Friday, July 24

Daily WHUFC News - 24th July 2015

Roy Stroud 1925-2015

West Ham United are saddened to hear the news that Roy Stroud, who was the
oldest living Hammer, died peacefully in his sleep on Thursday 4 June. Born
in Silvertown, London on 16 March 1925, Stroud was a caring and popular
figure. A player back in the 1950s, he had previously represented Arsenal
and England Boys as a youngster before he joined his beloved Hammers in 1952
where he played predominantly as an Outside Right. During an injury
curtailing five years at the Boleyn Ground, he made 15 appearances, scoring
four goals before moving to Chelmsford City. He hung up his boots following
a broken wrist, and later worked as a product buyer for Liptons and Safeway.

The Club would like to thank Roy for all that he brought to West Ham United
and extend their condolences to his family and friends at this difficult

Hammers progress on penalties!
UEFA Europa League second qualifying round, second leg

Birkirkara 1-0 AET West Ham United, (1-1 on aggregate), 3-5 on penalties

West Ham United survived an almighty scare against Birkirkara on Thursday
evening, as the Hammers prevailed 5-3 on penalties to book their place in
the third qualifying round of the Europa League.

The Hammers fell behind in the 14th minute to a Fabrizio Miccoli goal from
close range, before James Tomkins saw red in the half's closing stages for
an altercation with Nikola Vukanac.

Matias Mazzetti was dismissed in the second half of extra time for a second
caution, but the hosts would cling onto their slender advantage to take the
game to spot-kicks.

Ironically, it was Vukanac who missed the decisive spot-kick, skying his
penalty woefully over the bar with the Hammers 3-2 to the good, ultimately
leaving Diego Poyet to roll home the Hammers' fifth and secure Slaven
Bilic's men's progress.

Any hopes that the return leg might prove a more straightforward affair than
the first were well and truly banished within the first quarter of an hour

The Maltese started strongly and got stronger. Within three minutes Joey
O'Brien threw himself to the ground to block a shot on the edge of the box.
At the other end, Matt Jarvis had the Hammers' first effort of note, taking
aim from the edge of the box. Haber got down low to his right to save.

But unlike at the Boleyn Ground, West Ham were neither dominating possession
nor territory and when the hosts hit the front after 14 minutes, it was
hardly against the run of play.

Liliu broke free down the right and though James Collins sought to cover the
ground, Italian Fabrizio Miccoli slid in at the near post to tuck home. It
looked suspiciously like an own goal, with O'Brien in close attendance, but
suffice to say the home fans were not bothered one jot.

West Ham at least began to see a little more possession as they grew into
proceedings. But when Aaron Cresswell got to the by-line his cut-back was
too deep for Cheikhou Kouyate, while the Senegal midfielder's 20-yard strike
was easily held.

Calamity struck on the stroke of half-time, with West Ham again being
reduced to ten men on their European travels. And just like in Andorra, it
was an off-the-ball incident.

As West Ham waited to deliver a free-kick from the right, Tomkins tangled
with Nikola Vukanac in the middle. The latter fell to earth and after an
absolute age, referee Enea Jorgji gave West Ham's No5 his marching orders.

There were no changes at the interval and, with the extra man, Birkirkara
were doing most of the pressing. Adrian, under considerable pressure, did
well to punch a corner clear, before Miccoli dragged an effort a yard or two
wide of the near post from 20 yards.

For the Hammers, Jarvis craned his neck to meet Amalfitano's deep, looping
cross, but could only nod over the top. It was more or less the Frenchman's
last involvement, as he was replaced by Modibo Maiga, while Diego Poyet came
on for skipper Kevin Nolan.

Moments later Jarvis had half-hearted claims for a spot-kick waved away. The
No7 darted into the box only to go down under the challenge of Vukanac.
Nothing doing, said Jorgji, as the ball looped onto the roof of the net via
a Birkirkara boot.

Ironically, he had a much better shout shortly afterwards. Crossing from the
right, Jarvis was crudely upended by a decidedly late challenge, but neither
the linesman nor the referee was interested. Slaven Bilic on the touchline
made his frustrations known.

