Manning – Tonight was a big lesson
Liam Manning admitted his side were taught a lesson in a 3-1 defeat to Middlesbrough
The U23s scored through Anthony Scully but were already three down thanks to James Husband, Hayden Coulson and Marcus Tavernier goals
West Ham face West Browmich Albion in their final Premier League 2 fixture, potentially needing a result to finish inside the play-off places
West Ham United U23 coach Liam Manning admitted his team were taught a lesson as they were beaten 3-1 by Middlesbrough in their final home Premier League 2 match of the season.
The young Hammers, chasing a play-off spot in the division, were keen to give their top five hopes a real boost with a positive result on Monday but went down to their north east opponents.
James Husband's deflected free-kick gave the visitors the lead in stoppage time at the end of the first half and they increased their advantage in the second period through Hayden Coulson and Marcus Tavernier.
Substitute Anthony Scully pulled one back for the Hammers with a fantastic free-kick but it was not enough and Manning was left disappointed.
He said: "It was a big lesson for us tonight. We had large amounts of possession but there wasn't enough quality in the final third to make it count.
"We gave away some needless free-kicks and we conceded and didn't defend the set-pieces well enough.
"At 23s level, we do a bit opposition analysis and look at where we can hurt them, and it's a mark of respect that Boro came down and set up like they did.
"We've struggled a couple of times this season when teams come and do that and it's a problem that we have to solve and from a development point of view it's a big lesson."
One huge positive for the hosts was the comeback of Reece Burke from injury, the centre-back making his first appearance since being forced out of action while on loan at Wigan Athletic.
"Reece has been out a little while so it was good for him to get some minutes under his belt," Manning continued. "He's built up from playing Stevenage in a friendly last week and it's good for him to come through 90 minutes physically fine, so that's a positive.
"Also on the plus side, Anthony Scully scored a brilliant free-kick. He's got that, and he's now adding the other bits to his game as all of them have got to do.
"There are key areas he needs to focus on, and I think it highlights it tonight, the importance of coming in and doing it properly every day.
"The West Brom is the final league fixture and we need to move on from tonight, work really hard in training and make sure that when we play them, the boys are ready to go because we need a result ultimately."
Loanee round up
There was a mixed bag of results for Hammers loanees in action across the country at the weekend
It was a weekend to forget for Reece Oxford and Toni Martinez, while Josh Cullen and Sam Howes both enjoyed terrific victories
Enner Valencia, George Dobson and Toni Martinez were also in action
While West Ham United picked up a crucial win over Swansea City on Saturday, there was a mixed bag of results for the Hammers loanees in action across the country over the weekend. Starting in the top flight, Everton were in action on Sunday against Leicester City, though Enner Valencia was an unused substitute in their 4-2 win at Goodison Park. A crazy start on Merseyside saw the visitors go 2-1 up within ten minutes, having hit back through Islam Slimani and Marc Albrighton after Tom Davies' opener for the hosts inside a minute.
Romelu Lukaku kept the supporters on the edge of their seats with an equaliser in the 23rd minute and from then on, it was the Toffees in control. The Belgian added a second 12 minutes into the second period to give Everton a two-goal cushion after Phil Jagielka had already scored to help his side regain the lead.
In the Championship, it was a day to forget for young defender Reece Oxford and his Reading side. Making his second consecutive Royals start, Oxford could not follow up last week's 1-0 win over Leeds with a positive result at Norwich City, who incredibly were 7-1 winners at Carrow Road. And astonishingly, the hosts were 6-1 up at half time; Nelson Oliviera, Wes Hoolahan (2), Alex Pritchard (2) and Russell Martin were the home scorers while the in-form Yann Kermorgant gave the visiting fans little consolation for the trip to East Anglia. The second half remained goalless until the final minute, when Cameron Jerome put the icing on the cake with a seventh. While Norwich's play-off hopes look to be over anyway, Reading remain in the top six.
As do Bradford City and Josh Cullen in League One, the side recording another win on Saturday to all-but cement their play-off place.
