View from the Newsroom - Constin Stucan
ProSport Editor-in-Chief Constin Stucan lifts the lid on opponents Astra
Last week's match finished 2-2, a good result for Astra?
"It was a terrific result and nobody expected it but now I think it has
become tougher for Astra because the expectations are much higher than last
week. Astra manager Marius Sumudica has complained about the their busy
schedule because they have played a game every three days. Sumudica said a
few days ago that he is worried that his players are fatigued."
What do people think of Astra manager Smudica, is he well respected?
"Sumudica is seen as a bit of a joker. In Scotland, when Astra played
Inverness, he joked 'Is this your summer now? Because it is very cold!' He
is also seen as a bit controversial because he has been linked with match
fixing in the past. After that he has coached some good teams here, Rapid,
among others. He is also controversial because once he ran onto the pitch
and kissed the referee! Even though he thought it was a bad decision, he was
unhappy but he came onto the pitch to kiss him!"
Who is Astra's stand out player?
"Constantin Budescu is the star. He's definitely the star and a lot of
people are expecting him to be transferred soon to a better side. This is my
feeling and it has been building for a while."
What kind of game are you expecting tomorrow night, will Astra sit back or
go for it?
"I think Sumudica will set up to be patient. He knows that 1-1 is good
enough to go through, so he won't go for the jugular. So I expect Astra to
wait and wait and try to frustrate West Ham."
Do you think the hot conditions will benefit Astra, are they a factor?
"It is very hot and I think this will help Astra because they are more used
to it. I am interested to see how the conditions effect the game, if they
do. West Ham should have the quality to deal with it but we'll see."
The game is finely balanced, it should be a good atmosphere in Giurgiu
"Well, yes and no. Astra is a bit of a hybrid club. They don't have many
fans, they've recently relocated to Giurgiu. Three years ago they were known
as Astra Ploie?ti. Almost all their fans are employees of the owner Ioan
Niculae, who is now in jail. He is the richest man in Romania and has a
I hear you were at the Steaua Bucharest game in 1999, what are your memories
of that game?
"I remember it well. I spoke to Harry Redknapp a lot before hand, as a
Liverpool fan meeting Jamie Redknapp's father was great. I also met the West
Ham United stadium announcer Martin Godleman out there."
If I had to push for a prediction for tomorrow night's game, what would it
"I think West Ham will win, maybe 2-1 but it is going to be an interesting
and close game."
Young Hammers beaten at Canvey Island
Canvey Island 2-0 Development Squad
A young West Ham United Development Squad side fell to a 2-0 friendly defeat
by Canvey Island in front of a full house at Park Lane on Wednesday evening.
With four U18s starting for Academy Manager Terry Westley's men, the
inexperienced visitors fell behind after half an hour, when Gulls skipper
Jay Curran forced home a corner at the far post. Jaanai Gordon had earlier
been denied by an eye-catching one-handed stop, while Joe Powell prodded
wide when through on goal. Canvey wrapped up proceedings with a second late
on courtesy of Ayrton Coley, who finished with style at the near post. It
was the Hammers, however, who had the first sight of goal after ten minutes.
Powell took aim from the right edge of the box and Flo Gislette in the
Canvey goal fumbled, but gathered, eventually. The hosts' keeper had no
such handling problems minutes later. A flowing West Ham counter saw Gordon
meet Oscar Borg's left-wing centre with a firm downward header, but there
was Gislette with a strong left hand to claw away. With 25 on the clock,
Powell went close again. This time he found himself through on goal, but, as
the goal beckoned, seemed to get the ball stuck under his feet and dinked it
wide of the near post.
West Ham were soon to rue the missed chance, as the Gulls hit the front
shortly after the half-hour mark. Full-back Richard Davies should have
scored after collecting a deep cross from the left. His first effort was
brilliantly blocked by Borg and the second repelled by Sam Howes. From the
resulting right-wing corner, however, Curran bundled in at the far post.
With more than one eye on the U18s' return to competitive action at Fulham
on Saturday, Westley rung the changes at the break. On came Declan Rice,
Jake Eggleton, Ross Elsom and Noha Sylvestre, in place of Borg, Tunji
Akinola, Matthew Carter and Marcus Browne. But the Isthmian League Premier
Division side continued to force the issue. Substitute Harrison Chatting cut
inside onto his right foot and, from 18 yards, fired straight at Howes. The
Hammers custodian parried, but West Ham were rescued by the offside flag. As
the clock ticked down, Gordon spun and shot on the edge of the box. Though
it had plenty behind it, his strike fizzed well wide of the right-hand
upright. And Canvey put the game to bed with ten to play. Marlon Agyakwa
skipped to the byline, crossed to the near post and there was Coley,
formerly of AFC Sudbury, to fire home at the near post.
Canvey Island: Gislette (Larkins 46), Davies (Eyong 46), Hartman, Lawson
(Pitty 46), Halle, Sheehan (Barlow 46), Curran (Coley 72), Poole (Masanya
46), Gilchrist (Agyakwa 68), Touhy (Lacey 46), Adeniji (Chatting 46)
Goals: Curran 31, Coley 80
West Ham United: Howes, Westley, Borg (Eggleton 46), Makasi, Akinola (Rice
46), Onariase, Ulaman, Carter (Elsom 46), Gordon, Browne (Sylvestre 46),
Bilic bolsters backroom team
West Ham United would like to welcome Edin Terzic and Miljenko Rak to the
Club as key members of manager Slaven Bilic's technical staff. Terzic has
joined the Hammers as Bilic¹s new first-team coach, while the experienced
Rak has become first team head of performance. Both men worked alongside the
West Ham manager with his previous club Beskitas and are looking forward to
their first experiences of the Barclays Premier League. Terzic was born in
the town of Menden in Germany and played lower-division football as a
midfielder for more than a decade.
In 2010, he started a coaching career with Borussia Dortmund, working with
the club's U17 and U19 sides. He holds a UEFA 'A' Licence. Terzic was also
appointed to Dortmund¹s first-team technical staff, working as a scout on
future opponents during the hugely successful reign of Jürgen Klopp. In
2013, the 32-year-old joined Bilic's backroom staff in Turkey, helping to
guide Besiktas to consecutive third-place Super Lig finishes and the
knockout stages of the UEFA Europa League. Rak has enjoyed an outstanding
career, working with some of Croatia's finest teams and individual athletes
over the past few decades. Born in the former Yugoslavia in 1947, the
vastly-experienced Rak studied for a degree in physical education at the
University of Novi Sad. As a young man, he was a fine athlete in his own
right, excelling at the long jump. Since embarking on a coaching career, he
has helped the careers of dozens of his country's top stars to flourish. He
was part of the coaching staff as Croatia won the Olympic handball title in
2004, and has also worked with multiple Olympic and World champion skier
Janica Kostelic, as well as a host of track and field athletes. Since
turning his attention to football, Rak has enjoyed further success, working
with Dinamo Zagreb before joining Bilic's backroom staff working with the
Croatia national team. He followed Bilic to Russian club Lokomotiv Moscow
and on to Besiktas before joining his long-time boss in east London. Terzic
and Rak bolster a first-team backroom staff that already boasts highly-rated
goalkeeper coach Chris Woods and coaching assistant Julian Dicks.
From the Newsroom - Pat Sheehan
The Sun's football reporter Pat Sheehan has travelled out to Romania to
cover Thursday night's game against Astra Giurgiu and we caught up with him
for his pre-match thoughts.
Pat, what did you make of the manager's words in the press conference?
PS: "Much has been made of the players which he's left behind at home, but
he's arrived here in supremely confident mood. I've had a chat with some
Giurgiu fans and they were over the moon that they got a 2-2 draw in London.
They're expecting their team to go through but they know whatever team
Slaven puts out it's going to be one hell of a fight."
There's still plenty of experienced players here with West Ham...
PS: "t's a bit of a juggling act because Slaven has to leave some players
back in London with a big game against Arsenal on the opening day of the
Premier League season. He is also determined to give the fans a bit of a run
in Europe in the last season at Upton Park. I would imagine the fans would
love an extended run to say farewell to the old ground."
