season was spent on loan in Belgium which surely counts as cruel and inhuman punishment. Standard Liege were the beneficiaries before he signed for Boro' this summer on becoming a free agent. Clearly Belgium must be worse than I thought. Valdes is one of those chaps with two countries on his international appearances list. To his 20 Spanish caps he can add a further 12 for his native Catalonia which, like Scotland and Wales, isn't a proper country. Unlike Scotland and Wales they don't have FIFA membership so don't get to play with the big boys that often.

For once, the work experience girl's t-shirt this week is, in fact, quite apt given that another £3m (or, if you prefer €5m) went on another "Vic" in the form of Dane Viktor Fischer. Danish Vic's early days were spent with that club with the typing error for a name that Winston Reid used to play for. However, there is some sort of Danish connection with Ajax, who have sourced many players from that part of the world over the years and Fischer ended up completing his youth career in Amsterdam. He then spent four years in the first XI before Boro' swooped during the last window. Variously described as an attacking midfielder or a winger he's now into double figures for Danish caps.

They also pulled in a new right-back in the form of Spaniard Antonio Barragan. This is in fact Barragan's second spell in England. As an 18-year-old he raised a few eyebrows when Liverpool nicked him from the Seville youth set-up, despite him not having ever played for Southampton as far as anyone could tell. He managed just the one first XI outing for the scousers – in a so-called Champions League qualifier – before returning to Spain where, following shorter stints with Deportivo La Corunna and Valledolid he pitched up at Valencia. He spent 5 years there, a particular highlight coming in scoring in a 2-1 win over Real Madrid that brought a 22 match unbeaten run to a conclusion and wiped that silly smug grin off Christiano Ronaldo's boat. At 29, and with his last international recognition coming at U21 level 9 years ago, it's probably fair to say that he's not going to be bothering the compilers of international tournament sticker albums any time soon.

One of the more notable arrivals was that of Alvaro Negredo who came in on loan from Valencia. Negredo might be remembered for his spell with Man City in which he scored a hat-trick in a 6-0 1st leg win in the League Cup semi-final a couple of years ago. I forget against who. Clearly stunned by having been present during the Gary Neville reign at Valencia someone has persuaded him that Middlesbrough is a good place to be so here he is. He opened his account for the season in the season-opener against Stoke.

They also spent £2m on Cardiff full-back Fabio. He first came to prominence when on Moan Utd's books alongside his twin brother Rafael. Fabio appears to have been the lesser of the talents in the family, and while his brother is plying his trade in France with Lyon, Fabio ended up at QPR on loan before ending up in Wales. He's been struggling with a knee injury of late though he's on the list as being ready for a return this weekend.

Elsewhere it's been quite a week hasn't it. Football managers on the take? Who'd have thought it? You'll be telling me next that (Name of well-known football personality removed for legal reasons) had been known to (nature of accusation removed for legal reasons) with his dog as signatory. As for the former England manager, well the theory goes that as a player during an era when the rewards were so much lower it must be galling to see bog standard players becoming multi-millionaires hence his rather sad chasing of a pound note at every possible opportunity. The reported million pound pay-off is a bit of an insult though – that's the sort of deal that should get whoever agreed it at the FA put away here in the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered. Only we're full.

Us? Well last week was a complete and utter shambles. I knew it was going to be a bad day when the rest home's "Happy Bus" picked us up to go to the match. Our journey was blighted by the appearance of that short bloke who helps run this site on the radio. Like most right-thinking people I wanted to kick in the "Happy Bus" windows when I heard his know-nothing ramblings. Since it was on the BBC I suggested to Matron that she should withhold the Rest Home's TV licence for this year but she just coughed a bit and changed the subject.

Since then they've had a crisis meeting and been out on a bonding session which ended up either with either a quiet night in with some cocoa or like something like the last days of Gomorrah depending on who you care to believe. Frankly if they stop buggering about in defence during matches and start winning games they can stay up as late as they like as far as I'm concerned. Maybe even as late as eleven.

Team news and Nordveidt will be absent, this putting a dent in his quest to play in all eleven positions in as short a time as possible. We are told that his absence will be due to a "small procedure". The last time I had one of those I (nature of procedure removed for reasons of taste).
Apart from that we'll be pretty much left with the same squad that depressed us so much last weekend, though the injury situation should ease after the break. Unless of course our luck continues on its current trajectory and pick up even more knocks over the coming week or two.

Prediction. Well things were so bad last week that I am tempted to draw on that old phrase "things can only get better". However, I was then reminded that that particular song got used in the 1997 general election and subsequent events proved how wrong that title could be. Nevertheless, I do have a feeling about this one – and it's not the result of that small procedure I mentioned earlier. They are on a bit of a streak of their own at the moment and, let's face it, something has got to start going right for us eventually by the law of averages. So I will be taking the £2.50 we had collected towards Sam Allardyce's retirement fund here at the Swan And Superinjunction and I will be placing it on a 2-0 home win, once the windows have been repaired on the Happy Bus so I can get down to Winstones The Turf Accountants to place the bet.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at the Boleyn: Drew 1-1 (Championship March 2013). Not much of a game to remember. Faye opened the scoring but we failed to press home the advantage, presumably under instruction not to go forward in case we surrendered the lead. So that we surrendered the lead to an 84th minute drive from Ogbeche. We also endured the statutory turning down of a stonewall penalty. Just to show some things never change.

Referee: Neil Swarbick. When he sent off the wrong player last season one of the papers said that Premier League referees would be "coming under scrutiny" due to their poor performances. Well Daily Telegraph what are you waiting for?

Danger Man: Stewart Downing The law of the ex and all that.

Percy's Poser: Last week we asked you for the name of the alcohol-free beer advertised by Lawrie McMenemy shortly before his arrest for drink-driving. The first correct answer out of the digital hat was provided by Mrs Ursula Macfisheries of East Tilbury who told us "it was called Barbican and McMenemy's catchphrase was 'it's great mon'. Needless to say, it wasn't" Mrs Macfisheries wins a lifetime supply of the product.

