Thursday, March 30

Daily WHUFC News - 30th March 2017

Rice suffers Euro U19 heartache

Declan Rice and Republic of Ireland miss out on UEFA European U19
Championship finals qualification
Boys in Green edged out on goal difference by Sweden, despite winning two of
three matches
Martin Samuelsen also in action for Norway U21s on Tuesday

West Ham United's Declan Rice missed out on a place at the UEFA European U19
Championship finals by the narrowest of margins on Tuesday evening. Rice's
Republic of Ireland defeated Belgium 1-0 to finish the Elite Round of
qualifying on six points from three matches, only to be edged out by group
winners Sweden on goal difference. With the Hammers defender and
recently-crowned FA U17 International Player of the Year starting all three
ties at centre-half, Ireland defeated Italy 2-0 before suffering an
ultimately vital 3-0 defeat by the Swedes on Saturday. That left the Boys in
Green needing to defeat Belgium and hoping Sweden would fail to beat Italy
in the final round of group matches. However, the Scandinavians scored a
second-half winner to replicate Ireland's scoreline and go through to the
finals on goal difference. Rice tweeted his disappointment at missing out on
a place in Georgia, but was proud of his side's performances in going so
close to reaching a first UEFA European U19 Championship finals tournament
since 2011. "The boys were immense in beating Belgium 1-0! Gutted not to
qualify for the European Championships but we go again. Proud of everyone,"
tweeted the promising Hammers Premier League 2 captain. Elsewhere on
Tuesday, Martin Samuelsen started for Norway U21 in a friendly international
with Russia in Marbella, Spain. The winger created Norway's best chance, but
the Russians ran out 2-0 winners.

Darren Randolph and Jose Fonte were both handed watching briefs as Republic
of Ireland and Portugal were defeated in home international friendly matches
by Iceland and Sweden respectively. Defender Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson, who
spent three years with West Ham between 2008-11 and is now with Israeli side
Maccabi Haifa, appeared in Iceland's 1-0 win in Dublin.

On Monday evening, Cheikhou Kouyate was also an unused substitute as Senegal
played out an eventful 1-1 draw with Ivory Coast in Paris. The friendly
international was abandoned with two minutes remaining after a pitch

Everton loanee Enner Valencia started for Ecuador, but El Tri were beaten
2-0 by Colombia to leave them sixth in the South American FIFA World Cup
qualifying table.

The Big Interview – Robert Snodgrass

When a player returns to face his former club for the first time, things
normally go one of two ways – he either turns on the style and shows the
home fans what they are missing, or shrinks under the pressure of producing
the goods.

Fresh from a vital FIFA World Cup qualifying win with Scotland over
Slovenia, Robert Snodgrass believes he fits into the first category as he
prepares to pull on a West Ham United and face Hull City at the KCOM Stadium
on Saturday.

The Scotland star swapped the Tigers for the Hammers in January and says his
total focus will be on getting one over his old club this weekend.

Snoddy, let's start with Scotland. A 1-0 win over Slovenia has kept you in
the hunt for a place at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and must have given you a
confidence boost?

"Winning a game at any level is a great feeling, but the importance of that
game was very big because the campaign has not really gone to plan and it
keeps us in with a fighting chance, ready for the big one against England.

"I created some chances in the game and when the manager selects you, you
work hard for the team and try to create chances and score goals. Some
games, you get those chances and the opportunity to put somebody else in.

"As a winger or an attacking player, you're judged on creating chances or
scoring goals and right now I'm trying! I'm giving myself every chance of
doing that and sometimes it goes for you and sometimes it doesn't."

A win at Hull City would also give everyone at West Ham United a big boost,
wouldn't it?

"Yeah, I think there have only been one or two games since I've been here
when I've thought we have not really been in the game, and that was
Bournemouth and the first half against Leicester.

"In the other games, I feel we've done really well in the games but not got
the points we required, so we need to get back to winning ways. Especially
away from home, we've done well, so we need to try and win and kick on
towards the end of the season."

And you'll be going back to the club where you spent the last two-and-a-half
seasons, Hull City…

"Yes, it will be a weird sort of feeling, but as soon as that whistle goes
it's down to that nitty-gritty and doing as well as I can and trying to get
three points. It's not different from any other game.

"I played against Leeds last season for Hull in the Championship and, to be
honest with you, as soon as the whistle went it was down to business and
trying to do as well as you can for your new team and get maximum points.

"I want to do well in every game I play, it doesn't matter who it's against.
It's all about doing well for your teammates and being that driving force
and trying to help them. That's all it's about. As an individual, you're
part of a puzzle which needs to come together on the day."

Did you know you are still Hull's leading goalscorer this season with nine?

"I've scored goals everywhere I've been – 14 one season for Leeds – and
since I was at Hull, this season was the best in terms of goals. That's
likely because I got a full pre-season in for the first time, having had a
long-term injury.