As the clock ticked down, Maiga was felled 25 yards from goal, but
Cresswell's free-kick cannoned straight into the wall and out of harm's way.
Four minutes of injury time came and went without incident and into extra
time it went.

Jarvis went close again after the restart. The winger let fly from the
right-hand side of the box and a wicked deflection took it narrowly past the
far post. Substitute Vito Plut then raced away and, with Cresswell back
pedalling, poked tamely into Adrian's arms.

It was ten aside inside three second-half minutes of extra time. Vukanac
tripped Mauro Zarate and Mazzetti managed to talk his way into the book to
earn his second caution of the evening.

There was then a heart-stopping moment for Adrian when he raced off his
line, but got enough on the ball to convince the referee that his challenge
was a legal one.

West Ham, meanwhile, briefly thought they had a winner through Maiga. The
No20 tucked home Zarate's pass but celebrations were cut short by the
linesman's flag.

Mark Noble, Paul Fenech, Zarate, Vito Plut and Cresswell were each spotless
from 12 yards, before Vukanac blasted miles over. O'Brien and Edmond Agius
then converted their respective spot-kicks, before Poyet stepped up, calm as
you like, to send the Hammers through to face Romanian side Astra.

Birkirkara: Haber (GK), Z.Muscat, Marcelina (Zammit 96), Vukanac, Mazzetti,
Fenech (c), Camenzuli, Zerafa, R. Muscat (Agius 70), Liliu, Miccoli (Plut

Akpan (GK), Sciberras, D.Zerafa, Murga

Booked: Miccoli, Vukanac, Mazzetti

Sent off: Mazzetti

Goal:Miccoli 14

West Ham United: Adrian (GK), O'Brien, Tomkins, Collins, Cresswell, Kouyate,
Noble, Nolan (Poyet 59), Jarvis (Samuelsen 120), Amalfitano (Maiga 59),

Subs: Randolph (GK), Hendrie, Pike

Booked: Noble, Collins

Sent off: Tomkins

Referee: Enea Jorgji

Bilic - 'The most important thing is that we are through'

Slaven Bilic insisted his West Ham United players have to learn from their
uncomfortable experience of edging past Maltese side Birkirkara FC on
penalties in the UEFA Europa League.

The Hammers relinquished their first-leg lead to Fabrizio Miccoli's
close-range finish before James Tomkins was sent-off for retaliating after
Nikola Vukanac pushed him in the back as the two players awaited a set piece
– West Ham's second red card in two away Europa League ties this season.

Forced to play for 75 minutes with ten men, the Hammers huffed and puffed in
the heat and humidity of a raucous Ta' Qali National Stadium, but could not
find the decisive away goal they craved, even after Birkirkara's Maurizio
Mazzetti was sent-off in extra-time.

Instead, their class finally showed from the penalty spot as Mark Noble,
Mauro Zarate, Aaron Cresswell, Joey O'Brien and Diego Poyet all converted,
while Vukanac blazed his effort miles over the crossbar to see the Hammers

A relieved Bilic said his team deserved to go through to face Romanians FC
Astra, but that they must learn to ignore the sideshows that have threatened
to derail their European adventure.

"The most important thing is that we are through," said the manager. "They
started better, they pressed up front, they definitely knew they would get
used to conditions in this heat
they started better. We took the control of the game, but we didn't create
chances, even though we we were around the box a lot and passing the ball.

"We lacked either the determination or quality to go into the box and create
clear cut chances."
Bilic admitted his players must improve their composure levels if they are
to continue in the competition after seeing Tomkins receive his marching
orders in very similar circumstances to Diafra Sakho's red card against FC

"That two rounds, two stupid red cards, first in Andorra and now here," the
boss lamented.

"We didn't get used to playing in Europe in this kind of atmosphere. We have
to adjust, because we cannot react like that to provocation.

"It will happen again, 100 per cent. Both of them were a little bit hard for
me but we gave them a chance to give us to give red card.

"After that, it was much harder for us. We were the better team at end of
the game, but we didn't create a lot and we didn't penetrate enough."

