Wednesday, June 17

Daily WHUFC News - 17th June 2015

Valencia scores in five goal thriller

Enner Valencia scored for Ecuador and missed a penalty in Ecuador's 3-2 defeat to Bolivia on Monday 15 June. The Bolivians recorded a surprise victory over La Tri, having taken a 2-0 lead after just 18 minutes. Ronald Raldes headed La Verde ahead before Martin Smedberg-Dalence curled an effort in from 25 yards out. Ecuador were given a lifeline when they were awarded a penalty for a seemingly innocuous challenge. The West Ham United striker ran up and confidently slotted the spot kick home however he was ordered to retake it. Again Valencia ran up, full of intent, yet goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez guessed correctly and saved the spot kick. Just before half-time, and it was Bolivia who were awarded a penalty. Striker Marcelo Moreno made no mistake, smashing his shot past Romel Quinonez. Having established a seemingly secure lead, Bolivia visibly relaxed, almost to their cost. Swansea City's Jefferson Montero burst through the defence before unselfishly squaring to Valencia, who could not miss from six yards out. Spurred on by the lifeline, they carried on pressing and were rewarded when Miller Bolanos unstoppable drive flew in from 30 yards. A nervy last ten minutes ensued, however Bolivia held on for a vital win.
Ecuador's third and final group game is against Mexico on Friday 19 June, a game they will have to win to give them any chance of progressing to the knock out stages.

Carroll - I am getting stronger

West Ham United striker Andy Carroll is confident he will be ready for the start of the new season after working hard throughout the summer to recover from a knee injury. Carroll has been sidelined since February after he picked up the injury during the 0-0 draw against Southampton at St Mary's Stadium. With most of his team-mates away on their summer holidays, the former Newcastle and Liverpool forward has stayed behind at the club's training ground to work on his recovery. The England striker has recently resumed jogging and hopes to be back out on the training pitch kicking a ball in the near future. West Ham start their Europa League campaign on 2 July and Carroll is excited to be working his way back to full fitness at just the right time. Carroll said: "The injury is going well and I have pretty much been in every day working on it and strengthening the injury. I started jogging and it is all getting better. "I have been in the gym a long time now and it is nice to be outside going for a jog and it felt great afterwards. Hopefully I can be back out there. "I want to step it up again and start kicking a ball but I am glad to be outside and moving again."

2014/15 Season Review - February

Following the heady heights of the first half of the season, conceding late goals would prove costly for West Ham United.

Perhaps it was a sign of how far the Hammers had come in such a short space of time that fans left the Boleyn Ground disappointed after drawing 1-1 with Manchester United.

A supercharged Cheikhou Kouyate was in scintillating form – a performance that would be recognised at the end of season Player Awards – and the Senegalese international capped a terrific display with the opening goal.

The combative midfielder juggled the ball twice in a crowded area, before turning on the spot to lash the ball past David de Gea. Just when it looked as though his second goal of the season would seal the win, Daley Blind volleyed home a loose ball in the dying minutes to salvage a point.

Just three days later, and this time a draw represented a good result as the Irons travelled to Southampton.

The Saints shaded most of the game and when goalkeeper Adrian was sent off midway through the second half, it was backs to the wall stuff.

Substitute Jussi Jaaskelainen, in his only league appearance of the campaign, pulled off a string of saves to secure a valuable point and a rare clean sheet.

With the fixtures piling up something had to crack, and how it did away at West Bromwich Albion. They say the romance of the FA Cup has gone, and based on this Valentine's Day showing, the Baggies certainly showed no love for the Hammers.

A sluggish West Ham were punished by two goals either side of the break completed the rout, and insult was added to injury when Morgan Amalfitano was sent off ten minutes after coming on having petulantly struck out at Chris Brunt, a former teammate.

Following the Cup exit, the Irons were looking for a response and what better opposition to do just that against that Tottenham at White Hart Lane.

A hungry West Ham, full of intensity, took to the field and found themselves 2-0 up through goals from Cheikhou Kouyate and Diafra Sakho. Led by an inspirational Mark Noble, the Hammers really could have scored more, yet Spurs made them pay for missing chances.

Danny Rose halved the arrears with ten minutes remaining to ensure a nervy finale. Just as it looked like the Hammers would survive the onslaught, Tottenham's main man Harry Kane was felled by Alex Song in the 94th minute. He dusted himself down, and levelled with the last kick of the game. Adrian managed to get hands to the England man's effort, parrying the penalty straight back to him who did not waste the second bite of the cherry.

In the final game of February, Alan Pardew returned to east London for the first time as Crystal Palace manager. Glenn Murray proved a constant menace, scoring twice before getting sent off while Scott Dann piled on further misery from set pieces. Pardew's rejuvenated Eagles were now really flying.

West Ham scouted Leeds duo
Filed: Tuesday, 16th June 2015
By: Staff Writer

West Ham have been keeping tabs on Leeds youngsters Sam Byram and Lewis Cook. That's according to Martyn Glover, West Ham's former Head of Recruitment who moved to Leeds earlier this week.
Speaking to Leeds United's website, Glover - who was confirmed as the Whites new recruitment officer yesterday - revealed that he and other scouts from West Ham had been monitoring 22-year-old winger Byram and his team mate, 18-year-old midfielder Cook prior to his departure. "People like Sam Bryam and Lewis Cook we were quite strong on and watched a lot of them last season," he said. "It will be nice to hopefully develop these players now I am here. "Leeds have always produced good young players and that's testament to the club and the academy here and the way they have done things in the past." With regards to his time at West Ham, Glover added: "I had a great relationship with Sam (Allardyce). Aaron Cresswell was West Ham's player-of-the-season in his first year in the Premier League, which was lovely. It was pleasing to be part of that. "There's one or two more like that at West Ham who have done particularly well."

He's no mug: Toby tempted by West Ham offer
Filed: Tuesday, 16th June 2015
By: Staff Writer

West Ham have reignited their interest in Dutch central defender Toby Alderweireld. KUMB reported in August 2014 how the Hammers were investigating the possibility of bringing the 26-year-old Belgian international, who is contracted for Athletico Madrid, to the Boleyn on a season-long loan. Although that move failed to materialise, with Alderweireld eventually signing for Southampton instead, West Ham are understood to have renewed their interest and have already held talks with Alderweireld. The defender cost Madrid €7million when they signed him from Dutch side Ajax in September 2013. He made his debut in a 1-0 defeat at Espanyol a month later and went on to become a first team regular. However he was considered surplus to requirements less than a year after joining Los Colchoneros and shipped out to Southampton, for whom he featured on 28 occasions last term. Despite insisting upon a clause allowing them to purchase the player for £7million upon the completion of the loan deal, Southampton have thus far refrained from triggering that option. Arsenal and Chelsea have also been linked with Alderweireld in recent days. "I really want to go to a club that really wants me", he said recently. "There are three options - stay with Atlético, stay with Southampton or go to another club. So we will see what happens. "Southampton gave me that opportunity and it paid off, I think. I've had a fantastic year, I can't lie about that, so, yes, I'd like to stay in the Premier League." West Ham will almost certainly be investigating the possibility of taking Alderweireld on loan for the season.

By Iain Dale 16 Jun 2015 at 08:00 0 comments
West Ham Till I Die
Guest Post by Rob Lewis

I'm very happy to see giant posters of Slaven Bilic while I walk through Be?ikta?, in Istanbul, where I have lived for the past 15 years. He is advertising a mobile phone company, and wearing a suit – and giant eagles' wings on his shoulders. So I have made a point of talking to supporters of the black and white team (and my colleague Serdar, who bleeds black and white). They tend to throng round the eagle statues which festoon this suburb near the centre of this vast city.

First, I thank them for having posters of the new West Ham boss up on the billboards. They don't understand "manager", and call him "technical director". They realise pretty soon that I'm a foreign supporter of West Ham, and not some nutter – well perhaps those things are not mutually exclusive. We chat about what Bilic meant to them, and what he might do at West Ham. They almost always say positive things about the guy, and about West Ham.

Back in the 90s, it wasn't so difficult to see West Ham – I was living in Spain at that time. So I got to see Bilic a few times, and liked his commitment and how in the Spanish idiom he "left his skin on the pitch". That is something that my mate Serdar stresses: the way Bilic lived the game from first to last kick. He really cared about how the team did. No more slouching in his seat, Big Sam style from now on. We can expect a manager who lives by the sword, and if necessary dies by it too.

A large number of the Be?ikta? supporters have said they saw Green Street Hooligans and what a great movie it was. Can't say I agree with that one, but they like the idea of West Ham having crazy and fanatical fans. Be?ikta? have got one section known as Çar??, which actually translates as Shopping Centre……… not exactly terrifying, but they have a reputation for being 100% dedicated to the team. They have been fighters in the not too distant past, but they also have an extreme political side: they led the "Istanbul United" fans who formed part of protests against the government in Gezi Park two years ago, which began as a protest about a park, and became a nationwide movement. In fact the president tried to sue them for their actions! He failed.

