Wednesday, March 5

Daily WHUFC News - 5th March 2014

Demel's still looking up
West Ham United defender Guy Demel remains focused on helping the Hammers
stay in the top half

Guy Demel is staying positive despite West Ham United's late defeat at
Everton on Saturday. On loan Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku struck with just
nine minutes to play to end the Hammers' five-game unbeaten run. But the
No20 felt his side could have come away with a point after once again
defending solidly, and his eyes remain on the top half of the Barclays
Premier League table. He explained: "Of course there is still work to be
done, it's the Premier League so every game is going to be tough. Even top
teams are losing points, that's why everyone wants to play in this league,
and we have to fight in every game.
"We're still looking up rather than down, we're positive. We knew that when
we were down, we could get ourselves out of the situation - we did that and
now we have to make sure we stay away from there. "It's been good to have a
settled back line, and we've been lucky in the last few games that everyone
is fit. It's easier when you play every week with the same defence, but we
have a great squad. "We have people like Winston Reid, who is a great
defender. Joey O'Brien too, but this season we haven't had a settled defence
until recently, with so many injuries."

For Demel, Saturday's game was a tough one given that he only returned to
training the day before the match following a bout of tonsilitis. He
continued: "I had a fever. On Monday the doc came because I had a high
temperature and my glands were swollen. I stayed at home for a couple of
days, came back on Thursday and joined in on Friday. "It's not easy when
you're taking antibiotics, but no excuses, I tried my best on the pitch. I
was kind of disappointed because I had to leave my teammates on the pitch."

Behind the Ivorian and his defensive colleagues, Adrian has only conceded
two goals in six games, and Demel believes he is being pushed on by Jussi
Jaaskelainen behind him. He added: "Adrian is a very good goalkeeper, but I
don't want people to forget that Jussi was outstanding last year. If Adrian
plays well, people should know it's because he has Jussi in the back, who
helped him to integrate. "But yes, he's a good goalkeeper, we're happy for
him and I'm sure that the West Ham fans will see a lot more from him. We're
kind of lucky because we have two great goalkeepers."

By S J Chandos 4 Mar 2014 at 08:30
West Ham Till I Die

There was a disturbing report in yesterday's Sports Mail that the we could
be on the verge of losing the most promising youngster at the club.
Apparently, Elliott Lee is in the final year of his current contract and
negotiations over a new deal have allegedly stalled. If there is no progress
in those contract talks then Lee will become a free agent this summer, with
a transfer fee being set by the Professional Football Compensation Committee
(PFCC). And, of course, it is easy to draw a comparison with the situation
of highly prized former starlet, Robert Hall, who last season ran down his
Hammers contract and subsequently joined Bolton Wanderers, with the PFCC
setting a fee of just £450,00.

Elliott Lee is undoubtedly an excellent striking prospect, this being
underlined this season by his record of 8 goals in 13 matches for the U-21
Development Squad. And it is thought that a number of other clubs are
actively monitoring his situation. Lee made his first team debut as a 78th
minute substitute in the FA Cup 3rd round away replay, against Man Utd, on
16 January 2013, in a 1-0 defeat. He followed that up with his Premier
League debut, as a substitute in a 0-1 home defeat to Stoke City, on 31
August 2013. Further first team opportunities have been scarce. And on 22
October 2013, Lee went out on a one month loan to Colchester Utd, where he
played made four appearances and scored one goal.

The emergence of this worrying report begs some pertinent questions. Namely,
has Elliott Lee decided that his career prospects are better off elsewhere;
does he not rate his chances of breaking in to the first team with the
currently preferred tactics/formation; or will this ultimately prove to be
an inaccurate report? Time will tell, but we should keep a careful eye on
developments. Following on from the lack of current first team opportunities
for our youngsters, the continual loan deals and the cynical sacrifice of a
youthful team at Notts Forrest, the loss of an outstanding prospect like Lee
would only reaffirm the perception that a negative direction of journey is
underway. West Ham have a proud heritage of producing its own talent, but
that tradition appears to be presently under threat. Much as it concerns and
saddens me to say it, this increasingly seems to be the unavoidable
conclusion to be drawn.

Lets hope that both the story and this conclusion proves erroneous. It would
certainly be interesting to hear how the Academy figures in the board's
plans and strategies for the future of the club. The club have made the
right noises in the past, but one might well ask where is the follow
through, where are the concrete outputs? Is the Academy of English Football
under threat, as we continue to base our first team plans predominantly on
the acquisition of a succession of 30 somethings? And will it all be
executed in the name of expediency and the cut throat nature of Premier
League survival?

SJ. Chandos.


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