Bury were this time the side beaten by Stuart McCall's men who have now lost just once in ten matches. Cullen played all 90 minutes once again for the Bantams as goals from Mark Marshall and Charlie Wyke gave them three points at Gigg Lane.
Elsewhere in the third tier, George Dobson and Toni Martinez faced each other as Oxford United travelled to Walsall's Bescot Stadium.
With both starting as subs, midfielder Dobson was brought on for the final 21 minutes in the west Midlands while Martinez played the whole of the second half for his Oxford side who saved a point 16 minutes from time. A first Saddlers goal from Cypriot Andreas Makris had given the hosts the lead but Chris Maguire's deflected strike earned Oxford a draw.
Peterborough United's slim hopes of a top six finish, though not mathematically, were pretty much extinguished as they suffered a disappointing 1-0 defeat at Coventry City. Martin Samuelsen, scorer last week against Charlton Athletic, played the full 90 minutes for Posh but could not help them find an equaliser after Ruben Lameiras' second half goal.
Jaanai Gordon was an unused sub for Newport County, who will just not let go of their Football League status and remain three points from safety after a 1-0 win at Exeter City.
Tom Owen-Evans' long range hit gave the visitors a crucial three points, and with five games left, the Exiles will fancy their chances of clawing themselves to safety having been on a decent run of form.
Finally, Sam Howes kept another clean sheet in an emphatic 5-0 victory for Hampton and Richmond Borough in the National League South when they travelled to Oxford City.
Foundation partner with Creative Wick
The West Ham United have launched a partnership with Creative Wick's Film School, supported by Alias Hire, BT Creative and Openvizor.
The Film School kicked off at BT Sport Headquarters in Here East, with 15 local young people between the ages of 16-18. The two-month programme will see the students being tutored by some of Hackney Wick and Fish Island's best professional film makers.
The film school will be based at various locations in and around Hackney Wick and will provide a basic introduction to film making and give the opportunity to write, produce, shoot, edit and screen a short film – valuable experience that could lead to opportunities for further education, training or employment. During the programme, the students will be supported by West Ham United Foundation Learning Mentors to help them produce creative and original film pieces.
William Chamberlain, Founder and Director at Creative Wick said: "I'm delighted to be working with the West Ham United Foundation to deliver the 2017 edition of the Creative Wick film school and can't wait to see the finished short films. I'm sure that it will give this group of young people a truly valuable experience that could open their horizons to anything."
Whilst discussing the novelty of the programme, Joe Lyons, CEO of WHU Foundation remarked: "In all aspects of our work we strive to have an influence that is life-changing and that is why we are so delighted to have launched this Film School initiative with Creative Wick. Not only will the young people on this programme have the opportunity to produce powerful short films and documentaries, but additionally the depth of expertise they can draw upon through Alias Hire, BT Creative and Openvizor as key supporters of this programme makes this a truly unique experience."
The students will then have a unique experience where their finished short films will be premiered at BT Sport's headquarters on the evening of Thursday 25 May 2017.
Ladies star eyes more goals
Dayna Chong loving the limelight after being nominated for the Club's Goal of the Month award
West Ham United Ladies star scored a spectacular volley against Swindon Town Ladies
Chong is now looking forward to playing for the Hammers at Tottenham Hotspur's White Hart Lane
West Ham United Ladies star Dayna Chong is loving the limelight after being nominated for the Club's Goal of the Month award. Chong's spectacular long-range volley, which you can watch here, secured a valuable point for the Ladies in their 2-2 draw with Swindon Town on Sunday 12 March. Such was the quality of the strike, it was included alongside Manuel Lanzini's free-kick against Leicester City, Michail Antonio's smart turn and finish at AFC Bournemouth and Premier League 2 goals from Edimilson Fernandes and Declan Rice. Now, the 21-year-old is hoping to take inspiration from her nomination into the Ladies' final three fixtures of the FA Women's Premier League Southern Division season. Relegation-threatened West Ham face Lewes Ladies in a rearranged fixture at Thurrock FC on Sunday 16 April, then make the short trip to tackle leaders Tottenham Hotspur in a mouth-watering match at White Hart Lane on Wednesday 19 April, before rounding out the season at home to Spurs on Sunday 14 May. "It feels great as I didn't expect to be nominated, so it feels good!" Chong revealed. "It was more of a 'hit and hope' effort, to be honest, but it was a good goal so I'm not complaining! "I do practice my volleys and I do score quite a few goals like that in training. Hopefully I can score one or two more wondergoals like that before the end of the season, as we've got some important games coming up. "It meant a lot to us because in our last few games we have been trying our hardest without getting the results we need or deserve. It's a team effort and scoring in the last few minutes and the way we celebrated showed how much it meant to us. "We've got three league games left, including the one against Tottenham at White Hart Lane on 19 April, so hopefully there will be a big crowd down there. I can't wait for that one, even if I am very nervous, as it should be a good game for us to be involved in!"