Last week it looked for so long that West Ham would head into this game with
a healthy lead...
PS: "The red card changed everything. Right up until that time it was
looking that it was going to be 3-0 or 4-0, certainly not a 2-2 draw. But
the Giurgiu players knew how to handle it against ten men, they played very
well, got the two goals and arrived back in Romania as heroes."
West Ham got into this competition because of fair play. That's not quite
been in evidence so far - how important is keeping eleven players on the
PS: "They have to maintain their discipline. The players who have been sent
off, they've apologised to their teammates and the fans and they knew they
shouldn't have reacted like that, but that's football. You might make a
challenge, the ref will see it one way and wave play-on. You make the same
challenge in front of another ref and it's a second yellow card and you're
There's a bit of heatwave over here at the moment, how do you think West Ham
will cope with the conditions?
PS: "As Slaven said, he has to be very clever with how he tells the team to
play, especially the younger kids who are going to want to charge about the
pitch at 100 miles per hour. They've got to be told to keep the ball, keep
passing and conserve your energy because it's going to be a long 90 minutes
in this heat."
In this run we've already seen young players make an impact. This is another
great chance for them...
PS: "Of course it is. Whatever way you look at it this is a big game - it's
a European game, it all adds to those kids' experience and they will want to
make an impression. They're not coming here just to step aside for a first
teamer in future games, they want that first team spot and will be pushing
Without wanting to put you on the spot, what would your prediction for the
final score be?
PS: "It's going to be difficult for West Ham to score, but Elliot Lee has
already done it and if they maintain their discipline and all play to the
skill level we know they have they could well nick a result."
Preview - Astra Giurgiu
West Ham United head to Romania looking to keep their hopes of progressing
to the group stage of the UEFA Europa League alive.
Their task is trickier than it appeared an hour into the first leg against
Astra Giurgiu last Thursday, when goals from Enner Valencia and Mauro Zarate
fired them into a 2-0 lead.
However, James Collins' red card for two bookings triggered an Astra
comeback and left the game well and truly in the balance.
The Hammers now need to win this second leg – or secure a score draw with a
bigger scoreline than 2-2 – to book their spot in the competition's Play-Off
Astra have played a league game in the week since the first meeting at the
Boleyn Ground, twice throwing away a lead to draw 2-2 against Viitorul.
Marius Sumudica's team currently sit sixth in their league table, with five
points from their opening four games.
A second away win from three European ties this summer is required for
Slaven Bilic's side on Thursday as they look to continue their European
The Hammers have twice faced Romanian opposition in UEFA competition before
and will need to pick up their first positive result in the country, having
lost to Poli Timisoara and Steaua Bucharest in the past.
However, Astra are yet to win at home this season, drawing 0-0 with
Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Viitorul and losing heavily to Targu Mures
so far this term.
In Europe, they reached the group stage of this competition last season,
seeing off Slovan Liberec and Olympique Lyonnais en route to Group D.
West Ham United
The opening Barclays Premier League game of the season follows just three
days after Thursday's game when West Ham go to Arsenal and the manager
already has a number of players unavailable for Astra.
James Tomkins serves the second game of a two-game ban for his red card
against Birkirkara, while James Collins is banned after being sent off in
the first leg of this tie. Joey O'Brien is also suspended after accumulating
three yellow cards in the Hammers' qualifying campaign.
Enner Valencia (knee and ankle) was injured in the first leg, while Andy
Carroll, Winston Reid and Pedro Obiang have also been working their way back
Carl Jenkinson and Manuel Lanzini could, however, be in line for their first
European assignments of the summer.
Astra coach Marius Sumudica selected the same eleven that drew with the
Hammers at the Boleyn Ground last week for his team's return to domestic
action on Sunday.
A similar line-up would not be unexpected on Thursday, so expect the likes
of former West Brom man Filipe Teixeira, Brazilian midfielder William de
Amorim and Japanese midfielder Takayuki Seto to feature.
The game will be played at Astra's Stadionul Marin Anastasovici, which has
an 8,500-capacity and is located in the southern Romanian city of Giurgiu.
West Ham will be playing their 48th game in European competition. They have
won 24 of the previous 47, losing 15 of those ties.
Astra are in their third ever European campaign and have enjoyed
considerable success in the previous two, winning three qualifying ties in
the 2013/14 UEFA Europa League before bowing out at the Play-Off round stage
to Maccabi Haifa, then winning through to the group stages last season.
Astra were moved from Ploiesti to their current base in Giurgiu three years
ago and have subsequently finished fourth, second and fourth in the Liga I
Tickets, weather, coverage and travel info
Tickets are no longer available for this fixture
The weather in Giurgiu is set to be hot and sunny. Temperatures are set to
peak at 34C on matchday, dropping to 30C by kick-off at 9pm local time.
For fans in Romania, the Hotel Riviera in Giurgiu will be for the exclusive
use of Hammers fans from 3pm local time, with food and drinks on offer.
The match is being covered by BT Sport in the UK. whufc.com will carry live
text updates, photos and stats, while you can get involved with the
conversation on our social channels and West Ham Live using the #ASTWHU
Click here for travel advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
Lee ready to fire the goals
West Ham United striker Elliot Lee is desperate to fire the goals to help
his side reach the play-off round of the Europa League and show Slaven Bilic
that he should be a regular member of the first-team squad. Lee looks set to
lead the Hammers attack in Romania on Thursday night and says he is
relishing the chance to make only his second senior start. The talented
forward made the perfect start to his full debut for the Club when he scored
the only goal in the 1-0 away win over FC Lusitans in Andorra in the first
qualifying round of the Europa League.
And with the Premier League season getting underway on Sunday, the
20-year-old is now hoping to get among the goals once again and show he is
good enough to compete at the highest level.
Lee said: "This is another opportunity for me to impress the gaffer and push
myself into the first-team. "There is a real belief in this squad of
players. We are young and hungry and want to impress. We are confidence of
getting a good result. "I have never experienced anything like this before.
The players act a lot different to they do in the Premier League but we are
confident we can deal with whatever is thrown at us tonight. "The gaffer has
picked the team he trusts and he doesn't want to lose. The senior and young
boys want to show what we are all about."
Astra Giurgiu v West Ham
5 August 2015
Last updated at 22:23
EUROPA LEAGUE THIRD QUALIFYING ROUND: ASTRA GIURGIU V WEST HAM UNITED
Venue: Marin Anastasovici, Giurgiu Date: Thursday 6th August 2015 Kick-off:
West Ham manager Slaven Bilic says he is prioritising their Premier League
opener against Arsenal after naming a squad of mostly second-string players
for their Europa League qualifier second leg against Astra Giurgiu. Carl
Jenkinson and Kevin Nolan are the only first-team regulars to travel to
Romania with the tie level at 2-2. "It was always part of our plan, because
of the start of the Premier League that we would come here with a strong
team - but a team where some players have stayed at home," he said. Mark
Noble, James Tomkins and Aaron Cresswell have been left back in London to
prepare for Sunday lunchtime's league trip to the Emirates Stadium. Instead,
summer signings Manuel Lanzini and Darren Randolph will get a chance to
press their claims for a first-team spot. With Enner Valencia ruled out for
three months with a knee injury sustained in the first leg and Andy Carroll
returning to training with the club's youth players, Modibo Maiga is set to
start up front. "We have come here with a good team that I have a strong
belief in. We want to win every game and it is a risk, but I am taking that
risk because of the bigger picture," explained Bilic. West Ham had led 2-0
at Upton Park, but conceded twice after defender James Collins was sent off
for a second bookable offence.
"We will have a good team out, we have more than enough ability in this team
to win the game," added Jenkinson, who is ineligible for the Premier League
visit to parent club Arsenal.
"We all want to be in Europe and we are going to work hard to do that."
West Ham: Taxpayers to meet Olympic Stadium running costs
West Ham United will have many of the running costs met by the taxpayer when
they move to the £700m Olympic Stadium next year, the BBC has learnt.
