Friday, October 20

Daily WHUFC News - 21st October 2017

Hammers bested by Brighton at London Stadium

Two goals from Glenn Murray and a strike by Jose Izquierdo condemned West
Ham United to a 3-0 defeat at home to Brighton and Hove Albion. In a
disappointing evening at London Stadium the Irons, despite controlling the
possession, were made to pay for mistakes that Chris Hughton's Seagulls
pounced on. Murray headed home after just 10 minutes and Izquierdo fired
home from distance to put Brighton 2-0 up at half-time, and a penalty in the
second period secured the points for the away team. The first real
meaningful chance of the game provided the first goal. A well-placed ball in
from a free-kick by Brighton's Pascal Gross evaded the West Ham defence,
finding Murray, who was able to head into the ground and past Joe Hart after
just ten minutes. With a goal to their name Brighton seemed comfortable
sitting back, protecting their lead, and inviting pressure from the Hammers.
Arthur Masuaku saw a shot from distance blocked while a well-timed tackle on
Manuel Lanzini stopped the Argentinian from shooting in a dangerous area.
Two efforts from outside the area by Pedro Obiang were also dealt with by
the Seagulls before Chicharito had a half-volleyed shot deflected away and
then a low effort skid just wide of the far post. These missed chances came
back to haunt the home side however and Izquierdo doubled the away team's
tally just before half-time with a long-ranged effort that Hart could not
keep out, despite getting a hand to the ball.
The second half, much like the first, started with West Ham controlling
possession but struggled to get through a resolute Brighton team. Lanzini
saw two free-kicks miss the target as one went over the bar and the other
deflected wide of the near post. West Ham's miserable evening was compounded
15 minutes before the end as Brighton were awarded a penalty, which Murray
comfortably dispatched for his second and his side's third of the game.

West Ham United: Hart; Zabaleta, Reid (c), Fonte, Masuaku; Obiang, Kouyate
(Ayew 46'), Antonio, Lanzini, Arnautovic (Fernandes 73'); Chicharito
Subs not used: Adrian, Cresswell, Ogbonna, Byram, Noble

Brighton: Ryan, Bruno (c), Bong, Dunk, Stephens, Knockaert (Schelotto 84'),
Gross (Brown 77'), Murray, Izquierdo (March 69'), Duffy, Propper
Subs not used: Krul, Goldson, Suttner, Molumby
Goals: Murray 10 75' (p)', Izquierdo 45 +1'

Fonte: We are all frustrated and we apologise

Jose Fonte apologised to supporters after West Ham United were beaten 3-0 by
Brighton and Hove Albion on Friday. Two Glenn Murray strikes either side of
Jose Izquierdo's long-range curler sealed the points for Chris Hughton's men
during a disappointing night for the Hammers. Manuel Lanzini and Chicharito
had the hosts' best opportunities in the first half, but the visitors
defended well to grab their first ever Premier League win on the road.
Portugal international Fonte was left gutted at the full time whistle and
assured fans the side will do everything they can to turn things around. "We
are all disappointed, we are all frustrated and we apologise," the
centre-back said. "It was not the performance we wanted to produce and it
wasn't the performance the fans deserve. "We need to look at ourselves in
the mirror because this cannot happen. It happened a few times last season,
and we have to put this right. This is West Ham and it's just not possible
[to let this happen]. "We have got to move on. We have a game Wednesday and
we need to go and beat Spurs because we have to react, we have to bounce

The Hammers' night began in the worst possible fashion when Murray nodded
Pascal Gross' set-piece into the ground and past Joe Hart with just ten
minutes on the clock to give his side the lead. And with Slaven Bilic's side
pushing for an equaliser for the majority of the remainder of the opening
period, Brighton hit them on the break and doubled their lead spectacularly
with Izquierdo's strike. Murray grabbed his second from the penalty spot
after Pablo Zabaleta had fouled the forward and Fonte admitted all three
goals were hard to accept. "The first goal, from the set piece, when we
didn't do anything was difficult to take," he continued. "We had a lot of
possession but we couldn't create and it's disappointing. "I'm not going to
say it is unacceptable because the players, we tried hard. We tried the best
we could. It just didn't go our way. The second goal was a great shot from
outside the box and we go into the break 2-0 down. "Second half, we came
with the mentality of getting the goal back and trying to get back into the
game and the only occasion they came [forward] in the second half, they got
a penalty. "The fans don't like to lose 3-0 at home, we don't like to
either. We are going to work very hard on the training ground to not let
them down again like this. "Of course we have to look at ourselves in the
mirror. Everyone needs to work hard and we need to bounce back."

Bilic: I take full responsibility for Brighton defeat

Slaven Bilic admitted West Ham United had not risen to the occasion in
losing a 'very important' game 3-0 to Brighton & Hove Albion. The Hammers
went into Friday night's fixture with the Seagulls at London Stadium knowing
a victory would take them into the Premier League's top ten, but slumped to
a frustrating and disappointing defeat to Chris Hughton's newly-promoted
team. Glenn Murray's double and a long-range strike from José Izquierdo on
the stroke of half-time condemned Bilic's side to a loss that the manager
was at a loss to explain. "It's a bad performance from us," he said. "The
goals killed us. The first one was very quick and between the first and
second goal we were dominating the game and we were there and put a lot of
balls in the box, but they defended the balls really well and then in those
moments at the end of the first half, we conceded the second one from a good
bit of individual skill from their player. "We tried to come back, but it's
very difficult for me to say anything clever now. All I can say is that it
was very disappointing and frustrating and as manager I take full
responsibility for that. "We all wanted to win. It happened to us a few
times last season at a time when we thought we were in a good situation, in
good form and all that and we had a home game like this, with the greatest
respect to them, when we thought we would get three points and climb up the
table and play with less negative pressure and we don't do it. "You start
the game with good shape and good confidence, but then they score and it's
1-0 for them and it gives them a boost. In the first half we played good
football, then they scored a second one, and it's affected the way we played
the game. "We were playing good football, but we were very sterile. On the
contrary, they were there in the situations when they could expose the
situations when we left space because we were losing and we wanted to take
risks. They were lethal and used it in the best possible way for them. "Why
did it happen? To be fair, I don't know. It looked very good on the training
ground and in the last few games we were getting players back in shape, but
we didn't look good enough."

When asked what effect West Ham's defeat would have on his own role, the
manager was typically honest, but insisted he would not give up his own
ambitions to forge a successful Hammers side in the future. "It is
definitely not a good situation and the Board will do what they're going to
do. It is their decision, but all I am saying is that we have been in this
situation before and got out of that. "As a manager, you are taking the
credit but on the other hand you are taking full responsibility for that and
I don't want to hide or get away from that. "I am not worried at all about
that, to be fair. I am doing my best, but when you lose 3-0 at home to
Brighton in a game that it's not must, must-win as it's not that stage of
the sason, but it was a very important game for us and we didn't make it. I
am a fighter, but it's not my decision."


Daily WHUFC News - 20th October 2017

West Ham United v Brighton & Hove Albion: All you need to know

West Ham United welcome Brighton and Hove Albion to the London Stadium for another game under the lights in Friday's Premier League contest.

Read on for all the information you need to know ahead of this encounter.

Where and when?

West Ham United v Brighton & Hove Albion will be played at the London Stadium in Stratford on Friday 20 October, with kick-off at 8pm.

How to follow:

West Ham United v Brighton and Hove Albion will be shown live on Sky Sports across three channels - Sky Sports Premier League, Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Mix - with coverage beginning at 7pm.

You can also follow the game live via our Matchday Blog on, with updates also available on Twitter throughout the evening. You can also follow the match in different ways on our official Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat channels!

Audio coverage will also be provided by BBC Radio London Sport.

Match officials:

Referee: Martin Atkinson
Assistant Referees: Peter Kirkup & Steve Child
Fourth Official: Neil Swarbrick

Meet the opposition:

Two wins and two draws from their opening eight Premier League games this season is a respectable start to the campaign for Chris Hughton's side, with Brighton back in the top flight for the first time since 1983.

Albion picked up a decent draw with Everton in their last contest and the Seagulls are fighting hard to ensure their first campaign back in the Premier League ends with their status as a top flight club confirmed for next season.

Player to watch:

A first goal of the season for Michail Antonio last weekend helped the Hammers to a 1-1 draw at Burnley, and the speedy attacker will be eager to continue his fine form on Friday.

During his career Antonio has played nine matches against Brighton - having only played more against Huddersfield Town (10) - and it's possible that record will be matched in this week's fixture.


West Ham fans will happily recall our last contest against Brighton, where a Ricardo Vaz Te hat-trick inspired the Irons to a thumping 6-0 victory over the Seagulls in the Championship, in April 2012.

The two sides have only met three times in the last decade, with West Ham winning all of those games. A solitary campaign in the Championship together in the 2004/05 season was the first time the Hammers and the Seagulls played together since 1991.

Last five meetings:

West Ham United 6-0 Brighton, Championship, 14 April 2012
Brighton 0-1 West Ham United, Championship, 24 October 2011
West Ham United 3-0 Brighton, FA Cup, 06 January 2007
Brighton 2-2 West Ham United, Championship, 23 April 2005
West Ham United 0-1 Brighton, Championship, 13 November 2004

Did you know:

It was against Brighton, ten years ago, that captain Mark Noble scored his first goal for West Ham.

In January 2007 a then 19-year-old Noble latched on to a Carlos Tevez knock-down to fire home from 18 yards.

A decade on, Noble now has 48 goals in all competitions for the Hammers.

How to get there:

There are four train stations that supporters are recommended to utilise to reach the London Stadium.