Tickets for the Ladies' trip to Tottenham are on sale now. The West Stand Lower at White Hart Lane will be open for this historic fixture, with tickets priced at £5 for Adults and £1 for Over-65s and Under-16s.
To buy now, please call 0344 844 0102 and select option 2. Fans purchasing over the phone will receive paper tickets by post. Alternatively, click here to purchase online.
PL2 side in London Stadium action tonight
West Ham United PL2 host Middlesbrough at London Stadium on Monday evening
Admission is free for season ticket holders and you can book your tickets here
Boss Terry Westley thinks his team can bounce back to winnings way against Boro
Academy Director Terry Westley has backed his Premier League 2 side to bounce back to winning ways when they return to action on Monday evening. The Hammers welcome Middlesbrough to London Stadium for their penultimate league match of the regular season, having not won any of their previous four matches. After beating Fulham on 20 February, Westley's youngsters have lost at Brighton & Hove Albion and Newcastle United and drawn with Stoke City in Premier League 2, and also suffered an agonising 3-2 Premier League Cup defeat by the Magpies at St James' Park. Those results have seen the Hammers drop to fifth in Division Two, but they remain just three points behind second-place Fulham and Westley is eager to end the campaign on a high.
"The players felt disappointment after the Newcastle game because it was a game that we were in and the players had the intention of retaining the Cup, so to take it all the way to extra-time and to lose it to a great goal was not easy to take," he confirmed. "I have to say that, after a couple of days off, they have responded well in training and we fixed up a behind-closed-doors match against Stevenage in which they all played a minimum of 45 minutes after the international break, so they're refreshed and ready for a very important game. "We have two games to go and everything to play for to try and get in the play-offs and you would suggest that a win and a draw would probably be enough, but it's absolutely vital we get the right result on Monday."
Should West Ham win on Monday, they will almost certainly qualify for the promotion play-offs, with one-off semi-finals and a final to be played to decide who joins champions Swansea City in Division One next season. With their future development in mind, Westley is looking forward to seeing his young team perform in a 'must-win' match on the big London Stadium stage. "You've got to expose the players to pressurised situations," he observed. "Although this is not a big pressure, relatively, it would be nice to be able to keep your nerve and play very well in a game you have to win, so the demands are a little bit different. "We will play on Monday with the thought process of 'If we can win, we can remain in the play-off positions' and it will then be up to the teams around us to catch us. If they don't win, then one win might prove to be enough. "It's a different type of environment on Monday in London Stadium, so we'd like as many people as possible to come along and watch the young players. Our sole intention is to win and take it into the last round of games, with the aim of prolonging our season as long as we can."
Season Ticket Holders can attend Monday's game for free if they book their tickets in advance. Adult tickets are priced at £5 and concessions £3. Full information can be found here.