While the Hammers' open play was not good enough to break down Giovanni
Tedesco's resolute side, it was a different matter when it went to

All five West Ham players scored with confidence, while Vukanac lost his
composure at the vital moment and fired a Chris Waddle-esque spot-kick high
into the Maltese night.

"When it came to the penalties, they are a lottery, but all five guys took
them really, really good. I saw confidence in their eyes when I asked them
who would take them.

"More than five wanted to take them, we were confident and it happened and
we are through."

In the long run, Bilic believes the physical and mental test his players
passed in Malta will give them strength and confidence for a potentially
long season ahead.

"We played 120 minutes, which for a pre-season is good. On this kind of
pitch, I can only praise the character to play with a man down, chasing the
result, in that kind of humidity.

"We showed character, determination and we didn't go into second half of
extra time, 1-0 and a man down in the heat and give it up. We wanted to turn
it around and the end we just about deserved it."

Birkirkara FC 1 West Ham 0
ET 30
FT 90
HT 1-0
(agg 1 - 1)
West Ham United win 5-3 on penalties
23 July 2015
Last updated at 22:59
By Shamoon Hafez
BBC Sport

West Ham scraped through to the Europa League third qualifying round after
beating Malta's Birkirkara on penalties. The Hammers led 1-0 after the first
leg, but striker Fabrizio Miccoli slid in to restore parity on aggregate.
Both sides had a man sent off; James Tomkins was dismissed after 45 minutes
for pushing Nikola Vukanac and Mauricio Mazzetti followed in extra time. The
Hammers scored all five penalties, with Diego Poyet scoring the winner. West
Ham will now face Romanian side Astra - who beat Scottish side Inverness -
and still need to negotiate their way through that two-legged tie plus a
play-off round to reach the group stages of the competition. On this
showing, they will need a significant improvement. None of the club's seven
summer signings played, while Enner Valencia and Winston Reid both missed
out at a hot Ta' Qali National Stadium. Having replaced Sam Allardyce in the
summer, manager Slaven Bilic's side were desperately disappointing and
struggled against a side ranked 360th on the Uefa coefficients list.
Birkirkara - the Maltese Cup winners - were tenacious in the tackle and
employed tactics that frustrated their opponents, with former Italy
international Miccoli and midfielder Mark Noble both booked after a heated
exchange. Further controversy followed when centre-back Tomkins was sent off
after grabbing Vukanac and throwing the defender to the ground as they
jostled before a Hammers corner. The referee waited for the ensuing scuffle
to clear before showing Vukanac a yellow card and Tomkins, who scored the
only goal last week, red. West ham created virtually nothing, although
winger Matt Jarvis had a low drive smothered by goalkeeper Justin Haber -
his team's only shot on target in the match. At the other end, they were
punished as Brazilian forward Liliu drilled in a low cross which Miccoli
converted after beating Joey O'Brien to the ball. The impressive defender
Mazzetti was dismissed with 12 minutes of normal time remaining for a second
booking and West Ham substitute Modibo Maiga had a late goal ruled out for
offside. But after struggling in the heat, the Londoners kept their cool
during the penalty shootout

Slaven Bilic: West Ham exit would have been 'embarrassing'

West Ham manager Slaven Bilic says being eliminated by Maltese minnows
Birkirkara in the Europa League would have been "embarrassing" for the club.
The Premier League side scraped through to the third qualifying round after
winning 5-3 on penalties. "These things happen in football and it would have
been a major blow to be eliminated but we deserved to go through," said the
Croat. Former Hammers defenders Bilic replaced Sam Allardyce as manager in
the summer. 'We have to learn from this experience'

West Ham went into the match with a 1-0 advantage after James Tomkins's late
winner in London, but were pegged back by former Italy striker Fabrizio
Miccoli's close-range effort in the second leg. The match remained 1-1 on
aggregate and the Hammers scored all five penalties to set up a tie with
Romanian side Astra. Bilic - who took charge of his fourth match - feels the
result will hold them in good stead for the forthcoming season. "We didn't
sink and to play 120 minutes and be one man down in heat will be good for
the boys' confidence in the long term," said Bilic. "I didn't expect them to
throw the towel in. I have played many times in Europe and you have to cope
with it. "It would have been embarrassing, no matter the heat or that we
were without many players but we overcame the circumstances.
"This will help us in the matches against the Romanians because we have to
learn from this experience."