Critics say it means the Premier League club will get their new home
virtually rent free. West Ham won the bid to occupy the stadium, which was
built for the London 2012 Olympics, and are expected to move from their
Upton Park ground in August 2016. The public authority that owns the
stadium, the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), has revealed some
details of its rental agreement with the club in response to a Freedom of
Information request. Much of the contract between LLDC and West Ham, which
has been seen by the BBC, is redacted. But it does show that a large number
of "facilities and services" will be paid for by the grantor - ie the
taxpayer - and not the club. These include the cost of stadium utilities,
security, maintaining the pitch, and even the goalposts and corner flags.
The BBC understands other overheads that could also be paid by the LLDC
include the cost of stewarding and policing on match days, which amounts to
many hundreds of thousands of pounds for other Premier League clubs. Two
separate football business experts told the BBC the value of the services
amounts to between £1.4m and £2.5m a year. West Ham, who received more than
£76m in prize money for finishing 12th in the Premier League last season,
are understood to be paying approximately £2m to £2.5m a year in rent.
Chris Bryant, Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, called
on the government to publish all the details of the deal or he will join
calls for a full public inquiry. "To all intents and purposes, this is a
contract which gives West Ham the stadium at a peppercorn rent at most or,
to be honest, for no rent whatsoever," Bryant told the BBC. "The question
is, if we were able to see the fuller facts and figures, which I think we
should, would we be even more angry?" West Ham said: "Without us the stadium
would lose money. The suggestion we are getting the stadium rent free is
categorically wrong - we are more than paying our way. "Our agreement with
the LLDC will see West Ham make a substantial capital contribution towards
the conversion works of a stadium on top of a multi-million pound annual
usage fee, a share of food and catering sales, plus provide extra value to
the naming rights agreement. "Our presence underwrites the multi-use legacy
of the stadium and our contribution alone will pay back more than the cost
of building and converting the stadium over the course of our tenancy."
The LLDC has not disclosed all the details of its agreement with West Ham.
It says it is restricted by financial confidentiality because of
commercially sensitive figures, much to the frustration of those who feel
the full terms should be revealed in the public interest. Bryant said:
"We're talking about such enormous sums of money that I think most British
taxpayers would want to know what the deal was that was signed on their
behalf, and that's the first hurdle that the government has got to cross.
"If it doesn't come through then I think the demands for a full public
inquiry will grow and that's the point at which I'll start to want to join
West Ham statement
"Without us the stadium would lose money. The suggestion we are getting the
stadium rent free is wrong - we are more than paying our way. "There is
absolutely no chance tickets will be dumped on the market. We need to move
as we have simply outgrown the Boleyn Ground. "It defies logic that David
Gold and David Sullivan will sell the club. They have made it clear they
would like to pass their shares on to their children. "They were also happy
to include a clause that would return a substantial sum of money to the
taxpayer should they sell the club following our move to Stratford."
When the final bill for the reconstruction of the stadium was revealed in
June, West Ham's contribution of £15m towards the £272m conversion costs
already looked like a bargain for the club - especially at a time when
Premier League clubs are about to benefit from a record £5.1bn TV rights
contract. But they now appear to be getting an even better deal, raising
serious questions over the way the stadium was used after London 2012, and
whether there should be more transparency over the arrangement. Barry Hearn,
chairman of Leyton Orient when they dropped a three-year long legal
challenge in 2014 against West Ham's move to the Olympic Stadium, said:
"This is about the Olympic Stadium which has now been effectively
transferred to a commercial enterprise for virtually nothing. Something
doesn't smell right. "It doesn't take a genius to work out, in today's world
of Premiership football, that [the running costs] actually come to more than
£2.5m a year."
That West Ham will not be paying those costs themselves is in contrast to
the situation at Manchester City, who pay all their overheads - on top of
rent of about £4m a year agreed with Manchester City Council - for the
Etihad Stadium, which was also initially funded by taxpayers for the 2002
Commonwealth Games. It has been reported that Chelsea and Tottenham may have
to pay between £11m and £15m a year to play at Wembley if they temporarily
use the national stadium while they redevelop their grounds. The City of
Manchester Stadium was always designed with football in mind as the sole
post-Commonwealth Games use for the venue. That meant it cost £42m to
convert, compared to the £272m bill that the Olympic Stadium's conversion
has required - £35m over budget. "They built the wrong stadium," Hearn said.
Asked why a multi-use stadium was not designed and built in the beginning,
LLDC chief executive David Goldstone said: "I think that wasn't possible at
the time. "There wasn't an offer of a football tenant and, without football,
it wouldn't have worked. "It would have been a real leap to make that sort
of decision, so I'm very happy those decisions that were made were the right
ones. "We can look forward now and say how can we best secure the long-term
future so that it can be multi-use, it can pay its own way, and I think
that's what we've done with this stadium."
The stadium was designed to be converted into a 25,000-seat athletics
facility after the Olympics. However, it later became apparent that having a
Premier League football club would be far more financially viable, with
Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham left to fight it out as the two main bidders.
Spurs wanted to remove the running track, but that was seen as politically
unacceptable when London's 2012 bid team had promised the International
Olympic Committee that an athletics legacy would be maintained at the
stadium. West Ham were, therefore, seen as the only option, leaving them in
a very strong bargaining position. The stadium then had to be converted for
both football and athletics. Bryant said: "It looks to me as if, because
there was only ever one player that anybody was really interested in, that
Boris Johnson (former chair of the LLDC) bent over backwards to accommodate
them and West Ham ended up with a deal which is astoundingly good for them."
Exactly how good this "astounding" deal is remains unclear while so many
pages of the published contract have been blacked out. One of the key
unknowns is how much money the taxpayer would receive as a 'claw-back' if
West Ham were sold, at a profit, in the future.
European Commission investigations relating to 'State Aid'
The European Commission is currently investigating four complaints of
alleged 'State Aid' contributions involving 12 professional football clubs
in the Netherlands and Spain. Seven Spanish clubs are involved: Barcelona,
Real Madrid, Valencia, Athletic Bilbao, Hercules, Elche and Osasuna Five
Dutch clubs are involved: PSV Eindhoven, Willem II, NEC, FC Den Bosch and
The complaints range from possible tax privileges, loans given by the
state-owned banks to a club, and the use of public resources to benefit
certain teams While owners David Gold and David Sullivan insist West Ham is
not for sale, they have expressed a desire to sell some shares and valued
the club at £400m in December, four times its value when they arrived in
"It's highly likely that it will be sold to foreign investors," says Prof
Simon Chadwick from Coventry University Business School. "If it's still in
English ownership by 2020, I'll be very surprised."
West Ham's deal with the LLDC could come under scrutiny should a relevant
party make a complaint to the European Commission, under EU competition law
relating to 'state aid' contributions.
"State aid rules in Europe are there for a good reason, which is that no
government should be giving financial advantage of whatever kind to one
commercial player over another commercial player," Bryant explained. "These
are very real issues that are already affecting other football clubs in
Europe. "If it were subsequently proven that there had been illegal state
aid provided to West Ham through this deal, then West Ham would end up
having to pay back any potential financial advantage that might have accrued
to them, which could run to the best part of half a billion." However,
Goldstone said: "I'm not losing sleep about whether somebody else is going
to make a challenge into something that's already been looked at and
considered and isn't being enquired into by the appropriate body any
Boris Johnson is accused of 'bending over backwards' to accommodate West
Ham's move to the Olympic Stadium
"West Ham, I believe, have got a good deal, but we have got a really good
solution to make sure that we bring billions of pounds of economic benefit
into the area. "We have an arrangement with West Ham where they pay a fee
for using the stadium, effectively serviced, and that's the basic structure
of the agreement." The LLDC also points to the security gained by having an
anchor tenant on a 99-year lease, and insists this will avoid the kind of
'white elephants' that blight Olympic parks in former host cities such as
Barcelona, Athens and Beijing. The stadium will only be given over to
athletics for one month each year, but it will also host 10 annual community
sports events, a new floodlit community running track and a training and
education centre. Boris Johnson declined a request to be interviewed by the
BBC. However, a spokesperson for the London Major said: "The Olympic Stadium
remains in public ownership and will be capable of hosting a variety of
other events and sports. "The mayor has secured long-term sustainable
investment in order to protect an iconic stadium that Londoners took to
their hearts, and which is now set to be home to almost every conceivable
sport, concert or community event for decades to come. "That has resulted in
the creation of a venue that will drive and sustain thousands of jobs,
contribute to over £3bn of wider economic benefit, where a share of the
profits will be paid back into the taxpayers coffers and which provides a
genuine Olympic legacy for London."