Ginge hails 'huge' win
Emotional James Collins admits to feeling 'sheer relief' after Saturday's victory
West Ham United ended five-match winless run by defeating Swansea City
Wales defender made 12 clearances as Hammers kept first clean sheet in 12 games
James Collins admitted he dropped to his knees at the final whistle in 'sheer relief' after West Ham United's 1-0 Premier League win over Swansea City. The Hammers went into Saturday's fixture on a run of five straight defeats and just five points above the Swans in the third relegation place, heaping pressure on the players and manager Slaven Bilic alike. However, thanks in no small part to a colossal display from Collins himself, who made 12 of West Ham's 40 defensive clearances, the hosts secured three vital points at London Stadium. "It was just sheer relief!" said the Wales international of his emotional full-time reaction "I'd been thinking about it all week and we knew how big this game was and obviously coming back into the team I wanted to do well and keep a clean sheet, so it was sheer relief. "It's massive for this football club. We knew how big this game was beforehand and hopefully we've eased a bit of pressure. I've played in big games like this before and I wasn't nervous, but I did feel anticipation because you don't know what's going to happen. "They were in a bad situation themselves so were probably as nervous as we were, so we knew if we got off to a good start and with the players we've got, and with a bit of fight and a bit of grit, we could get the three points and that's what we've got."
Collins returned to the starting XI after a seven-week absence at Hull City on 1 April, and was devastated as the Hammers lost that game to a late set-piece goal. Having also been defeated 3-0 at Arsenal in midweek, the 33-year-old was desperate to keep a first clean sheet in eleven matches against the Swans – and did just that thanks to a typically selfless performance. "I don't know about enjoying it, but it was a massive win, a huge win," he said, when asked if he had relished the battle with Spain centre forward Fernando Llorente. "I think we could have probably been a bit more comfortable than we were in the last five minutes. But, as I said in the press beforehand, it didn't matter how we played and was all about getting a clean sheet and three points, and that's what we've done.
"A clean sheet should be the benchmark in any game, then with the boys we've got going forward, we should score goals, so to get a clean sheet and a win is huge for the football club."
The No19 was also determined to ease the pressure on Bilic, admitting the players had not performed well enough for their manager during a seven-match winless run dating back more than two months. James Collins"I said before the game that it's a weird one because I don't see why in football the managers get so much stick sometimes when the players need to take responsibility," he observed. "I said that to the boys, you know. "A lot of our boys have played in the Premier League for a long time so we needed to take responsibility, step up to the plate, perform and take a bit of pressure off the gaffer himself. Hopefully three points has done that. "It is easy to hide behind the manager and I've been at clubs before where the manager has taken a lot of stick when the players aren't performing. Personally, I am big enough to come out and say maybe I haven't played well enough, and we needed to look at ourselves and hopefully we've done that. "Everyone here loves the gaffer, he's such a great guy and a great coach and his staff with him, and we were disappointed with the stick he was getting when it was us on the pitch performing. We needed to go out, so to put in a really dogged and spirited performance for him was great."
Stat's A Fact - Brilliant back four
Cheikhou Kouyate's 25-yard thunderbolt may have stolen the headlines on Saturday as West Ham United ran out 1-0 winners over Swansea City, but the foundations of the victory were laid by one of Slaven Bilic's side's best defensive performances. Captain, Mark Noble, admitted that the back four chosen by Bilic was "chucked together", forced by recent injuries to Winston Reid and Aaron Cresswell. Indeed, between them, Sam Byram, Jose Fonte, James Collins and Arthur Masuaku have averaged just ten starts this season. Such was their impressive group effort at the back that three different sources named three different West Ham defenders as Saturday's Man of the Match. On Twitter, West Ham supporters chose right-back, Sam Byram; statistically, Arthur Masuaku was the game's best performer according to WhoScored.com; while Jermaine Jenas highlighted James Collins' performance on BBC's Match of the Day. It was the Hammers' first clean sheet in eleven matches, stretching back to 14 January when beating Crystal Palace 3-0 at London Stadium.
Collins with 12 clearancesCollectively, the Hammers made 40 clearances (26 more than Swansea City), 15 interceptions, 14 tackles and 12 blocks. Such was the immense defensive effort put in by the Hammers' back four, goalkeeper Darren Randolph was forced in to making just one save throughout the afternoon - a Gylfi Sigurdsson direct free-kick. West Ham's back four stopped all and any of Swansea's open-play shooting opportunities.
As well as going close to scoring his first goal for West Ham, right-back Sam Byram played a starring role as he nullified the threat of Swansea's Gylfi Sigurddson down the left-hand side. Byram made four successful tackles – a last ditch effort on Sigurdsson in stoppage time the most telling, won three aerial duels, made three key interceptions and five clearances. Mark Noble summed it up: he was "unbelievable".