For this week's poser we look North East. The fine tv programme Auf Wiedersehen Pet is generally associated with Newcastle but part of series three was actually set in Middlesbrough. Our question is: why did the BBC have to broadcast a disclaimer caption at the end of that series? The first correct answer out of the digital hat will win a genuine can of Middlesbrough Smog (well we'll give you the empty can and satnav directions to Teeside anyway).

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to,


The Hammers have a record breaking 11 players out on loan this season but in truth only 3 of those are regular starters for the teams that they have been loaned out to with Reece Burke on the sidelines at present with an injury.

Josh Cullen, Lewis Page and Josh Pask have all been playing regularly for Bradford City, Coventry City and Gillingham respectively in League One and doing very well by all accounts.

Young Irish International Cullen has once again performed admirably since his return to the Bantams, scoring a goal and notching two assists along with 2 or 3 Man of the Match performances to date. Page and Pask have also been praised on numerous occasions by their respective management teams and fanbases alike.

On the other side of the coin Stephen Hendrie hasn't been named in the Blackburn Rovers first team squad in the last month for any of their league games whilst the other West Ham loanee at Ewood Park, Martin Samuelsen, has played a grand total of 7 minutes of Championship football in September since his season long loan move there.

Young defender/defensive midfielder, George Dobson has suffered a similar fate at Walsall. George has actually remained on the bench this month without stepping onto the pitch at all.

Kyle Knoyle who had a very good loan spell at Dundee United last season, playing the majority of their games towards the end of the season, suffered a serious elbow injury during pre-season and has yet to recover, so he is currently still on the sidelines at Wigan Athletic beside Reece Burke who will miss the next month after a hernia operation.

Young Serbian attacker, Luka Belic has yet to make the Motherwell first team squad after joining the Scottish Premier League side on deadline day.

Enner Valencia has yet to start his first league game for Everton since his loan move to Goodison but he did start the game against Norwich City in the EFL Cup last week in which the Championship side upset the odds with a 2-0 win away from home.

Another player that doesn't seem to have much luck on the injury front hasn't yet appeared for his new team either. Doneil Henry joined AC Horsens of the Danish Superliga last month but a knee injury has kept him on the sidelines until recently where he was an unused sub against Winston Reid's former team FC Midtjylland.

Whilst the Hammers brass are sure to be happy with the fact that players like Cullen, Page and Pask are playing as regularly as they are, I'm pretty sure they wont be too impressed that other young players out on loan such as Hendrie, Samuelsen and Dobson are receiving very little playing time at all. Unfortunately under the new FIFA regulations regarding emergency loans, each of those players will have to stay with their respective clubs until January at the earliest and cannot be loaned anywhere else until the window re-opens.


Daily News Roundup from @IronsNews:

Social media reports Andy Carroll and Darren Randolph were drunk on Tuesday, after a team bonding meal on Monday night. On the matter, Bilic said: "I spoke to the chairman. After the game, at the start of next week, we are going to talk about it and if necessary we are going to act. But if you are asking who's idea it was it was my idea, completely. I told them to do that, for me it's a good thing to do, not every week but in a great situation or a bad situation it's good to stick together and its a good thing to do. It's good for team building and that's it."

Finally some good news for West Ham as Slaven Bilic's side are handed triple injury boost

West Ham have received a welcome injury boost as they look to bounce back from their torrid start to the new season. Aaron Cresswell, Andre Ayew and Diafra Sakho are all progressing well and should be back in action soon. 'He gave me my first opportunity so I'm definitely sad but you've just got to move on, that's how it is in football.' 'The manager I really like and who's done well over the years, I' d say Alan Pardew, I was with him at Southampton and I think he's a quality manager, I think he'd do well as England manager,' Antonio told ITV London.

West Ham searching for 'One good result'

"One good result can change the whole season. We cannot think it is just going to happen. We need to earn it. I am concerned and it has been a bad start," Bilic told reporters on Thursday. "But with one win we can build everything back with a win over Middlesbrough over Saturday."

Spurs wanted Antonio in their academy after spotting him as a youngster. But Mrs Antonio didn't want her son trekking from their south west London home to Spurs' north London training base. "In hindsight it's definitely made me better as a player. It's made me more hungry, it's made me want to go out… it's made me eager and I'm never satisfied."

PL2 side prepare to begin cup defence
West Ham United PL2 start the defence of their Premier League Cup title away at Leicester City
The Hammers won the crown last year, beating Hull City in the final in May
Saturday's match is being held at Loughborough University (1pm kick-off)

West Ham United PL2 begin the defence of their Premier League Cup crown on Saturday as they travel to Leicester City in Group E.

The Hammers go into the match off the back of a 0-0 stalemate at home to Brighton and Hove Albion in Premier League 2 on Monday, but midfielder Marcus Browne believes the team will show what a good side they are this weekend.

The match is being held at Loughborough University (1pm kick-off) with Terry Westley's men beginning the defence of the title they won last season with a dramatic penalty shootout victory over Hull City.

"We've got a bit of a point to prove, to prove the win wasn't luck and we are a good team and a good club," said midfielder Marcus Browne.

"The changing room is happy and we're looking forward to getting our defence started on Saturday."

Westley was full of praise for his side on Monday night in the draw with the Seagulls, saying they played with a style and identity.

The PL2 boss was keen to stress if the Hammers continue to perform in the same manner and add a touch of ruthlessness, they will achieve more success.

"I often say to coaches, if you can play with a style, panache and an identity, you're half way there," said Westley.

"We didn't create enough in the first half (v Brighton) but if we continue to work at it on the training ground, the goals will come.

Westley was also delighted to see Djair Parfitt-Williams back out on the field against the South Coast side – his first appearance since pre-season.

The winger had been missing through injury but made his first league start of the campaign. He'll also be set to feature in the cup tie with the Foxes on Saturday.

"Brighton was Djair's first game since pre-season so it's great that he got 45 minutes under his belt. He really needs a good three or four games into him before he gets back to full match fitness."