Stratford Station makes use of the Central and Jubilee lines as well as the DLR, Overground and TfL Rail.

Stratford International also uses the DLR line and National Rail.

Pudding Mill Lane is on the DLR line and is just south of the London Stadium while Hackney Wick makes use of the London Overground.

Other information:

The latest in the free Hammers Collectables card range will be available at this Friday's contest, with Manuel Lanzini the newest first team star to be featured.

Under-16 supporters should see their nearest Supporter Liaison Officer at London Stadium on Friday to continue building their collection.

Antonio: I won't forget my celebration if I score against Brighton!

Michail Antonio was so overcome with the emotion of scoring his first West Ham United goal of the season that he forgot his pre-planned celebration. The winger netted for the first time since March and just the second time this year in Saturday's 1-1 draw at Burnley, latching onto Joe Hart's long clearance before poking the ball past goalkeeper Nick Pope and slamming it into the unguarded net. While previous goals have been followed by elaborate dance moves, including the Homer Simpson, the Carlton Banks and the Worm, Antonio admitted his mind went blank and he went freestyle at Turf Moor. "It was my first of the season and it's always good to get off the mark and hopefully I can go on a little run now," the No30 began. "Sometimes you have too much time to think about something and I was thinking to myself 'If you miss here, it will be really embarrassing', but I managed to put it into the back of the net, so now I'll move onto the next game!
"I had something planned for my celebration but the way that it happened and with everything that had gone on, it was just too much emotion for me to even think about doing my celebration, so I just threw a little bit of everything in! I thought it still looked all right, to be honest! "Now, I'm still thinking about what I would do if I score on Friday [against Brighton & Hove Albion at London Stadium] and hopefully I'll score and the celebration will look just right."

Reflecting on Saturday's game, which saw the Hammers lose Andy Carroll to a first half red card and the lead to Chris Wood's late equaliser, Antonio felt his teammates had both given their all and produced some of their best football of the season. Despite being reduced to ten men, West Ham created a succession of chances, showcasing their ability to open up defences in a variety of ways, with long balls, intricate one-touch moves, individual flair and strength all giving the Burnley back four trouble. With the likes of Chicharito, Diafra Sakho, Marko Arnautovic, Manuel Lanzini, Andre Ayew, Pedro Obiang and Cheikhou Kouyate all fit and firing, and Carroll due back after a one-game ban, Antonio is excited by the Hammers' attacking options. "It was a great performance. Twenty-seven minutes in we lost a player at a place where they are very good at home and pick up the majority of their points, so to play for 60 minutes with ten men and even get opportunities shows the ability that we have. "If we show the character and performance we showed in that game in games to come, we will be winning games. It showed the different parts of the game that we can play – the hard work, the nice football and the flair play – so hopefully we can take all of them into the next game. "With the players that we have here, we are definitely going to be able to cut teams open and people are definitely going to be scared of us going in behind, so we can get the ball down and cut them open."

Three December West Ham fixtures moved

Three West Ham United fixtures in December have been moved for live television coverage. The mouth-watering Premier League matches at Manchester City and home to Chelsea and Arsenal have all been selected for broadcast. The Hammers will now face Pep Guardiola's free-scoring Citizens at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday 3 December at 4pm in a game that will be screened live by Sky Sports. Slaven Bilic's side will now host Antonio Conte's Premier League champions at London Stadium on Saturday 9 December at 12.30pm, with Sky Sports again showing the game live. And finally, West Ham will welcome Arsene Wenger's Gunners to Stratford at 8pm on Wednesday 13 December for a match being broadcast live on BT Sport.

Supporters should note that no Premier League fixtures will be played on Christmas Eve. The away fixture at Stoke City on Saturday 16 December, visit of Newcastle United on Saturday 23 December and Boxing Day trip to AFC Bournemouth will all kick-off at 3pm, as previously scheduled. Broadcast selections for the final round of Premier League fixtures of 2017, including the trip to Wembley Stadium to face Tottenham Hotspur currently scheduled for 3pm on Saturday 30 December, will be confirmed in due course.

'Chicharito should be OK for Brighton clash' - Bilic

First team manager Slaven Bilic has confirmed that Chicharito should be fine to feature in West Ham United's Premier League clash with Brighton and Hove Albion on Friday. Chicharito missed training on Wednesday due to a tight feeling in his hamstring but a scan on the area has confirmed he is clear of injury. The striker will participate in Thursday's training session at the London Stadium and, according to Bilic, Chicharito will be in the squad for Friday's match as long as he feels right. The manager told his pre-match press-conference: "Chicharito had a slight problem but he's training at 4pm and he should be good to train with us. It's not a big thing. "He trained and felt a little bit of a tight hamstring, so we scanned it which was important, and the scan was completely clear. He missed Wednesday's light session and we expect him to train today and, based on his feeling, to be OK."

The Hammers are still without defender James Collins, who continues his recovery from a set-back against West Brom last month, while Diafra Sakho is also set to miss the contest with Brighton after a back complaint. However, Bilic suggests the duo could be back in time for next week's Carabao Cup clash with Tottenham.
Goalkeeper Adrian, meanwhile, has recovered from illness and is likely to also be involved. "We have a couple that are out because of injury," Bilic added. "James Collins is out for a matter of days and Sakho has back pain. He didn't train since Burnley so he's out of Friday's game. They could both be back for the Spurs game.
"Adrian had a stomach problem for a couple of days, but he is OK now and should train with us."

Andy Carroll will definitely miss the fixture due to suspension but the Hammers can still call on the likes of Chicharito, Marko Arnautovic, Manuel Lanzini, Michail Antonio and Andre Ayew for this match, with all five set to be involved. With that in mind Bilic has confirmed it's unlikely he will call on young striker Toni Martinez, who has been impressing with the U23s after a hat-trick against Manchester United last weekend. "Martinez is showing good form. He's been with us a couple of times, in pre-season, and is improving a lot, but we have enough options so he will probably not be in the squad."

Betway Insider's View of the Opposition: Brighton & Hove Albion

With an identical record of two wins, two draws and four defeats from their opening eight matches, two goals are all that separate West Ham and Brighton in the Premier League table. So, a close encounter ought to be on the cards when the two sides, who have scored a combined total of 14 goals in their 16 matches so far this season, meet tonight at the London Stadium. Especially with both teams missing their frontline forwards through suspension. West Ham don't tend to slip up against visiting promoted sides, with their 2-0 victory over Huddersfield earlier this season their sixth in a row without defeat. And, having already kept a clean sheet in three of their four matches at home, the Hammers can be confident of extending that run against a team that are characteristically cautious away from home. Even when finishing as runners-up in the Championship last season, Brighton scored fewer away goals than nine other teams in the division. That conservatism has, predictably, been compounded by promotion to the Premier League, with the Seagulls scoring only one goal and earning just a single point – when playing against 10 men for more than an hour – in their four away matches so far. Chris Hughton did not even start a striker in their most recent away match at the Emirates, which is perhaps understandable considering that Glenn Murray, his only other alternative, has not scored a top-flight goal since December 2015.

The visitors' most obvious threat, therefore, comes from the wings, with last season's Player of the Year Anthony Knockaert getting off the mark last week and England Under-21 international Solly March a stand-out performer so far. Slaven Bilic's recent switch to a flat-back four ought to deny space down the flanks, and also enable him to deploy a similarly attacking midfield to the one seen at Turf Moor last week.

Against a rear-guard action as resolute as Brighton's, it is those multiple runners into the box who are most likely to provide the breakthrough.
Recommended bets
1st half draw – 11/10
Under 2.5 goals – 13/20
West Ham to keep a clean sheet – 5/4

Cottee: We are looking, solid hard to beat and close to our physical peak

West Ham United are 'looking solid, hard to beat and close to reaching a peak physical level', according to Hammers great Tony Cottee. The striker, who scored 146 goals in 336 appearances in Claret and Blue across two spells, says his former team's recent performances have given him confidence that his old Club can yet enjoy a successful season. West Ham have lost just five of their last 17 matches dating back to early April and Cottee says the signs are there that his former teammate's side are clicking at both ends of the pitch. "There is no reason why Slaven Bilic and his players shouldn't go into Friday's game feeling confident and positive about the challenge in front of them," Cottee wrote in his exclusive column for Friday's Official Programme. "Four points could quite easily have been six from the last two matches and, while the performance level may not yet be flowing in the way Slaven would like, his team are looking solid, hard to beat, and close to reaching a peak physical level. "Looking back to the 18-match unbeaten run that I was involved in during the first half of the record-breaking 1985/86 season, we began that with three successive draws, against Liverpool, Southampton and Sheffield Wednesday, and there was certainly no real sign of what was to follow. "We'd had a difficult start, but we identified what was wrong and gradually started to build our consistency and confidence. "As we said throughout the difficult period at the start of this season, hard work is the only way to get yourself out of it and, credit to the players, because they have worked hard and found a way to resolve the problems they faced in the opening three games. "A lot has been said about the attacking options that Slaven now has available to him, but I think the defensive improvement over the past month would have given him most pleasure. "There is always a lot to be said for a settled back line. If you look at Chelsea when they won the Premier League last season they had the same three central defenders for virtually every game, Leicester the year before had Huth and Morgan as a solid pairing, and that consistency breeds success. "We are now showing that type of defensive consistency and stability, with Joe Hart looking settled and in command behind the back line, and it is that platform which will hopefully give our attacking players the opportunity to shine."

Friday's 100-page Official Programme will be available to buy in and around London Stadium on matchday. You can pre-order a copy here now, or download the digital issue from 9am on Friday here.