The Olympic Stadium: How the Hammers Struck Gold will be shown on BBC One
London at 19:00 BST on Thursday, 6 August and available nationally on the
BBC iPlayer shortly afterwards.
Dicks to lead Hammers in Romania
Filed: Thursday, 6th August 2015
By: Staff Writer
First team coaching assistant Julian Dicks will lead West Ham out against
Astra Giurgiu in Romania tonight due to Slaven Bilic's suspension. The new
Hammers boss was sent to the stands towards the end of the first leg at the
Boleyn Ground last week, which ended 2-2, and is suspended from the
touchline for tonight's return. And Dicks, speaking via Twitter confirmed
this lunchtime that he would be leading the team out in Bilic's absence when
they face Astra at the Stadionul Marin Anastasovici this evening.
The game kicks off at 7.45pm local time. Likely starting XI as follows:
Randolph, Page, Jenkinson, Oxford, Burke, Poyet, Lanzini, Jarvis, Nolan,
What can West Ham learn from Arsenal ahead of their Olympic Stadium move?
Last Updated: 05/08/15 5:41pm
West Ham's trip to the Emirates on Sunday gives them a taste of life in a
new stadium as they prepare to leave Upton Park next summer, but what does
Arsenal's experience tell us about moving homes?
It seems fitting that West Ham's final season at Upton Park should begin in
the futuristic surroundings of Arsenal's Emirates Stadium. The Hammers are,
after all, a club with one eye firmly fixed on what lies ahead.
Indeed, co-chairman David Gold has already outlined West Ham's lofty
ambitions for the Olympic Stadium, the 54,000-capacity arena they will call
home as of next summer. "We are hoping West Ham will be in a position very
soon to worry the top five and have them saying: 'Who are these upstarts?
Who do they think they are?'"
They are bold words, but the Hammers can take encouragement from Arsenal's
Emirates move. Arsenal were, of course, long-established as one of England's
top clubs when they left Highbury in 2006, but their new home is a
magnificent arena which has given them a perfect platform to go to the next
level - both on and off the pitch.
The figures speak for themselves. Arsenal's match day revenue has rocketed
from £37.4m per year at Highbury to close to £100m at the Emirates, allowing
the club to clear the debts they accumulated during its £390m construction
and emerge as one of the most financially secure clubs in Europe. It took
eight years to win their first piece of silverware after the move, but the
club are optimistic that back-to-back FA Cup wins are just the start.
West Ham are a long way behind their London rivals, but they see similar
potential at the Olympic Stadium. Rather than ploughing hundreds of millions
into its construction, however, the Hammers have only had to contribute £15m
(the same amount they paid for Andy Carroll) on top of a £2.5m annual rent
for their 99-year lease. To put that into context, the overall cost of the
construction and conversion of the Stratford arena now stands at over £700m.
"It's an absolutely fantastic move for the club," West Ham and England
legend Sir Geoff Hurst told Sky Sports. "There are one or two die-hards who
have not been having it, and the usual negatives about not filling it, but
there are so many positives: the magnificent stadium, the accessibility of
Stratford, it's in our manor… Not many people have been involved in the club
longer than me, and I'm absolutely positive that it's going to be a
West Ham supporters have been invited to use state-of-the-art 'virtual venue
technology' to see the view from their seats next season, and construction
is ongoing on the world's largest cantilevered roof to make the stadium
suitable for football as well as athletics. The distance from Green Street
to the Olympic Stadium is only two-and-a-half miles, but in every other
sense they are worlds apart.
The 35,000-capacity Boleyn Ground has been West Ham's home since 1904. It is
a famously intimate ground with a unique atmosphere, and former Arsenal
midfielder Ray Parlour, who grew up in east London, has fond memories both
as a spectator and a player.
"My dad was a big West Ham fan so I was over there as a kid sometimes,"
Parlour told Sky Sports. "The atmosphere was always electric, it was a very
tough place to play. I know it has been widened out now but in the old days
you were right on top of the fans. You could take a throw-in and have a bite
of someone's pie in the crowd, that's how close you were.
"Highbury was excellent as well," added Parlour, who won three Premier
League titles with Arsenal between 1992 and 2004. "I loved the stature of it
and the history as you walked up those marble stairs. They have both been
very good stadiums, but football has moved on. The corporate side of the
game is much bigger now, that's where the revenue is for the clubs. As much
as I loved Highbury, the Emirates now is a brilliant stadium and I'm sure
the Olympic Stadium will be great for West Ham."
Retractable seating will ensure West Ham's fans are not watching from behind
an athletics track at the Olympic Stadium, but Nigel Winterburn agrees with
his former Arsenal team-mate's assertion that football is moving on from the
intimacy of grounds such as Highbury and Upton Park.
"They were compact stadiums, with the fans very, very close to the pitch,"
said Winterburn, who had a three-year spell at West Ham after leaving
Arsenal in 2000. "At the modern stadiums people want the corporate
hospitality, dining and a seat with a perfect view. Upton Park was very,
very high intensity in terms of its atmosphere. I think it's hard to
recreate that at these more modern, bigger stadiums."
Parlour believes it's crucial for West Ham to generate that atmosphere after
the move. "As a player, the atmosphere is always very important, it gives
you that extra lift when you need it," he said. "I'm just hoping West Ham
can keep the atmosphere they have at Upton Park."
The cavernous Emirates Stadium certainly presented a challenge for Arsenal
in that regard, but it has begun to feel more like home after the process of
'Arsenalisation' the club launched in 2009, and West Ham are already
planning to adorn the Olympic Stadium in claret and blue and club branding.
Before West Ham's thoughts turn to next year, however, new manager Slaven
Bilic and his side are facing what Hurst describes as one of the biggest
seasons in the club's history.
"This year is of vital importance, more than any of the last hundred years,"
he said ahead of their Super Sunday meeting with the Gunners. "We want to
make sure that we're comfortable in the Premier League before we move into
the Olympic Stadium."
The pressure is on Bilic to keep West Ham safely clear of the relegation
zone, but after bringing in the likes of Dimitri Payet from Marseille and
Angel Ogbonna from Juventus this summer, the Croat is targeting a top-10
finish in his first season at the helm before launching an assault on the
European places in the Olympic Stadium.
Hurst added: "We're not a Manchester United or an Arsenal, but the heritage
and the legacy of the club is fantastic. With the crowd we get and the
longevity of the club, we should arguably be in the top half every year, and
a team that's in the top half of the Premier League needs to be playing in a
Top-half finishes are one thing, but can West Ham eventually challenge for a
Champions League place? Hurst is cautious. "We see the amount of money that
has to be spent at Chelsea and Manchester City for them to be in the elite,"
he said. "In my time they were nowhere near the elite. West Ham are a
well-run club with the current bosses - but they are not going to have that
kind of money to fork out.
"But could what happened at Man City happen to us?" he asks. "If you're a
billionaire and you've got the opportunity to buy a Premier League club,
would you buy in Manchester or would you buy in London?"
West Ham could find out the answer to that question in the not too distant
future, but there is plenty of work to do until then - and it starts at the
Emirates on Sunday.
Forget West Ham's deal, Man City's was far better!
Posted by Hammers Newshound on August 6, 2015 in Whispers
C AND H
The BBC together with Barry Hearn, Andrew Boff, the Charlton Supporters
Trust and the Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Chris
Bryant have criticised the so called 'secret deal' which they claim gives
West Ham the former Olympic Stadium virtually 'rent free'.
I don't remember a public outcry or media witch hunt when Manchester City
struck a far better deal at the expense of taxpayers in 2003!