Then there are some other parallels between our clubs. Be?ikta? Stadium is being totally rebuilt at the moment, just as we are preparing for The Big Move in 2016. Then there is the fact that Be?ikta? have had to play in the shadow their richer neighbours for decades, Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe being the other two giants of Turkish football, and both are in Istanbul. (No team from the capital city Ankara, now a metropolis of 4 or 5 million, has ever won the league in Turkey).

Galatasaray and Fener have about 20 league titles, while The Eagles have only won 13. Of course I underplay the fact that Our Irons have yet to win the league. I prefer to mention the fact that we have won one European final, the same as Galatasaray, while the other Istanbul clubs haven't. Be?ikta? Jimnastik Kulübü was founded in 1903, just 2 years before us (or 8 years after, if you prefer!).

One definite difference between the clubs is the location of our stadia. There can hardly be a more beautiful setting than the Inönü Stadium, looking over the Bosphorus straits which divide Europe from Asia. Night or day, the views from the stands are sensational. Can that be said of the Boleyn? Perhaps it will be truer when we are in the OS.

So Bilic. He didn't bring the league to Be?ikta?, but as the fans remind me, he nearly did. They were leading the league until a sudden loss of form with 3 games to go. That sounds familiar, the implosion part, if not the bit about leading the league. Bilic has been criticised for failing to beat the other two of The Big Three during his time here. If he had managed to do that, then no doubt he would have taken them to the championsh?p, and we would not have acquired his services.

One thing that I noticed: the Turkish fans all said that they wished him every success, and they said we were lucky to have got such a talented and committed individual in charge of our team – eagles' wings or no eagles' wings.

Tevez offered Premier League return
Posted by Sean Whetstone on June 15, 2015 in News, Whispers

Former Hammer Carlos Tevez has been offered the chance to return to England by an unknown Premier League club, according to Sky Sports sources this evening. But Sky Sports say they understand that the club is not Liverpool, despite press reports suggesting Brendan Rodgers could tie up a deal. Tevez has a year remaining on his contract at the Serie A champions and Champions League finalists, has also received three offers from abroad – one of which is thought to be Atletico Madrid. Later reports claim the un-named Premier League side are a top four side counting out an unlikely return back to the Hammers. Presuming that Tevez does not return to Manchester United or City that leaves Arsenal and Chelsea as the main contenders to sign the player.

Leeds starlet was Hammers target
Posted by Sean Whetstone on June 15, 2015 in News, Whispers

Former West Ham head of player recruitment Martyn Glover admits that during his time as Hammers head of recruitment Leed's Lewis Cook was on the Hammers' radar. Glover who has just left West Ham to take up his new post with Leeds says the starlet Cook was firmly on his radar last season.

Speaking to BBC Radio Leeds today, Glover explained: "I showed a lot of interest in Lewis Cook last season to be fair. So it's ironic when you sit down and are looking at the players who are at Leeds at the minute and I was going through them with Uwe and said 'watch this kid, if you haven't watched a lot of him' and highlighting the strengths and weaknesses"

Payet is waiting for Bielsa before making decision
Posted by Sean Whetstone on June 15, 2015 in News, Whispers

According to this evening West Ham's reported target Dimitri Payet, has not agreed to join any club at present, nor has any deal been formally agreed at the time of writing. West Ham have reportedly in contact with Marseille over his availability, with reports going further claiming we have made an offer for the attacking midfielder.

The French media report tonight claims that Payet has decided to wait on an announcement concerning manager Marcelo Bielsa's future. He wants to talk to Bielsa, when he has been confirmed as the club's manager next season.

Marseille must sell a player in order to abide to the agreement they made with French football financial watchdog the DNCG, which is set to allow them to balance the books.

Report: Hammers pull out of defender chase
Posted by Hugh5outhon1895 on June 16, 2015 in News, Whispers

West Ham are reported to have pulled out of the race for central defender Simon Kjaer according to London New Lille boss Herve Renard knows he cannot keep the star man at the club in the face of big interest with Fenerbache now favourites to sign the player at £8 million. Both ourselves and Liverpool had expressed interest in Kjaer but at the price he is reported to have proved too rich for our blood whilst Liverpool are close to doing a deal for Charlton youngster Joe Gomez. ClaretandHugh has already revealed that new boss Slaven Bilic is keen to sign a top central defender but the club has other targets after Winston Reid, James Tomkins and James Collins suffered various injuries throughout last season.

Slav: "I'm used to pressure – we can do really well"
Posted by Hugh5outhon1895 on June 16, 2015 in News, Whispers

Slaven Bilic has given a penetrating interview into the type of football he plans to introduce at the Boleyn and how he has learned to live with the pressure to succeed. In a brilliant interview with West Ham TV he said: "I like my teams to play total football but nowadays in football you cannot just play one way and a one-sided team You have to do both – you have to be a good as a defensive unit and you have to attack with numbers. "It is easy to talk now, but I'm going to say what I'm going to try to do. The philosophy is that we want to be solid but I want to have the ball and possession. I love the ball and have done with all the teams I have managed so far."

He explained his home town team Hajduk Split aimed to win the league every year and that the Croatian national team was in the top ten in the FIFA rankings for six years and were expected to win every game. And he claimed the pressure was on at Lokomotiv Moscow where the topfive was a minimum requirement and also with Besiktas where the plan was to try to win the league.
He explained simply: "I got used to it!"

On his approach at the Boleyn, he said: "The fans can expect that we will try to be dominant, play with the ball and try to play good football. I'm very optimistic that we're going to be successful in that, but also we have to be very stable. "The defensive and organisation will give you the privilege to play with flair. Everything comes from good organisation."
He added: "Before the end of the season, I was concentrating on Besiktas because it was a very intense season and it is a great club, but after the end of the season and talks started, then I watched a lot of (West Ham) games and was very excited by the quality of the players. He said: "We have a good team and we have a chance. This is a very difficult league and it all comes down to two or three games and getting that little bit of luck you need and we can do really, really well."

Marseilles name their Payet price
Posted by Hugh5outhon1895 on June 16, 2015 in News, Whispers

ClaretandHugh can today confirm that West Ham are involved in intensive discussions to bring Dmitri Payet to the club but that Marseilles are currently demanding£12 million for the playmaker. The Hammers are very keen indeed to snatch the 28 year old but believe the price is too high for a 28 year old. They are seriously impressed with his record last season which showed him providing seven goals and 21 assists for Marcelo Bielsa's side. Reports in France claimed last night that Payet has decided to wait on an announcement concerning Bielsa's future.
However, – as is always the case – it seems that transfer fees and wages are more pertinent with a top Hammers insider marking ClaretandHugh's card on the current state of negotiations.
He said: "Marseilles want £12m which is a lot for a player of his age. There's also big wages involved but we really do like him . However, the club does have alternative targets if it doesn't work out."

A full run-down on the player can be found here

Carroll comeback date
Posted by Hugh5outhon1895 on June 16, 2015 in News, Whispers

Andy Carroll is having a good week – first the announcement that he has a new baby son and now a statement on his fitness which sounds very encouraging. However, ClaretandHugh has learned that although the striker is getting stronger, he is unlikely to be ready for the first rounds of the Uefa Cup qualifiers. He has been out of action with a knee injury since the match against Southampton at St Mary's Stadium back in February but said on the official site: " The injury is going well and I have pretty much been in every day working on it and strengthening the injury. I started jogging and it is all getting better. "I have been in the gym a long time now and it is nice to be outside going for a jog and it felt great afterwards. Hopefully I can be back out there. The injury is going well and I have pretty much been in every day working on it and strengthening the injury. I started jogging and it is all getting better. "I have been in the gym a long time now and it is nice to be outside going for a jog and it felt great afterwards. Hopefully I can be back out there. I want to step it up again and start kicking a ball but I am glad to be outside and moving again." However, a source told us:"He's doing well but the qualifiers may come too early. We're more likely to see him for the start of the Premier League season."