Bilic: Discipline, bold Brighton and professional Adrian

Slaven Bilic sat down with the media on Thursday afternoon at the London Stadium ahead of Friday's Premier League clash with Brighton and Hove Albion. The West Ham United manager was asked for his thoughts on counter-part Chris Hughton, the Hammers' disciplinary record and a possible move into the top ten.

Bilic also talked about goalkeeper Adrian and his side's home form…

Bold Brighton

Brighton secured promotion to the Premier League last season and Bilic has been impressed with what he's seen so far from the Seagulls. Although the manager described Brighton as a 'confident team', Bilic insists he is only focusing on his own side ahead of the fixture. "They also made a slow start and then they improved," Bilic said: "I've watched their games, home and away, and I see a very confident team. They got that confidence last season when they were winning most of their games. They have confidence and they also brought some good players from Holland and Germany. "It's going to be a very tough game. I respect them but we are concentrating on us. We have one defeat in six. We are at home and we've improved our home form a lot since we've moved here. What we want is a good performance and three points."


The manager was also very complimentary of Chris Hughton, who has been in charge of Brighton since 2014. "He is underrated. I watched their games and I'm impressed with Brighton. I expected them, at least in the first half of the season, like most promoted teams they have good memories from last season and that positive arrogance. They play like that. "Okay, there is a difference between their home and away records, but I watched them and they play nice football so of course Chris has done a great job there.

Adrian is 'a great professional'

Bilic has taken the opportunity to praise Spanish goalkeeper Adrian for his professionalism. The shot-stopper was linked with an exit from West Ham in the media this week, with Joe Hart the first choice in the Premier League, but Bilic seemed delighted Adrian is so eager to play. "If I was a player on the bench and wasn't playing I wouldn't expect to say I was happy to not be playing," he said. "It's a positive thing that he wants to play."


"All the players want to play and be regular. That's why they are top sportsmen. We need a good squad though and we need a second good goalkeeper. Adrian is a great professional and is acting and behaving in the way I wanted. I've spoken a few times with him about it and he's very good in training. He's working hard to get his chance."

No discipline issues

The manager was questioned on his side's disciplinary record after Andy Carroll became the second West Ham player to be shown a red card this season. Bilic told the gathered media that he did not believe any of these sending offs were down to discipline issues, highlighting a number of them had been rescinded after.
He said: "None of these red cards were down to typical lack of discipline. Nobody head-butted anyone. A few of those red cards were appealed and they were ruled out. Three or four were big mistakes. I don't remember one of them where I would connect it with lack of discipline on the pitch and letting the team down.
"On the other hand, yes we've had 12 red cards in the space of two and a half seasons." The boss did admit however that the sending-offs this season were a concern due to both Carroll and Marko Arnautovic getting dismissed in the first half. "A red card is a red card but it's a big difference if it happens in added time or like it happens like it did to Arnautovic and Carroll," he added. "We did amazing in both of those games because normally it's one-sided after that happens. "I spoke to both and it's unacceptable. It's a big blow for the team, especially for that game and also for the next game."

'We want to push into the top ten'

A victory over Brighton on Friday evening would push the Irons into the top ten of the Premier League for the first time this campaign. Bilic admits that he and his side had aspirations of being in the top ten earlier in the season but they are now ready to claim that spot with a win in the next match. He said: "We hoped to be in the top ten straight away but it didn't happen for various reasons. We have a feeling when we are analysing the games now that we've improved a lot. "We've started to get points and it would be really good and crucial to win tomorrow and to move up the table."

'Good memories make the London Stadium home'

Bilic also commented on a recent improvement in home form for the Hammers, admitting that he and his players now consider the London Stadium their home ground. The manager puts that feeling down to the creation of happy experiences for the squad and the fans in the past 12 months. He added: "From day one we've been amazed with the new Stadium but we've needed some time to start calling it home. Now when I hear the players, and it happens to me also, now we say we can't wait to play at home. "To make someone home you need good memories. You need time to make those memories and to experience those positive things. We've had a few recently and yes, it's home now."

West Ham United v Brighton And Hove Albion
Filed: Thursday, 19th October 2017
By: Preview Percy

When the sky went a funny colour the other day Preview Percy refused to accept the "Saharan Dust" explanation, preferring instead to stand there muttering something about "tampering with nature by allowing centre forwards to wear no.2 shirts". Nevertheless, on the off-chance that the full apocalypse holds off until the weekend he still found time to prepare this look at Friday's match. On the whole the Apocalypse may have been more preferable....

So Brighton then. 8pm kick off on a Friday. Yuk. Enjoy the rush hour getting over there.

The visitors will be paying their first visit to the new gaff having been promoted last term. They looked odds on to go up as champions but a failure to win any of their last three matches saw the Geordies sneak in to take the silverware, with the Seagulls having to be content with promotion as a consolation prize.

I was a bit surprised when I saw the league table for this one. I had it in my head that they had made a fairly decent start to the season not unlike that of Burnley. However, I was surprised to note that prior to last weekend's draw against Everton they were actually behind us, though the point mustered against the Toffeemen moved them to a place above us on goal difference.

They opened their season with a 2-0 home defeat to Man City (which looks quite good in retrospect) which was followed by a similar reverse away at Leicester. They picked up a 0-0 draw at Watford before picking up their first win of the season with a 3-1 home win against West Brom. A 2-1 setback away at Bournemouth was followed up with a 1-0 win over the Geordies at the Stadium in Falmer that is sponsored by a well-known charge card company who haven't paid me to mention their name. They then went down 2-0 at Arsenal before Sunday's stalemate which saw Everton salvage a late point after Bruno's assault on an opponent in the box led to a match-saving Rooney spot kick. 8 points, 8 games and a minus 4 GD gives them 14th place at the moment.

They are managed by Chris Hughton who many will remember playing for us after the nightmare of having to play nearly 400 games for Spurs. He always seems to be an affable chap who shows no ill-effects from having spent so long at White Hart Lane. One recalls the dignity with which he handled himself whilst having to deal with the circus that is Newcastle United under Mike Ashley. When Hughton was sacked The Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered's resident Geordie, Preview Alastair, was so disgusted that he went on hunger strike for a while. It is a mark of how good the rest home food is that he actually gained 10lbs before succumbing to the temptation of the lasagne that is cook's speciality whenever there has been an equine fatality at Kempton Park.

As one often finds from promoted clubs they were a bit busy in the summer window. According to the work-experience kid of as yet-to-be determined gender wearing a hoodie who seems only able to communicate with some strange grunting noises, they brought in no fewer than thirteen players on permanent deals this summer. On closer inspection that figure turns out to be actually more like twelve and a half with kid striker Viktor Gyokeres not actually arriving from somewhere unpronounceable in Sweden until New Year's Day. Some of the other signings are also in the category of U23 signings "for the future".

Arguably the most influential of the new boys so far this season has been Pascal Gross (whose name is actually spelt with one of those odd German letters that actually looks like a letter "B". I am sure there is probably a way of finding that particular character on a computer keyboard but frankly I can' be bothered. Gross scored the clubs first goal in the top flight since whenever it was they were last up here having arrived for an undisclosed fee from German second division outfit FC Ingolstadt 04, a club of whom even Germans are heard to say "who?" (only in German, obviously). Gross has also weighed in what the stattos like to refer to as "assists" (translation into English: "he's also made a few goals"). Although the fee was undisclosed figures of £3-4m have been bandied about which would make the player something of a bargain, assuming he progresses well in the league.

Well you go through all your life having never heard of FC Ingolstadt 04 then all of a sudden you get a club who signs two players from them at once. Left-back Markus Suttner had spent the vast majority of his career with Austria Wien, making over 250 appearances for them in the process. He was lured to Ingolstadt by the promise of top flight Bundesliga football, Ingolstadt having somehow managed to get themselves promoted for the 2015-16 season. In the event they managed to stay afloat at the top level for two seasons before returning to life in division "zwei". After a bit of haggling it is believed that Brighton forked out something like £2m for the 30 year-old who was capped on 20 occasions for the Austrian national side before announcing his retirement from international football last summer. Clearly he didn't fancy hanging on on the small off-chance that they might qualify for Russia then.

Between the sticks they have another new boy in the form of Aussie no.1 Matt Ryan. Another "undisclosed" fee (or £5m if you believe most sources) was enough to bring him in from Valencia. Valencia had signed him from Club Brugge back in 2015 and had been considered first choice for Valencia until injury in 2016 saw him lose that status. With him struggling for first XI football he spent the end of last season on loan back in Belgium at Racing Genk but the player himself ruled out a permanent return to Belgium, signing instead a 5 year deal beside the sea, the deal being made so much easier by the fact that Ryan possesses a UK passport (a process known in bygone days as "returning to the scene of the crime"). He is first choice 'keeper for "The Soceroos" (one of those ugly nicknames our colonial chums insist on giving their national sports teams) so he will be building up the airmiles. Having played in the dramatic two leg win over Syria he will now face a trip involving Honduras and Australia in November as the Aussies go for World Cup qualification via the playoff system.