"It was pleasing to be the to goalscorer as a midfielder, but everything
happens for a reason. I got the chance to play for a club like West Ham and
I jumped at the chance to try and develop my career."

What would your message be to the fans ahead of Saturday's game at KCOM

"There will be mixed emotions for the fans, I think. They will understand
that, when you're in the situation I was in with three kids and a family and
trying to get security for them, I had to assess what was offered on that

"I think people realise, from an individual point of view, I had to look
elsewhere and then offers came in and I had the chance not only to get that
security, but to play for a club the size of West Ham. I think most people
would have jumped at that chance."

Hull are going well under Marco Silva, particularly at home, aren't they?

"We're going to need to be at our very best. They've got some great players
and I think, because I've been there, that they work so hard behind the
scenes and are a hard-working team.

"They've not really got the results they deserve in the first part of the
season, in my honest opinion. We played really well in stages, but never got
the results. They've managed to get those results over the last couple of
months, especially at home they've been very good.

"They're all good lads and Marco Silva and the staff they brought in are
good people, but from an individual point of view, I want West Ham to win!

"I see how hard my teammates and the backroom staff work here every day and
West Ham is my team now, so I want to see West Ham win. It will be good to
play against them and I've got a lot of friends there, but it's football and
business at the end of the day, and I'm sure they'll be thinking exactly the
same thing.

"They'll be scrapping for every point they possibly can, as will we as want
to get further up the table, so it should be a good game."

Noble coaches old school team

When Mark Noble heard his old school team were struggling for results, the
West Ham United captain stepped in to help out.

Royal Docks Community School U12s suffered a rough patch in their autumn
term, with the team failing to win a single match before Christmas.

That was when two of the players decided to step in, contacting the Hammers
as part of the Club's Like My Dreams initiative to request some special

On hearing of his old team's plight, Noble contacted his former teacher and
coach Tom Woolsgrove, who, nearly 20 years after the West Ham midfielder
played under him, still coaches Royal Docks' U12s and is now the school's
Head of PE.

Mr Woolsgrove, as Noble still calls him, was happy to take up the offer of a
training session at London Stadium, which took place in front of thousands
of fans at the Club's Family Fun Day in February.

"Unbeknown to me, two of the students wrote into West Ham before Christmas
to say that we weren't doing too well and had a bad string of results going,
so could West Ham come and give us a little bit of help and advice to make
things better!" Mr Woolsgrove confirmed.

"The Club got in contact with me with the aim of doing something at the
school before Christmas, but West Ham's results weren't going too well at
the time either, so we rearranged until after Christmas and they brought us
down to London Stadium.

"It's fantastic. It's a great setting and the kids had the time of their
lives, with Mark coming down to coach them, and it's a moment they'll never
forget. We're grateful to West Ham for the opportunity they've given us."

The coaching session clearly had a positive effect on Royal Docks U12s, as
they have hit the winning trail since Christmas!

"We're on an upward spiral now and we hope to take that form into our
remaining games this season and into next year," Mr Woolsgrove confirmed.
"The boys just need a bit more experience and playing time and to get
themselves out onto the pitch to experience the game a bit more and I think
we'll have a better season as U13s next year!"

The teacher also paid tribute to his former star player Noble, who has
retained close links to the school, returning regularly to attend a variety
of other events.

"Mark is very much part of the community and always has been," he said. "He
is a local lad and understands the importance of staying involved and that's
certainly what he has done, opening a new 4G pitch and returning for open
evenings and presentation evenings.

"He's very much stayed part of our community and we are very grateful for

Noble himself was only too happy to help his old coach, despite joking that
he 'never listened' to Mr Woolsgrove.

The captain, who is closing in on 400 first-team appearances in Claret and
Blue, told the U12s they needed to swap their console controllers for
football boots if they want to follow in his footsteps.

"Football has changed a lot since I was a kid, as we didn't have computers,
smartphones and that sort of gear, so we just went out and played football.

"The kids asked me 'Why do you play for West Ham?' and I told them it was
because I practised in the garden instead of playing computer games. It's
about getting out, playing football and just enjoying it, as I'm sure they
did by training on the pitch at London Stadium.

"When I signed for West Ham as a schoolboy they asked me not to play for the
school team, but my Dad said 'If he doesn't play for his school, he's not
playing for West Ham!'. That was a massive decision my Dad made for me,
because as a school team we achieved great things, played at Wembley and
Stamford Bridge and had some fantastic times.

"Playing for Royal Docks is a massive part of my football memories."


As he closes in on 400 West Ham United appearances, Mark Noble will answer
your questions about his Claret and Blue career!

The West Ham United captain will sit down on Friday afternoon to respond to
your #AskNobes tweets to @westhamutd - so which of his 398 previous
appearances will you ask him about?

Will it be his debut against Southend United at the Boleyn Ground back in
2004? Or how about the 2005 Championship Play-Off final, in which he
featured as a 19-year-old substitute?

#AskNobes now!