West Ham fail to stay cool

The match was played in over 30C heat in Malta and tempers frayed. Mark
Noble was booked for an altercation, while Tomkins was dismissed after
grabbing and throwing an opposing defender to the ground. Birkirkara's
Mauricio Mazzetti saw red later on for two bookable offences.
"After the red card it was harder for us. We were the better team but we
didn't create a lot or penetrate enough," added Bilic. "The heat definitely
affected us more than them, but it also affected them because they are not
used to that heat even here. "They didn't go over the top. I told the
players we could moan about them provoking but it is very common."

Stewart Downing: Middlesbrough are 'Premier League' standard

Stewart Downing says Middlesbrough's ambition was key to his decision to
drop into the Championship from Premier League side West Ham United. The
England international winger, 31, returned to his hometown club for £5.5m,
after playing 37 top-flight games for the Hammers last season. "This is a
Premier League club," Downing told BBC Look North. "If this was a team
fighting relegation or mid-table, it wouldn't be good for me to come back."

Downing, who has agreed a four-year deal, continued: "These players were
very unlucky not to be promoted last season. The manager [Aitor Karanka]
said if he can keep most of the squad together and add the players he wants
to get in then we'll get in for automatic promotion.
"That's what he's drilling into the players and we've got to believe it's
going to happen."

Since making his professional debut for Middlesbrough in May 2002, Downing
has made 493 appearances in all competitions, scoring 50 goals.
After departing Middlesbrough for Aston Villa in 2009, Downing went on to
play for Liverpool and West Ham before his summer switch to the Riverside.
The deal was created for Karanka by the financial backing of long-serving
chairman Steve Gibson. Gibson was at the helm when Downing left Boro six
years ago, and remains committed to them restoring their top-flight status,
despite their play-off final defeat by Norwich in May. "He's never changed
since I first met him - his vision and ambition," Downing added. "It must be
great for the manager, it gives him time to build a team and money to sign
players. "After speaking to the manager you can see he's happy, there are
still three or four to come in and we'll have a right go this season."

Birkirkara 1-0 West Ham Utd (aet, West Ham win 5-3 on pens)
Filed: Thursday, 23rd July 2015
By: Staff Writer

West Ham celebrated as they finally secured passage through to the third
qualifying round of the Europa League - despite having been embarrassed on
the night by the minnows of Birkirkara.

United's (rather fortuitous) slender one-goal lead from the first leg proved
to be entirely insufficient as the hosts, spurred on by an enthusiastic
crowd - and a band that made the England supporters lot seem almost
palatable - wiped out West Ham's lead as early as the 14th minute.

To be fair to tonight's hosts, it was a quality effort; West Ham, caught on
the counter retreated as Costa raced away down the right. His centre was
perfectly angled for the arriving Miccoli, who forced both ball and
attending defender O'Brien into the back of Adrian's net with considerable

Although West Ham continued to look the stronger side, despite being a goal
behind, the tables were turned when James Tomkins was ridiculously dismissed
as he lined up in the opposition penalty box for a corner.

Slaven Bilic's players had allowed themselves to become unnecessarily
embroiled in several petty disagreements prior to the flashpoint that led to
Tomkins' dismissal, as several examples of deliberately cynical play by
Birkirkara had been allowed to go unpunished by referee Enea Jorgji.

And the Albanian official allowed himself to be conned by the home side's
players once again on the stroke of half time.

As Tomkins lined up on the perimeter of the six-yard box he was grabbed -
and held - by defender Nikola Vukanac. Attempting to push the defender away
from him, Tomkins fell to ground with his opponent - who immediately
clutched his face in mock agony.

The play-acting defender's team mates immediately surrounded the referee to
insist that he take action against Tomkins - demands the inept Jorgji meekly
surrendered to, by issuing Tomkins with a straight red card to his and his
team mate's utter dismay.