£112m of lottery and public money was used to build the Manchester stadium
for the 2002 Commonwealth Games. Manchester city council still owns the
stadium to this day, on which it spent £22m of council tax payers' money to
have the running track removed and convert it for Man City to occupy as
tenants after the Commonwealth Games.
Manchester City handed their former Maine Road home to the council, and
spent £20m installing bars, restaurants and corporate entertaining areas.
The terms of the initial rent agreement were for City to pay the council a
proportion of ticket income above Maine Road's 32,000 capacity, which has
produced an average of £2m for the council annually between 2003-2011 (£16m
in total). Under 32,000 spectators they paid absolutely nothing instead
paying 50% of every ticket sold over 32,000 after costs were deducted.
In 2011 Manchester City renegotiated the terms of their agreement to rent
the stadium from Manchester City Council. Manchester City now a flat fee of
£2m for the annual rent plus a further £2m per year for the naming rights of
That same year Man City agreed a £400m 10 year deal with Etihad Airways
which included the naming rights of the Stadium said to worth £10m of the
£40m per year Man City received.
So Manchester City allegedly make £6m per profit from their deal with
Manchester City Council after the naming rights are taken into account. Not
bad for the richest club in the Premier League. Maybe the BBC should be
producing a documentary on them rather than us.
Yes, I know this is all old news but so is West Ham's deal with the Olympic
Stadium. Time to move on!
BBC guns on the wrong target!
Posted by Hugh5outhon1895 on August 6, 2015 in Hugh's Blogs, Whispers
C AND H
This won't take long!
As reported elsewhere it looks likely that something of a hatchet job on the
Irons during the documentary – 'The Olympic Stadium' – on BBC London
It's likely the thrust will be how the taxpayers have been ripped off to
give the Irons a brilliant stadium in which to play for their football for
the next 99 years.
What's unlikely to be mentioned – although I'm ready to be proved wrong – is
that David Sullivan, David Gold and Karren Brady did a genius deal in
landing the OS for an investment of £15 million and around £2 million a year
Ok, I'm a taxpayer and like everybody else I am always unhappy when the
Government uses my contributions to fund enterprises with which I disagree.
But let's be straightforward about this – if anybody is unhappy with the way
this deal was conducted on behalf of the London taxpayer then the blame lies
firmly at the door of the London Legacy Development Corporation – NOT WEST
Negotiations were conducted with our owners who made their best offer which
was accepted and what a deal it was. £2 million a year plus the initial £15
As for the rest of the sour grapes from those who didn't get a piece of the
action. One word…TOUGH!
But if tonight's programme is about blaming the Irons I'm afraid the BBC has
trained it's guns on wrong target.
In reality it was great deal for both sides.Not only does the OPLC get the
rent, but also 90% of the catering profits which could be huge money and
between 100% and 70% of naming rights(depending on the size of the deal).
West Ham United being anchor tenants of the stadium also gives added value.
I don't recall anybody moaning about UK Athletics paying £1m to conversion
costs and NO guaranteed rent.
The error was made initially when the plan was made to reduce the stadium
to 25k capacity for Athletics and Rugby.
None of this is likely to be mentioned in he Beeb's programme which looks a
case of taking a pop for the sake of taking a pop.
I just hope they don't have the gall to call it an investigation!
Report: Work permit granted for Jimenez
Posted by Hammers Newshound on August 6, 2015 in News, Whispers
C AND H
Atletico Madrid striker Jimenez has succeeded in his work permit appeal,
according to Spanish daily AS, and is now just waiting for a call to travel
to London to complete his loan move.
The Spanish paper says 'West Ham have been given the Green light for the
necessary work permit' Jimenez failed in a key criteria when it comes to
qualifying for a work permit in that he has not played in 75 per cent of
Mexico's matches over the last two years. Jimenez has scored one goal in 28
games for Atletico. But his record of 39 goals in 102 games for Club America
– and eight in 36 outings for Mexico – is enough to have turned heads at the
Boleyn. The report suggests the Hammers will pay two million loan fee for a
season long loan of the 24 year old striker.
Lee: "We'll deal with everything they throw at us"
Posted by Hugh5outhon1895 on August 6, 2015 in News, Whispers
C AND H
This time last year Elliott Lee could be forgiven for believing he had no
future at West Ham United. Despite many calling for the young man to be
handed his chance he was rigidly left out in the cold and on loan. And
whatever people may feel about the likelihood of Slaven Bilic putting out a
second string team in Romania this evening that has to be tinged with the
pleasure of seeing Lee, plus various other kids getting a serious chance at
the highest level. Lee know this is a big chance – having scored in the
first tie against Lusitans and in an interview with www.whufc.com declared
that there was a real belief in the suad for tmight's game. He said: "We are
confident of getting a good result. I have never experienced anything like
this before. The players act a lot different to they do in the Premier
League but we are confident we can deal with whatever is thrown at us
tonight. "The gaffer has picked the team he trusts and he doesn't want to
lose. The senior and young boys want to show what we are all about."
Personally I expect them to win and return to London as heroes and I'm
chuffed to bits that the new manager is ready to give them top experience .
West Ham will occupy stadium almost rent-free claims BBC documentary
• Documentary alleges taxpayer's annual bill could be up to £2.5m
• David Gold responded on Twitter: 'You are badly misinformed'
Thursday 6 August 2015 13.56 BST Last modified on Thursday 6 August 2015
A significant amount of West Ham's running costs at the Olympic Stadium will
be paid for by the taxpayer once the Premier League club move into the venue
next year, according to a BBC documentary. The documentary alleges that a
number of facilities and services at the £700m stadium – including
maintenance, security, goalposts and corner flags – will be paid for by the
taxpayer, amounting to between £1.4m-2.5m a year. Given that West Ham will
be paying around £2.5m in annual rent when they move in, the programme
states the public money assures the east London club will occupy the Olympic
Stadium virtually rent-free.
The Olympic Stadium: How the Hammers Struck Gold – the documentary that
obtained some redacted details of the club's rental agreement through a
Freedom of Information request – also suggests that a number of other
overheads including stewarding and policing could be paid by the London
Legacy Development Corporation.
It brings West Ham's controversial move under greater scrutiny, with many
having already been critical that the club have paid just £15m towards the
£272m conversion costs needed to transform the Stadium from an athletics
venue to a 54,000-seat arena for top-flight football.
Chris Bryant, the shadow secretary of state for culture, media and sport,
told the BBC: "To all intents and purposes, this is a contract which gives
West Ham the stadium at a peppercorn rent at most or, to be honest, for no
West Ham's co-chairman, David Gold, wrote "you are badly misinformed" on
Twitter when responding to a suggestion that taxpayers will foot the bill
for policing and stewarding costs at the stadium from the 2016-17 season,
and the club released a statement saying that the taxpayer would benefit
from food and beverage sales at the Olympic Stadium as well as from any
A statement read: "Without us the stadium would lose money. The suggestion
we are getting the stadium rent free is categorically wrong – we are more
than paying our way. "Our agreement with the LLDC will see West Ham make a
substantial capital contribution towards the conversion works of a stadium
on top of a multimillion-pound annual usage fee, a share of food and
catering sales, plus provide extra value to the naming rights agreement.
"Our presence underwrites the multi-use legacy of the stadium and our
contribution alone will pay back more than the cost of building and
converting the stadium over the course of our tenancy."
DEAL FOR STRIKER HANGS IN THE BALANCE
Portuguese league champions Benfica want to sign Raul Jimenez, according to
Portuguese media outlet O Jogo, in spite of an imminent move to Upton Park.
The agent of the player, Jorge Mendes, is reportedly in the Spanish capital
city trying to convince the player to snub West Ham and remain in Iberia.
Slaven Bilic's side are said to be extremely close to finalising a deal for
the Mexican, however it looks as though Benfica will make a last ditch
attempt to bring the 24-year-old to Portugal. Benfica have won the league in
Portugal for consecutive years, so this level of silverware may lure Jimenez
away from the Boleyn Ground. He scored just one goal for Atletico Madrid
last season, but was impressive for Mexico at the recent Copa America
tournament in which he scored two goals during the group phase.