James Collins and Jose Fonte partnered in the centre for the third time in a week and have been the Hammers' ninth different central defensive combination this season. It was Fonte's first clean sheet as a West Ham United player and arguably, one of his best performances in claret and blue. The Portuguese international made eight clearances – third only to Collins (12) and Arthur Masuaku (nine), won two aerial duels, and was vital in ensuring Swansea's threatening second-half substitute, Fernando Llorente, was kept quiet.
Collins, making only his 13th Premier League start this campaign, made the game's most clearances (12) including one vital effort just a yard out when Gylfi Sigurdsson's cross looped over Darren Randolph. The Welshman also won three aerial duels and completed 18 passes at a success rate of 75 per cent. His one block was a brave one too, denying Luciano Narsingh from the edge of the box.
At left-back, Arthur Masuaku had the responsibility of keeping first Wayne Routledge and then Narsingh quiet and his 8.1 star rating on WhoScored reflects how well he did his job. Masuaku made his second start in a week after coming in for Aaron Cresswell, who injured himself against Hull City on 1 April. The Frenchman's 76 per cent pass completion rate was the best of the Hammers back four, he made five tackles – more than any other player on the pitch and also made the joint-highest blocks with four. Nine clearances was the second-most by any player on the pitch.
For Swansea, goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianksi was arguably the best performer. Despite conceding the only goal of the game, the Polish international was forced into making five saves – one of which was a fine diving effort to deny Andre Ayew from 12 yards. The introduction of Narshingh and Llorente at half-time was Paul Clement's attempt to make life harder for West Ham United's defenders but the four stood firm and by full time, had earned their clean sheet and three points.
A REFLECTION ON THE SEASON (WRITTEN BEFORE THE SWANSEA GAME)
BY EXWHUEMPLOYEE ON 10 APRIL 2017 AT 10:26AM
Written by StevenMcCarthy @StevenMcCarthy9
Before I start this article let me say that this is the most frustrating season I have ever experienced as a West Ham fan, whilst I am relatively young, I have seen my fair share of them!
I still remember the pain of The Icelandic owners collapse, the constant fear of the Sheffield United court cases and FA Punishment and the seemingly exclusive problem of the Untapped player potential through our cursed training ground or the dreaded England call up, wether it be Ravel Morrison for those younger fans, Jack Collison after those nasty injuries or the crushing and cruel early retirement of Dean Ashton…it seems that frustration and pain are something that are intrinsically linked to West Ham United.
Now the justification for that long winded validation of my feelings is going to become clear – I don't want the owners out – that isn't to say that I don't want some Billionaire sugar daddy not to invest in us, but it means that I fully understand that without the intervention of Gold and Sullivan, West Ham United may very well have faced liquidation, relegation or worst case scenario, ceased to be whatsoever. And for that, I am eternally grateful!
They appointed and paid Sam Allardyce lavishly in the hope that we would bounce straight back into the Premier League after relegation, they spent money and lowered the cost of tickets for many fans (particularly the young). However, I also know that they have been incredibly frustrating since out return to the top flight!
The owners constant bickering, controversial appointment of Brady and the cringe inducing sniping at players is a real embarrassment…Charlie Austin and the mysterious case of the exploding knee comes to mind!
However it cannot be said that they do not want what is best for the club, they were offered the deal of a life time that had the benefits of hugely increased ticket revenue, meaning financial stability (something I had never experienced before) and the money available to improve the facilities for our training ground.
The Stadium move was also something that both Chelsea and Spurs were considering, how much would we have slated the board had we not even attempted the move into such a Stadium.
This is a hypothetical question that nobody can answer, but as the owner of a football club, without the unlimited pockets of Man City and Chelsea, I know that if it were my decision, I would fight tooth and nail for the Stadium because this was the biggest opportunity in West Ham's history, to give us financial security and potential appeal for previously mentioned oligarch or sheik!