Former West Ham star Dean Ashton says club must push the boat out for Loic Remy and Yohan Cabaye
Damien Lucas

Former West Ham United striker Dean Ashton has urged his old club to make a French connection and snap up Loic Remy and Yohan Cabaye this summer. The Hammers have made no secret of their desire to significantly strengthen their squad this summer after bringing in new boss Slaven Bilic. Just yesterday co-owner David Sullivan insisted West Ham will 'definitely' sign at least five more players following the transfers of goalkeeper Darren Randolph and midfielder Pedro Obiang. But Ashton, who was a real fans' favourite at Upton Park during his three years there before enforced early retirement due to injury, feels the club need another six players to truly compete with the added pressures of the Europa League. And he has begged the East Londoners to make their final season at their famous Boleyn Ground an exciting one by pressing ahead with rumoured moves for wantaway Chelsea striker Remy and unhappy Paris St Germain midfield maestro Cabaye, who shone together at Newcastle United. Both Remy and Cabaye would be fantastic signings for West Ham," Ashton told Sky Sports. "Remy is a top-class forward and has the pace to strike fear into any defence. "That kind of pace is something that every Premier League side needs and it is something that West Ham did have at the start of last season with [Diafra] Sakho and [Enner] Valencia. Pace had been missing from their attack for a while until then. "Cabaye is also a top-class player. The way he can control things in the middle of the park, when he is on his game, is on another level." The Hammers - who qualified for the Europa League via the Fair Play League last season - will start their season before any other Premier League team when they kick-off competitive matches on July 2 in the first qualifying round of European football's secondary competition. And Ashton feels it is imperative the club do not simply beef the squad up with numbers but instead go after quantity and quality. The ex-Norwich City and Crewe forward highlighted West Ham's lack of strength in depth last season as a key factor behind their slide from fourth place at Christmas to 12th by the season's end. It was a slump that ultimately cost Sam Allardyce his job and Ashton says they must have quality to replace quality when injuries and Europa League commitments take their toll.

From Chaos to Insanity: A Conversation With Slaven Bilic
Just Like My Dreams

In the beginning there was chaos, and football was without form. Then came the Victorians, who codified it, and after them the theorists, who analysed it. So wrote Jonathan Wilson in his excellent book 'Inverting the Pyramid'. In his detailed study of football tactics he notes it wasn't until the late 1920s in Europe that tactics in anything resembling a modern sense came to be recognised or discussed, but as early as the 1870s there was an acknowledgement that players on the pitch made a significant difference to the way the game was played. In it's earliest form, though, football knew nothing of such sophistication. In South America, in the old days before they shrugged off the colonial order to add their finesse, there was the trainer and nobody paid him much heed. He died without a word when the game stopped being a game and professional football required a technocracy to keep people in line. The manager, wrote Eduardo Galeano, was born. His mission: to prevent improvisation, restrict freedom and maximise the productivity of the players, who were now obliged to become disciplined athletes. The trainer used to say: 'Let's play.' The manager says: 'Let's go to work.' Today they talk in numbers. The history of football in the twentieth century, a journey from daring to fear, is a trip from the 2-3-5 to the 5-4-1 by way of the 4-3-3 and the 4-4-2. Any ignoramus could translate that much with a little help, notes Galeano, but the rest is impossible. The manager dreams up formulas as mysterious as the Immaculate Conception, and he uses them to develop tactical schemes more indecipherable than the Holy Trinity.

So, what makes a coach a good coach? His tactical genius? "Tactics? Pah, then every teenager could be a super coach," smiles a bearded Slaven Bilic, part charismatic rock star, part professor of philosophy and letters. "Tactics are important, but everyone can learn tactics. Make it a school subject in primary school and after ten years we would have a whole generation that knows all about tactics. But that does not make for good a coach. It is the combination of knowledge, experience, character, passion and happiness." It is he suggests, sparking up the first of what will be numerous cigarettes, one of the most complex occupations in the world. "Basically, my job does not differ much from that of a bank manager. We both have a goal that we want to achieve. He wants to multiply money, I want to win trophies. We have a bunch of young, motivated, highly trained people available to us with whom we have to work. We need to make them happy, keep them motivated. Sometimes we have to make tough decisions when they make mistakes, occasionally we need to separate one of them from the rest of the group in order to achieve our goal. But the difference is this: The bank manager can work in peace. I have millions of people watching me at my work. Fans praise me to the sky, then want to bring a plague down upon my head. Then there is the media who need a new story every day." And everyone knows better? "Of course," laughs Bilic, quickly warming to the subject. "An old friend of mine is a luminary in the field of brain surgery. He will often ask me: 'Why did you do that? Why did the team play this way?' I always reply: 'Professor, I value your opinion but imagine a time when each of your operations would be broadcast live on television. Where every incision you make is being commented on!' Then he mostly leaves me alone."

The ability to handle pressure as a coach is something Bilic credits to his years of playing in England. "There was one thing that impressed me the most, and that was a fantastic balance between pressure and freedom," he states. "Pressure is important for every job – a journalist will generally write a better article if he's under pressure or if he writes for a better newspaper. But the key is to channel that pressure into positive energy: you want it to be a drive, not a burden. And that's what the English do best. Sometimes huge investments depend on the result of a single Premier League match. The pressure is huge, but you don't feel burdened by it in a negative way regardless of the press which can be really cruel – after all, the English invented that kind of journalism. In the Premier League you learn how to overcome fear and negative emotions, how not to dread what might happen but stay motivated and fight the best you can for your team. And that can often be a decisive factor when two even teams meet." That said, for years, argues Wilson, the prime deficiency of the English game was that it thought solely in terms of the players. Yet football is not about players, or at least not just about players; it is about shape and about space, about the intelligent deployment of players, and their movement within that deployment. Wilson makes clear that when he says 'tactics' he means a combination of formation and style: one 4-4-2 can be as different from another as Kevin Nolan to Robert Prosinecki. For as much as heart, soul, effort, desire, strength, power, speed, passion and skill all play their parts, there is also a theoretical dimension, and, as in other disciplines, the English have, on the whole, proved themselves unwilling to grapple with the abstract.

In contrast, Bilic has always proved flexible when it comes to such matters. The new West Ham manager has switched seamlessly from 4-1-3-2 to 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 throughout his managerial career – but usually in some sort of modified, unorthodox fashion. As a strategist, there has often been an emphasis on individual instructions rather than specific formations. "My opinion is that formations are slowly dying out and a large number of experts will confirm that," nods Bilic. "It has become increasingly difficult to mark the movement of the players, with regards to the ball, just by assigning numbers to each line." Whisper it quietly but the Croatian is in the vanguard of modern football thinkers who believe the notion of formation is a fraud perpetuated by those with a desire to justify coaches' salaries and make TV commentators sound smart. "Like 4-5-1, what does it mean?" he asks. "It's only for journalists or at the beginning of each half. When defending, great teams want many behind the ball. When attacking, players from all sides. We have to be compact, narrow to each other. It's about the movement of 10 players now." In a sport which has few stoppages and is often decided by individual acts of spontaneity, formations are one of the only ways coaches can endeavor to shape the action on the field. Yet, argues Bilic, we are now at a point where every responsible way of deploying 11 players has been exhausted. The game, he believes, is still largely an exercise in chaos once the whistle blows; at some point most teams look like they are playing with nine defenders and one striker. The formation is thus only ever the first snapshot. After that, the players are always on the move because the ball is on the move, so the formation no longer exists. In any case, a team's style of play is related to an idea, not to a geographic positioning on the pitch. "Fluidity is much more important – you want your team to stay compact, and your lines to remain close to one another, so they can flow over," explains Bilic. "You need to make sure that no gaps emerge, and that tends to happen often to teams who play with strict lines. A quality opponent will always find your weak spot and massacre you. But that doesn't mean the system is any less important. Organisation and automatism are the foundations for everything – only if you have that, will the individual quality of your players show in a positive way. I will never underestimate the value of individualism and inspiration – but without a solid system, improvisation is just anarchy. And anarchy can also sometimes bring you a result, sometimes even better than your established schemes, but it cannot be a long-term solution."

The use of space always used to be the unique defining element of Dutch football. Other nations and football cultures may have produced greater goalscorers, more dazzling individual ball artists and more dependable and efficient tournament-winning teams but no one, wrote David Winner, has ever imaged or structured their play as abstractly, as architecturally, in such a measured fashion as the Dutch. In his master work 'Brilliant Orange', Winner states that the Total Football of the 70s was, among other things, a conceptual revolution built on a new theory of flexible space; that the size of any football field could be altered by a team playing on it. In possession you could aim to make the pitch as large as possible by spreading play to the wings and seeing every run, movement and constant positional rotation as a way to increase and exploit the available space. When you lost the ball, the same thinking and techniques were used to destroy the space of your opponents. You pressed deep in the other side's half, hunted for the ball, defended a line ten yards inside their own half and used the offside trap to aggressively squeeze space further. When he first saw Cruyff play, David Miller marvelled at a 'Pythagoras in boots', yet an acute sense of the fluid structure and dimensions of the pitch was shared by everyone in the Ajax and Dutch national team. This was not abstract, playful exploration of perspective in the style of M.C. Escher. Partly it was instinctive but partly it was based on mathematical calculations and designed pragmatically to maximise athletic capacity. It did not matter what 'position' a player was given: the immediate position of play itself determined when and where the players moved within the game. Quick and precise calculations were made by each player in order that every manoeuvre made the most effective use of pitch-space and player energy. The genesis of this spacial awareness was the spoken word. Football was always unconsciously about space, just as the good players were always the ones who instinctively found positions to receive the ball. The big change happened when these ideas became words because no one had ever looked at things in that way before. By drawing attention to it, notes Winner, something came into existence which had always been there but no one had ever noticed before and thus opened up a whole vista of seeing football differently. If this teaches us anything insists Bilic it is that we should never be afraid to discuss any aspect of football. "What I learned from Wenger and Lippi," he says, "is that the only authority you need is the authority of knowledge."

