Friday, July 17

Daily WHUFC News - 17th July 2015

Slaven satisfied with Birkirkara win

Slaven Bilic was in honest mood after seeing his West Ham United team edge
past Birkirkara in his first competitive match in charge.
The Hammers needed a 90th-minute goal from James Tomkins to score a 1-0 UEFA
Europa League second qualifying round first leg victory over the Maltese FA
Trophy holders. A near-full Boleyn Ground was left frustrated as Giovanni
Tedesco's determined, well-organised side defended stoutly, only to be
undone when the No5 netted his second goal in successive home matches from
close-range. "We knew that it was going to be like this and we had to be on
one hand quick, and on the other hand patient because they were going to be
with the whole team behind the ball, they were going to waste time and they
were going to keep the ball when we gave it to them. "They have quality and
are totally different to the Andorran team [FC Lusitans] and, to be fair, I
was really pleased with the way we played in the first half. We were just
missing a little bit of quality up front and, when we hit the crossbar and
with a couple of other chances, a little bit of luck.
In the second half we lost our patience. I wanted the ball to go wide and
get around them and make them tired, create better crosses or go inside the
box with the ball. In the last 15 minutes we started to do it again and we
had a few chances, had a few shots and corners and in the end we scored the
goal we totally deserved to score. "We kept a clean sheet, which we were
expecting, but in these games you can lose your shape and conceded a goal.
Now, we have a good result, not a smashing result and I'm quite confident
we're going to go through."

When asked what aspects of West Ham's performance pleased him the most,
Bilic said it was clear his players had been working hard in the two weeks
since they returned for pre-season training. Many of those on show on
Thursday had completed just an hour of action at Peterborough United on
Saturday, but there were few signs of rustiness as the enjoyed 74%
possession and allowed Birkirkara just one shot on goal. "We are fit, not
totally fit and lacking a bit of freshness and organisation. We have not had
too much time to work on it, but we have watched a view video animations on
the wall and the guys are doing well. "Of course we are going to improve,
but we were compact at the back and the two centre-halves concentrated and
passed the ball and were really good. I'm pleased with the way we played.
"I'm not happy with the final third of the pitch and the result. If it was
2-0 or 3-0 it would have been good. We deserved more goals, but I am happy
with the way we played."

West Ham travel to Malta for the second leg next Thursday evening, with
kick-off at the Ta'Qali National Stadium set for 8.45pm local time (7.45pm
UK time).

Downing departs

West Ham United can confirm that winger Stewart Downing has returned to
hometown club Middlesbrough on a permanent basis for an undisclosed fee.
Downing, who turns 31 next Wednesday, has moved back to his first club after
two seasons in east London. The midfielder made 74 appearances in Claret and
Blue, scoring seven goals. West Ham United would like to thank Stewart for
his hard work and commitment over the past two years and wish him all the
best in his future career.

West Ham 1 Birkirkara FC 0
16 July 2015
Last updated at 22:18
By Neil Johnston
BBC Sport

West Ham take slender lead to Malta
James Tomkins scores 90th minute winner
Second leg on 23 July

James Tomkins scored a 90th-minute winner to earn West Ham United a narrow
Europa League second qualifying round first leg lead over Malta's
Birkirkara. The Hammers dominated possession but failed to make it count
until defender Tomkins chested home from a corner.
In front of a crowd of 33,048, Modibo Maiga hit a post for the hosts, while
skipper Kevin Nolan went close with an acrobatic volley.
Birkirkara went closest through Liliu, the return leg taking place on 23

"West Ham have won a game which looked like being 0-0 by nicking a goal at
the end. It will be a different game away from home. Birkirkara played like
it was a cup final for them. Can they work that hard again? If West Ham had
won 5-0 Slaven Bilic could have left his key men at home next week but now
they will all have to go to Malta."

Hammers boss Slaven Bilic's side will have to perform better in Malta if
they are to make sure of a place in the third qualifying round.
They made heavy weather of seeing off a team 318th in Uefa's club rankings -
200 places below West Ham. Bilic made seven changes to the side that won
against Lusitanos in Andorra last week, with experienced first-team players
Nolan, Aaron Creswell and Winston Reid all returning. But they lacked
cutting edge and when one second-half move resulted in the ball being played
back to goalkeeper Adrian, some sections of West Ham's support booed in
frustration. Mali forward Maiga could have had a hat-trick, the 27-year-old
going closest when goalkeeper Justin Haber palmed his 27th-minute effort
onto a post. Maltese Cup winners Birkirkara defended in numbers and were
minutes away from a memorable result when Tomkins struck. Mauro Zarate's
corner was missed by Haber, allowing Tomkins to chest over the line for his
second goal in Europa League appearances this season.

Stewart Downing: Middlesbrough sign West Ham winger

Winger Stewart Downing has rejoined hometown club Middlesbrough on a
four-year deal, stepping down a division from Premier League side West Ham.
The 30-year-old will join the club's Marbella training camp on Friday after
completing a deal worth £5.5m that could rise to £7m if Boro are promoted.
Downing, capped 35 times by England, left the Riverside for Aston Villa in
July 2009, before moving to Liverpool.
"Nobody expected him to come here," said Boro boss Aitor Karanka. "He wants
to be here and is completely committed to the club and the team. It's an
amazing signing for us. He's more than just a player." Downing, who joined
the Hammers in 2013 and made 37 league appearances last season, said there
were "other options on the table" but it was "great to be back home". He
added: "I always said I wanted to come back to this club. I didn't put a
time limit on it, but now the circumstances are right. "It would be the
biggest achievement of my career if I could help us get back into the
Premier League."