Now I will agree, the promises of a World Class Stadium were far of the mark. However, it feels like West Ham fans on social media and even at the games I have been to are either throwing their toys out the pram or reluctant to get behind the team!
Now I will probably get slaughtered for this, but I watched turgid performance after woeful display at The Boleyn, so it is not simply just the transfer to the Olympic Stadium that has caused our bad performances…we have had them throughout our history, the inept 3-1 loss to Wolves or the 4-0 loss (10 I believe on aggregate) to an injury ravaged Manchester United spring to the front of my mind. But what does bother me is that there has never been that drive to get behind the team. Our move from the Boleyn was always going to be a tough one, but it felt like after about 3 games, most of the fans had made their minds up without even getting behind the team.
This brings me swiftly onto the players, there is no question that with the squad we have we shouldn't be anywhere near the relegation zone and with the atmosphere surrounding the club I am fearing that even if we do survive the season, our most talented players like Obiang, Lanzini and Antonio will look to leave.
The team itself has performed very poorly off the back of last seasons incredible send off to The Boleyn. Even the crucial wins against Hull and Middlesborough were from awful displays, which would normally give me confidence that even when we were playing badly we were picking up points. But the side look lost, there is absolutely no communication between the back four throughout the season and I hold the similar opinion from the Radio Show, that even if we had Aguero upfront this season, the lack of link up play would render them virtually useless anyway.
It has been a total and utter shambles, but I will now give my reason as to why I believe so…
The mismanagement of Slaven Billic *Shuts down twitter account in preparation for abuse*
This year has shown the short comings of the man who lead us to our farewell season at the Boleyn, signs of which I believe were beginning to show at the end of last season. Not only is he tactically inept, making strange decisions to play out of form players in the wrong positions and making next to no impacting substitutions, but his man management and coaching is a major concern to me.
We idolise Slaven for reasons that I understand, he was a hard tackling, no nonsense Centre Back who seems like the type of man you would genuinely want to grab a pint with. However he looks totally out of his depth at this level, as an ex international Centre Back, the one thing you would come to expect is that we would have a solid defence….yet we concede time and time again!
For me, the straw that broke the camels back was the assessment of a man who was a truly World Class and a proper tough tackling, Centre Back – that man is Jaap Stam!
He was damning in his assessment of Reece Oxford at the beginning of his loan to Reading, saying he looked out of his depth at Reading, take a minute to let that sink in – our big hope for the future and talked of future hope to captain England is not fit enough for Readings training sessions, not a match, not a reserves game, a training session!
Now I have friends at Reading football club all of whom were rightfully rather quiet on the subject under conversation about this, however they did pretty much admit that they shared and agreed with his assessment.
That terrifies me, and if we cannot keep our brightest prospect fit, how does that reflect on our training sessions and fitness levels.
Even Zaza criticised our approach, ZAZA the man who I honestly believe whilst in a West Ham shirt couldn't hit that bloody big screen Brady is so proud of, if we had placed it at the bottom of his garden and told him his families fate depended on it.
Now you may be thinking I am veering off into criticism of the players, however Zaza has gone on to perform relatively well at Valencia and even Antonio Valencia looks like he is capable of causing problems in the hands of Koeman. Snodgrass, who was performing fantastically in a poor Hull side cannot have suddenly lost all of his ability.
How can that be? Did they just choose not to perform?
My best guess would be a total lack of man management and coaching. Something evident in his stumbling over signings at right back and upfront.
Slaven's pig headed attitude lead to his persistence in playing Antonio, our most athletic, physically fit and unpredictable player at right back, whilst also turning down multiple opportunities to sign a new one is something that for me put's the board in a no win situation, if you stick by his opinion then you risk the situation we are currently in, but if you go over his head and sign a player anyway then you are accused of tampering and a lack of managerial faith.
Now this isn't to say that the owners are blameless, the "Don't go to bed: DG" incident still really rankles with me. However it does take the accusations that they are unwilling to spend money out of the question.
Yes they love a bargain and a bloody loan, but when your manager wants Tore for 14 million and turns down the chance to sign Gabbiadini and Bacca during the window, then I do not see how the blame is put with them so heavily.