There is a theory that winning the World Cup in 1966- just a few years before the true 'neurotic genius' of the Dutch flowered- was actually the worst thing that could have happened to English football. Rob Steen, in The Mavericks, posits that success set the country back because it established deep in the national footballing consciousness the notion that the functionality of Alf Ramsey's side was the only way to achieve success; that in the minds of generations of fans and coaches in England, it laid out a 'right' way of playing. Just because something was correct in a particular circumstance, with particular players and at a particular stage of football's development, does not mean it will always be effective. If there is one thing that distinguishes the coaches who have had success over a prolonged period- Sir Alex Ferguson, Valeriy Lobanovskyi, Bill Shankley, Boris Arkadiev- it is that they have always been able to evolve. Their teams played in very different ways, but what they all shared was the clarity of vision to successfully recognise when the time was right to abandon a winning formula and the courage to implement a new one. When you ask Bilic to articulate what has changed the most in his opinion it is the perfect cue for another Marlboro Light. "It used to be quite a different game tactically – think those Chelsea v Liverpool clashes in the Champions League, those were chess games between Mourinho and Benítez," he observes through a cloud of smoke. "The goal justified the means. But then Pep Guardiola was crucial in changing that with his Barcelona team, so I have nothing but respect for him. He initiated a revolution in the way coaches look at football. It's true that Barcelona played attractive, attacking football before, and that tiki-taka comes from Cruyff and Rexach, but never before did they play the way they did under Guardiola. And that has had a profound influence on other coaches, because everyone wants to emulate the best: most teams today try to play football, they strive to creation, not destruction. Even the Italians took part in that – both the national team and their clubs, with the exception of Inter and a few minor clubs in Serie A. That was unheard of before Guardiola. Now almost everyone realises that apart from getting a result, it's very important how you play. The fans will accept almost anything as long as there's success, but in the long run, people want to be entertained, they want to enjoy themselves at matches and this is why football needs to be attractive and fun. With Croatia we always tried to play and we always looked better when our opponents played positive football. Because of the way we played, it's much easier for us when the game was a two-way street. It is right though that football has changed so much in the last few years and it's extremely important to keep pace with that development."

It helps, of course, that Croatia always had strong individuals. One only has to think of Miroslav Blazevic, a cross between Sir Bobby Robson's prestige and Peter Cooke's eccentricity, the godfather of Croatian football and the coach of the golden generation. "I wanted gentlemen in my team!" he once proclaimed, proceeding to run through the line-up with escalating fervour. "Bilic? Gentleman. Stimac? Gentleman. Jarni? Gentleman. Prosinecki? Super gentleman. Boban? King gentleman. Suker? Ambassador gentleman. Everyone knows about Croatia because of them." When Bilic took over the national team, promoted after two years in charge of the U21s, he completely revolutionised the way Croatia played: the stodgy, predictable and decadent 3-4-1-2 system of his predecessor Zlatko Kranjcar was replaced by highly-dynamic football with a defensive four and one holding midfielder, with all the other players attack-minded, but with defensive responsibilities. So how much of Bilic's own tactical outlook is influenced by the fact that he was part of the team that finished third at the 1998 World Cup, and played with three consummate play-makers – Boban, Prosinecki and Asanovic? "A lot, because that's when I realised what kind of football is best suited for the Croatian character," he admits before adding that the team he managed for six years had strong individuals too. "My intention wasn't to build a system around them, but I didn't want to fit them into a system either. I simply tried to give each of them a mandatory frame in which their lucidity would hopefully flourish." Bilic would become known for being one of few managers, especially in international football, who would regularly use five, sometimes even six offensive-minded players in the team at the same time. Not that it was necessarily a reflection of a desire to play attacking football. "It was pure pragmatism," agrees Bilic when thinking about his time in charge of the Vatreni. "Of course I prefer a passing, possession-based attacking game more than destructive, defensive play, but you have to look at what's best for the team with regards to the players at your disposition. When I took that job, my assistants and I analysed our pool of players and realised we were much better covered in attacking positions. We concluded that our chances against the stronger teams would be better if we tried to build our play with more offensive players. If we had decided to go the other way, we just wouldn't have been as good and the players would have become unhappy. But even though we used many offensive-minded players, solid defence was the foundation of our play. You can never score as many goals as you can concede if your defence is porous. You know, for a long time the people have been saying that strikers are the first line of defence, but that was just a phrase intended to motivate the team. However, today the strikers have the obligation to fulfill their defensive assignments, and that especially applied to my boys. We were more dangerous when we played with two strikers, but then those two really had to work hard defensively."

Working hard defensively is an ethos that would also resonate through his Besiktas side. Creative midfielder Oguzhan Özyakup averaged 0.3 tackles per game in his first season under Bilic but that figure increased to 1.2 per match the following year. Bilic demands that his players defend collectively, press the opposition and force mistakes, notes Emre Sarigul. No other Süper Lig side would regularly attempt as many tackles per game – 25.1 – as Besiktas. Holding midfielders Atiba Hutchinson and Veli Kavlak were usually accompanied by the likes of Özyakup as well as wingers Olcay Sahan and Gökhan Töre trying to win back the ball after losing possession. Compact and well organised, the Kara Kartallar conceded less than a goal a game and regularly finished among the Super Lig leaders in blocks, interceptions and clearances made. If they had any weaknesses, it is said, then Bilic's side could be caught out by opposition teams playing on the counter-attack, where their offensive attitude and high defensive line sometimes made them susceptible to attackers breaking their offside trap. One other issue might be discipline – Besiktas players were shown ten red cards in the league last season. To the latter point Bilic reaches for pen and paper to illustrate why this heightened aggressive approach combined with the Turkish mentality proved so combustible. "The Turk is very similar in nature to the Croatian," he says while sketching three lines on a pad. "This is the normal state of mind (baseline) and the maximum emotional high and low for central and northern Europeans." Now adding a further couple of lines to the extremes of the page he continues: "And here are our highs and lows. We are either shouting for joy or dying of sorrow. I would never say this mentality is a disadvantage though because what are emotions if not the fuel of life?"

Whether shouting for joy or dying of sorrow the image of Bilic the rebel has always been slightly misleading. As a player he was committed and intelligent. As a manager, he has a serious and ambitious core. "It was never my plan to become a coach," he sighs as if ultimately he never had a choice. "But then my club Hajduk Split called and I had to answer so I caught the coaching virus." One day he simply woke up and was suddenly a coach? "Nonsense," he says nonplussed at the suggestion. "It was a new job and I worked myself into. As a player and as a person I am conditioned to always a give 100 percent when I do something. So I just trained, studied, learned and worked the licenses. Suddenly it occurred to me that the processes I was now adopting in my professional life were running parallel to my experiences as a student when I graduated in law." Replacing his legal texts with American psychology books Bilic sought to understand his players and the job at a deeper level. "Balkan culture is too macho for psychology to be part of everyday life," he says. "When you say 'shrink' in Croatia they think about players lying on a couch. It is a sensitive thing." A voracious consumer of information with a particular predilection for sporting biographies, assistant coach Edin Terzic confides that his boss "absorbs their teachings and then weaves them into his work." Bilic names 'Sacred Hoops' by legendary NBA coach Phil Jackson as one of his major sources of coaching inspiration. The Chicago Bulls icon became famous for several pioneering techniques, among them the use of visualization as a successful training method. Jackson describes in his book how he implemented it with his players; chiefly BJ Armstrong, who mostly came off the bench to contribute at very important moments. Before he came on, Bilic explains as he stands up to mimic the action, Armstrong had already played through the available plays in his head... Pippen to Jordan, Armstrong runs to his right to create space on the left, Jordan exploits it and scores- Bam!" Having this kind of vision, he states, where everybody can visualise moves and positions drilled during training before they even happen is a dream in football right now. During his playing years, Michael Jordan would take an hour or two before games to meditate. He'd visualize himself making shots with a hand in his face. He could see himself stealing a pass that would be the turning point of the game. He would visualize setting up his defender for the game winning shot. Why would one of the greatest athlete of our time make time to do this? Well, Jordan recognized the power of the mind and that in every game, no matter the sport, success is 90% mental and 10% physical. "Very few players have this sort of vision to be able to know where everyone is and what is going around them with their eyes closed," believes Bilic. "I can only think of Rooney who has this sort of vision, he is able to draw a mental picture of what the opponent is thinking. It is a really powerful tool. Before away games the Manchester United striker will ask the kit man: 'In what shirts will we play tomorrow?' Then he places a towel over his head and puts himself in the stadium, sees himself in the jersey. He calculates in his mind the strengths and weaknesses of his opponent then he sees himself exploit it to score a goal. The whole thing is absolutely fascinating."