What about the Great Escape he starred in back in spring 2007? Or the 2012
Championship Play-Off final? Or the unforgettable Final Game at the Boleyn

Maybe you want to know what the favourite penalty Nobes has ever taken was?
Or maybe his best goal of the 46 he has scored for the Club he loves?

Do you want to know who Noble believes is the best player he has ever played
alongside? Or who was his favourite teammate?

With nearly 13 years and 400 matches to choose from, the possibilities for
#AskNobes are endless, so get tweeting now @westhamutd!

Slaven Bilic still has support of West Ham's owners - Sky sources
By Sky Sports News HQ
Last Updated: 29/03/17 9:00am

West Ham's owners still have faith in manager Slaven Bilic despite his team
winning only three of their 11 games this year, according to Sky sources.
Bilic's contract runs out in the summer of 2018 and recent results have made
it less likely that he will be offered a new deal this summer. Co-chairman
David Sullivan apologised to supporters 10 days ago after West Ham lost 3-2
at home to Leicester City.
Sullivan said it was "vital" performances and results improved in the next
three games against Hull City, Arsenal and Swansea City.
West Ham's owners have a track record of staying loyal to their managers and
there is a general acceptance at boardroom level that Bilic has had a lot to
deal with this season. The club's move to a new stadium has been
controversial, Bilic has been unlucky with injuries and the club's best
player Dimitri Payet went on strike before returning to Marseille in
January. Bilic has also had health problems this season. He is still
suffering from the effects of a bad case of flu which left him needing
hospital treatment in January and he is due to have hip replacement surgery
this summer.

West Ham must support Slaven Bilic and invest in the summer, says Tony Gale
By Nick Lustig
Last Updated: 29/03/17 1:38pm

Tony Gale has given his backing to West Ham manager Slaven Bilic and urged
the Hammers board to support the Croatian by investing in the summer. Bilic
has less than 15 months remaining on his current contract and his position
at London Stadium has come under increased scrutiny following a five-match
winless run. The 3-2 home defeat to Leicester earlier this month prompted
co-chairman David Sullivan to make a public apology to the club's
supporters, but despite this Sky sources understand Bilic still retains the
support of the board.
"I don't think the board helped by apologising for results, you don't need
to apologise as Slaven is trying his hardest," Gale told Premier League
Daily. "As far as I am concerned, all the ex-players are concerned and the
majority of fans are concerned, everyone is behind him. "He gets it, he gets
the club and they [the owners] need a manager like that at West Ham. I think
they've got to get behind him and please be quiet. "Okay, you own the club,
but if you're going to do something, invest in the summer."

West Ham spent more than £40m on nine new additions last summer, breaking
their own transfer record to secure the £20m signing of Andre Ayew from
Swansea. However, none of the new arrivals have been able to hold down a
regular place in the first-team, leading fans to criticise the board, Bilic
and head of recruitment Tony Henry. "I think the main problem, aside from
the Dimitri Payet situation and the stadium, is the buying, it's been
useless," Gale said. "As much as it was good the season before, it's been
really poor. They (the owners) were all too willing to take the plaudits
about the buying last year. "Now all of a sudden, all the bad signings are
down to Slaven. I don't think so, it's down to the recruitment being really

West Ham are flawed but entertaining; keep Bilic
Date published: Wednesday 29th March 2017 1:37
Football 365

Of all the Premier League clubs regularly outside the top six, West Ham
United probably get the most stick. You all know the stereotypes, and the
West Ham Way comes in for regular mockery, from Sir Alex Ferguson down. The
club has been an even easier target than usual this season, what with the
London Stadium sweetheart deal and the inevitable cock-ups with the move
from Upton Park. And of course the current owners, Davids Gold and Sullivan,
have never been regarded as the most savoury or even competent of

To a large degree this has detracted from the football itself, at least in
the national press. But it shouldn't, because the Hammers play some of the
most entertaining football north of Monaco, or at least Bournemouth. Of 33
Premier League matches this year in which both sides have scored at least
two goals, West Ham have played in seven, equal with the Cherries for top of
the league. (For comparison, Manchester United are at zero, Manchester City
two, Liverpool six.) Right now they're on a streak of six games in which
neither side has registered a clean sheet.

Let's start with the attack. Andy Carroll missed most of the first half of
the season, which is news on a par with the sun rising in the east. So the
Hammers embarked on an inevitable and widely publicised Great Striker
Search. They settled on Jonathan Calleri, Ashley Fletcher and the immortal
Simone Zaza: sixteen shots, two on target, zero goals. (By the way, he's
scored twice at Valencia since.)

But here's the thing. Even with Carroll missing, West Ham rarely drew a
blank, thanks largely to the magnificent Michail Antonio. What a fabulous
player to watch: pace, power, heading ability, drive and a bottomless supply
of goal celebrations. He seems to have played almost everywhere on the
pitch, but most of his goals have been true striker's goals: far-post
headers, set-pieces, a bit of poaching here and there. Against Bournemouth a
couple of weeks ago, he found space near the top of the area, turned and
finished with his weaker foot. Jermain Defoe would have signed it gladly.