Down to ten men, and playing in temperatures still in the high 70s, West Ham
continued to find it difficult to make inroads in the final third. All too
often, as was the case last season, promising moves broke down in the final
third with players unwilling to attempt a killer cross or threaded pass that
may unlock the Maltese defence.

On the one occasion that they did, the ball did find the back of the net -
only for substitute Modibo Maiga to see his effort rules out (marginally)
for offside. However that came with just three minutes of extra time
remaining - and after Birkirkara has themselves been reduced to ten men
following the dismissal of Mazzetti for dissent.

With neither team looking like scoring had we played all night, it was with
some relief that the final whistle was blown after 120 minutes of
excruciating football, in which the Hammers had once again made themselves a
laughing stock by falling to defeat against a team of far lesser standing.

Yet at least on this occasion they had the opportunity to redeem themselves
to some degree via the ensuing penalty shootout.

Mark Noble, Mauro Zarate and Aaron Cresswell took their spot kicks
beautifully, as did Fenech and Plut for B'kara. Then Karma struck - as
Vukanac, whose dreadful histrionics led to the dismissal of Tomkins, blasted
his effort high into the Maltese night sky.

Joey O'Brien's equally impressive 12-yarder and Agius' reply left Diego
Poyet simply needing to convert to win the day for the Hammers - which he
did, a touch brazenly, by waiting for goalkeeper Haben Justin to commit
before rolling the ball into the opposite corner.

In the end West Ham can consider themselves extremely lucky to find
themselves in the next round, where a far tougher opponent in Astra await.
Any thoughts of putting out a team of similarly-disjointed individuals for
that one should be instantly dismissed.

FC Birkirkara 1-0 West Ham: Hammers progress in Europa League on penalties
Last Updated: 24/07/15 1:18am

Ten-man West Ham avoided an embarrassing Europa League exit to minnows FC
Birkirkara with a 5-3 penalty shoot-out victory.

Playing at home, Maltese side Birkirkara forced extra-time as a deserved 1-0
win drew them level on aggregate, but the Hammers prevailed in the shoot-out
to reach the third qualifying round.

Leading by a goal from the first leg, Slaven Bilic's side failed to match
the intensity displayed by the hosts and fell behind on 15 minutes when
Fabrizio Miccoli converted from close range to make it 1-1 on aggregate.

The Hammers' chances of progression were dealt a significant blow on the
stroke of half time when centre-back James Tomkins, who scored the winning
goal in the first leg at Upton Park, was controversially sent off for his
part in an altercation with Birkirkara defender Nikola Vukanac.

Birkirkara then failed to make their man advantage count before, in the
second period of extra-time, Mauricio Mazzetti's dismissal for a second
bookable offence evened up proceedings.

The two sides could not be separated and it was Vukanac, who was involved in
Tomkins' dismissal, who missed the decisive spot-kick that allowed
substitute Diego Poyet to seal the victory.

With Diafra Sakho banned following his red card in the previous round, West
Ham had very few options in attack and rarely threatened.

Mauro Zarate was played as a lone frontman and substitute Modibo Maiga
proved to be an unreliable source of goals against the Maltese outfit.

The hosts started well as they looked to cancel out the first-leg deficit,
with James Collins' indecision almost allowing a dangerous set-piece to
sweep through the box before being poked behind by Joey O'Brien.

Despite being on the back foot in the opening 10 minutes, the Hammers had
the first telling effort of the game as Mark Noble's corner was cleared as
far as Matt Jarvis, who controlled on his chest before firing a low volley
straight at Justin Haber in the Birkirkara goal.

That did not dent the early confidence of the home side and Miccoli was on
hand to sweep home at the near post after smart work by strike partner
Ellenton Liliu.

As West Ham continued to make heavy weather of the tie, Noble was cautioned
after tangling with Miccoli as the Birkirkara players then began looking to
rile up the midfielder.

Mazzetti was then booked for a foul on Zarate before the Hammers'
frustrations continued as Tomkins and Vukanac wrestled with one another in
the penalty area ahead of a West Ham free-kick - with the Hammers defender
sent off and Vukanac booked for the coming together.

Birkirkara midfielder Marcelina had a tame effort towards the end of the
half, which came to an end at the right time for West Ham - who needed to
regroup after a poor opening 45 minutes.