One of the illustrators of the difference in financial clout between the top two tiers of English football can be observed in the statistic that the £5m allegedly paid for Ryan represented a club record for Brighton at the time. This was soon eclipsed by the £6m believed to have been the outlay on Dutch midfielder Davy Propper (or "pwopah" if you happen to be Oscar Winning actor Danny Dyer). Propper arrived in the summer from PSV with whom he won the title last season and has previously gained So-Called Champions League experience. He also gives this column the opportunity to resurrect, for the first time this season, the opportunity to indulge in some schoolboy humour as we note (to the sound of suitable sniggers) that the player is a full Netherlands international with seven Dutch caps to his name (chortle). Pwopah featured in the last couple of competitive internationals as their ill-fated attempt to qualify for Russia collapsed,

Pwopah is a doubt for this one and may well end up watching from the stands alongside Israeli striker Tomer Hemed, who will be serving the final match of a three match retrospective ban for an off the ball stamp in the Newcastle match. Despite Hemed's absence over the past couple of games there has been no place in the side for Sam Baldock this season. The former Hammer has been struggling with a calf problem for some time though he did turn out for the U23 side in midweek which suggests that he might have a small chance of making the bench on Friday. Balcdock made a blistering start to his Hammers career scoring five in his first six starts. However, injury messed up his season and by the time he was fit again Ricardo Vaz Te had arrived. Baldock left for Bristol City after we had been promoted.

And so to us. Well I think we can all agree that Andy Carroll was a bit daft last weekend and his contribution to the game did us no favours. However I do have a slight – and it is very slight – teensy weensy bit of sympathy for him. Week after week he gets clobbered with challenges as bad or worse than the two that got him his two yellows last weekend. More often than not he is the one who gets punished. Tarkowski did exactly the same thing to Carroll earlier in the game but escaped punishment. I think we are entitled to ask why referees are targeting our player don't you? I mean there was one challenge in the Swansea match which saw a defender go right through his back and when Carroll got up he saw the referee penalise him and indicate that Carroll had "made a back" which was, quite simply, a lie on the part of the official. I have seen Carroll hauled down by the neck with no free-kick given so, deserved as the red was, it would be nice if we were given a reason why the laws of the game only seem to apply one way.

Not that the Burnley match has been unique in this. Had the same criteria applied to Southampton and Spurs as seem to apply against us both opponents would have been down to 9 men, in the Southampton case well before Arnautovic took the law into his own hands (no matter how much the BBC tried to pretend things didn't happen.) And the melee that happened at the end of the Spurs match was caused by Oliver looking at and ignoring a deliberate challenge much worse than anything perpetrated by Carroll.

In fact it would also be nice to know why, despite continually marking substandard to the extent that he was given a break from the select group, Atwell is now considered good enough to have re-joined the select group (so called because you get selected if you are mates with Riley). Championship spies suggest that there had been a marked decline in his performances even from the low standard that saw him temporarily demoted from the select group after a meteoric rise from non-league to Premier league in a couple of seasons at the insistence of Keith Hackett – a family friend I believe. Incidentally, according to one observer, the fourth official and all-round embarrassment to the beautiful game that is Mike Dean was seen swanning about giving out autographs before the Burnley match. Says it all really.

Carroll's suspension could well have meant a start for the Sakho-Hernandez combination up front that any – myself included – were looking for before Burnley. However, the law of sod being what it is, we are hearing that Hernandez has a dodgy hamstring. Great.

There have also been calls for a call up to the squad for young Martinez following his hat-trick (the first at the Olympic) against Man Utd's kids last week. I've only seen a little of him so judgement is reserved in these parts – though spending time in and around the first XI squad surely won't do him any harm.

Otherwise the only other player on the injury list at present is dear old Ginge whose ankle is a couple of weeks away from healing. That's the ankle that West Brom fans accused him of faking by the way.

Prediction? Well I reckon we would have won last weekend had we kept 11 on the pitch. As it was we were a bit unfortunate to only take a point away and that's the attitude to take into this one. Carroll's absence may lend a bit more balance to the side who, as was displayed on a couple of rather spectacular occasions last weekend, can actually pass the ball well when it wants to.

I think this will be close but on the whole my optimism won't, for once, be misplaced. It will be tight but I think that this week's £2.50, which I had previously earmarked towards paying someone to give Ed Sheerhan laryngitis (thereby completing the job started by the music lover who knocked him off his bike) will be going on a home win. That will be 2-1 if anyone from Winstone The Turf Accountant is reading this and wants to have my betting slip ready for when I pop in om my way to the Swan & Superinjunction.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at the Boleyn: Won 6-0 (Championship – April 2012)

A hat-trick from Vaz Te with goals from Nolan, Cole (C not J) and a Dicker og did the job. Vaz Te's third was a beaut -one of those mid-air scissor kicks. It was as one-sided as the scoreline suggests.

Referee: Martin Atkinson

Oh for pity's sake….

Danger Man: Pascal Gross

Has been handy as both goalscorer and provider this season.

Percy's Poser:

Last week we asked you what connects the town of Burnley with 1950's communist children's television. Congratulations to Mrs Rebecca Craggs of Watford who wrote thusly:

"The answer is "The Singing Ringing Tree" which is both the name of a sculpture plonked on a hill somewhere just outside the town of Burnley and of a really odd kid's tv programme that somehow made it past the planning stage at the East German Peoples' Entertainment Committee meetings in 1957. The thing started life as a feature film and over a third of the entire East German population is said to have seen it at the cinema. The BBC bought it for a few old copies of the Radio Times with Arthur Askey on the cover and, in keeping with the whole low-budget feel of the thing, decided to split the film into three separate parts to make a mini-series out of it.

The cheapskated-ness of the whole project didn't stop there. The film having been made in German (obviously) the BBC had to do something to present the thing to the children of 1960's Britain who, much as now, weren't noted for their ability to speak German (although at least back then most could make a decent fist of English). Instead of overdubbing the thing with actors (expensive), or providing subtitles (which would have ruled out an entire audience of about 23,000 Spurs fans who would have had to learn to read) they simply turned down the volume a bit on the soundtrack and had a solitary voice-over artist describe the goings on over the top of it. Which simply added to the whole weirdness of the experience." Thanks Rebecca – you win a night out at your local curry house paid for by your husband - including the most expensive drinks on the menu.

For this week's poser we ask you: when we beat Brighton 6-0 at the Boleyn back in 2012 what was unusual about the three substitutions we made that day? First prize is probably an old copy of the Radio Times with a photo of Arthur Askey on the cover assuming that I can get it out of my doctor's waiting room without being spotted.

Good luck everyone!

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 paper that backs 'Franco's club' has the nerve to call us racists?
Filed: Wednesday, 18th October 2017
By: Paul Walker

So Spanish sports paper Marca has branded West Ham fans as racists. The hypocrisy is stunning, from a paper who have been in the pocket of 'Franco's club' for more than seven decades. That's Real Madrid to the uninitiated. Marca, have unashamedly supported them, been cheerleaders for them and have been accused of doing their transfer dirty work. Unbiased? Don't make me laugh.

Their story this week is a remarkable attack not only on West Ham, but Chelsea too (I'll leave them to fight their own battles) as well as claiming that Spurs are universally hated throughout the UK for their Jewish heritage. Marca's back catalogue needs some explaining. General Franco, Spain's fascist dictator from the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 to his death in 1975, was always reputed to have supported Real, and there are many allegations that he actively aided their success through bent referees and corruption from Spanish football authorities. Barcelona are not slow in making such claims.

Marca in turn have, it is claimed, always supported and aided Real during the Franco years and beyond. So, say their critics, are implicit in the racism of Franco's regime. A leader who is reputed to have given Hitler a list of Spanish Jews during the Second World War. I wouldn't dare suggest that Marca have any such leanings these days, but when they start making claims of racism and anti-Semitism elsewhere, it's a touch rich to say the least. I always refuse to use the word 'hate' when discussing football. It's only as game, for heaven's sake. And after ourselves, Spurs and Chelsea have hit back at such wild accusations, Marca's only reply is to question the translation of the word 'hate.' Not a hint of an apology for such a slur. It would be equally foolish to suggest that racism doesn't fester in every corner of the globe somewhere. Even the White House. But to make such a sweeping generalisation against, of all people, the folk from London's East End, is plainly daft. Yes, I have heard the silly song about foreskins from a few of our boy scouts--absolutely reprehensible--but to imply that there are gangs of racists running amok is just not true.

What is even worse is that Marca claimed that Spurs are hated because of their Jewish heritage by clubs all over the country. Absolute nonsense. It is to our credit that our joint owner David Gold, Jewish by birth, has been at the forefront of attempts to eradicate such behaviour. And it has been largely successful. I would also point out that Yossi Benayoun and Eyal Berkovic were much loved in these parts. And we also were the leaders in the signing of local black English players, as well as the wonderful Clyde Best. Just to make it clear. We don't dislike Spurs because the have a Jewish heritage, we dislike them because they are our closest, bitter rivals, and because they are annoyingly insistent that they are a big club, bigger than us and they are inherently superior. And some of their fans call us 'Pikeys' (a word derived to describe people who lived on the 'turnpike' in centuries gone by, living on the road).

When ignorant people like Marca start calling us Jew-haters, they really do need a potted history lesson about the East End, and how our grandparents and parents reacted to war-time refugees. Many thousands of terrified Jews ran from Hitler and arrived in their droves in the East End from the mid-1930s until the end of the war. They were welcomed and protected by East Enders who spawned the heritage and history of West Ham United.

West Ham is a working class club with solid socialist roots, well that's how I was brought up, and a dockland area is always full of people from all countries and religions. My own late father told me stories of the days when the East End stood shoulder to shoulder to fight Oswald Mosley's black-shirted fascists pre-war to stop them getting into the area to attack the Jews. I would suggest Marca put 'Cable Street' into a Google search to discover our attitude to Jewish refugees and incoming arrivals from all corners of the world. My old fella worked for a Jewish tie-maker in Aldgate and several Jewish-owned print companies. I never heard him or any of my family or friends talk of hatred. There will always be bigots, and idiots, in all walks of life but I would suggest that Marca shows more concern about a recent poll that a majority of Spaniards think Franco was right, rather than worry about a few silly football songs. They might also reflect on the fact that their impartiality is damaged by the rabid support for Real. Even Sir Alex Ferguson once hammered them for " unsettling" Madrid's transfer targets and doing their tapping up for them. That was a while ago, but it is being suggested that the same approach is now being aimed at Spurs' striker Harry Kane. Mind you, I would be more than happy to see Kane playing for Madrid rather those chancers from White Hart Lane!