Antonio doesn't really have the skill set to play as a lone striker, but
since Carroll returned he's been effective paired with the big man in a
4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1, or on the wing in a 4-2-3-1. And 'since Carroll returned'
should preface every sentence about the West Ham attack. Carroll himself has
scored a decent six goals in 15 appearances (12 starts), but his very
presence puts greater pressure on the opposition. In games without Carroll,
the side have scored 1.07 goals per game. When he plays, it's 1.6. (And if
you're wondering, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named downed tools five games after
Carroll's return, and the average since then is 1.89.)

Size and charisma dictate that Carroll and Antonio will get the big press,
but just as vital to the excitement has been Manuel Lanzini, now the key
attacking midfielder. He's a slippery player with excellent technique, and a
fantastic pass completion rate of 87.3%. His decision-making still needs
work, but you know he'll get you close to the goal. The big surprise has
been his scoring: seven goals (two penalties included), one of which was a
direct free-kick worthy of You-Know-Who.

The rest of the attackers are rolling as well. Since Carroll returned, André
Ayew has chipped in with four goals, mostly by being in the exact right
place for the poach. Sofiane Feghouli, who took ages to get going, has added
two goals and three assists from the wing. At the moment the one
disappointment is Robert Snodgrass, who has looked rather Norwich/Hull among
the high-level performers.

But these days West Ham score against everybody. The problem is the other
half of the show, where a remarkable pair of stats tells the story: West Ham
are first in interceptions, but last in tackles. Since such stats have been
kept, no team has pulled off this particular double, or even come close. It
bespeaks a gambling defensive philosophy without a solid spine to make it
work, and that's trouble.

The big hole in the defence, as it has been for some time, is at holding
midfielder. (A few years ago Alex Song was playing there – enough said.) As
has been chronicled on this site, Mark Noble's game has contracted
significantly, and he was never a true holding midfielder anyway. Pedro
Obiang, unfortunately now out for the season, has done his best to fill the
spot, but while he covers a lot of ground, his positional instincts need
work. Cheikhou Kouyaté is really a box-to-box midfielder. Twenty-year-old
Edimilson Fernandes (who somehow is not Brazilian) may have to be dropped
into the role for the run-in.

The other hole is at right-back, where Carl Jenkinson flourished on loan
from Arsenal a couple of years ago. The Not-So-Flying Finn got injured last
year, then balked at an outright transfer, leaving Bilic to try just about
everyone in that spot. Young Sam Byram has occasional moments, but doesn't
seem ready yet, particularly when defending. Still, at least that's his
primary position, unlike Kouyaté and Antonio, to name two of the square pegs
Bilic has tried to fit in that particular aperture.

Then there's central defence, and José Fonte, one of the big name buys of
the January window. He's been sort of, well…awful. It may be just teething
troubles at a new club, but it's worth remembering that Fonte is 33, and
didn't emerge as a top-flight defender until Ronald Koeman took over at
Southampton. Bilic clearly isn't as good as Koeman at coaching defence – few
are – and at an advanced age, outside the system that brought him to
prominence, Fonte may not be good enough.

Injuries, seemingly a chronic problem since Bilic came in, continue to hurt
the back line. Winston Reid is now out for a month with a groin tear; Angelo
Ogbonna's knee sidelined him after half the season; Aaron Cresswell hasn't
been the same since coming back from his own knee injury. Former Olympiakos
stand-out Arthur Masuaku, whose tackles/90 and interceptions/90 are both
more than three times Cresswell's, has a real chance to take his spot.

But the biggest injury to the defence has been self-inflicted. That's the
sale of James Tomkins, a fan favourite through his days from the youth
academy (and by the way, someone who can also play right-back). Now he works
for Sam Allardyce, and may have supplanted Scott Dann in the middle at
Crystal Palace. His experience and solid all-around play are very much

Last year's seventh place was always going to be difficult to match,
particularly without That F***ing Judas, but in February the side were as
high as ninth. Consecutive losses to Chelsea, Bournemouth, and a revitalised
Leicester have dropped them to twelfth. The run-in is a classic mixed bag:
top-six sides Arsenal (A), Spurs (H), Liverpool (H); from high mid-table to
low mid-table Everton (H), Stoke (A), Burnley (A); relegation candidates
Hull (A), Swansea (H), Sunderland (H). The season really could go either

Unfortunately, with the dip in form, those off-the-field distractions are
naturally starting to encroach. At a recent press conference, Bilic was
forced to defend Snodgrass' contributions to the side. Mark Noble, facing
fan demand that he be dropped, countered by saying "a lot of people who now
go to football don't really understand the game". David Gold has been
getting into silly Twitter spats. David Sullivan publicly apologised to fans
for the performance against Leicester, and called the upcoming games at Hull
and Arsenal, then home to Swansea, "vital for our season".