'The Score Takes Care of Itself' a lecture on leadership by one of the NFL's greatest football coaches, Bill Walsh, is another book on the Bilic bookshelf. "Legend. Incredible! Read it!" he enthuses, before adding that he recently finished the biography of Alex Ferguson, which he says also helped him. "Ferguson describes in it a dispute with Roy Keane which almost came to blows. When I read that section, I was extremely grateful. I thought to myself: If this can happen to one of the best coaches of all time, then it may happen to you also." For anyone who has witnessed a Bilic training session such an altercation would be hard to envisage; before it even starts he has probably embraced more than a dozen of his coaching staff as you would a long lost friend. "That's just my way of working," he smiles. "This is my team and my club. I think it is a matter of course to know my people by name, to communicate with them and convey the feeling that they are an important part of the club." He has made it a tradition that on his birthday he takes all club employees out for a meal. "In my opinion there is no other option," he shrugs. "You must treat your staff well if you require them to follow an idea." The atmosphere of inclusiveness extends to an open exchange of ideas with his coaches and senior players. It derives from Bilic's own formative experience as a player under Winfried Schäfer at Karlsruher SC. "Before each game, he would take me and four other players into his office and ask for our opinions on the tactic against the upcoming opponent. Of course, Winnie had the final decision, but he was just like a fox killing two birds with one stone. He made his lead players feel that their opinion was important to him, and at the same time, he benefited from our collective insider knowledge. There is a Croatian proverb: 'A man and a donkey together know more than one man alone' that pretty well sums it up." There are many rules for dealing with players, says Bilic, but only two are crucial. "First, never lie," he states. "Second, never make promises. In this matter footballers are like women. They only hear what they want to believe is possible and ignore the fact that there is also the possibility of not getting it. Therefore, I will never say: 'You're in good shape, in two months you'll get your chance'. If the player is then not used in two months, he feels betrayed and my promise is broken. As a result he does not trust me anymore and I've lost him."

So it follows that an integral part of the manager's mandate is to be ductile; to intuitively understand that just as each individual, nationality and country has a distinct identity with specific character and personality traits, so each club has a certain philosophy hewn from the rocks of tradition and history. By the time Bilic departed Besiktas he was one of the longer-serving coaches in Turkish football even though he admits the entire job had been one long struggle. "In the current football climate, a coach can never be sure of his future employment," he says; all you can do is research, prepare and then, embracing the fatalism, accept what comes. As Galeano observed, the manager is as disposable as any other product of consumer society. Today the crowd screams, 'Never die!' and next weekend they invite him to kill himself. "I am a football maniac, so no one had to explain to me who and what Besiktas is," he says. "I'd looked at videos, let everything run through my mind during the contract talks and then just decided to take the leap" albeit initially with a knot in his stomach because he could not speak Turkish. He had started work directly after leaving Croatia in the Euro 2012 as coach of Lokomotiv Moscow, he explains, but despite preparing thoroughly had never anticipated or had no way of knowing just what a barrier not speaking the language could be. "I did not speak Russian and that was a problem," he states. "Because as a coach, you need to communicate 24 hours a day with your staff and players. You have to be able to understand the people around you, if you want to have success. Crucially, in Istanbul he quickly realized that he had arrived at a multi-national team and multilingual organization. "We were talking English, German, Spanish; my assistant Nikola Jurcevic is Croat, my second assistant coach Edin Terzic is German with Croatian roots."

There were other challenges as well. Did he, for example, fully understand about the Çarsi Grubu; the notorious anarchist faction of Besiktas support? Although officially disbanded before Bilic's arrival, the left-leaning organisation- anti-racist, anti-fascist, anti-sexist, pluralist and ecologist- became heavily involved in the fighting during the 2013 protests in Taksim Square, resisting police attacks and even famously chasing a water cannon away with an excavator. "Of course, I am a political person and was coach of Besiktas," says the staunch socialist who names Che Guevara among his personal heroes. He did not, however, become overtly involved in the issue. "I admire how intensively active those fans were politically. But if I had started to concern myself with it then I would not have had time to do my job. Because then I would have needed to know everything, wanted to talk to all the key people involved. For this reason I forced myself to be very restrained." Some observers claimed that because the Çarsi members fought on the front line against Prime Minister Erdogan, Besiktas would be regularly punished in the form of strange refereeing decisions and overly harsh sanctions. "These are conjectures and therefore it did not matter for my work," insists Bilic. "What should I do? Launch into general whining after a controversial defeat and tell my players: 'Go home, training doesn't matter, we will lose anyway?' No, of course not! It didn't prevent me from speaking to the media about the referee though, if in my opinion he did a poor job."

For the entirety of Bilic's tenure at Besiktas the club was also effectively homeless. Due to the unique location and its legal status as a historic monument the conversion of the famous Inonu stadium had been delayed massively and its opening postponed numerous times. "That was a very big disadvantage," concedes Bilic. "Besiktas fans set a volume record years ago (141 decibel), and it would have been a fantastic asset to have. Due to the renovations we mostly played our home games in the Atatürk Olympic Stadium. This is a 80,000 capacity boiler at the city limits, and is very difficult to reach because the transport conditions are miserable there. In addition, the majority of the fans boycotted games because they had been heavily and repeatedly punished in the recent past by the football authorities. As a result we had an average attendance of about 3,000 in some home games. 3000 spectators in a 80,000-man stadium! If you ask me, this is a tragedy." Not least because Bilic places more importance than most on the significance of the fans. "Their impact is enormous," he insists. "I describe it like this: In order to win a Formula 1 race, the driver must sometimes push his car to the extremities of its capability so that he drives in the red zone. In football a team can only reach this red area solely on the back of the fans because you as a coach during a game cannot affect it. This red area we lacked last season. A few years ago Galatasaray had a whole season playing at home in the Olympic Stadium. With a team that should have become champions they finished seventh." Ultimately Bilic decided the only approach was to ignore circumstances as best he could. "I did not even acknowledge the situation at the time because if I stood there after poorer games and complained about the lack of fans, my players would also have done that too," he says. "And that would have a negative impact in the long term on their performance. So I said: Forget it, we still want to win titles!"

It would seem to suggest that the ability to be adaptable is a key weapon in the manager's armoury? "The foundation [for any coach] is self-confidence and the desire to compete," believes Bilic. "That which you need as a player, you also need as a coach. When I started in Istanbul it was clear to me that this would be a new task with new challenges and of course I had to respect the philosophy of the club. I could not be coach of Besiktas and offer boring results based football. Even if I were to win the championship in that manner, they would still fire me. It had to be football with plenty of room for creative freedom, wilder and more detached from the norms but all without drifting into chaos. If you could understand this philosophy and see it as a weapon rather than a handicap, then it would therefore be possible to succeed but also satisfy everyone."

For his latest job Bilic succeeds a manager who hardly went out of his way to win over the home crowd and ultimately paid the price. When asked how he perceived the 'West Ham way' of playing, a belligerent Sam Allardyce would routinely respond by denying its existence. "It sounds like not winning," he would answer. "No one can tell me what it is because it's a delusion." The problem with such a nebulous concept, of course, is that if you need to ask then you'll never understand. "At its heart it has little to do with football but much to do with Cockney values," wrote Peter Thorne. "Anybody outside criticising the family - or the football team - does so at their own risk. The folk at Upton Park don't expect to see their team winning regularly but they do expect some entertainment, some local talent to cheer through the ranks and to be able to employ a little gallows humour occasionally. It's the reason why Allardyce so antagonised the fans. When the Hammers were booed off the pitch after a vital but dire 2-1 win against Hull in the 2013-14 season, an incredulous Allardyce cupped his ear. Many outside the club understood this, those inside seethed with anger." On the day Bilic arrived to take up the hot-seat he immediately adopted the rhetoric that would carry the fans with him. "I remember West Ham as a special club," he said. "It's not about the size although West Ham is a big club. It is a great place to play and I feel like I am at home. It is a big privilege and a big responsibility because this club is a cult." By instinct or design Bilic had issued a tacit signal to the fans that he 'got it'.