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,

By Jeff Gayle 19 Oct 2017 at 17:00

This weekend West Ham kick off the weekend early, hosting Brighton & Hove Albion at the London Stadium on Friday evening. Ahead of the fixture I had a chat with Scott McCarthy from WeAreBrighton to discuss the game amongst other things.

First welcome back to the top division. It's been a while since you even flirted with promotion, when did you first start to think it could happen?
After we'd missed out on automatic promotion by one goal to Middlesbrough and then seen four players go off injured in the first leg of the play offs in 2016, I never thought it would happen! The Championship looked much stronger last year with Newcastle, Norwich and Villa all coming in and it seemed as though our best chance had gone. That was the most pleasing thing about last season – a lot of sides would've suffered a serious hangover after that sort of heartbreak yet we just dusted ourselves down and got on with it again. The Fulham away game at the turn of the year was a big moment. Fulham battered us for the entire game bar 90 seconds in which we scored twice and won 2-1. We took 7,000 to Craven Cottage that day and the general consensus after was that if we could be that outclassed by an opposition yet still find a way to win, then there was a real chance that promotion might actually happen.

What are the main differences you have noticed since coming back into the Premier League?
Mistakes get punished. We learnt that in our first game against Manchester City. Dale Stephens gave the ball away in what looks like a harmless position, as we would do last season. No problem, we'd always just win it back against a team in the Championship. This time though it goes through David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero and it's a goal.

Two wins and two draws is exactly the same as us in terms of results so far, are you pleased with your start?
I think we've got to be aiming for an average of a point a game, which is where we are. Our record at the Amex is pleasing, having only lost to Manchester City and even that 2-0 defeat looks a really good result now given the way they've been tearing times apart since. Burnley showed you can stay up on home form along but it would be nice to start picking up some points away from home – we've only got one so far and have only scored once on our travels.

I expect you'll be looking forward to the Palace game in November? Any other games you're looking forward to?
Having spent most of the last 30 years being largely rubbish, there are a load of clubs in the Premier League a generation of our supporters have never been to. We've already ticked off Arsenal away, but the trips to Manchester City, United, Everton, Chelsea and West Brom will all prove very popular.

Where do you think Brighton can finish in the Premier League this season?
Anywhere outside the relegation zone would do me. Realistically, I'd say 16th presuming we don't get left behind by other clubs strengthening in January

Where do you think West Ham can realistically finish the season?
Anywhere between 7th and 20th. What we are seeing is that it is effectively two mini leagues again, nobody is going to crack that top six and everyone else looks pretty similar. On paper West Ham are far too good to go down but we've said that before about some big clubs. If I had to pick an exact position, I'd go for 12th.

Which three teams do you think will suffer relegation and who will lift the title this season?
Manchester City are going to take some stopping and Manchester United aren't realistically going to do it as they won't pick up enough points from the others in the top six due to José Mourinho's love of sticking their team coach on the pitch. Relegation is ridiculously tough to call. Palace have a habit of managing to outdo us every season no matter what. We've finished above them twice in 20 years and in those two seasons they became the first ever visiting side to win at the Amex and then knocked us out in the play offs and won promotion. We could finish top 10 and they will still have one over us by being the only side to escape from such a hopeless position. Presuming that happens, I can see Huddersfield, Bournemouth and, erm, Swansea going.

Are you happy with the current make-up of your squad? Which positions do you think need strengthening?
Even Stevie Wonder can see we need a striker. We got lucky in getting through last season with only three senior forwards and it was obvious that wouldn't last this time around – lo and behold Glenn Murray and Sam Baldock were injured at the same time Tomer Hemed was suspended. Of those three, only Murray has played even semi regularly in the top flight before. Pascal Gross has papered over the cracks slightly by being superb in the number 10 role but a proven Premier League goal getter will give us a much greater chance of staying up. Just as well they are cheap and easy to find.

Chris Hughton has done brilliantly to get you promoted. Are you going to stick with him or will you dump him if and when the going gets tough?
Tony Bloom is one of the most pragmatic and loyal chairmen in the league. He even tried to talk – and certainly delayed by a couple of weeks – Sami Hyppia out of resigning when we looked destined for League One under the Finn. Even if we were to go down I'd be shocked if Hughton went, especially as Burnley have shown what can be done with a little bit of loyalty to Sean Dyche who took them up, down, up again and now looks as if he can establish them in the top flight.

How do you rate West Ham's Slaven Bilic as our manager?
I like Bilic but that might be more to do with the fact that he looks like he has just wandered out of a club at 3am and into the dugout. I don't know much else about him as – and I'm sure this will come as a surprise to Sky Sports – being a Brighton fan there has never really been much need to pay attention to the Premier League before this season. One thing I would say is that I don't think your owners with the pronouncements of top four football and the like have helped manage expectations at all and that will always make things difficult for a manager.

If you could have any current West Ham player in your first team who would you choose and why?
At the start of the season it would have been Joe Hart after David Stockdale decided he wanted to count a vast salary and signing on fee in a house overlooking Spaghetti Junction rather than play in the Premier League. Stockdale's replacement Matty Ryan has been excellent though so I'd go for either Javier Hernandez or Andy Carroll. Carroll would thrive on the service from Anthony Knockaert and Solly March out wide as Murray did last season although given that our players "short term" injuries tend to last for at least six weeks, God knows what the medical team would do with him.

Which Brighton player(s) will be key to your hopes this season?
Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy have been excellent this season and I don't think there is a better centre back pairing outside of the top six. We aren't going to score many goals so keeping them out is vital and on the way they have played so far, they are both clearly destined for bigger and better things than the Albion.

Any particular memories of West Ham/Brighton games of the past?
Well I'm hoping to last longer in the ground this time that I did on our last visit to Upton Park when I walked out after 20 minutes with you 3-0 up in favour of watching the Grand National in the pub. That proved to be a good decision as you went on to win 6-0. A far cry from when we won 1-0 under Mark McGhee with McGhee's famous 10-0-0 formation. Guy Butters got the only goal in one of the most incredible backs to the wall performances I can remember and we had plenty of those back then.

How do you expect Brighton to setup against West Ham on Saturday/ Team/formation prediction?
4-2-3-1 seems to be the norm for Hughton this season with the only doubts being over Duffy who went off with a groin problem in Sunday's draw with Everton. Seven of our 10 games so far this season have been level at the break so expect a pretty tight affair for the first half. I'm banking on a draw and probably a low scoring one at that, either 0-0 or 1-1.

Thanks to Scott for his time. Ever the optimist though, I think this will be the game that we can finally have a convincing win, I'm going for a 3 – 0 victory. Come on you Irons!

Slaven Bilic impressed by West Ham United goalkeeper Adrian in training
John Verrall

Adrian is yet to make a start for West Ham United in the Premier League this season. West Ham United boss Slaven Bilic has told Football.London that he can understand Adrian's comments, where he has suggested that he could move on from the London Stadium. Adrian has been dropped from West Ham's first-team this season in favour of Joe Hart. The Spanish stopper has still not played for the Hammers in the Premier League this season, and the 30-year-old could look to move on in January. But Bilic has offered Adrian hope that he could still break into West Ham's team ahead of Hart, if he continues to impress. "I can understand it. They want to play, be a regular, they are top sportsmen but we also need a good squad and two good keepers," Bilic said. "On the other hand, Adrian is a great professional and is acting in the way I wanted. He is very good in training, working hard. At the moment he is getting the cup only and that can change." Hart has had a rather indifferent start to life at West Ham, after signing from Manchester City. Bilic has stood by the goalkeeper, but he hasn't quite found his top form just yet. West Ham have made a poor start to the campaign, and they currently sit in 15th place in the Premier League table. If West Ham can beat Brighton tomorrow, they could move into the top half of the table.

Three reasons Slaven Bilic is wrong to sideline Toni Martinez against Brighton
by James Beavis
3 minute read 19/10/2017 | 07:20pm

According to West Ham United's official website, Irons boss Slaven Bilic confirmed that Toni Martinez is unlikely to be named in the squad against Brighton and Hove Albion on Friday night in his pre-match press conference, despite the fact that the Croatian could be missing three of his first-team strikers for the visit of the Seagulls.

While Andy Carroll misses out through suspension after being dismissed in the 1-1 draw against Burnley last weekend, Bilic also stated that Diafra Sakho will be absent because of a back problem, while Javier Hernandez could also be a doubt having had a scan on his hamstring this week after it felt tight in training.

The potential absence of the trio would certainly leave the east London outfit looking light up top, but despite that fact the manager seems unwilling to include the 20-year-old Martinez in his matchday squad.

The 49-year-old said: "Martinez is showing good form. He's been with us a couple of times, in pre-season, and is improving a lot, but we have enough options so he will probably not be in the squad."

Here are three reasons Bilic is wrong to leave Spaniard on the sidelines against Brighton…

Martinez is a goalscorer

While Bilic still has the likes of Michail Antonio, Marko Arnautovic and Andre Ayew available if Hernandez fails to make the clash against the Seagulls, you would think that he would like to at least have a goalscorer on the substitutes' bench – that is exactly what Martinez is. The 20-year-old made a big impression during pre-season and has scored 23 goals in 26 appearances for the U23s. He clearly knows where the net is and the Croatian boss could regret not including him in the squad if his team struggle to break the Brighton defence down.