For a manager, that's never a good sign. But for Bilic to face the axe at
this point makes little sense. Certainly he deserves blame for the side's
poor defence; the tackles/interceptions stat tells you that. Where
formations are concerned, at times he seems to be flying SOP. But
recruitment in recent years has been scattershot, with lots of loans and
free transfers that haven't made an impact. (The club apparently wants Johan
Djourou on a free in the summer – what could go wrong?) In his first season,
Bilic took the side to their highest league placing in 20 years, and
delivered their highest points total in the same period. West Ham may have
European ambitions, but for the moment they're a mid-table club, and 12th
place, although lower than they'd wish, is nowhere near disaster.

And let's face it: when it comes to giving West Ham stick, Bilic is always
exempt. He's a straight-up guy, a fantastic interview, and a beautiful
madman on the touchline. He's a part, and not the smallest part, of the West
Ham entertainment. Even better, he gets it in ways most managers don't: who
can ever forget his tears when the Hammers beat Manchester United in the
final game at Upton Park? He's the best face of a club that rarely seems to
get the PR right.

So while watching West Ham is great fun, I'd settle for a little less
excitement to keep Bilic in a job. José Fonte and James Collins in the back
line? No problem, Slaven: just give Big Sam a call and he'll tell you how to
handle it. And if he pokes you about West Ham – and given his history, you
know he will – just tell him everyone needs some boredom in their lives, and
he's the expert.

Peter Goldstein

Slaven Bilic DESERVES to be backed by West Ham - poor second season not all
down to him, says ex-Hammers star
By talkSPORT - @talkSPORT
Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Danny Gabbidon has urged West Ham to give Slaven Bilic the backing he
'deserves', claiming the uncertainty over the manager's future is damaging
to the club. The Hammers have struggled to replicate the form of last
season, when they finished seventh in the Premier League, and currently sit
12th in the table having won just nine of their 29 matches this term. The
club's co-owners David Gold and David Sullivan have now reportedly shelved
plans to offer Bilic an extension to his contract, which expires in 2018,
and begun looking at potential replacements in case their poor form
continues. RELATED - West Ham news: 'If this is true I will be gutted!
Slaven Bilic is the man to lead us forward'

Former West Ham defender Gabbidon admits performances have been woeful at
times under the Croatian, and says he should not escape criticism. But he
claims the Dimity Payet saga, issues surrounding their new stadium and poor
player recruitment have not helped the 48-year-old - and he should be backed
by the board. "I don't think it is an ideal situation for Slaven Bilic and
it not is an ideal situation for the players either," said Gabiddon,
speaking to the Two Mikes on talkSPORT. "I still speak to one or two of the
lads there and they love the manager. They never have a bad word to say
about him and it is not the ideal situation for them whether the manager is
going to be sticking around or not. "There is a right way to go about it. If
it was me, I would be saying, 'look, we have had a difficult season, it is
not all your fault as a manager, we have got things wrong as well'. "I know
the player recruitment is not all down to Slaven Bilic – the board are
involved with that as well - and they should back him after what he did in
his first season.
"He had the team performing so well in that first season that he deserves a
little bit of backing."

Gabbidon, who made 112 appearances for West Ham in a six-year spell at Upton
Park, added: "When he came into the club, they performed really well. That
was probably his biggest downfall because expectations have been really
high. "Off the back of that, they have moved to a new stadium and there has
been teething issues there, the player recruitment going into this season
has been really poor, and he has had to deal with players off the pitch. It
has been a difficult season."

Hull City vs West Ham: Aaron Cresswell facing the axe despite Slaven Bilic
Evening Standard

Aaron Cresswell's public support of West Ham manager Slaven Bilic this week
may not save the full-back from being dropped from the first team. West Ham
have lost their last three Premier League matches and have failed to keep a
clean sheet in their last eight and Bilic, who was warned by club co-owner
David Sullivan that results must improve, is seriously considering making
changes for Saturday's crucial match at Hull. Cresswell came out in support
of Bilic earlier this week but his place in the team for Saturday could be
in jeopardy. The former Tranmere and Ipswich defender, who won his first
England cap last November against Spain, could be replaced by Arthur Masuaku
at Hull. The 27-year-old Liverpool-born defender was one of West Ham's most
consistent performers last season but badly injured an ankle in a pre-season
match in Germany and has struggled to return to peak form.
Former Olympiacos full-back Masuaku has himself been out injured for a
significant part of this season but is now fully fit and impressed when
replacing Cresswell in the second half of West Ham's most recent match, a
3-2 home defeat by Leicester. Bilic will be forced to make other changes,
with central defender Winston Reid, midfielder Pedro Obiang and striker
Michail Antonio all missing through injury.