For while they may never have won the championship, the Hammers have acquired a reputation for doing things in a certain style while producing a constant supply of dazzling young players over the years. According to Ron Greenwood's philosophy: "The crowds at West Ham have never been rewarded by results but they keep turning up because of the good football they see. Other clubs will suffer from the old bugbear that results count more than anything. This has been the ruination of English soccer." None of which is to suggest that there actually is a correct way to play, notes Wilson. You can, for example from an emotional and aesthetic point of view, warm to the passing of Arsene Wenger's Arsenal more than to the pragmatism of Jose Mourinho's Chelsea, but that is a personal preference; it is not to say one is right and one is wrong. It is obvious, he argues, that compromises have to be made between theory and practice. On a theoretical level West Ham fans respond to the Greenwood ethos but amid the beer-soaked celebrations that followed the very Allardycian mugging of Blackpool in the 2012 Championship play-off final, I'm not sure anybody was too bothered.

It is not even so simple, though, as to say that the 'correct' way of playing is the one that wins most often, for only the dourest of Gradgrinds would claim that success is measured merely in points and trophies; there must be room for romance. As Wilson notes, that tension between beauty and cynicism, between what the Brazilians call futebol d'arte and futebol de resultados- is a constant, perhaps because it is so fundamental, not merely to sport, but also to life: to win, or to play the game well? For Bilic, now inhaling languidly, it is hard to think of any significant actions that are not in some way a negotiation between the two extremes of pragmatism and idealism. His natural inclination is always towards the Dutch vision of total football with 'magicians' as he calls his playmakers, but he recognises that if you want to be achieve you can't have just one way of playing. "To be successful you have to be good enough in every aspect of the team, you have to defend with numbers, you have to be very compact, very organised but also you have to attack with numbers and be good on the ball," he says. "A solid defensive approach gives you the privilege to play with expression. Everything comes from good configuration." The sides that he has managed so far, whether that be Croatia, Lokomotiv Moscow, Besiktas or Hadjuk Split, were all teams with very lofty aims. "With Besiktas, in 90 per cent of our games we had more possession, you are the better side, you are the one that is attacking and the opponent is on the counter," he notes. "But in the games where we had to be compact like against Arsenal, we weren't dominant. So you have to be both. But I like my team to play football, to play good football." His ambition for West Ham is to try to be top ten and then improve on that. "First season, if we can finish eighth, ninth or tenth," he says. "Then, in the space of a few seasons, with the Stadium and everything, with hype, with probably a little bit more budget, with good planning and good play, nobody can stop us dreaming of European places or if we have a brilliant season to try to break into the Champions League places." His ultimate aim is to win a trophy. Taking a leaf from one of his well-thumbed psychology books, he adds: "You have to believe in that to achieve it. It doesn't have to be an obsession in a negative way but if you don't believe it, who will believe it? Where it's going to take us, I don't know, but logically if you play well and you improve your squad, if your players are playing more compact and more fluid with the ball, it should get you up the league."

Bilic says he ultimately decided to try the immersive nature of club management because when working at international level you can only ever look for temporary solutions and improvisations. What he wanted was to have enough time and scope to wrestle with the intractable – "maybe if we can't ever completely eradicate problems, we can still do everything in our power to minimise their impact on our play, as well as maximise our strengths." The problem is that takes times and patience and in a sport where the machinery of spectacle grinds up everything in its path, nothing lasts for long. The manager believes football is a science and the field a laboratory, wrote Galeano, but the genius of Einstein and the subtlety of Freud isn't enough for the owners and the fans. They want a miracle worker like the Virgin of Lourdes, with the stamina of Gandhi. Even acknowledging that football is ultimately about more than simply winning, it would be ludicrous to deny the importance of victory. Wenger can be frustratingly quixotic at times, but, as his negative tactics in the 2005 FA Cup final showed, even he at times acknowledges the need to win. To condemn Ramsey, when he brought the only international success England has known is a luxury English fans cannot afford; to accuse him of ruining English football rather than saluting his tactical acuity seems willfully perverse. Ultimately, argues Wilson, the history of tactics is the history of two interlinked tensions: aesthetics verses results on the one side and technique verses physique on the other. What confuses the issue is that those who grow up in a technical culture tend to see a more robust approach as a way of getting results, while those from a physical culture see pragmatism in technique; and beauty- or at least what fans want to watch- remains very much in the eye of the beholder. In those circumstances then how can you still enjoy this job? "By being myself aware and accepting of these conditions," Bilic says. "If I were to cry myself to sleep every night because of the uncertain future, this job would hold nothing for me. But I know the risk and it does not bother me. I just start to work." Picking up his earlier drawing it seems the right time to ask what makes Slaven shout for joy? "It can only ever be if my team is playing the football that I want to see," he answers, "because results are not always dependent on whether a team plays well or not. In basketball or handball the better team will nearly always win, but in football refereeing decisions, good and bad luck can all play a much greater role." Doesn't that drive a football coach insane? "Of course you can reduce with good work the percentage chance for unhappiness. This is what everyone seeks. But it will still always be the case that a goal is enough to decide in football whether you win or lose. You are right, it is insane," laughs Bilic as he stubs out his final cigarette. "But that's why I love it so."

Report: West Ham's £5.8m bid for Argentine winger Diego Perotti rejected
Dan Coombs

West Ham have seen an offer for Diego Perotti turned down by Genoa. Genoa have dismissed an offer from West Ham for winger Diego Perotti, report Italian website Tuttomercatoweb.
It is claimed the Hammers submitted an offer of €8 million, equivalent of £5.8m, for the Argentine. Perotti featured strongly for Serie A surprise package Genoa last season, who finished sixth in the division, above both Milan sides. He scored four goals and provided six assists, and has two caps for his country. The 26-year-old has dual Spanish nationality and would not have been subject to a work permit. He has a contract at Genoa until 2018. The report states West Ham's offer was rejected by Genoa president Enrico Presiozi personally. West Ham are looking to add new players after confirming the appointment of Slaven Bilic as manager last week. They have already looked to Serie A successfully, signing midfielder Pedro Obiang from Sampdoria. Perotti has only been at Genoa for one season, signing from Spanish side Sevilla last summer for just £300,000.

Contract clause gives West Ham boost in bid to sign France winger
London 24
10:00 16 June 2015 Jack Green

Dimitri Payet is edging closer to leaving Marseille for West Ham as a clause in his contract has forced him to take a pay cut for next season. The France international has been earning £62,000-a-week at Marseille for the past two years, but French newspaper Le Parisien reports that that figure will drop to £45,000-a-week for next season. The clause was activated as Marseille finished fourth in Ligue 1 last season, outside of the Champions League places. According to Le Parisien, the 28-year-old wants to sign a new deal at Marseille with increased wages, but if the club decline he could be on his way out of the Stade Velodrome. West Ham have shown interest in signing Payet this summer and the Hammers have reportedly offered him a deal worth £60,000-a-week to move to Upton Park. But Payet is holding out for £80,000-a-week, according to a report in The Sun last week. If West Ham managed to convince the winger to leave Marseille he would be their second high-profile signing of the summer. Payet, who has made 14 appearances for France in his career, would follow Spain Under-21 international Pedro Obiang to the club after he made the move from Sampdoria last week.

Premier League clubs urged to sign bargain Barcelona star before £22million clause comes in
08:45 16 June 2015 Brad Pinard
London 24

Barcelona defender Marc Bartra could leave the Catalan club for just £8.5million if signed before July 1. Tottenham, West Ham, Liverpool and Southampton are all reportedly keen on the 24-year-old who has found it tough to break into the Nou Camp first team. The former Spain under-21 star featured in the squad on regular occasions last term but didn't make many starts for the treble winning side which is set to strengthen again in the coming months despite a transfer ban. Due to not making the number of appearances required, Bartra's release clause is currently £8.5million, but his agent confirmed that is set to go up to around £22million on July 1. "It's nice to know that other clubs' hierarchies believe in the lad," Javier Diaz admitted, speaking to FCInterNews. "Marc is very happy at Barcelona, but if there was real interest from clubs where he could get more space then we'll listen and make our own decisions. "His release clause has fallen to €12m after failing to make a certain number of appearances, but that's only until July 1, when it goes back up to €30m." Inter Milan and Spurs are the front runners for Bartra but will have to make their moves in the next two weeks if they are going to get a bargain deal.

Liverpool and West Ham miss out on £8million defender as Turkish giants pounce
06:15 16 June 2015 Brad Pinard

Fenerbahce are set to seal the signing of £8million Lille defender Simon Kjaer this week, according to Get French Football. New Lille boss Herve Renard has admitted defeat in trying to keep his star man and is now looking to get as much money for the central defender as possible. Liverpool were reportedly extremely interested in the Denmark international but Brendan Rodgers has switched attention to Charlton youngster Joe Gomez, for which a deal is close. West Ham made a central defender one of their priorities this summer after injuries affected James Tomkins, Winston Reid's and James Collins' seasons last term. The likes of midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate and youngster Reece Burke filled in last season but new manager Slaven Bilic doesn't want that to be an issue next term. However, being quoted more than £8million for Kjaer seems to have put the Hammers off and the defender is in Turkey to finalise a deal to Fenerbahce.