West Ham fan Q&A: It's time for Slaven Bilic to rejuvenate Sam Allardyce's
stale and predictable side with a top 8 finish
By JOE DIFFORD
PUBLISHED: 13:59, 6 August 2015 | UPDATED: 13:59, 6 August 2015
The Premier League season is almost upon us and Sportsmail has spoken to
fans of every top-flight club to get their verdict on the campaign ahead.
From summer signings and expectations, to new kits and the one player with
something to prove next term. It's all in our fan Q&A.
What are you most excited about for the new season?
I can't wait to see if Slaven Bilic can rejuvenate a club that became stale
and predictable under Sam Allardyce. Not only that, but once again the club
have delivered big when it comes to new signings and I can't wait to see how
the likes of Dimitri Payet and Angelo Ogbonna fare in the Premier League.
Which summer signing are you most pleased about - and why?
It has to be Dimitri Payet, simply because of how fantastically he performed
in Ligue 1 last season. Although it's only pre season, Payet has begun to
show just how good he really is, splitting defences in two with killer
through balls and scoring a wonderful free kick against Southend.
Who were you sad to see leave - and why?
It was a little sad to see Jussi Jaaskelainen leave the club this summer,
not because we need him, but because he is a Premier League legend. He has
had a great career in England and it was great to have him at our club, even
if he didn't get as much playing time as he would've liked.
Which one realistic signing would you most like to see before deadline day?
Javier Hernandez would be an ideal signing for West Ham because he is a
proven goalscorer and we need exactly that. With Andy Carroll out until
October and Enner Valencia not certain to shine, we need another striker and
Hernandez has never been given enough time to show what he can do.
What would you consider to be a successful season?
Finishing in the top eight, going on a decent domestic cup run and giving
our all in the Europa League. Bidding the Boleyn Ground the farewell it
deserves and finishing in a promising position as we move into our new home
Who is now your club's cult hero?
It has to be Mark Noble simply because he is one of us, a lifelong West Ham
United fan. He wears his heart on his sleeve and plays like his life depends
on it week in, week out. He is a true Hammer and a deserved captain for the
Which player has most to prove at your club?
Many would probably say Andy Carroll here, because of his extended time on
the sidelines. However, Enner Valencia has to prove his worth when he
returns from injury after a disappointing debut campaign. His lack of
strength, poor decision making and selfishness all need to be addressed and
fast, otherwise we may need to sell to make our money back.
What's your verdict on your club's new kits?
The idea of using a design similar to that of our first kits at the Boleyn
Ground is a great way to say goodbye to our Upton Park home. The home strip
is nice and simple, whereas the away kit has used traditional colours, but
added a little bit of originality. Umbro has not let us down.
What is your favourite terrace chant?
It couldn't be anything other than 'Bubbles' here, as it is simply the
greatest terrace chant of all English clubs. The moment the recorded track
cuts and the packed Upton Park belt out the remainder of the song is
indescribable and is sure to give even a neutral fan goose bumps.
Report: Agent in Madrid trying to send West Ham target Raul Jimenez to
The Mexican international looks to be on his way to West Ham, but Benfica
are still keen. West Ham United might have thought they were in the clear to
sign Mexican international Raul Jimenez this week. It looks like he will be
receiving a work permit to join the club on loan from Atletico Madrid in the
coming days and The Hammers seem to have the deal tied up, as reported by
The Daily Mail. However, there competition is still in the hunt and are
hopeful of getting hold of him. Benfica are reportedly still keen on signing
Jimenez, according to Portuguese daily O Jogo. The Portuguese side still
want Jimenez despite agreeing to bring in Fulham striker Kostas Mitroglou on
loan. O Jogo report that they want Jimenez and the Greek international at
the club and agent Jorge Mendes is said to be in Madrid, trying to convince
Atletico to send him to the Portuguese capital instead. West Ham United need
to bring in a striker after some recent injury troubles. Enner Valencia is
out for six weeks whilst Andy Carroll is continuing his rehab from a knee
problem. Mauro Zarate has failed to impress at Upton Park – leaving Diafra
Sakho as their only recongised striking option.
West Ham will have goalposts, corner flags and running costs paid for by the
taxpayer when they move into Olympic Stadium
By JOE STRANGE FOR MAILONLINE
PUBLISHED: 11:15, 6 August 2015 | UPDATED: 11:32, 6 August 2015
The taxpayer will meet many of the running costs of the Olympic Stadium when
West Ham make it their new home in the summer of 2016. The Hammers, who are
about to embark on their final season at Upton Park before moving to the
£700million stadium, will pay rent of around £2m to £2.5m per year. But it
has now emerged that a significant of 'facilities and services' will be
covered by the grantor (taxpayer) and not the Premier League club.
A Freedom of Information request by the BBC to the London Legacy Development
Corporation (LLDC) - the public authority which owns the 54,000 capacity
ground - revealed that the cost of stadium utilities, security and
maintaining the pitch would all be included. And the east London club will
not even have to pay for their own goalposts or corner flags when they make
the 3.5 mile switch to Stratford next year. Responding to the revelations,
West Ham said in a statement: 'Without us the stadium would lose money. The
suggestion we are getting the stadium rent free is categorically wrong - we
are more than paying our way. 'Our agreement with the LLDC will see West
Ham make a substantial capital contribution towards the conversion works of
a stadium on top of a multi-million pound annual usage fee, a share of food
and catering sales, plus provide extra value to the naming rights agreement.
'Our presence underwrites the multi-use legacy of the stadium and our
contribution alone will pay back more than the cost of building and
converting the stadium over the course of our tenancy. 'There is absolutely
no chance tickets will be dumped on the market. We need to move as we have
simply outgrown the Boleyn Ground. 'It defies logic that David Gold and
David Sullivan will sell the club. They have made it clear they would like
to pass their shares on to their children. 'They were also happy to include
a clause that would return a substantial sum of money to the taxpayer should
they sell the club following our move to Stratford.' According to the BBC,
the LLDC could also cover the costs of stewarding and policing on match days
- two overheads which amount to hundreds of thousands of pounds a season.
Two unnamed football business experts told the BBC that the value of the
services amounts to between £1.4m and £2.5m a year.
The LLDC say that it has not revealed all details of the deal as it is
restricted by financial confidentiality due to commercially sensitive
figures, but Chris Bryant, Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and
Sport, wants the government to publish a full breakdown. 'To all intents and
purposes, this is a contract which gives West Ham the stadium at a
peppercorn rent at most or, to be honest, for no rent whatsoever,' he told
the BBC. 'The question is, if we were able to see the fuller facts and
figures, which I think we should, would we be even more angry? 'We're
talking about such enormous sums of money that I think most British
taxpayers would want to know what the deal was that was signed on their
behalf, and that's the first hurdle that the government has got to cross.
'If it doesn't come through then I think the demands for a full public
inquiry will grow and that's the point at which I'll start to want to join
in those.' West Ham will contribute just £15m towards the £272m cost of
redeveloping the stadium to make it fit for purpose - something which
doesn't sit right with former Leyton Orient chairman Barry Hearn. After
dropping a three-year legal challenge against the Hammers' move in 2014,
Hearn told the BBC: 'This is about the Olympic Stadium which has now been
effectively transferred to a commercial enterprise for virtually nothing.
Something doesn't smell right. 'It doesn't take a genius to work out, in
today's world of Premiership football, that [the running costs] actually
come to more than £2.5m a year.' West Ham also fought off competition from
Premier League rivals Tottenham to secure a 99-year concession on the
stadium in March, 2013.