He deserves a chance

With three strikers potentially missing against Brighton, you would think this would be the ideal opportunity for Bilic to give a promising young attacker a chance to impress and build up his experience by being included in a Premier League squad. The fact that the fixture is at home to a newly-promoted club – with no disrespect to the Seagulls – is surely even more of a reason for the 20-year-old not to be left on the sidelines, and the youngster would certainly have that extra bit of support from the London Stadium faithful.

Must-win game

Having said that West Ham "have to win" against Brighton in his pre-match press conference, Irons boss Slaven Bilic should have the options in his squad to be able to change the game should it not be going his side's way. Having failed to find a way past a resolute Swansea City defence until injury-time in their previous Premier League game at the London Stadium, the Croatian should have attacking players that can make a difference on the substitutes' bench against the Seagulls, and if Hernandez misses out and Arnautovic, Ayew and Antonio all start then that certainly wouldn't be the case.

West Ham United's red card record is not down to poor team discipline, insists manager Slaven Bilic who has had 12 players sent off since 2015
West Ham's Andy Carroll was sent off for two cautionable offences last weekend
Carroll's dismissal in the draw at Burnley was West Ham's second red this season
The Hammers have had 12 red cards since Slaven Bilic became manager in 2015
But Bilic does not believe that his team have any problems with their discipline
'None of these red cards were from a typical lack of discipline,' said boss Bilic
By Andy Sims, Press Association Sport
PUBLISHED: 19:36, 19 October 2017 | UPDATED: 19:36, 19 October 2017

Slaven Bilic has denied there is a lack of discipline at West Ham. The Hammers boss will be without Andy Carroll against Brighton on Friday night after the striker's red card, for two elbows in just over two minutes, during the draw at Burnley last weekend. New signing Marko Arnautovic also saw red at Southampton earlier this season, potentially costing West Ham more points. In total Hammers players have been shown 12 red cards since Bilic took over in 2015, but the Croatian insisted: 'Is there a lack of discipline? I don't think so. 'None of these red cards were from a typical lack of discipline. Nobody headbutted anyone. 'Andy's one, two yellows, was basically stupid. 'But many of the red cards we appealed and they were ruled out - three or four, or even five, were completely big mistakes from the referees. 'I don't remember one that I would connect with lack of discipline and letting the team down.'
Speculation over Bilic's future has eased in recent weeks, but he knows a poor result at home to the newly-promoted Seagulls will bring the storm clouds back.
'It's calm at the moment but it can change tomorrow night,' he added. 'We are still there, there are five teams on eight points. Whoever gets three points tomorrow, or after the weekend, is going have a calm week. 'But then you have those hurricanes, there's no point trying to think about that. 'You have no time and no need to concentrate on those things, if you focus on that you have a problem. You concentrate on what you can effect, and then you can influence the pressure. 'You can ease the pressure with a new game but to talk about long-term stability you need a good run, five, six, seven or eight games, that's the rule for every manager.' As well as Carroll, Bilic will be without Diafra Sakho, who has a minor back injury, but Javier Hernandez is expected to be fit despite a hamstring niggle.

PSG's Thomas Meunier should've chosen West Ham if he wanted first-team football
Danny Owen

Thomas Meunier wants to play more for Paris Saint-Germain - but there's little doubt he'd have been West Ham's first-choice right-back. Thomas Meunier is unlikely to be making any longing glances towards the London Stadium any time soon. The Belgian defender told Telefoot back in February that West Ham United were among one of the clubs keen to take him away from Club Brugge after his impressive performances at Euro 2016. As soon as Paris Saint-Germain entered the race, however, and put Champions League football on the table, Meunier's heart was set on a move to the Ligue 1 giants. And who could blame him? While PSG look set to storm to the French league title this season and challenge for a maiden Champions League crown after making Neymar and Kylian Mbappe the two most expensive players in footballing history, The Hammers are sitting 15th in the Premier League with doubts still surrounding the future of manager Slaven Bilic.
Though one thing West Ham would have guaranteed Meunier, that PSG cannot, is regular first-team football. And it's fair to say the 26-year-old's lack of regular starts in France is starting to grate on him.

'I'm not a priority'

"(It is frustrating) because I want to play every match, whether it's against Gueugnon, Niort or Bayern Munich," Meunier, who has started just five Ligue 1 games from 11 this season with Dani Alves (below) ahead of him in the pecking order, said in quotes reported by The Sun. "I want to be on the pitch every time. I am in a team which is one of the top five in the world where the backups and the starters are about the same level. "I just have to be patient for now, because I'm not the priority."

Meunier, who has a remarkable seven goals in ten games for club and country in 2017/18 from right-back, certainly would have found first-team football far easier to come by at West Ham. Nonetheless, it is for the Belgian to decide whether he would rather fight for the Champions League as a squad player or struggle in the Premier League as an undisputed starter.

West Ham United fans react on Twitter to Toni Martinez's omission
John Verrall

West Ham United are set to take on Brighton & Hove Albion, but Toni Martinez will not feature. West Ham United's Croatian manager West Ham United fans have been left furious, after Slaven Bilic confirmed that Antonio Martinez will miss out on featuring against Brighton & Hove Albion to Football.London. Martinez has been in scintillating form for West Ham's development squad recently, and he has scored with great frequency. The Spanish forward's excellent form has led to calls for him to be given a chance by Bilic, and it seemed that tomorrow's match was a great opportunity for the former Valencia man to be handed his debut.
West Ham are without a number of their first choice strikers, with Bilic's options limited. Andy Carroll is currently out with suspension, Diafra Sakho is injured and Javier Hernandez is nursing a hamstring problem. However, Bilic is still not going to give Martinez a chance - and West Ham fans are furious with the Croatian boss.

MR ⚒ @WHU_MR2013
Good lineup IMO, im just annoyed Martinez isn't gonna be amongst the subs 😩
2:28 PM - Oct 19, 2017
1 1 Reply Retweets 1 1 like

Waller @waller_whu
Replying to @WestHamMatters
Why won't he just give Martinez a chance!?
2:27 PM - Oct 19, 2017
1 1 Reply Retweets likes

West Ham Community @WHU_Forever
No Carroll, sakho or Martínez 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂
Brett @AnsellBrett
Billic has to go if that is the case, cannot see how he can carry on. We will end up losing Martinez to another club and he will go on and
2:22 PM - Oct 19, 2017
Replies Retweets 1 1 like

MR ⚒ @WHU_MR2013
If Sakho injury & Carroll' sending off cant get Toni Martinez in the squad, then I dunno what will..
1:46 PM - Oct 19, 2017
1 1 Reply Retweets 2 2 likes

West Ham News @WHUFC_News
Bilic on Martinez: "We have good options. He will not be in the squad."
Simon Rees @TheEarlofEssex
Slowly loosing faith - we have options - oh yeah they all have the same scoring rate then eh
2:16 PM - Oct 19, 2017

Adrian Bailey @abailey2791
Replying to @WHUFC_News
He is one of our better options and if I and the many thousands on here can see it why the hell cant he ??⚒
2:40 PM - Oct 19, 2017

Steven Blewitt @blewitt_17
So Sakho is out Friday and Martinez still not going to be even in the squad? I wonder what goes through Bilics head sometimes #COYI #WHUFC
1:59 PM - Oct 19, 2017

☘Irish Tommy 5280 ⚒ @tomster36
Carroll & Sakho out but Bilic not calling up Martinez because "We have enough options". Seriously? Please tell me he's not playing 1 up top?
2:34 PM - Oct 19, 2017
2 2 Replies Retweets 3 3 likes

Danny ⚒ Hopkins @1DannyHopkins
Bilic starting to grind me , no sakho no Carroll and Hernandez not completely fit still not giving Martinez a go !
2:12 PM - Oct 19, 2017
Replies 1 1 Retweet 2 2 likes
The logical process is to start Martinez tomorrow. The Bilic process is to start Adrian up top with the kit man

— ΔИDY (@_AXDY_) October 19, 2017
West Ham are currently in 15th place in the Premier League table, but if they can beat Brighton, Bilic's side will move into the top half.

Marko Arnautovic determined to prove himself at West Ham
Saikat Mandal

West Ham summer signing Marko Arnautovic is determined to prove himself at his new club. West Ham forward Marko Arnautovic is determined to make a strong impact for the London club. He is keen to take his game to the next level at West Ham, but so far has not started well. The 28-year-old joined the Hammers this summer from Stoke City for a club-record transfer fee of £20 million, that could rise to £25 million, according to BBC. In his second match, Arnautovic was shown a straight red card against Southampton. He is yet to open his account for the Hammers, and hasn't really made an impact in truest sense. He understands that expectations are high, and is also aware that he hasn't made a great start at his club. However, he says that he is determined to prove his worth to the club and the fans. The former Stoke player adds that he is happy and grateful to be given an opportunity to represent a big club like West Ham.

Arnautovic has left a strong message for the fans, and also for the haters, that he should not be judged this soon. "I want to show people - especially the haters - what I am capable of and bring this club up with everything I have got," said Arnautovic, as quoted by the Daily Mail. "Don't judge me after four games. Judge me at the end. Expectation of me is high and I know people are not happy. I have apologised for the red card, it was stupid. And then I've been ill and I can't change it. So it's not been great and I know that. "I hear people saying I came for £27million and have done nothing. I want to show the club they didn't pay so much money for nothing."