West Ham, Spurs and Everton on alert as £4.5million Barcelona bargain set for exit
06:40 16 June 2015 Brad Pinard
London 24

Barcelona winger Gerard Deulofeu has told the Catalan club he wants a permanent switch away from the Nou Camp this summer. The impressive Spain under-21 star has enjoyed successful loan spells at Everton and Sevilla in recent seasons but now wants to settle down and take his career to the next level. Just six appearances in three years for Barcelona since he broke through the academy, Deulofeu sees his future away from the club and possibly away from Spain. Everton fans made the 21-year-old a cult hero in his year at Goodison Park and a return to Merseyside has been tipped. With a modest £4.5million price-tag slapped on his head, a number of Premier League clubs are set to enter the race for Deulofeu including West Ham and Spurs. The Hammers are set to add a number of big name signings this summer as they prepare to welcome European football back to Upton Park in their final season at the stadium. Slaven Bilic has already added Pedro Obiang and hopes to conclude a few more deals in the coming days before the team return to first team training next Monday. Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino is a fan of the winger and wants to add more creativity to his squad in order to move to the next level, something which looked a struggle last term. It is set to be a big summer at White Hart Lane but Everton and West Ham currently lead the battle for the Barcelona boy along with Sevilla and Valencia who are interested.

Ecuador 2-3 Bolivia: Enner Valencia leads second-half comeback but El Verde hang on to move top of Group A at Copa America
PUBLISHED: 23:56, 15 June 2015 | UPDATED: 04:03, 16 June 2015

Bolivia stunned Ecuador with three goals in the first half as they climbed to the top of Group A with victory at the Elias Figueroa Stadium Monday night - their first competitive win away from home since 1995. Captain Ronald Raldes gave Bolivia the lead after just four minutes before Martin Smedberg-Dalence increased the advantage shortly after. Enner Valencia missed the chance to make it 2-1 when the West Ham striker saw his penalty saved by goalkeeper Romel Quinonez. Bolivia were three up on the stroke of half-time through Martins Moreno, who succeeded where Valencia had failed and converted from the penalty spot to give El Verde a commanding lead. West Ham striker Valencia led a second-half comeback for Ecuador though, turning home Jefferson Montero's cut back from close range before Miller Bolanos reduced the deficit to a single goal with a viscous, dipping strike from 25 yards. Bolivia had earned a goalless draw with Mexico - who meet Chile in the other game in Group A on Monday night - in their opening match of the tournament.
And they got off to the perfect start in their second. Raldes found himslef unmarked in the area to head Smedberg-Dalence's corner past Alexander Domínguez. Bolivia had not won a Copa America match since they hosted the tournament in 1997 but gave themselves a fantastic chance when provider for the first Smedberg-Dalence turner goalscorer. The 31-year-old was teed up by Moreno 25 yards from goal and bent a curling effort past Domínguez to double the lead. Ecuador were presented with the perfect opportunity to half the arrears when Valencia was tugged back at the far post by Edward Zenteno. Valencia tucked the ball away but the referee ordered it to be re-taken for apparent encroachment during the Hammers striker's run-up. And this time he would be denied as Romel Quinonez dived low to his right to keep Bolivia's two-goal advantage intact. It got even better for Mauricio Soria's side when they were awarded a penalty of their own minutes before half-time. There was no mistake by Moreno who slotted past Domínguez. Ecuador were handed a life-line early in the second half when Montero took advantage of some shoddy defending before laying it on a plate for Valencia to tap into an empty net. Ecuador poured forward and they had their reward after 83 minutes. Bolanos was afforded too much time as he advanced towards the Bolivia area before unleashing a powerful strike that dipped and swerved into the top corner. Christian Naboa thought he had equalised just three minutes later but saw a thunderous effort come crashing back off the crossbar as Bolivia hung on for a historic victory.

Co-owner David Sullivan realistic over the number of players West Ham must sign
Damien Lucas

West Ham United co-owner David Sullivan is being realistic over the number of players his club needs ahead of what could be a gruelling season. The Hammers appointed former player Slaven Bilic as their successor to Sam Allardyce last week and are facing up to an emotional last ever season at their famous Boleyn Ground home. But they could also potentially play as many as 23 extra matches should they go all the way in the Europa League after qualifying via the FIFA Fair Play route despite finishing the Premier League season in 12th place. Both Sullivan and fellow co-owner David Gold had pledged to invest 'significantly' this summer and have already signed goalkeeper Darren Randolph from Birmingham and Spanish U21 international Pedro Obiang from Sampdoria. There is more good news for Hammers fans on the way, though, as Sullivan - who takes a leading role in West Ham's transfer business - has given a frank assessment of what is needed to beef up the East Londoners' squad. "Definitely four or five signings you know, and one or two very, very exciting players that we really like and the new manager really likes which is very important," Sullivan told West Ham's official website. "Some will be very highly paid Bosmans (free transfers), others will be big transfer fees, slightly lower wages, but we know we need to strengthen that squad."

Just who those exciting players are is anyone's guess as the Hammers have been linked with a host of players including Chelsea striker Loic Remy, Queens Park Rangers' Charlie Austin, Paris St Germain's Yohan Cabaye and Marseille's Dmitri Payet. West Ham's season will start before any other Premier League team with their first two-legged Europa League qualifier on July 2.
That means former Besiktas boss Bilic, who has experience of juggling the demands associated with playing domestic and European football, has just two weeks to get his squad ready for that early start. If Sullivan is true to his word, though, it would be no surprise to see the Hammers being active in the transfer market right up until the window slams shut on September 1.

Report: West Ham maintaining interest in Dimitri Payet
Subhankar Mondal

West Ham United and Everton are reportedly interested in Marseille winger Dimitri Payet. West Ham United are maintaining their interest in Marseille winger Dimitri Payet, according to The Daily Mail. The former Lille star has been linked with Everton, but the Hammers are reportedly determined to snap up the attacker ahead of their Premier League rivals. "The 28-year-old France international playmaker is available for around £6m and has been considered by Everton but is more keen on a move to London," states a report in The Daily Mail. This follows a recent report which claimed that West Ham and Payet cannot agree on wages, which is why there is a delay in completing the transfer. According to The Sun, the Marseille winger has been offered a five-year deal worth almost £60,000 per week. However, Payert allegedly wants £80,000 a week to put pen to paper on a contract with the London outfit. Payet has been on the books of Marseille since 2013 and is one of the better players in Ligue 1. The former Nantes star scored seven goals and created 134 chances in 36 Ligue 1 appearances in the recently concluded 2014-15 season. The 28-year-old had a pass accuracy of 80% and a shot accuracy of 47%, and won three headers, 66 dribbles and 17 tackles.

Slaven Bilic, the maverick in the West Ham United hotseat, says: 'I like strong players, magicians who are not just yes men...'
PUBLISHED: 23:01, 15 June 2015 | UPDATED: 05:45, 16 June 2015

The manager who hates to be called a rock star is limping around the Olympic Stadium. A day that started in Croatia is ending in his new home with his old colours. 'I am quite tired but excited,' he says. 'A lot has happened very quickly.' In front of Slaven Bilic is the dusty straight where Usain Bolt won three gold medals. Beyond it is the field of dreams, covered in tools and mounds of sand. The transformation of a stadium and football club is occurring in tandem and the guitar hero from West Ham's past is now essential to their future. He is still trying to make sense of it all. 'The Olympics were straight after Euro 2012 and I had gone to Lokomotiv Moscow,' he says. 'I watched the Games at home and who would have had an idea that three years later I'd be here and talking about West Ham in the Olympic Stadium? This is very brilliant.' He talks in whispers; he walks with a shuffle, the legacy of a fractured hip suffered before the 1998 World Cup. His link to this 'cult club' was forged across only one and a half seasons nearly two decades ago, a relationship built through the simple wisdom of Harry Redknapp and the aura of 1966. 'There is more to it but I can't explain properly,' he says. 'The one thing about England is there are no small clubs — only big clubs and bigger clubs. On top of that, West Ham has something. I am not saying that because I am an ex-player and now manager. 'They have something special — a cult club. I always believed that. They are moving in a new direction, but they will always have that feel. I cannot quite describe it. It is not only about the West Ham players (from) 1966 — that was big. But there is more.
'People in England might not know but in Europe it is seen as a special club. I am very, very happy to be back.'

Up he gets from the directors' box and heads down to the dressing rooms. 'Last time I was at West Ham we were struggling,' he says. 'Second season, in 1997, I think we were not safe until we drew 0-0 with Newcastle in the second-to-last game. I remember clearly because if we lost, we then had Manchester United away. Harry Redknapp was brilliant. He has a way of speaking that is perfect. He talks simple football. He can pretend to complicate things and say "This right back has great anaerobic capacity". But no, not Harry. He just says, "That guy, he is quick". He is a brilliant manager. I had a great time.'