The Premier League Cup (Group E) match between West Ham United PL2 vs Leicester City kicks off at 1pm on Saturday from Loughborough University.

Eamonn Dolan memorial match announced
Filed: Friday, 30th September 2016
By: Staff Writer

Exeter City have announced details of a one-off memorial match in honour of former coach Eamonn Dolan.

Dolan, who began his career at West Ham under John Lyall in the 1980s died earlier this year at the age of just 48 following a long and brave battle against cancer.

And earlier this week it was announced that a charity match will be staged by Exeter City in honour of Dolan, a former player and manager of theirs.

Scheduled for 1pm on Sunday, October 23. entry to the game is by donation with a suggested gift of £10 for adults and £5 for under-18s and seniors.

Watch Dolan's three goals for West Ham United here

Fans also have the chance to play alongside their former heroes as two playing spots are available in the game at £250 per head.

Anyone interested in playing in the match should contact Barry Full ( Sponsorship opportunitiesare also available. For more information contact Mark Jenkins ( or by phoning 07966 144430.

Exeter have confirmed that some former West Ham stars are set to feature (deatils to be confirmed) along with a number of ex-Grecian stars including Sean Devine and Steve Flack

West Ham's Simone Zaza compared to DENNIS BERGKAMP by boss Slaven Bilic as poor start frustrates fans
22:30, 30 SEP 2016
Italy striker hasn't scored yet in four games but it was the same for Arsenal's Dutch wizard and many Premier League newcomers, points out the Hammers manager
The Mirror

Slaven Bilic has defended West Ham 's capture of £25million striker Simone Zaza and their summer sale of James Tomkins. Bilic insists he still has faith in Italy international Zaza — despite his poor start to his career in the Premier League. The Hammers paid an initial £5m loan fee to take the 25-year-old from Serie A champions Juventus last month, with a further £20m due if he joins on a permanent basis next summer. However, Zaza has left fans underwhelmed with his performances so far, failing to score in his first four appearances. It has even sparked suggestions the club could pull the plug on his loan deal in January, with AC Milan keen to take him back to Serie A. But Bilic said: "He is definitely a good player who came from a big club to a new country. New players need time. If we go back and think about Dennis Bergkamp, who needed – I don't know – a year? "It is quite common with even the best players from abroad. Plus, Zaza wasn't a regular there and didn't have match fitness. It takes time sometimes and unfortunately we don't have that time."
West Ham sit in the bottom three ahead of Saturday's game at home to Middlesbrough . Promoted Boro haven't won in five in all competitions, but the Hammers are even worse — losing five of the six opening Premier League games for the first time ever. West Ham are also investigating claims some of their players were drunk in public on Tuesday morning, but manager Bilic maintains he is focused solely on the three points. Regarding Tomkins, the Croatian claimed the player forced his transfer to London rivals Crystal Palace. He added: "I told you in the beginning the situation with Tomkins. "It was never me or the club that wanted to sell him. James wanted to play week in, week out. I rated him a lot as a guy and as a player. "I used him a lot last year and he played many games for us. But when he wasn't the first choice, he found it very hard in a nice and sporting way. Not in a bad way. "That is the reason. I hate to sell. "For me it was always the plan to play local players – West Ham academy players, then London-based players, then English, then British. Then, if we can't find that, we go abroad. Tomkins is local.

West Ham v Middlesbrough preview: Hammers and Boro target return to winning ways
Last Updated: 30/09/16 11:20am

West Ham and Middlesbrough will look to put a torrid September behind them when they face each other at London Stadium on Saturday. Slaven Bilic's West Ham failed to win a Premier League game in September, while build-up to this match was dominated by allegations Andy Carroll and Darren Randolph were drunk after a sanctioned night out. Bilic admitted he urged the players to enjoy some time off together, with the club currently struggling in 18th position in the table. Boro meanwhile have lost three games in a row following an unbeaten league run in August, most recently falling to a Heung-Min Son double against Tottenham last weekend.

Team news

Bilic confirmed Havard Nordtveit is doubtful to face Boro, and Andre Ayew remains sidelined for another three to four weeks through injury. Aaron Cresswell will return to training on Monday and is likely to feature for the Hammers after the international break.

Head coach Aitor Karanka has no fresh injury concerns ahead of the clash. For Middlesbrough, club captain Grant Leadbitter (hernia) is progressing well but remains out for the game.
Karanka also confirmed Fabio (knee) and James Husband (shoulder) have returned to training but the pair are likely to be eased back into action.

Opta stats

Alvaro Negredo has scored five goals in four appearances in all competitions against the Hammers, although all five goals arrived in the EFL Cup.
West Ham have lost five of their opening six top-flight games in a season for the first time in their history.
Boro have lost their last five Premier League away games in London and have won only two of their last 22 trips to the capital (D3 L17).
Since the start of April, West Ham have conceded 19 home goals, more than any other Premier League team in that period.
Middlesbrough have not scored more than once in an away league game at West Ham since a 2-1 win in April 1989, netting four goals in 14 games since.
West Ham have lost all four Premier League games Dimitri Payet has appeared in this season - he only lost six games in the whole of 2015-16.
Victor Valdes has played six Premier League games (two for Man Utd, four for Middlesbrough) and has never been on the winning side.

Merson's prediction

This is the type of game that makes Super 6 very difficult! You just don't know. This could be any score either way. West Ham are really struggling, their defence is all over the place and they are not playing to the standards they were last season. It was bad business to sell James Tomkins. He might not be the difference, but he makes a difference. He can play at centre-half or full-back, he is comfortable on the ball and at the moment they have no defenders. They sold him for just £10m, it wasn't a huge fee. Middlesbrough are lacking pace and have become a bit predictable. But if they can turn in a performance like they did in the second half against Tottenham last week when the game was lost, then they have more of a chance. It's a really tough one to call.