Javier Hernandez injured in training as West Ham face striker crisis for Brighton clash - report
West Ham could be without Javier Hernandez when they face Brighton
Football London

Slaven Bilic could be left with a shortage of senior strikers for Friday night's clash with Brighton with a report claiming that Javier Hernandez pulled up in training on Tuesday. The West Ham boss already knows that he will be without Andy Carroll for tomorrow's game after the England striker was sent off during the Hammers' 1-1 draw at Burnley over the weekend. But Bilic could be forced to call upon Diafra Sakho or even U23 striker Toni Martinez to lead the line against the Seagulls. Claret & Hugh report that Hernandez was sent for a scan after suffering an leaving training early this week, although the extent of the injury is not currently known. The Mexican striker apparently did not report for training on Wednesday following the scare on Tuesday, and faces a late fitness test to be available for Friday night's game. Chicharito has started every league game for the Hammers so far this season but has so far scored in just two of those appearances, both of which ended in 3-2 defeats - including a brace against Southampton. If Hernandez cannot play, then perhaps fans will get their wish to see Spanish forward Martinez given a shot with the first team after he has continued to impress for the U23 side this season. The 20-year-old scored at hat-trick on Sunday as the Irons beat Manchester United 4-2 at the London Stadium, giving him a record of seven goals in his seven Premier League 2 games so far in the current campaign. Fans already took to Twitter this week to tell club co-owner David Gold that they want to see Martinez included in the senior team sooner rather than later.


Thursday, October 19

Daily WHUFC News - 19th October 2017

Noble: Our squad is stronger than ever

Mark Noble is ready to play his part against Brighton & Hove Albion on Friday evening. The captain was an unused substitute for Saturday's 1-1 Premier League draw at Burnley, but his experience, input and encouragement still played a big role in West Ham United securing a point, despite playing for more than an hour with ten men. And Noble says his absence from the starting XI was a representation of just how strong the Hammers' squad is, now the Club's injured players have returned to action. "Whether I am involved from the start or not [on Friday], I will prepare the same way and give the same input in the dressing room and on the pitch, either way," he said. "I have played regularly for this Club for over a decade now, but we now have a bigger and stronger squad than ever and that means the manager will take decisions to pick certain players for certain matches. "Some people might think a player being left out of the starting XI is a big talking point, but it isn't, for me. It's just the result of the Club having a big squad full of quality players and only eleven of them can start the game. "We saw against Swansea that substitutes can make a massive difference when they come on and, at the end of the day, football is a results game and our substitutes helped us get a positive result in our last home game."

Looking ahead to Friday's London Stadium meeting with newly-promoted Brighton, Noble says another strong defensive showing will be the foundation for another home victory. West Ham have won three out of four games at London Stadium in all competitions this season, five of the last eight dating back to March, and three points against the Seagulls would move them into the top half of the Premier League table for the first time this season. "All that matters at this stage is putting points on the board and sometimes you have to sacrifice your playing style to win games, and we probably did that a bit against Swansea City here last time out. At the end of the day, a win is a win, and that is all that matters. "That victory was built on the fact we defended well and had kept a clean sheet going into the final stages of the game, then we brought Manu, Arthur and Diaf on and they combined to make the difference in the end. "Hopefully, now we have moved up the table a bit and got a few more points, we can play with a bit more freedom and enjoy ourselves."

Standard Tickets for Friday's Premier League fixture with Brighton & Hove Albion are available now via the Ticket Exchange.
The match will also be screened live in the UK by Sky Sports, with kick-off at 8pm.

Hammers proud to host royal visit

West Ham United were proud to welcome the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry to London Stadium, where the Club played host to a graduation ceremony of 150 apprentices from The Royal Foundation's inspiring apprenticeship initiative Coach Core, who partner with Hammers. Coach Core improves the availability and quality of sports coaching whilst creating much needed employment for young people, and West Ham's home proved the perfect backdrop for an event about opportunity, hard work, and achievement, which included participation from a number of Coach Core apprentices who have now been employed as part-time coaches in the West ham United Foundation.

Vice-Chairman Karren Brady welcomed the illustrious guests and accompanied them on a tour which included practical demonstrations, which were supported by manager Slaven Bilic, captain Mark Noble and Chicharito. In her speech at the graduation ceremony, Vice-Chairman Brady spoke about the Club's commitment to the community, and the desire to change lives through education. "This Stadium represents for us far more than simply being a venue for Premier League football matches," she said. "When we secured it as our future home in 2013, it was our vision that London Stadium would become the heart of a community and a place where young people can see opportunity, success and a bright future, whatever their background. "My Board are fully committed to making a genuine difference to people's lives and a key focus for us has been doing so via something which is close to my heart – advancing the education and development of children and young adults." "We have in recent years worked with, mentored and delivered opportunities for 120 apprentices with an incredible 87 per cent from Newham and the surrounding Olympic boroughs. "Our work with the fantastic Coach Core began when we arrived here at the Stadium last summer and has seen all of the 2016/17 cohorts end up in part or full-time employment here at the Club, such was their potential and talent."

The Duke and Duchess were impressed at the quality of coaching displayed with some key names in sports providing masterclasses, including Max Whitlock, Judy Murray and Will Greenwood. The West Ham United first team trio of Bilic, Noble and Chicharito held their own football masterclass, but were also in demand for autographs and selfies, before sharing a conversation with all three Royals in attendance. "It was my first time meeting royalty and, of course, it was a huge honour to meet and talk to them," Bilic said. "They are very down to earth and know about football, while we also had a very interesting discussion about the project. "We spoke about how important Coach Core has been in giving kids a chance, with a clear path to a good education and the opportunity for a better life. When I was young there wasn't opportunities like this available. "The kids are enthusiastic - it means so much to them and it was a big pleasure to spend some time with them. "I'm very proud to be a part of this Club and all of us connected to West Ham are very proud to be a part of this project."

In a lighthearted moment which brought smiles to the faces of all in attendance, Noble produced a gift for The Duke and Duchess - West Ham United shirts for Prince George and Princess Charlotte. "It was just a little something from all of us at West Ham United – we wanted to make them feel as welcome as possible," said Noble. "I met Prince Harry years ago at Upton Park but it was meeting my first time meeting Prince William and Princess Kate - it was fantastic to see them all.

Noble added: "We spoke about the Stadium and what West Ham being in Stratford has done for the local area. "Coach Core has given young people a chance to get involved in sport, which is very important in my eyes. It was a pleasure to play a small part in helping them."

Vice-Chairman delighted to welcome royal guests to London Stadium

West Ham United Vice-Chairman Karren Brady gave the below speech at Wednesday's visit of the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry to the Coach Core graduation ceremony at London Stadium...

Your Royal Highnesses, ladies, gentlemen and distinguished guests, I am delighted to welcome you this afternoon to the home of West Ham United, the iconic London Stadium. Today is a celebration. A celebration of opportunity, of hard work, and of achievement. A celebration for the talented and impressive young people who sit before me today. A celebration that the pledge we made here at West Ham to provide life-changing opportunities for those in our community continues to come to fruition. And, most importantly, a celebration of the strong partnership formed with Coach Core over the last 15 months and their proud record of delivering for young people. All of this makes London Stadium the perfect venue for your graduation. This Stadium represents for us far more than simply being a venue for Premier League football matches. When we secured it as our future home in 2013, it was our vision that London Stadium would become the heart of a community. A place where young people can see opportunity, success and a bright future, whatever their background. The belief that sport can truly change lives runs through the DNA of our club, and our award winning Foundation is widely hailed as leading the way in the Premier League.

Since arriving here in 2016 we've invested over £2.5m in community output in Newham and the surrounding Olympic boroughs alone , directly benefiting over 25,000 local residents around London Stadium. In this coming season we will invest a further £3.2m. This is before you consider our work back in Upton Park and East Ham which continues to buck the trend too, spearheading another major regeneration in London. My Board are fully committed to making a genuine difference to people's lives and a key focus for us has been doing so via something which is close to my heart - advancing the education and development of children and young adults. We have in recent years worked with, mentored and delivered opportunities for 120 apprentices with an incredible 87% from Newham and the surrounding Olympic boroughs.

Our very own West Ham United skill school – the first of its kind in the Premier League - launches later this month and will take our pledge to upskill the future leaders and champions of industry one step further. Funded through the government's apprenticeship levy we have taken on a further 27 new apprentices already as part of this initiative. But today is all about you - the 150 young people who sit here today thanks to the work of Coach Core, positively brimming with potential and ready to make a real difference.

Our work with Coach Core began when we arrived here at the Stadium last summer and has seen all of the 2016/17 cohorts end up in part or full time employment here at the Club, such was their potential and talent. Take Sonny Vaye, here with us today. Sonny has been with West Ham for close to two years now having joined as a sports trainee and then being signposted by the Club to become a Coach Core apprentice. He participated in our Film School project, producing a short film to be aired at BT Sports studios, and has even been selected to participate in the FA's photography initiative of Wembley to Soweto. I am proud to say Sonny is also now a coach for our Foundation and on Friday night he will be one of the photographers at our Premier League match against Brighton.
So the bar is set high for this intake! No pressure!

It's fantastic to see Sir Keith Mills here today who I must also pay tribute to. You should be immensely proud to have played such a key part in the bid for London 2012, delivered the finest Games the world has ever seen, and to have spearheaded such a stunning regeneration in one of London's most deprived boroughs.

All of us here this afternoon are continuing to play our part in that success story, and those graduating today from the incredible Coach Core programme are just the latest generation to benefit. May today's fantastic event, celebrating our graduates' tremendous success and the exceptional work of Coach Core and the Royal Highnesses, whose personal dedication and genuine determination to support apprentices has driven the programme forward, mark just the beginning of a wonderful journey, and the springboard for all of your future success.