Downing said there was a chance of him joining Boro on loan from Liverpool
during his spell at Anfield Since making his professional debut for the
Teessiders in May 2002, he has made 493 appearances in all competitions,
scoring 50 goals. Meanwhile, Jonathan Woodgate, 35, has agreed a deal to
remain with Boro after considering retirement at the end of last season.
Karanka said: "He knows his role will be a bit different. He wants to come
here to help us get promotion." Middlesbrough narrowly missed out on the
Premier League last season as they were beaten by Norwich City in the
Championship play-off final at Wembley in May.

West Ham 1-0 Birkirkara: James Tomkins rescues Hammers
Last Updated: 16/07/15 10:21pm

West Ham scraped past Birkirkara 1-0 in the first leg of their Europa League
second qualifying round tie, with James Tomkins netting a 90th-minute
winner. The Maltese minnows, who qualified for the Europa League by winning
the FA trophy in their homeland, frustrated the Premier League side until
Tomkins bundled home a corner late on. Hammers boss Slaven Bilic took charge
of his first game from the home dugout and named a strong senior side that
included Mark Noble, Kevin Nolan and Aaron Cresswell.

Modibo Maiga was twice denied in the first half by goalkeeper Justin Haber
but that pressure faded and a goal never looked likely in front of a
frustrated home crowd, until Tomkins struck. West Ham were expected to make
short work of their opposition, having seen off FC Lusitans of Andorra 4-0
on aggregate in the first round. Birkirkara headed to east London with
former Juventus striker Fabrizio Miccoli in their ranks but offered almost
nothing in forward areas early on. It was one-way traffic almost from the
kick-off, but without the killer finishing touch. Maiga headed over and then
Amalfitano curled the ball high into the Sir Trevor Brooking Stand from 12
yards out. On 20 minutes, Birkirkara goalkeeper Haber produced a brilliant
one-handed save to tip over a point-blank header from Maiga following a
free-kick into the penalty area. Maiga then angled a 20-yard shot that was
touched onto the far post by Haber. After a tactical reshuffle at the break,
Birkirkara were far more organised and crafted a rare break when Ellenton
Liliu scampered clear down the right but he dragged his cross-shot wide.
West Ham looked to have run out of ideas but Haber flapped at a left-wing
corner swept in by Zarate and Tomkins bundled the ball into the net,
enabling Bilic's men to take a narrow advantage to Malta for the second leg
next Thursday.

West Ham transfers: Manuel Lanzini STILL awaiting clearance for proposed
loan move
22:30, 16 JULY 2015
Ex-River Plate midfielder has agreed to join from Al Jazira Club in the UAE
with a view to a permanent deal as a replacement for Stewart Downing
The Mirror

River Plate's midfielder Manuel LanziniMan on the move: Lanzini's switch to
Upton Park should be confirmed sooner rather than later
Manuel Lanzini is continuing to wait for clearance for his move to West Ham.
The 22-year-old playmaker has already agreed a loan deal with a view to a
permanent move, with Stewart Downing off to Middlesbrough for £5million. But
Lanzini's transfer, expected to have been completed by Thursday, is being
held up by paperwork. The attacking midfielder is highly rated at West Ham.
He hit eight goals in 24 appearances to help Al Jazira Club in the UAE
finish second in the Arabian Gulf League last season.

West Ham 1-0 Birkirkara: Hammers leave it late to establish first-leg lead
in Europa League qualifier
21:53, 16 JULY 2015
The side from Malta looked to have claimed a fine away draw, only for James
Tomkins to win it for the Irons late on
The Mirror

Slaven Bilic was a relieved man after James Tomkins' earned him a Europa
League win in his first game in charge at Upton Park. Tomkins spared West
Ham's blushes with a last-minute winner against Birkirkara to give them a
narrow advantage to take to Malta for next week's second qualifying round
second leg. New Hammers boss Bilic said: "It was a relief. We deserved more
than 1-0 but it's a good result for us. "It is not job done but it wouldn't
be even if it was 2-0 or 3-1 so we have respect for our opponent." Bilic
picked a much stronger side of first-teamers, though none of his summer
signings played, to face the Maltese minnows last night. But as they toiled
he might have wondered if he was better off sticking with the kids who got
through the first round against FC Lusitans with ease. Birkirkara were a
step up from the Andorran part-timers though West Ham still should have had
more than enough to see them off comfortably. Instead they laboured and were
frustrated by dogged Birkirkara for most of the night and were even jeered
by their own fans during the second half in a throwback to the Sam Allardyce
era. Having seen West Ham squander a number of chances and Liliu almost nick
a shock away goal for Birkirkara for the visitors the boo-boys were no doubt
warming up to let rip at the final whistle. But Tomkins got them off the
hook when he touched in Mauro Zarate's 90th minute corner to give West Ham
the advantage going into the return.

WEST HAM: Adrian 6; O'Brien 5, Reid 6, Tomkins 7, Cresswell 7; Noble 6,
Nolan 5 (Poyet 79, 5); Jarvis 6, Zarate 6, Amalfitano 5 (Samuelsen 59, 6);
Maiga 6 (Lee 69, 5). Subs: Randolph, Collins, Hendrie, Pike.


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