West Ham could delay offering Slaven Bilic a new contract until middle of
next season
Evening Standard

West Ham could delay offering manager Slaven Bilic a new contract until the
middle of next season following a worrying dip in form.
Bilic will be in the final season of his current contract and although there
is little appetite from within the club for making a change, co-owners David
Sullivan and David Gold are growing increasingly concerned about the team's
results. There were suggestions in February, when West Ham had climbed into
the top half of the table, that the club were on the verge of offering the
Croatian a new, improved deal but that has not materialised. It is normal
practice for Sullivan, Gold and vice-chairman Karren Brady to conduct a
review of the club's fortunes at the end of the season and Bilic's future is
sure to be high on the list. Bilic remains popular with the board and
supporters for what he achieved in his first season and there is
understanding that this season, especially following the move to the London
Stadium and the Dimitri Payet controversy, has been anything but
straightforward. Following the 3-2 home defeat by Leicester, Sullivan
apologised to the club's fans, saying: "I think all we can do after
Saturday's defeat is say sorry to the supporters.
"To be 2-0 down after seven minutes of any football match, be it in the
Premier League or in your local Sunday League, makes it very difficult to
get a positive result. It followed similar remarks after a loss to
Bournemouth, coming via the official website, insisting upon an improvement
from all involved and name-checking Bilic. "I was very disappointed and
frustrated with the manner of our defeat at Bournemouth on Saturday,"
Sullivan said. "We went down there determined to bounce back from the
Chelsea defeat on Monday, but we didn't play as well as we know we can.
"Slaven, the players and the staff all know we have to do better."
Bilic, though, insisted at the time he did not feel under added pressure
following Sullivan's remarks. He said: "It was a comment for that game and
for that game I also said we can't be happy with the way we performed."

This is what Slaven Bilic has to do to get the West Ham boo-boys off his
Play to your strengths and don't play square pegs in round holes, for a
Football London
19:30, 28 MAR 2017

Slaven Bilic is under pressure, he knows it, we all know it and we can all
see it. It'll be two days short of two whole months that West Ham won't have
won by the time they kick off at the KCOM Stadium on Saturday in what is
increasingly looking like a must-win game for Bilic. Not only just to stop
the rot of five games without a win but also, get the boo-boys off his back.
There has been a lot of support for the Croat boss on our Facebook page but
there are still those out there in the faceless world of the internet that
won't be unhappy if Bilic is given the boot at the end of the season.
Ideally, Bilic needs two wins from the next four games, three of those
against teams in the bottom four in Hull, Swansea and Sunderland. They need
to keep clean sheets as well, having failed to do so in their past eight
games and have shipped six goals in the past two matches. Six consecutive
defeats is normally when alarm bells really start ringing for owners David
Gold and David Sullivan, so Bilic is not in any great danger - yet. He's
going to have to do it without the spine of his team. Pedro Obiang is out
for the season, while Winston Reid and Michail Antonio will be out for a
month each. Three big players, all out at a time when the boss could really
have done with them.
Bilic needs to go back to basics. His stubbornness this season is what has
led to his struggles, playing players out of position mainly. Sure, at the
start of the season it wasn't his fault thanks to injury but in the past
couple of months, that's not been the case.
Don't play Cheikhou Kouyate at centre back, bring James Collins in and play
Kouyate in midfield. Don't put Edimilson Fernandes at right back, keep Sam
Byram there. Don't play Manuel Lanzini as a left winger, play him inside in
a free role. Persist with Andre Ayew, he needs more starts because he has
been a real positive in the past few weeks. Play to your strengths and at
the moment, that's not humping it long to an unfit Andy Carroll. The past
two games has seen the big striker struggle, he needs some support. Play
through Lanzini, bringing Ayew and likely Sofiane Feghouli into play and get
them running at centre halves. Get yourself four solid banks of four, play
4-4-2 and be difficult to play through. Don't mess around with a 3-5-1-1 or
a 5-4-1, just go back to basics. Sullivan has said the next few games are
"vital" to the Hammers season and he's not wrong. Bilic got himself out of a
hole when his team were 17th in the table and got them up to ninth in
February. He needs to do that again.

28th March, 2017, 10:03 PM
By Amir Mir

Charlie Adam has made an interesting revelation about West Ham ace Andy
Carroll by stating that he hates "inswinging corners". Stoke City midfielder
Adam revealed that the target man prefers the ball to be hung up in the air
when corners are being taken. Former Scotland international Adam is famous
for the great technical ability he holds during dead piece situations, with
former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson once saying that his
corners are worth "£10million". Furthermore, Carroll is equally as dangerous
during set piece situations with the big striker using his strong frame to
cause havoc in the penalty area. "I played with Andy Carroll and he hated
inswinging corners," Adam told the Monday Night Club on BBC Radio Five Live.
"He hated them. He wants them just hung up so he can just go and run because
the majority of the time he will win the ball."
Both Adam and Carroll played with each other during their time at Merseyside
side giants Liverpool when Anfield legend Kenny Dalglish brought them to the
club. They have since gone their separate ways with Adam now playing for
ninth-placed Stoke and Carroll sitting in 12th place with his London-based
side. During the course of the season, Carroll has played 15 Premier League
games for the club as injuries have once again caused problems for the
former Newcastle man. Nonetheless, he has found the back of the net on six
occasions during those matches and he will be looking to get on the
scoresheet at Hull on Saturday afternoon.

Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez back on West Ham's radar 2 years after they were
gazumped by Real Madrid
Spaniard who had agreed to succeed Sam Allardyce and was "two hours" from
signing being eyed if Slaven Bilic is sacked
The Mirror
22:30, 28 MAR 2017

West Ham are poised to move for Rafa Benitez if Slaven Bilic is unable to
halt the club's slide. The Londoners, who go to relegation candidates Hull
on Saturday, have lost their last three Premier League games and are without
a win in five matches. Manager Bilic's position will be assessed at the end
of the season as part of the Hammers annual review. Former Liverpool and
Chelsea boss Benitez is on course for promotion from the Championship at the
first time of asking with Newcastle, but his future at St James' Park
remains uncertain. The Spaniard's frustration at the lack of signings in
January has left lingering concerns he could quit this summer if he feels
the club lacks ambition. West Ham prefer to back their managers and are
confident that Bilic still has the dressing room behind him, but he is under
pressure to turn things around. Benitez remains well thought of at a club
where, two years ago, there was a deal in place for him to succeed Sam
Allardyce - only for the Irons to be gazumped by Real Madrid. Speaking in
December 2015, Hammers joint-chairman David Sullivan said: "We were two
hours from getting Benitez and then Real came in. We had agreed a contract
and everything. "He is a top manager, whatever anybody says, and I think
he'd have done a wonderful job for us." The 56-year-old, as we reported at
the time , was also linked with Bilic's job in the run-up to Christmas.
Former Manchester City title winner Roberto Mancini, currently a free agent
after being fired by Inter Milan in August, is another option having made it
clear that he is interested in a return to the Premier League four years on
from his Etihad exit. West Ham want Bilic to deliver a minimum of two wins
from their next four matches, three of which are against teams in the bottom
four - Hull, Swansea and Sunderland. They are particularly concerned by the
Hammers' poor run of goals conceding either early in games - as they did
against West Brom, Watford and Leicester — or late in them, which happened
against the Baggies and Bournemouth. Only Middlesbrough and Burnley have a
worse record than Bilic's side over the past five games. West Ham have also
failed to keep a clean sheet in their last eight league outings.

Ayew can fill Antonio gap
The Scout 28/03/2017

After a disrupted start to his career at West Ham United, Andre Ayew (£7.1m)
can offer Fantasy Premier League managers a compelling midfield alternative.
Demonstrating his promise with three goals and an assist over the last four
Gameweeks, Ayew's FPL prospects are aided by an injury to team-mate Michail
Antonio (£6.9m) that could rule him out for up to four weeks. Ayew's place
on the teamsheet should be more secure in the absence of Antonio, having
made his first start since Gameweek 19 in the 3-2 defeat by Leicester City
last time out.

Saturday's Gameweek 30 trip to Hull City offers an immediate opportunity to
continue his run of goals: no team has conceded more than the Tigers' nine
over their last four matches. Hull have also allowed more chances from
central areas (24) than any other side over the last six Gameweeks, which
could play into the hands of Ayew, who looks likely to provide support
behind Andy Carroll (£6.3m). Marco Silva's men will also be without the
suspended midfielder Tom Huddlestone (£4.6m) as their screen in front of the
back four, potentially exposing them further.

Ayew joined the Hammers after 12 goals and five assists for Swansea City in
his debut FPL season, producing 171 points from 34 starts.
Following injury and absence at the Africa Cup of Nations, he has appeared
in Slaven Bilic's starting line-up on only seven occasions.
But statistics recorded over the last four Gameweeks suggest Ayew could
nrekindle the form that made him a prime FPL target in 2015/16.
While three of his last four appearances have come from the bench, his
average number of shots has still risen from 1.0 to 1.8, with his penalty
area shots more than doubling from 0.8 to 1.8. Ayew's appeal is also boosted
by West Ham's obliging short-term schedule, with four of their next six
matches scoring a Fixture Difficulty Ranking (FDR) of only two. He will face
his former side, Swansea, in Gameweek 32, having scored his first Hammers
goal in the reverse fixture, before travelling to Sunderland a week later.
Found in little more than 46,000 (1.1%) squads, Ayew's recent run of 25
points from his last four Gameweeks makes him an in-form differential as a
would-be successor to the nine-goal Antonio.

Injury-hit West Ham need points against Hull to avoid relegation crisis

Slaven Bilic must find a way to negate the injury crisis that has hit West
Ham United. A week at West Ham United is rarely dull. Whatever other
criticisms can be leveled at the club, supporters can rarely complain that
they are unable to get involved in some new drama. In fact, an unerring
ability to unearth a regular crisis is almost the hallmark of East London's
finest. Just a few short weeks ago, Hammers fans were bemoaning the
prospects of a dull mid-table finish in a season that looked to be petering
out. Now, rocked by a new injury crisis, the same supporters are talking
about getting sucked into the relegation mire. Meanwhile, Slaven Bilic
glances nervously in the direction of the boardroom as the owners consider
their options for next season. In fact, if things continue as they have
recently, that consideration might come even quicker.