Little changed after the interval and Hammers coach Bilic responded by
introducing Poyet and Maiga in place of captain Kevin Nolan and Morgan

Jarvis went down under pressure from Vukanac on the hour mark but referee
Enea Jorgji was unmoved by the penalty appeals.

The winger had a more substantial claim rejected shortly afterwards as West
Ham still could not trouble Haber.

The half was bereft of chances and it was no surprise when the game drifted
into extra time, with Birkirkara looking to hit on the counter-attack
despite their numerical advantage.

Mazzetti's red card in the early stages of the second period of extra-time
levelled the numbers, with Maiga finishing well late on only to see his
effort chalked off for offside.

That took the game to penalties and Noble, Zarate, Aaron Cresswell, O'Brien
and Poyet all converted successfully to set the Hammers up with a third
qualifying round clash with Astra Giurgiu of Romania, conquerors of Scottish
side Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

Downing: Slav didn't love me like Sam
Posted by Hugh5outhon1895 on July 23, 2015 in News, Whispers

STEWART DOWNING reckons Slaven Bilic didn't truly want him to stay at Upton
Park. Downing, decided to return to the Riverside and the Championship with
hometown club Middlesbrough – a move every insider ClaretndHugh has spoken
to claims it was a switch he was desperate to make. Now, however, the winger
claims he would have stayed had Slav shown him the same kind of love as
predecessor Sam Allardyce.
The 31 year old said: "The change of manager was a big factor. If Sam had
stayed, then I'm sure he'd have had a good sit down to try to persuade me to
stay. "After speaking to Slaven, I didn't get that feel of someone who
really wanted me there. He said, 'I'd love you to stay', but I didn't get
the feeling that I got when Sam signed me." Altogether now….violins out!

Give it up for young Poyet – well done my son!
Posted by Hugh5outhon1895 on July 23, 2015 in News, Whispers

Well done Diego Poyet!

A young man who spent last season in the shadows felt the fiercest spotlight
of his fledgling Hammers career all around him as he stepped up for the
final spot kick of a truly difficult night but calmly put the lights out on

It had taken far too long. It should have been sorted much earlier but a
sideways and backwards passing Irons team, giving too much respect to the
Maltese, decided to play it safe and made us all suffer painfully.

James Tomkins' sending off was a refereeing disaster – a joke. But let's be
fair, the team stayed the course and eventually made it through.

However, some of them – notably Kevin Nolan and Matt Jarvis – may have had
their last chance to impress Slav who knows very little about any of them in
reality. He found out a lot tonight.

The ageing captain and the lack lustre winger will surely not be a part of
his Premier League thinking.

One hundred and twenty minutes on a sweltering night may or may not be what
the players needed but that's what they and we got and at times it was as
painful as pulling our own teeth out.

In the end it was all worth it because our penalty takers all stepped up to
the mark – notably the one who had to clinch things with the final kick of
the match – young Poyet.

Yes, he looked incredibly tense but he passed the ball into the bottom
corner to ensure that we will be meeting Armenian outfit Astra in the next

By then we will have Dimitri Payet and Angelo Ogbonna available and with
the team getting fitter by the day and hopefully understanding the Bilic
philosophy a little better, there will be an improvement.

It was clear tonight that much of the Sam Allardyce thinking remains with
mindless clearances from the back.

That will change and the fact is the manner of the performance doesn't truly
matter at this stage. These are very very early days and we are through.

Tonight for me though was the night Diego Poyet grew up. I like the lad a
lot and he could force his way into the manager's thinking big time after
giving himself a confidence shot you can't buy with that match deciding


Anderlecht reject Hammers bid
Posted by Hammers Newshound on July 23, 2015 in News, Whispers

According to Belgium media outlet HLN, Anderlecht have rejected a bid from
West Ham for the 21-year-old midfielder Dennis Praet, who is considered
likely to move in the current transfer window.

Everton, Aston Villa and Southampton are all said to have registered their
interest in the £10million rated Belgian international whose debut for his
country in 2014 came alongside new Liverpool striker Christian Benteke.


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