Bilic moves on to his huge future office, which will have its own kitchen. He limps around it, always stepping heavily on his left side. His World Cup in 1998 is remembered for how he got Laurent Blanc of France sent off, but there was the wider context of how he went there with a fractured left hip and played through the pain. He did not have the operation until 2012. 'I feel no pain now,' he says. 'It's okay.' But there could be no worse time for West Ham to stumble. Their business plan depends hugely on still being a Premier League club when they enter their new home next year. They gambled by not renewing the contract of Sam Allardyce, a man who never quite won the fans' hearts and minds. Conventional wisdom says Bilic has that desirable something that folk at the club want — he likes attacking football and 'magicians', as he calls his playmakers.

'If you want to be successful you can't have just one way of playing,' he says. 'You need organisation and also flair players.' The mystery is how far West Ham can go with a new style and bigger arena. Some predictions are for a Champions League future, though Bilic says: 'Our aim is not the Champions League for now. That will be a miracle. But this club has the potential and if you don't think about the possibility of that then you definitely will not do it.'

Allardyce's case proved that results alone are not always enough. But Bilic, a 46-year-old with a knack for winning friends, comes with softer edges. When he got out of a car at Sabiha Gokcen Airport in Turkey earlier this month, he led the ultras of Besiktas in a farewell song. He ended up on their shoulders. It fits the profile of this qualified lawyer and socialist who has a pierced left ear and a smoking habit (he used to get through 40 a day but has cut back). He wears a beanie hat on the sidelines and before Euro 2008 played guitar on a track called Fiery Madness. It's a warm reputation, but it is a talking point surrounding his appointment that has started to grate. 'I think I am not different from any other football manager,' he says. 'People sometimes write about me that I am a rock star. I am not. I am just like anyone else. 'I came here as a manager and I am a good manager. I do not want to talk about guitars. I like music, everyone likes music. I am only trying to be like me. I am not a boring person. But I have never played a concert — I am a manager.'

At the third time of asking, he is West Ham's manager. He is earning a reported annual salary of £3million, having twice rejected them in 2008 and 2010 in favour of staying in charge of Croatia, where his wages were £80,000 a year. He spent six years in that job and walking out on his country was never an option. 'It was never the case that I wasn't happy with West Ham,' he says. 'It was just I had committed to my country. It was impossible to leave.' Now he is back. He was not the first choice for this job but he is sure to be exciting, a boss who backs mavericks as much as he appreciates solid defending. 'Every manager would love players who will nod at whatever you say,' he says. 'But to go to an away game in front of 60,000 people booing, you have to be special. I cannot point at a blue chair and say "Look at that purple chair" to someone special. If he is strong on the pitch, he is strong off the pitch. I like those characters.' Bilic is likely to be a different sort of character, whether he sees himself that way or not.

David Sullivan relaxed as West Ham look to improve their squad
Lewis Doe

West Ham United co-owner David Sullivan says the club won't panic as they look to sign new players. West Ham United co-owner and co-chairman David Sullivan told the club's website that he's relaxed over the club's plans with regards to the transfer market. The Hammers have already made one signing under new manager Slaven Bilic, with Pedro Obiang confirmed as part of the squad and the club will back the boss to go after further additions over the next few weeks with the transfer window officially opening on July 1. "We will be making bids for players and will see what will develop over the coming weeks," he said. "We know we need to strengthen the squad and have competition for places. We are not panicking and know we have plenty of time."

A relaxed approach is important because with the window not even officially open, there really is no need at all for the club to panic. The situation would be different if the Hammers were chasing deals with two weeks left to run in August, but they have plenty of time for Bilic to assemble the sort of squad he wants before the club's first Premier League game. Another reason the club needs to be relaxed is because every other side knows that the Hammers are looking for players. They will play on that, pushing West Ham for higher prices and lengthening negotiations, which means the club are going to need to be patient to get Bilic's first choice targets. If they rush into deals and panic, they may not get the precise terms they are looking for out of a deal and the cost of players will go through the roof. West Ham deserve a pat on the back for starting early, but there's a long way to go before Bilic will be happy with the players he has.

West Ham and Crystal Palace join the hunt for Luton forward Lee Angol
Sue Denim

HITC Sport understands West Ham United and Crystal Palace are among those considering a move for Lee Angol, with Nottingham Forest set to miss out. Luton Town starlet Lee Angol has rejected a new contract at Kenilworth Road and is set to leave the club without playing a game, with Premier League and Championship clubs ready to pounce, HITC Sport understands from sources close to the player. The 20-year-old was snapped up by the Hatters last summer when he was released by Wycombe Wanderers, and they sent him straight on-loan to Conference South Side Boreham Wood. And Angol enjoyed a wonderful campaign, claiming 25 goals in 39 games and helping them to promotion into the Conference. Luton are now desperate for Angol to sign a new deal, with his current contract due to expire this summer, but HITC understand that he has shunned the offer, with a host of clubs waiting in the wings. Nottingham Forest were looking to land the player but, because of transfer restrictions due to Financial Fair Play breaches, they could only offer an incentive-based deal to Luton – who are due compensation should Angol leave. But HITC understands that interest is growing elsewhere. West Ham United, Crystal Palace, Bournemouth, Brentford, Charlton Athletic and Milton Keynes Dons are all now ready to make a move for the highly-rated youngster.

Fixture list available at 9am
Posted by Sean Whetstone on June 16, 2015 in Videos, Whispers

The 2015-16 football fixture list will be published on Wednesday at 9am.

West Ham fans can begin making plans for the next 11 months when the fixture list for the new season is released tomorrow. The first Premier League game of the season will be played on Saturday 8th August 2015.

The process for calculating the fixture list begins in November, with representatives from clubs, the FA, the Premier League and Football League. A draft fixture schedule is reviewed before being finalised in March, when they are sent to clubs for feedback.

Local rivals are not allowed to play at home on the same day, and certain clubs have restrictions on when they can have home games: these usually apply when other major events are happening in the local area on the same day.

Sunderland gazump Irons on Jenks loan
Posted by Hugh5outhon1895 on June 16, 2015 in News, Whispers

West Ham are in danger of losing out on another Carl Jenkinson loan spell after Sunderland offered Arsenal £500,000 more than £2 million loanfee wanted by the Gunners.

Reports in the morning press that the Hammers had won the race for the England under 21 after agreeing a £1.5 million loan deal are well wide of the mark.

The club's negotiators believed they were making progress but have learned in the last few hours that the Black Cats have come back with a financial package including the loan fee that has put them in pole position.

That has put us on the back foot in our bid to bring the right back into the club fora second year but all is not lost at this stage.

ClaretandHugh was told exclusively by a major source: " Suddenly there are all sorts of problems on the deal as Sunderland have offered £2.5 million and wages.

"That's £500,000 more than the Arsenal asking price but we certainly haven't given up at this point in the proceedings."

Hammers favourites for five players
Posted by Sean Whetstone on June 16, 2015 in News, Whispers

West Ham are favourites to land five players according to bookmakers

Bookies are offering odds of 1/3 on for the Hammers to land the Marseille attacker Dimitri Payet while offering 7/2 for him to stay at Marseille and 10/1 to join Everton.

Striker Andre Pierre Gignac is a 5/4 joint favourite with Tigres UANL to join West Ham with Galatasaray 6/1 and Newcastle 12/1.

Alex Song is 6/4 to re-join West Ham with Southampton 9/4, Chelsea 6/1 and Man City 10/1.

West Ham are also 5/2 joint favourites to land Cabaye with Crystal Palace followed by Arsenal at 3/1 and Man Utd at 5/1

Finally Loic Remy is 5/6 odds on to become to Hammer according to the bookies with Chelsea 2/1 Crytsal Palace 4/1 and Sunderland 10/1.

But then again what do the bookmakers know?

Tevez and Irons: The Truth
Posted by Hugh5outhon1895 on June 16, 2015 in News, Whispers

It's the silly season of course and no doubt some time soon the 'Tevez back to West Ham' story will make its usual yearly appearance.

Already it's been reported that he's a Liverpool target and today Sky have said that an unnamed Premier League club is ready to make a move – that team NOT being the Reds

Naturally the more optimistic Hammers fans on social media have started the old 'chestnut' rolling again by claiming he may be on his way back for a glory glory last Boleyn season.

So for the umpteenth time we put it on our most reliable sources and he explained why it wouldn't happen saying: " "He's on £250k a week and our wage cap is £64m including employers NI. Of 14 per cent !

"If we had him we could only afford about 12 players !"

Sorry to disappoint but that's that one put to bed…AGAIN!


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