PAUL PREDICTS: 1-1 (Sky Bet odds 5/1)

West Ham vs Middlesbrough: Team news, kick-off time, probable line-ups, odds and stats for the Premier League clash
Norwegian Havard Nordtveit is West Ham's latest injury absentee
Middlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka has no fresh injury concerns
Fabio da Silva has missed the last four but is available for selection
PUBLISHED: 11:05, 30 September 2016 | UPDATED: 11:05, 30 September 2016

Ahead of this weekend's Premier League action, Sportsmail will be providing you with all you need to know about every fixture, with team news, provisional squads, betting odds and Opta stats. Here is all the information you need for West Ham's home clash with Middlesbrough...

West Ham vs Middlesbrough (London Stadium)
Team news
West Ham
Havard Nordtveit is West Ham's latest injury absentee ahead of the visit of Middlesbrough. The versatile midfielder underwent a small medical procedure on Wednesday and will be out for a week. Left-backs Aaron Cresswell and Arthur Masuaku and forwards Andy Carroll, Andre Ayew and Diafra Sakho remain on the sidelines.
Provisional squad: Adrian, Randolph, Arbeloa, Byram, Reid, Collins, Ogbonna, Oxford, Kouyate, Obiang, Fernandes, Noble, Payet, Lanzini, Antonio, Feghouli, Tore, Zaza, Fletcher, Calleri.

Middlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka has no fresh injury concerns ahead of Saturday's Premier League trip to West Ham. Fabio da Silva has missed the last four games with a knee problem, but is available for selection once again, while fellow full-back James Husband is also back in training after dislocating a shoulder in pre-season. That means only midfielder Grant Leadbitter is still missing, and he could return to the training pitch within weeks with his recovery from hernia surgery progressing more quickly than expected.
Provisional squad: Valdes, Guzan, Chambers, Friend, Barragan, Nsue, Da Silva, Ayala, Gibson, Espinosa, De Roon, Clayton, Ramirez, Forshaw, Downing, Stuani, Fischer, De Sart, Traore, Negredo, Nugent, Rhodes.

Kick-off: Saturday, 3pm
Referee: Neil Swarbrick

Slaven Bilic (West Ham)
Aitor Karanka (Middlesbrough)

Head-to-head league record:
West Ham wins 17
Draws 5
Middlesbrough wins 7

Recent league form (latest result first):
West Ham: LLLLW
Middlesbrough: LLLDW

Key match stats (supplied by Opta)
West Ham United have won their last seven Premier League home games against Middlesbrough; only versus Blackburn (9) have they recorded a longer winning streak at home.
Alvaro Negredo has scored five goals in four appearances (all comps) against the Hammers, although all five goals arrived in the EFL Cup (0 in 2 apps in the PL).
West Ham have lost five of their opening six top-flight games in a season for the first time in their history.
Boro have lost their last five Premier League away games in London and have won only two of their last 22 trips to the nation's capital (D3 L17).
Since the start of April, West Ham have conceded 19 home goals, more than any other Premier League team in that period.
Middlesbrough's haven't scored more than once in an away league game at West Ham since a 2-1 win in April 1989, netting four goals in 14 games since.
The Hammers have allowed their opposition 32 shots on target from inside the penalty area in the Premier League this season, more than 14 teams have allowed in total.
Alvaro Negredo has scored in only one of his last 18 Premier League appearances.
West Ham have lost all four Premier League games Dimitri Payet has appeared in this season – he only lost six games in the whole of 2015-16.
Víctor Valdés has played six Premier League games (two for Man Utd, four for Middlesbrough) and has never been on the winning side.

Hammers need big Boro performance to wake London Stadium slumber

Slaven Bilic admits his West Ham side are well below par. Common sense and logic suggest it should happen rarely, but followers of the Premier League know it occurs with alarming regularity in football. Every season a team generally considered to be "too good to struggle" ends up in the relegation mire, as the wheels come off in spectacular fashion. The downfall is depressingly similar. It starts in a small way, with something seemingly insignificant; a loss of form, board level issues, rumours of dressing room spats; then escalates to a couple of alarming defeats, before transcending into a pitiful spiral that no-one seems able to stop. All the while the players claim it's not the manager; that their job is to play football and what happens off the field doesn't affect them. As the drama unfolds into a crisis and someone blames someone else, everyone secretly wonders just how they got into the mess in the first place.
Sadly, no strangers to this, West Ham United have seen it all before. This season, the catalyst seems to be the new stadium. A ground that generally got a thumbs up when fans excitedly entered to see the Hammers defeat FC Domzale in the Europa League back in early August, has now turned into a soulless monster that is sucking the life out of the club. Of course, it may always have been a vacuum -- it's difficult to find anyone who thinks the move was right just now -- but be assured that any current assessment is entirely down to a series of horrendous defeats. At least one of those defeats -- a 4-2 mauling against West Brom -- took place in the West Midlands, but once in a spin, details become unimportant.

Take Mark Noble after the awful 3-0 drubbing by Southampton. "When we play at Upton Park..." he started in an interview, seemingly unaware that he was using the wrong tense, suggesting the Stratford move was, perhaps, just a temporary measure. The anger, hurt and look of frustration was palpable sure, but there was more. The haunted look of someone who isn't sure what the problem is, nor why it's getting worse.

Slaven Bilic has strangely worn the same look since the first game and if body language is anything to go by, then Hammers fans need to hold on for a bumpy ride. Quite what started this nobody seems to know, but sensible talk about the failure to get a right-back or strengthen a creaking defence in the summer doesn't seem to enter into it. Perhaps the manager spent too much time as a pundit at Euro 2016; there's certainly a sense he wasn't prepared for the new campaign.

West Ham supporters are growing frustrated with the team's poor performances this season. What's needed to stop the spiral now is an antidote to all this; something positive, something to hang on to. At the moment that thing seems to be a clean sheet. Under normal circumstances -- whatever they are at West Ham -- a home game against a newly promoted club might be seen as a chance to grab a vital three points before the international break. This season however, Bilic needs to try and sort himself and his defence out and put in a performance that at least assures the crowd that waiting until the January transfer window isn't the only solution.