We are truly proud to host a group of such exceptional individuals.

Adrian 'unhappy' at playing second fiddle
Filed: Wednesday, 18th October 2017
By: Staff Writer

West Ham goalkeeper Adrian is looking to leave the club in the next transfer window due to a lack of playing time. The Spanish goalkeeper, who has made just two appearances thus far this season - both in the Carabao Cup - is fed up with sitting on the bench, especially in a World Cup year. Despite having never featured for Spain at full international level, the 30-year-old stopper is keen to enhance his chances of being picked for Russia 2018 - something that he feels is impossible at West Ham at present. "The coach is not giving me much game time this year, Adrian told Spanish daily Marca. "The possibility of playing for the national team also disappears when you are not playing. "The market will re-open [in January] and an agreement must be reached because I am not happy in this situation. I wouldn't mind trying other leagues. I want to enjoy every Sunday - and that is achieved by playing."

Adrian, who joined West Ham on a free transfer in the summer of 2013 received his first call-up to the Spanish squad in in August 2016 for the games against Belgium and Liechtenstein when taking the place of his country's most-capped player, Iker Casillas. However he has not been involved since - whilst losing his first team spot at West Ham to the on-loan Joe Hart.

Oxford should stay in Germany
Filed: Wednesday, 18th October 2017
By: Staff Writer

Borussia Monchengladbach sporting director Max Eberl says that on-loan Reece Oxford should persevere with his season-long loan - despite not having played a single competitive match for his new club. West Ham's teenage star was sent to Germany on loan for the season in order to gain some much-needed first team experience. However he is yet to play a single minute in the Bundesliga - leading to suggestions that his develop would be better served back home in England.
But not so, says Eberl - who insists that the England youth international should remain in Germany for the forseeable future. "It would make no sense for Reece to go back [to England] in December," he told the Times. "There is a clause that they could take him back if he plays too few games. But we hope to be able to show Reece and West Ham very soon that he can have a perfect development here this season. "The example for him is Andreas Christensen - not an English player, but another top, talented defender from a Premier League club. Andreas played two years here at the top level, made a huge improvement and is now playing for Chelsea."

Monchengladback are currently 5th in the Bundesliga having won four and drawn two of their opening eight league fixtures. Oxford has been an unused sub in every match bar the opening game of the campaign.

Hernandez has epilepsy, claims former colleague
Filed: Wednesday, 18th October 2017
By: Staff Writer

A medical aide claims that West Ham's big summer signing, Javier Hernandez, lives with epilepsy. In a report published by El Universal, Dr Rafael Ortega - who is employed by Chivas de Guadalajara, Hernandez's former club as Director of Medical Services - claims to have treated the Irons star for six years, who it is said suffered several seizures during that period. According to Ortega, a former professional footballer himself, Hernandez has suffered from epileptic fits since he was a youth. However medical advancements have allowed the Mexican international to enjoy a largely uninterrupted career. The news is said to have come as something of a surprise, given that Hernandez has never previously spoken about the condition, which causes sufferers to experience sudden loss of consciousness or convulsions.

Noble: being sub 'no big deal'
Filed: Wednesday, 18th October 2017
By: Staff Writer

Mark Noble says he has no issue with being named as a substitute for last weekend's 1-1 draw at Burnley. West Ham's club captain was an unused substitute as the Hammers drew 1-1 with the Clarets at Turf Moor, leading to yet more speculation that his time as a guaranteed first team squad member are numbered.
However Nobes chose to take a more philosophical approach to his omission - insisting that the team should always come first. "Some people might think a player being left out of the starting XI is a big talking point, but it isn't, for me," he told "It's just the result of the club having a big squad full of quality players and only eleven of them can start the game. "Whether I am involved from the start or not I will prepare the same way and give the same input in the dressing room and on the pitch, either way. "I have played regularly for this Club for over a decade now, but we now have a bigger and stronger squad than ever and that means the manager will take decisions to pick certain players for certain matches. "All that matters at this stage is putting points on the board and sometimes you have to sacrifice your playing style to win games."

West Ham's - and potentially Noble's - next test comes against Brighton & Hove Albion at the Olympic Stadium this Friday evening.

Adrian open to West Ham exit in bid to boost Spain chances
By Sky Sports News
Last Updated: 18/10/17 12:23pm

Adrian has revealed he is hoping to leave West Ham in January after falling out of favour under manager Slaven Bilic. The Spanish goalkeeper is yet to feature in the Premier League this season, with Bilic opting to start summer signing Joe Hart. Adrian, whose only appearances have come in the Carabao Cup wins against Cheltenham and Bolton, believes he must leave the Hammers in order to boost his chance of inclusion in Spain's World Cup squad. "The coach is not giving me much ball this year, but the data is there. It only remains to fight," the 30-year-old, who signed a new two-year deal in the summer, told Radio Marca. "The possibility also to play for the national team when you are not playing also disappears. The market will be reopened and an agreement must be reached because I am not happy in this situation. "Try other leagues? I would not mind. I want to enjoy every Sunday and that is achieved by playing." Adrian joined West Ham from Real Betis on a free transfer in June 2013 and has since featured 125 times for the club. He earned his first call-up to the Spain squad in August 2016 for the matches against Belgium and Liechtenstein, but did not feature.

The Mirror

West Ham could soon have a royal following after the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were given replica football shirts for their young children. The couple were handed the gifts by club captain Mark Noble as they visited the London Stadium, alongside Prince Harry, for the graduation ceremony of dozens of sports coaching apprentices, as part of the Coach Core scheme. The claret and blue shirts were emblazoned with George and Charlotte's names and ages, 4 and 2, respectively. But whether the children will wear the shirts is still in question - with William supporting another team in claret and blue. As he was welcomed by West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady, Aston Villa fan William joked: "Right colours, wrong team."

Speaking of his presents, Noble said: "It was just a little gift from West Ham really. "We know William is an Aston Villa fan - whether they (the shirts) will get put on or not, I don't know. "It's just a gesture from us to welcome them to the club."

Noble was speaking to the Duke and Duchess as they watched practical sports sessions in action, including football, gymnastics, tennis and rugby. Among the famous faces involved in the sessions was tennis coach Judy Murray, the mother of Andy and Jamie Murray. She said it was "amazing" for William and Kate to be at the event, adding: "For them to be here is a huge inspiration for the young people." She said she spoke to the Duchess about her children and how parents can develop coordination skills at a young age, including playing with balloons. Ms Murray stuck with the theme of West Ham - whose fans sing "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles", adding: "I was telling them to try bubbles as well." She said: "The Prince and the Duchess are very sporty, both of them, and I'm sure they will be keen for their kids to enjoy sport as well."

Before the graduation ceremony William, Kate and Harry, attended a reception to meet key figures who have helped deliver the programme, as well as hearing about future plans for Coach Core. The scheme, designed by the Royal Foundation, is designed to teach apprentices, aged between 16 and 24, technical sports skills alongside coaching, with an emphasis on employability. The organisation says 98% of its graduates are in full-time employment or education, while 80% retain strong ties with their employers and continue to engage in community sport.

Why Prince William loves Aston Villa

Prince William revealed why he snubbed more successful clubs like Manchester United to become an Aston Villa fan prior to presenting the FA Cup at Wembley at the 2015 final. "I got into football big time, and was looking around for clubs," he said. "All my school friends were either Manchester United or Chelsea fans, and I didn't want to follow the run of the mill teams. "I wanted to have a team that would give me more of an emotional rollercoaster, which looking back, was a bad idea! Aston Villa have always had a great history."

By S J Chandos 18 Oct 2017 at 08:00

The youth set up at West Ham is looking remarkably healthy with the merging talent in the pipeline. Not only has Declan Rice made the break through this season, but youngsters such as Holland, Quina and Martinez are also pushing hard for inclusion at first team level. Indeed, of these latter youngsters, perhaps Spanish youngster Martintez is making the strongest case for inclusion in the match day squad. Those claims must surely be upgraded with his brilliant hat trick for the U-23s against the Manchester United U-23s and the impending non-availability of Carroll due to suspension.

No one can accuse Martinez of not 'doing the business' at U-23 level. He has the outstanding record of scoring 23 goals in 26 appearances since he joined the club. Yes, it could be legitimately argued that there is a clear difference between 'hitting the back of the net' at U-23 level and in the PL, but surely his goal scoring record positively merits a break through to the first team. Especially as Carroll's absence means that there could very well be a vacancy for a striker on the bench against Brighton. I would argue that in these circumstances it is only right that Martinez is included on the bench, with Sakho and Hernandez starting on Friday evening. After all, if Bilic is being genuinely meritocratic in his selection policy then there is little to deter such a move. What is the alternative, to rely on Ayew as an auxiliary striker?

The opportunity is there to elevate Martinez to the bench and Bilic should not only take it, but be seen to take it. He should do so because Martinez strongly merits it and he must be seen to reward outstanding performance. If you perform like Martinez and make no impact at first team level what does that say about the longer-term prospects of West Ham's Academy products? The failure to progress when excelling means that youngsters will get discouraged and look to move on and new prospects will be reluctant to join a club where their chances are perceived as limited. That is a situation to be avoided at all costs for the future of the club.

So, the question is: is Bilic brave enough to take this decision or will he back slide on it? We need to re-establish the club's reputation for not only producing its own talent but also successfully managing the transition to the first team. We have the talent and it needs improved access to first team opportunities at the club, as well as appropriate, and developmental, loan deals. At this juncture in the season it is probably Martinez who is pushing hardest for an opportunity.

The opportunity is there on Friday evening, so lets see it happen!

SJ. Chandos.