West Ham's Olympic Stadium move slammed as report shows taxpayers will meet
£2.5m-a-year running costs
11:24, 6 AUGUST 2015
BY HAMISH MACKAY
The taxpayer will have to pay for things like security, maintaining the
pitch, and even corner flags and goalposts
West Ham's move to the Olympic Stadium will cost the taxpayer up to
£2.5million a year, it has been revealed. The Premier League club are set to
swap their current ground in Upton Park for the Stratford-based arena -
which was built for the London 2012 Olympics - in August 2016. Their rental
agreement is with public body the London Legacy Development Corporation
(LLDC), which owns the stadium. But, through a Freedom of Information
request made by the BBC, it has been revealed that West Ham will be given
considerable help from taxpayer funds. The contract between the LLDC and
West Ham states that the cost of many of the stadium's "facilities and
services" will be covered by taxpayer money rather than West Ham. These
costs include pitch maintenance, stadium utilities, ground security and even
things like goalposts and corner flags. Football business experts told the
BBC that the total costs are likely to be between £1.4m and £2.5m a year.
West Ham, meanwhile, are only paying around £2.5m a year in rent - meaning
the general public could be paying up to 50 per cent of the annual costs of
the stadium. The club - who pocketed £76.3m from Premier League TV and prize
money last season - released a statement defending the deal. It read:
"Without us the stadium would lose money. The suggestion we are getting the
stadium rent free is categorically wrong - we are more than paying our way.
"Our agreement with the LLDC will see West Ham make a substantial capital
contribution towards the conversion works of a stadium on top of a
multi-million pound annual usage fee, a share of food and catering sales,
plus provide extra value to the naming rights agreement. "Our presence
underwrites the multi-use legacy of the stadium and our contribution alone
will pay back more than the cost of building and converting the stadium over
the course of our tenancy."
But fans around the country are nonetheless furious. One wrote on Twitter:
"The West Ham Olympic stadium deal is a disgrace to the taxpayer. Especially
when you consider 2 Premier League clubs wanted it."
Slaven Bilic: West Ham respect the Europa League but the Premier League is
Published: 06 August 2015 Updated: 09:49, 06 August 2015
My first match as a Premier League manager is at Arsenal on Sunday and I am
very excited, of course. First of all, it's a new job and this is the place
where I wanted to come. I can't wait for it to start and it couldn't be
bigger with our visit to the Emirates. I have to say, the preparation has
definitely been different. We have tried to treat the Europa League
opportunity with every respect but without jeopardising our future in the
Premier League, which has always been the club's priority. I have always had
an ambition to come back to the Premier League. I played and lived here for
a time. I liked it then and I kept some connections here after my playing
career in this country. I have read that it was my dream to manage in the
Premier League but I wouldn't put it that way. I've been totally happy in
all my jobs, starting with Hajduk Split, followed by the Croatia Under-21
team, six years in charge of the seniors, then Russia and finally two years
in Turkey. I was never praying that I would come to England but the ambition
was always there to come here and now I am very happy. As a player I believe
I had my best years in England. I also played in Germany, for a very good
club, Karlsruhe in the Bundesliga, and was captain there. I enjoyed that
experience also.Even before I came here to play, I liked a lot of things
about this country, the music, the humour — Only Fools and Horses — that
sort of thing, even the TV adverts and, of course, the football. Before the
Heysel tragedy the English clubs dominated — Liverpool, Nottingham Forest
and Aston Villa. I lapped up English football. I was 14 maybe and like a
sponge, absorbing everything about the game here, putting posters on my
wall. Even now I am labelled as a big anglophile back in Croatia. There is
no one single reason for that but I suppose it is as a result of all those
many things I have just mentioned. I love Germany, I enjoyed it there big
time but this is the place for me and I am not saying that now because I am
here. The biggest problem of preparing for the Premier League season while
playing in the Europa League — in fact, the only problem — is that it has
been so difficult to get all of our players together. I would rather call it
a situation, than a problem, however. We had to stop moaning about it and
try to find one or two solutions. We had to cope with it. As I have said
many times before, it wasn't ideal but now we are ready.
Almost exactly a year ago, when I was at Besiktas, we played Arsenal home
and away in a Champions League qualifier, losing 1-0 after two legs. It was
a big thing for Besiktas and before we met them we had beaten Feyenoord. It
was the toughest draw for us but I thought we had a good chance as we had a
good team. The first leg in Istanbul finished goalless and they had Aaron
Ramsey sent off near the end. We played well, though, and then came to
London and finished a bit disappointed that we hadn't beaten them, as many
people said we should have done. I remember at the end that Jack Wilshere
admitted we should have had a penalty when the scores were level. We didn't
get it and then Alexis Sanchez scored just before half-time, his first goal
for the club. I also recall speaking with Arsene Wenger after that game — a
man I admire, of course — and he said something I liked at that time. He
told me he had never before seen a Turkish club team that, over 180 minutes
in Europe, hadn't begun to crumble. He told me, "All the time you were a
team", which meant a lot. Yes, we were disappointed to go out but we gained
confidence that we put to good use when we then played Tottenham and
Liverpool in the Europa League. Having watched the video of Arsenal's match
against Chelsea on Sunday, they looked a little different to me but perhaps
that was because of the so-called situation with the two managers. Before,
Arsenal have scored one goal, then pushed for another — an attitude that
everyone in football, including myself, enjoys. In the past they usually
thought more of what they were going to do when they got the ball than, as
they say these days, parking the bus. Another difference I have seen in the
last couple of seasons is that they are no longer selling top players — Marc
Overmars, Emmanuel Petit, Thierry Henry. Now they are buying — Sanchez last
season, Petr Cech now and probably more to come. I didn't see them selling
anyone. As a result they should be better — unfortunately!
I am absolutely gutted for Enner Valencia. He is a smashing lad, he is a big
player for us and it's a giant blow that he has injured his ankle and knee.
It could have been worse, though, and hopefully he will be back in 10 to 12
weeks. In the meantime, we will keep looking for top players — not a lot of
them but the right ones for us.
I've settled back into london… but no gigs
I've had no problems settling in to life in London. It is not completely new
to me. The training ground is still at Chadwell Heath and it is better now
than 20 years ago. A lot of the faces are new but some of them are the same.
I will settle in completely when I slip into that routine — train, go home,
eat, watch a movie, watch a video of your opponents, then back to training
followed by a game. Up to now I haven't been out once — zero. There has been
no time for any music gigs or a night out somewhere in London but I didn't
come here for that. When I have my family here it will be better but the
bottom line is that everything will be good if the results go the right way.
Why this season is the most important in West Ham's 120 year history
10:39, 6 August 2015
OPINION BY STEVESTAMMERS
The real goal this season – indeed the only goal – is survival. Next year,
West Ham move into the Olympic Stadium at the same time that the mega-deal
from Sky television kicks in
Forget the Emirates on Sunday as a guide to how West Ham will fare in the
most important season in the club's 120 year history. Of course West Ham
will give their all. But a frantic pre-season schedule that needed to
combine Europa League football with scheduled friendlies has played havoc
with the preparations of new manager Slaven Bilic. In contrast, Arsenal have
sailed through a global tour and even have a win over Jose Mourinho and
Chelsea in the Community Shield under their belt A home win on Sunday
lunchtime would not be a coupon buster.
No – the most accurate guide to West Ham's season will come on Saturday week
when they face Leicester at Upton Park. That is the kind of match that has
traditionally given West Ham problems. The crowd – passionate and vibrant
when the glamour clubs venture to East London – tend to expect victory
against the lesser lights. Four years ago, unfancied Bolton won 31 at
Upton Park in West Ham's first home league game of the season – and the
Hammers were relegated. These matches are the barometer.
There is so much riding on this season. The owners David Gold, David
Sullivan and Karren Brady have invested millions to back Bilic and credit to
them for that. The squad – numerically and in terms of quality – are
stronger than they have been for years. The arrival of Italy international
Angelo Ogbonna from Juventus has really caught the eye as a reflection of
But the real goal this season – indeed the only goal – is survival. Next
year, West Ham move into the Olympic Stadium at the same time that the
mega-deal from Sky television kicks in.
Everything to play for then – and immense pressure on Bilic. His appointment
was a populist one although the "legend" tag bestowed on him seems
extravagant for someone who played some 50 games in 18 months. But the West
Ham fans see him as one of their own and that means he will be given time
and shown patience that was never afforded by a vociferous section of the
crowd to his predecessor Sam Allardyce. Cup success would of course be
welcome. No silverware since 1980 when the FA Cup came to Upton Park, And
given a kind draw, the Capital One Cup is a legitimate target. But Premier
League survival is paramount given what is at stake. And if West Ham are
struggling to stay among the elite come March, then Bilic will experience
pressure even more intense than he faced in Turkish football with Besiktas –
ex-player or not.