A point against Middlesbrough at home might seem a small expectation but if there's a solid defensive performance to go along with it, then it will definitely be taken as a positive.
During the break, Bilic can try and regroup and stop the rot, but that will best be done with an encouraging display. If there's to be one then it needs to begin against Aitor Karanka and his men. Something to get the crowd enthused may not be the solution to all the problems at the London Stadium but it would surely be a start.

Peter Thorne, aka Billy Blagg (@BillyBlaggEsq), is ESPN FC's West Ham blogger.


Friday, September 30

Daily WHUFC News - 30th September 2016

Slaven Speaks - Middlesbrough

Slaven Bilic faced the media ahead of the big game against Middlesbrough on Saturday and says the players are working even harder in training and remain positive as they look to turn the season around. Bilic was asked about the team meeting which took place on Monday and also provides the latest team-news ahead of the game at London Stadium.....

Can you clear up what happened with the team at the start of the week and do you feel like it has improved team spirit?

SB: "It was completely my idea. After the Southampton game we had a big meeting and spoke and at the end of the meeting I told Mark the skipper to take the guys out to dinner, to spend time together which is always good. "I've been there before, it's definitely a good idea and good to do it. If you are asking, it was completely my idea and I told them to do that. "For me it's a good thing, not every week but in a great situation or a bad situation it's good to stick together and its a good thing to do. It's good for team building and that's it.

Are you hoping it will have a positive effect on the team when they play Middlesbrough on Saturday?

SB: "After that night we had a day off. Training yesterday was really good, but training last week was really good without bonding. I have been saying we now have to produce it in games."

How concerned you have been by the start to the season?

SB: "I am concerned. If we are talking about the last five Premier League games it's simply not the way we expected it to be, it's definitely not good and that's why the only thing we are thinking about is the game on Saturday against Middlesbrough. "With one win we can build everything back and we have a good chance at home. We are a team that is alive, the players are good together, they train, they listen, we talk about it a lot. "But we need to do it in a game and not for half an hour, or an hour, or when we are one down or four down. But we have to do it for 90 minutes."

Do you question how you can change the situation around and help the team get back on the winning trail?

SB: "Of course - you are questioning yourself when you are doing great so of course I am asking myself a lot of questions. I did last year when we were doing well and one short spell when we were doing not so well. We were seventh so that means we were losing games as well. "This year you have to change, you can't sit still and think it's gonna change by itself. But also you can't lose your head and change everything. I am questioning myself and I'm trying to be very open with that. But I'm a big believer in being calm, a strong philosophy which worked so well last year here. But of course you have got to change something."

What is the latest team-news ahead of the game and can you provide updates on Aaron Cresswell and Andre Ayew?

SB: "We are almost the same as last week. The left-backs are not back yet. Aaron Cresswell is going to start training with us Monday and should be okay after the international break.
"Ayew is another three to four weeks minimum. We also have a couple of players doubtful but we will see today. Nordtveit's got a bit of a problem. We will see tomorrow."

Who takes responsibility on the field for the current situation?

SB: "The captain and of course the best players. We can't expect it from the young ones. They can bring something, they don't feel the burden like the experienced players so they can be match winners and all that. "But I'm expecting the most experienced players to take responsibility."

Shuttle Bus Service update

Following the successful introduction of the Shuttle Bus Service that carries disabled fans to and from London Stadium, West Ham United are delighted to announce that the number of buses have been increased from four to six to accommodate the popular demand. So far the innovative scheme, which is just one example of the Club's commitment to affordable and accessible football, assists more than 500 fans every matchday. The Service, available at every home game, is in operation two hours before kick-off where it picks fans up from platform 13 at Stratford Station, and arrives at Car Park Two, to allow access to the Podium via the lifts in the Stadium Store. To ensure that our disabled fans enjoy the best matchday experience possible, anyone who does not fit the below criteria will not be allowed to use the Shuttle Bus Service. To maintain the smooth running of this valuable service, the Club would like to reiterate that:
The Shuttle Bus Service is available for any disabled Season Ticket Holder, as well as one carer.
All those wishing to use the Shuttle Bus will need to board the bus together and show their Access Cards. One card will show the disabled supporter's name, and the second will have the carer's name.
Access to the Shuttle Bus is also extended to Claret Members, who will have an Access Card with their name on it, and a paper ticket with a carer printed on it.
All senior and infirm citizens will also be allowed to use the buses but will need to request a permit in order to use the shuttle bus.
Similarly, any supporter who is pregnant, or those that have a temporary disability (i.e a broken leg) can also arrange a permit.

Any other supporters with a mobility problem will have to produce a letter from their doctor or consultant confirming that they are not able to walk.

All those eligible to apply for a permit need to at least 48 hours before kick-off. When emailing, please include the relevant match in the subject heading of all correspondence.

Please note that these measures will be in place ahead of our home fixture with Sunderland on Saturday 22 October.

However members of the accessibility team will be on hand this Saturday, during our match with Middlesbrough, to monitor and assist those fans that require this service.

If you have questions or feedback about the Shuttle Bus Service, or any other accessibility issue, please do not hesitate to get in touch by

Adrian - We are still optimistic

West Ham United keeper Adrian is adamant the players have been working extra hard work this week to turn their season around and is confident they can secure an important victory against Middlesbrough on Saturday.

The Spanish keeper has felt the pain of a frustrating start just as much as anyone and knows the hard work that is needed to fix the situation.

Adrian welcomed the chance for his team-mates to have an important meeting at the start of the week and can see the positive attitude that all the players have heading into the game at the weekend.

With the Hammers enjoying one of their best seasons in the top flight last year, Adrian sees no reason why they cannot re-produce that form and move clear of danger at the bottom of the table.

Adrian said: "For everyone this is a difficult period at the moment, but we are still optimistic and feel we have a great squad.

"We want this situation to change and have better results on the pitch. We have to work harder to fix the mistakes we have been making.

"We are mostly the same players who did so well last season and we need to show that kind of form again. Everyone is fully focused on the game on Saturday and we know that we need to win the game.

"We want to show the fans that we have a great team. They always support us every game and this is a tough moment for them, but we all need to stay together and remain as a team.