With three straight league defeats following two drawn matches, the team
have hit a wall. Three matches out of the next four are against relegation
strugglers Hull City, Sunderland and Swansea and the Hammers are desperate
to return to winning ways. With the club now suffering injury woes to go
with the loss of confidence though, there is little doubt those struggling
clubs will target West Ham as the team they need to beat for their own
survival. What's worse is that the injury problems have come to hit key

Michail Antonio was withdrawn from the England squad after he suffered a
hamstring injury in the 3-2 loss against Leicester City. West Ham's main
threat up front this season, Antonio will be out for three to four weeks.
Defender Winston Reid was also withdrawn from the New Zealand squad after he
suffered a muscle injury in the same game. The prognosis for Reid is that he
will be unavailable for about five weeks. Pedro Obiang is the biggest loss.
Perhaps West Ham's most consistent player this season, the Spaniard suffered
an ankle sprain while making a challenge during the second half of the
Leicester game. Obiang underwent surgery and will be out for the rest of the
season. Meanwhile, hopes that Diafra Sakho might soon return have been
dashed. The club's admission that Sakho is undergoing his own private
"controlled sessions" to build fitness, have given lie to the rumours that
the Senegalese striker was due to return imminently. West Ham's head of
medical and sports science Stijn Vandenbroucke, has admitted that it is
unlikely the striker will return to the first team before the season ends.

While all this is going on, arguments rage on regarding Bilic's position at
the club. Fans are probably equally divided about Bilic currently. Even so,
many of those doubting whether the Croatian is up to the task are still
hoping to be proved wrong. There is a lot of goodwill toward Bilic, and the
majority hope the club's former defender gets the opportunity to put things
right. What is certain, however, is that rumours linking Reading's Jaap Stam
with the club have been met with open hostility.

The general feeling is that if the club are trying to reach the next level
following the move to Straford, then someone along the lines of Roberto
Mancini or Manuel Pellegrini should replace Bilic if he fails. Knocked back
by Rafa Benitez when they were trying to replace Sam Allardyce, there's
little doubt the owners would like a big name. Fans doubt, however, that
Stam, with no top-level experience, should be given a chance at a club that
so often seem to get it wrong.

Much depends then on the upcoming Premier League games and none more so than
Saturday's game against Hull at the KCOM Stadium. The Hammers were extremely
lucky to get a home win over the Tigers back in December. Hull hit the
upright so many times in that game that the post was amusingly voted "Man of
the Match" in a post-match poll. Nevertheless, Hull know that, despite their
on-field superiority that evening, it was the Hammers who gained the 1-0 win
and the East Londoners need a victory almost as much as their opponents. In
similar circumstances to Saturday's game, West Ham needed three points
against Hull to avoid dropping into the relegation battle last December.
Three months on, circumstances have produced almost the same scenario.

Hull will surely fancy their chances against a brittle Hammers side, and
Bilic will need to turn to Edimilson Fernandes to cover for Obiang, with
Mark Noble returning after injury. Marco Silva's rejuvenated side will be
wary of the curse of the returning player, however; Robert Snodgrass is
likely to play a big part in Saturday's clash. Snodgrass has been a
disappointment since his move to Stratford, but he'll be hoping to try to
get one over on his former employers and ease the pressure on his teammates
and his under-fire manager. Bilic might well be happy with a draw;
supporters will crave a return to mid-table mediocrity.

Peter Thorne, aka Billy Blagg (@BillyBlaggEsq), is ESPN FC's West Ham

Could West Ham make an audacious move for ex-Real Madrid legend Iker
He apparently wants to play in England, should West Ham be an option?
Football London
06:30, 29 MAR 2017

Reports coming out of Spain are suggesting that West Ham have been alerted
to the availability of legendary goalkeeper Iker Casillas this summer. The
35-year-old stopper made more than 500 appearances for Real Madrid and has
got nearly 170 caps for Spain before calling time at the Bernabeu and moving
to Porto in 2015. The keeper is out of contract this summer and it is
thought that Marseille are front runners to sign him up. But, Spanish weekly
sports magazine Don Balon has claimed Casillas wants to try his luck in the
Premier League and preferably in London. Chelsea and Arsenal are top of his
wish list but only the Hammers and the Gunners have apparently been alerted
to his availablity. The Hammers have struggled in the goalkeeping department
this season, with neither Adrian nor Darren Randolph really stamping their
authority on the number one jersey. It's Randolph's for now but anything
could change between now and the start of next season. Mertens, Matuidi and
Messi - 23 players West Ham could sign on the cheap this summer Manchester
City keeper Joe Hart has also been linked with a move to E20 but it is
thought that Liverpool would be favourites to sign the stopper at the end of
his loan spell at Torino .


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