Slaven Bilic ready for fan backlash if West Ham suffer European exit
Slaven Bilic is ready to face the flak from West Ham supporters if his
Europa League gamble in Romania fails to pay off.
Last updated: 05 August 2015, 22:53 BST Print this story
Slaven Bilic is ready to face the flak from West Ham supporters if his
Europa League gamble in Romania fails to pay off. The Croatian has put the
Hammers' qualification hopes on the line as he left the majority of his
first team in England - taking a much younger squad to face Astra Giurgiu in
the second leg of their third qualifying round tie. Astra came from behind
to draw 2-2 at Upton Park last week as West Ham were reduced to 10 men for
the third time under Bilic. The new boss was also sent off in stoppage time
and will watch from the stands in Giurgiu - witnessing a largely
inexperienced team looking to get a positive result as he rests his more
senior players for Sunday's Barclays Premier League opener at Arsenal.
Having only seen off Maltese minnows Birkirkara on penalties in the previous
round, Bilic has already come in for some criticism from West Ham fans who
want to enjoy a Europa League campaign proper after qualifying for the
opening rounds through the Fair Play League. But Bilic will stick to his
guns even if his team are dumped out by a side who finished fourth in
Romania's Liga I.
"That is all a part of the job," he said when asked if he would expect a
backlash from supporters. "I have to make decisions, my decision is not to
lose the game but to win it. "There have been many unusual things but we
knew from the start that it is not an ideal pre-season because we have had
qualification, starting from the bottom. "I don't like the excuse, I don't
see it as a problem, it is a situation and I'm trying to cope with it. "We
want to show respect but not to jeopardise the more important competition."
None of the team that started the first leg has travelled to Romania with
only Kevin Nolan, Carl Jenkinson and Manuel Lanzini involved out of those
who are likely to feature heavily in the forthcoming league campaign Bilic
admitted that after letting slip a two-goal lead a week ago he was
considering rethinking his strategy of taking a weakened squad away with
him. "There is always temptation of course," he said. "We want to win every
game, we want to win tomorrow. With the greatest respect to the team that
will go out tomorrow night, and I have a strong belief in my team, we would
have a bigger chance if they (first-team players) came. "There was a
temptation but I made the plan and we have to be clever and see the bigger
picture - it is a risk, okay, but I'm taking that risk because I'm seeing
the bigger picture than tomorrow night's game. "I'm still optimistic. It
isn't going to be easy but I have a strong belief in my players. I don't
deny I'm looking at the bigger picture. "I didn't make it up after that
game, me and my staff did it after Malta. I said 'No matter how the first
leg goes we are going to come with a slightly different team'. If we go
through it will be the same."
Slaven Bilic admits his Europa League squad selection is a gamble but
stresses the need to see the 'bigger picture'
West Ham play Astra Giurgiu in a Europa League qualifier on Thursday
By SAMI MOKBEL FOR MAILONLINE
PUBLISHED: 23:22, 5 August 2015 | UPDATED: 23:22, 5 August 2015
West Ham manager Slaven Bilic insists he is man enough to cope with the
backlash should his Europa League gamble fail on Thursday night. The
Croatian passionately defended his decision to bring an under strength squad
to Romania for the vital Europa League qualifier against Astra Giurgiu. The
Hammers boss, who will watch the clash from the stands after being sent off
during the final stages of the first-leg, has left the majority of his
first-team squad back in London with the Premier League opener against
Arsenal just four days away. Carl Jenkinson, who is ineligible for Sunday's
trip to the Gunners, and Kevin Nolan are the only recognised first-team
players to have made the trip to Bucharest. Bilic's decision is likely to
disappoint Hammers fans who are desperate for European football at Upton
Park, the last campaign at the famous stadium, next season. And the West Ham
manager knows he could be in line for some heavy criticism should his side's
European adventure end and lose at Arsenal on Sunday. But Bilic says he will
take whatever flak comes his way on the chin, saying: 'It is my job to make
these difficult decisions. 'There was a temptation (to bring a full squad),
of course, but I made the plan and we have to be clever and see the bigger
picture. 'Okay, it is a risk but I'm taking that risk because I'm seeing the
bigger picture than just Thursday night's game. 'With the greatest respect
to the team that will play, I have a strong belief my team can go through.
We would have bigger chances if all the first team players had come. 'There
are many unusual games, we started pre season on June 12 and that makes it
not an ideal build up but I don't see it as a problem - more of a situation
and we are trying to cope with it. 'Can we still win? Of course, why are we
here otherwise.' Having thrown away a two-goal lead during the first-leg,
West Ham's young squad have an uphill task on their hands if they are to
secure a Europa League qualification play-off place following the 2-2 draw.
However, Bilic - who has confirmed his interest in Atletico Madrid forward
Raul Jiminez, says his decision to take a weakened squad to Romania was
always pre-planned. 'It's a different squad from the first game, but that
was always the plan,' insisted Bilic. 'We were always going to play the
first leg with the best team. But it was always part of our plan, because of
the start of the Premier League on Sunday - which is the priority - that we
would come here with a strong team - but we a team where some players have
stayed at home. 'It would be very difficult to play here and then start at
the Emirates on Sunday.'
Saints boss Ronald Koeman bemused by approach of West Ham manager Slaven
Last updated: 06 August 2015, 06:53 BST
Slaven Bilic has put West Ham's Europa League hopes on the line by leaving
the majority of his first team at home - an approach Southampton manager
Ronald Koeman believes would be "crazy" for his side. The Hammers and Saints
face the second legs of their third qualifying round ties this evening,
against Romania's Astra Giurgiu and Dutch side Vitesse Arnhem respectively.
While Southampton boast a comfortable three-goal advantage, the east
Londoners head to the Stadionul Marin Anastasovici off the back of a 2-2
draw at Upton Park. New boss Bilic will watch from the stands after being
sent off in stoppage time against Giurgiu, where a largely inexperienced
team will be looking to get a positive result as he rests key players for
Sunday's Barclays Premier League opener at Arsenal. "That is all a part of
the job," he said when asked if he would expect a backlash from supporters.
"I have to make decisions, my decision is not to lose the game but to win
it. "There have been many unusual things but we knew from the start that it
is not an ideal pre-season because we have had qualification, starting from
the bottom. "I don't like the excuse, I don't see it as a problem, it is a
situation and I'm trying to cope with it. "We want to show respect but not
to jeopardise the more important competition."
None of the team that started the first leg has travelled to Romania and, of
the players there, only Kevin Nolan, Carl Jenkinson and Manuel Lanzini are
likely to feature heavily in the forthcoming league campaign. Bilic admitted
to having rethought his strategy after letting slip a two-goal lead a week
ago in a Europa League campaign which came courtesy of the Fair Play League.
Southampton, by contrast, secured their place by ending seventh last term -
their best-ever Premier League finish. Koeman's side continued where they
let off against Vitesse, triumphing 3-0 in the first leg thanks to goals
from Graziano Pelle, Dusan Tadic and Shane Long. It is a convincing
advantage that has seen one bookmaker price Saints at 1/250 to progress, but
manager Koeman will not be letting his foot off the pedal. "It is a crazy
thing to think about," the Saints boss said about resting players, before
rather unfortunately damaging his Achilles in training. "To throw everything
away in the start of the Europa League legs. I don't like that. "I am a
person who likes to win always and I hate losing. I hate to lose and that
mentality needs my players as well."
This evening's fixtures also sees Aberdeen take on Kairat Almaty, the Dons
trailing the Kazakh outfit 2-1 from last week's first leg. However, Kenny
McLean's away goal gives them hope ahead and captain Ryan Jack, linked to
Everton, cannot wait to sample the electric atmosphere in a sold-out
Pittodrie. "This is exactly what I want as a player," he said. "I want to be
playing in the top competitions. For us, the Europa League is just that
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