"It was good for us a team to come together and we need to enjoy being together, because it was not like that in the last game.

"We got a bad result so the mentality has to change a little and we have to stay together, both on and off the pitch and get a good result on Saturday.

"If we play well and show a good performance the fans will be very happy and proud of this team, We want to get a good result in front of our fans.

"We have big names in the team and many players in each position. We have a strong squad with the new signings and if we can get a good result, the mentality will change with everyone."

Adrian is looking forward to meeting up with Spanish compatriot Alvaro Negredo and knows the dangers the Middlesbrough striker can pose to his side on Saturday.

Adrian added: "I have known Negredo for a long time and have played against him many times. We have to be careful of him because he is a great striker.

"But we cannot think about Middlesbrough and have to focus on our team and give 100 per cent to get the three points.

"Last season we had a great home record and we want to do the same at London Stadium. When you are playing at home you want to show that you are strong and for team to be afraid of playing there."

A season of struggle?
Filed: Thursday, 29th September 2016
By: Ingwe

I have been a West Ham fan since 1965. I followed them in South Africa, getting airline editions of the Daily Mirror (SA not having TV in those days) for the football results and reports. I grew to love my team and will remain a supporter till I die.

I'm not sure that I have been more disappointed over the years by some West Ham performances than the abysmal showing against a poor Saints side last Sunday.

Sam Allardyce's type of football - as played by all the teams he managed - was horrible and I was not impressed by Bilic's arrival. Yes, the Hammers finished high up in the Premier League last season but I don't think any of it was due to Bilic's input. I wouldn't be sorry to see him go. What has he won elsewhere?

I see the new owners, not as true Hammers supporters, but essentially business people who have an eye on an asset rather than the best interests of the club and its supporters. The main real asset, the Boleyn Ground, was sold and we now play in an athletics stadium that has the atmosphere of a closed shopping mall.

The plethora of KUMB Forum posts by fans who complained of getting rained on show that the stadium wasn't designed as a football ground. I'm afraid I just don't buy into the argument that having a massive capacity will generate funds needed to buy big players etc.

I'd rather we filled our old ground with players playing attractive football - but more importantly, players who want to play for the club, not 'stars' from European leagues who can't get into their first teams and, where relevant, their national teams with any regularity.

They come for the money and the owners' key criteria is whether they will show a suitable return on their subsequent sale.

The summer transfer window was spent chasing a Colombian striker (Carlos Bacca) who clearly didn't want to play for West Ham. Players who did want to play, like Charlie Austin, were rejected by management. Ironic then that he should score first on Sunday!

We rely on Dimitri Payet to 'rescue' us with skilful free kicks, whilst the rest of the midfield look totally uncommitted. Players like Ashley Fletcher and Reece Oxford should be given a chance and other skilful players who would leap for first team experience, like Martin Samuelsen, are sent out on loan.

Why not have a team comprising players who are not only good, but who want to play for West Ham?

I hate to see fans booing the players off or leaving early; that is no way to support your team. But I do understand their total frustration in supporting a team, as only we Irons fans can, and then find that owners haven't done what they said they would.

They're in a stadium most didn't want, paying more for the privilege, having a manager who has brought in players who have performed poorly, played other players, like Antonio, completely out of position, for a number of games and doesn't seem to have a clue how to create a team capable of defending as well scoring goals.

After the pre-season and the Europa league debacle, I thought that we will be in a relegation struggle yet again. All talk of finishing in a Championship qualifying position, I think, is just wishful thinking. I would love to be proved wrong.

What I would want, more than merely surviving in the Premier League, is to get our old club back; free from the likes of Brady, Gold and Sullivan and with players who should recognise the immense good fortune and privilege that they enjoy, being born with a talent that allows them to become millionaires in their twenties, to play their hearts out.

Losing then, wouldn't feel so bad.

Contrasting Swansea's, Palace's and Southampton's performances last weekend, shows what teams with 'weaker' players on paper can do - and makes West Ham's performance even worse.

Call me fickle if you want but, if you really think that we aren't going to struggle this season, this is an example of hope over experience! I so want to be wrong.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to,

Cresswell to return next week
Filed: Thursday, 29th September 2016
By: Staff Writer

Full back Aaron Cresswell will return to full training with the first team next week. Club Doc Stijn Vandenbroucke has revealed that the full back, who has been training with the development squad in recent days is set to return to regular training from Monday - several shy of his estimated return date. "Aaron trained very well with the Under-23s on Wednesday," revealed Vandenbroucke. "The Academy kindly put on a very hard session, which Aaron took part in under the supervision of Eamon Swift, our rehab-fitness coach. "He will take part in another training session with the Under-23s on Friday and join the first team next week."
Vandenbroucke also revealed that Andre Ayew, who returned to Marseille last week to continue his rehabilitation will be back at Rush Green this weekend. "He has been working very hard on the pitch and is ready for the next stage in the rehab," he said. "Andre will continue working on improving his fitness levels for the next few weeks before he will join controlled introduction sessions with the Under-23s."
Meanwhile Arthur Masuaku, who sustained a medial ligament injury in the EFL Cup clash with Accrington Stanley is also nursing a broken hand. "He is now wearing a brace," said Vandenbroucke, "which he will be in for the next two weeks before being reassessed and taking the next stage in his rehab. "We started exercises with him at Rush Green on Wednesday."
Finally there was little news on the situation regarding Diakfa Sakho, who is said to be continuing his delayed 'pre-season'. "He has to build up a lot of fitness after three months out," reported Vandenbroucke. "The encouraging thing is that he has had no adverse reaction in his back to the hard work he has been putting in. Diafra is working very hard and there is light at the end of the tunnel."

Curbs tips Noble to shine despite difficult start to season
Filed: Thursday, 29th September 2016
By: Staff Writer

Alan Curbishley believes Mark Noble's passion for West Ham will help him and the Hammers pull themselves away from danger. In an exclusive interview with Blowing Bubbles Monthly, Curbishley believes Noble was one shining positive from his time as boss who still plays a key role at the club to this day. During the great escape, I put him in the team for the game against Spurs, where we lost 4-3 to a last-gasp goal, and it was only when I saw the highlights after the game that I noticed he was down on his haunches, almost in tears – that's how much it meant to him,' said Curbishley. "When we won at Old Trafford on the last day to stay up, he was the first one sprinting across the pitch to jump on the coaching staff. There aren't many players left these days like that and fans love players like that."
Read more from Curbishley on Icelandic owners, Carlos Tevez and why he could have done something really special before it all went wrong for him in Blowing Bubbles' October issue.
Elsewhere in the popular publication, which supporters can get hard copies of at the entrance to the Olympic Park outside Westfield on Saturday, Michail Antonio and Cheikhou Kouyate have outlined their hopes for the season. As has the voice of Formula One, David Croft, who discusses all things West Ham. Meanwhile ex Hammer George Parris believes Aaron Cresswell's reputation has soared since he has been injured. In addition, Sky Sports' Bianca Westwood asks if it's time West Ham truly honoured Billy Bonds. Blowing Bubbles also looks forward to our League Cup game against Chelsea and asks if this is exactly what West Ham fans need at Stratford? Lucy Woolford asks if West Ham and Zaza can make their unlikely alliance work while two writers debate whether or not West Ham missed a trick not signing Christian Benteke? For those living in the UK who aren't going to the Middlesbrough game, you can secure your issue here. Those living in Europe and further afield can also pay for a hard copy on the same page as well as securing a subscription to receive future issues.

Nordtveit to miss 'Boro clash
Filed: Thursday, 29th September 2016
By: Staff Writer

Utility man Havard Nordtveit has been ruled out of this weekend's Premier League clash with Middlesbrough. The summer arrival, who has featured in midfield, central defence and at full back since joining the club has been ruled out of the match with what the club are describing as "a small medical procedure". "Havard Nordtveit had a procedure at Spire Roding Hospital on Wednesday and will be unavailable for one week," confirmed club docv Stijn Vandenbroucke. "He will return to training in the middle of next week." The 26-year-old Norwegian international - who joined West Ham on a free transfer during the summer having agreed to move to London back in March - has featured in four of United's six Premier League matches thus far this season.

West Ham fans need to let Upton Park go, it's boring to blame the new ground - Don Hutchison
Evening Standard

Former West Ham midfielder Don Hutchison has warned the Hammers and their supporters cannot blame their recent woes entirely on their new stadium.
Slaven Bilic's side have struggled to adapt to life in the London Stadium and look unlikely to improve on their seventh place finish in the final season at Upton Park even with the new campaign just over a month old. West Ham currently lie 18th in the table after just one win in six games and are out of the Europa League. The Hammers have already lost three games at their new home, conceding seven in two league games against Watford and Southampton, and Hutchison believes visitors may be raising their performance on the new pitch. "I've been to the new stadium and when you're in the bowels of it, I've never seen a stadium that looks as good," Hutchison added. "It's better than Wembley. It's better than the Emirates. It's plush, it's slick, it really is a sensational stadium. I don't buy into the theory that the new stadium has had a negative effect on the players – they need to roll up their sleeves and get on with it.

Their struggles come in spite of over £40million of investment in the transfer window where Bilic brought in 13 players including striker Simone Zaza, winger Sofiane Feghouli and club record signing Andre Ayew, who was injured in his first appearance. It is these players, rather than their new surroundings, that Hutchison believes are responsible for the early season woes at the London Stadium. Hutchison added: "The main thing for me is the new signings. Last year Slaven Bilic saw all of his signings hit the ground running and adapt straight away, which in itself is rare. This summer, West Ham thought they were going to be in the Europa League and so they've signed 13 new players to create a squad designed to compete on all fronts. "Unfortunately, they've gone out early to Astra Giurgiu and now they are left with players who are not up to Premier League standard. "Andre Ayew I think is up to the level, but the likes of Gokhan Tore and Arthur Masuaku are nowhere near Premier League and West Ham standards. Going out of Europe so early leaves West Ham with a big squad, but not one necessarily equipped to perform week-in, week-out in the Premier League."

Slaven Bilic brushes off reports that West Ham are lining up Roberto Mancini as his replacement
Tom Nightingale

Former Manchester City boss Mancini has been linked with the Hammers hotseat this week. West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic has responded to questions about Roberto Mancini by insisting that he is not worried about reports suggesting that the Italian manager is being lined up to replace him, as quoted by the Daily Express. Bilic is coming under pressure from some sections of the Hammers support and the media as the London club struggle with a difficult start to the season. After finishing seventh last season in arguably their most impressive campaign this century, the Irons were knocked out of the Europa League before reaching the group stage and have lost five of their first six Premier League fixtures. That has led to rumours that Bilic's job could be under threat, and a report earlier this week from calciomercato suggested that the club were lining up Premier League-winning boss Mancini as a potential replacement. Bilic was quizzed about these rumours in his press conference on Thursday, but gave a bullish response. The Croatian said, via the Express: "Last year, when you were asking me about new contracts, I didn't want to talk about this. I am not worried about that [Mancini link]. I am delighted to be here and have a job. "But I am concentrated on training and preparing the game, analysing the opponent and working with the players, putting the best possible team out and put my whole energy into my team. That is my contract, new or old."
It is, of course, still very early in the season, but the poor manner in which West Ham have begun both the campaign and life at their new London Stadium home is undoubtedly a cause for concern. Bilic's side have conceded 11 times in their last three games, and a drastic upturn in form is desperately needed if they are to avoid this terrible start becoming symptomatic of a poor season on the whole.

West Ham duo Andy Carroll and Darren Randolph to discover their fates amid all-night drinking claims
12:32, 29 SEP 2016 UPDATED 12:32, 29 SEP 2016
Both players have vehemently denied either drinking or being drunk, but the Hammers are looking into reports to the contrary
The Mirror

Slaven Bilic says Andy Carroll and Darren Randolph will learn their fates next week after claims they were drunk and in a pub on Tuesday morning. Mirror Sport revealed yesterday that West Ham are investigating the conduct of both players after claims that they were spotted the morning after a team-bonding night out. The bonding session had been fully sanctioned by Bilic. But the club are unhappy at suggestions that Carroll and Randolph were out the following morning. Both players are understood to have denied to the club that they were drunk. But the club are making their own inquiries. Bilic, whose West Ham side face Middlesbrough this weekend, said: "It was suggested [that they were drunk] but it's not proven. [The team bonding night] was my idea. "We have a game and we ain't gonna discuss it. We are always discussing it to solve problems in our family, within the club. "There are rumours, I am aware of them, I spoke to the chairman about it and he agreed we should focus on the game. "We are gonna talk about it, find out what happened but now it's not proven, it's rumours. We will talk and if necessary act on it. That's all I'm going to say on it."

West Ham say 'emotional' farewell to Boleyn Ground as final game raises £75,000 for charity
Evening Standard

West Ham have labelled the beginning of demolition work at their former Boleyn Ground home as "emotional", but insist the Hammers' rich history in Upton Park will be felt "for years to come". Developer Barratt London will today begin the process of knocking down Upton Park, West Ham's home for 112 years until May, which is expected to take a number of months to complete. The London developer will then build 842 homes, including 211 affordable houses, shops, a library and new cycle routes on the site and also commemorate West Ham's time in the area with a new statue of Hammers legend Bobby Moore. The centre circle of the Boleyn Ground pitch will also be preserved in a landscaped courtyard while the half-way line will be illuminated through the use of in-laid lighting. Former West Ham midfielder Jack Collison praised Upton Park as being a "special place" as he acknowledged on Twitter the beginning of demolition work on Wednesday, a view that has also been echoed by the club. "Wednesday is the start of an emotional process for the hundreds of thousands of West Ham United supporters who have such fond and special memories of the Boleyn Ground over the last 112 years," a West Ham spokesperson told Standard Sport. "From Geoff Hurst's six goals against Sunderland to Paolo Di Canio's wonder volley, Trevor Brooking's Cup Winner's Cup masterclass to Winston Reid's epic finale winner, these memories will live with our supporters forever. "Now the legacy of our famous old home will be felt throughout the area for years to come, with Barratt London committed to delivering a project that honours the site's rich heritage. "Rather than sell the land to the highest bidder, the West Ham United Board elected to sell to the bidder who offered the best legacy for West Ham United, the Boleyn Ground and, most importantly, our community. "The developers have now promised to deliver a hat-trick of improvements to the area - jobs, homes and legacy."

Barratt London, who completed the purchase of the Boleyn Ground from Galliard Homes in August, hosted the final-ever football match at the stadium on Tuesday afternoon to raise money for charity. The tournament featured 24 five-a-side teams made up of employees from companies involved in the re-development of the site, and raised about £75,000 for Children of Heroes, MacMillan Cancer Support and The Silver Line charities. Speaking about the re-development of West Ham's former home into residential houses, finance director at Barratt London, Tom Olsen, said: "The entire team involved in redeveloping Upton Park recognises the heritage embedded here and we are keen to mark the start of its new era with an event that will benefit a variety of charitable causes."

Jack collison ✔ @jackcollison
Demolition work starts today... What a special place.... Thanks for the memories... #TheBoleyn
8:41 AM - 28 Sep 2016
116 116 Retweets 392 392 likes

Sam Allardyce in the spotlight over Ravel Morrison's West Ham loan move
Evening Stadnard

Sam Allardyce could face questions over allegations of unexplained payments in relation to Ravel Morrison's loan move from West Ham to Cardiff. Allardyce was West Ham manager when the midfielder moved to Cardiff in September 2014 and the Welsh club launched an investigation after questions were raised over fees connected with the deal. The Daily Telegraph report an agent is understood to have told the club the payment had been agreed with Allardyce. Cardiff brought in an external company to investigate but did not find any evidence of the payment being made to Allardyce. However, Cardiff failed to report the issue to the FA, which is in breach of the governing body's rules. The FA could now launch an investigation into Cardiff, which could lead to Allardyce being quizzed. The Telegraph also reported that eight unnamed managers with Premier League experience are alleged to have taken bribes for the transfers of players

Slaven Bilic defends West Ham players after team bonding night out in London
Evening STandard

Slaven Bilic today defended his West Ham players after they were pictured out at 7am, admitting he sanctioned a night out in a bid to improve the club's slump in form. The Hammers have lost five of their first six Premier League games and Bilic allowed his players to hit the town in a "team bonding" exercise on Monday evening. The squad reportedly racked up a £5,000 bill during dinner at a Kinghtsbridge restaurant before Andy Carroll, Darren Randolph and Aaron Cresswell were pictured in the same clothes in a McDonalds at 7am the next morning.
"The team bonding was completely my idea," Bilic said this morning. "I told Mark Noble to take the guys out and go for a meal, to spend some time together. "I am totally concentrated on the game on Saturday. It is good for us all to stick together and good for team building."
The club are believed to be investigating their players' behaviour and will decide on any punishment in due course. Carroll and Cresswell are currently sidelined through injury, although Bilic revealed today that the latter could return after next month's international break. Bilic enjoyed a superb debut season in England last term but he is under pressure as West Ham seemingly struggle to adapt to life at the London Stadium. They host Middlesbrough on Saturday and he said: "I am concerned and it has been a bad start. "But with one win we can build everything back with a win over Middlesbrough over Saturday. "I am asking myself a lot of questions even when it was good last season. You think about how you can change things. You can't sit still."
Bilic also gave his reaction to Sam Allardyce's departure as England manager following a newspaper sting in which he was caught offering advice on breaking FA rules regarding players transfers and agreeing in principle a £400,000 payment to represent a Far East firm. "I followed what has happened with England this week," he said. "It is very sad for English football. "I am sorry for Sam. We all love our jobs and I am so happy with my job. I don't remember seeing someone who was so happy to get it. "He has not lost his position from results on the pitch and I feel very sorry for him."