I honestly believe that the players are really letting themselves down, however I do not think this manager is good enough for the League, and although he is a great man, I don't think any club at this level would appoint him should we sack him and bring in a new manager.
I won't look at Billic with rose tinted glasses for the highs of last season, I am too scared of relegation for that.
But what I will do is say that I am Billic Out – something that I hate to say, because I don't like calling for managerial heads to roll, but if it were my club and my money, I would sack him before the Swansea game and look at Mancini to steer us from relegation.
He is a manager who can attract big names, is shown to man manage players well and have an eye for signings. Yes he has been quiet the past few seasons, but he is a manager with a proven track record and a presence that I think would, at the very least command a number of performances showing character, grit and determination before the season is out.
I would also like to thank all the guys at The West Ham Way for even reading this long winded ramble, however they deserve a great praise, as the Radio Show, Pre Match Events and even the Ex-cellent accounts (had to drop that one) have been a hi-light in this season of ours.
HERE ARE OUR FIVE TALKING POINTS FROM THE SWANSEA GAME
BY EXWHUEMPLOYEE ON 10 APRIL 2017 AT 10:13AM
This article is written by Steve Claydon @trbeat
Here are my five talking points from West Ham v Swansea by Steve Claydon @trbeat
1) Kouyate is back.
Finally, we had (sort of) the Kouyate of old. Marauding runs from the back, taking charge a little more, and leading by example. It was his run that led to our only goal, and after watching the replays, it was quite a quite sublime goal. I've always thought that he is at his best when he can go forward and support the attacking midfielders and strikers. I want to see more of this next week, although with a potential injury to Byram we may see him at right back again.
2) Striker 1, 2 & 3 all on the bench.
Listen. Bilic was not trying to throw the game with that many out and out strikers on the bench and starting Ayew up top. Carroll was still carrying his groin injury, and there is no way Sakho is match fit, no way. I am sure that the plan was to hold them out and only play them if necessary. As it is, I can't see Antonio recovering from that hamstring injury anytime soon, and I would argue his season is over. Calleri, or who I now call Calliou (look it up) is dreadful. I would have rather seen Fletcher on the bench. I wanted to like Calliou, I mean Calleri, but the game is too quick for him, and as a striker, you have to finish those chances that he had during the game or at the very least get them on target.
3) We are a team.
When Byram made that tackle on Sigurdsson at the end of the second half, you would have thought that we won the league. Finally, I saw some passion in the team and what EPL survival means to them. Randolph, Noble, Ginge and more made it known to him how important HE IS to the team. Let's face it, how many of us would like to go to work every day, knowing your boss is looking to replace you. It can't be a great feeling. He is still raw, but he played with heart and with a decent run of games and a full pre-season he could be what we need.
I'll admit that after the first Southampton game, I was very vocal in calling for Randolph to play. Adrian's antics and rushes of blood to the head were losing us points. Randolph's play has not been where we need it to be. I was disappointed with both Leicester's and Arsenals first goals, both of which were similar, speculative cross shots that beat him. Again today, I was never truly confident that he would help us not lose the game. Some of Fabianski's saves were outstanding and made the game more of a nail biter than it needed to be. I don't have that same level of confidence in Randolph, so would like to see Adrian back between the sticks. However, what does that do to the team, what does that do to Randolph's psyche, what happens if Adrian fails again? I don't think we will see a change until the new season, and contrary to Bilic's belief I do think an upgrade of this position is needed.
5). Should I Stay or Should I Go?
I plan to write a team review once we have survived this season, breaking down each area and discussing our needs and wants and who can go. For now, a couple of things stand out for me with this team. Firstly, we lack a terrier with some bite in midfield. Noble, Kouyate, Obiang, Fernandes are all very nice players, but none of them strikes fear into the opposing team. We need someone who is going to let the other team know there is a game being played. There were a few moments in the match against Swansea where a nice crunching tackle would have cleaned things out and let them know who is bossing. Secondly, I want to see a centre back with some pace, real true pace. Fonte and Ginge are slow, but at least Ginge has awareness. Ogbonna and Reid are OK but lack that catch-up speed. Oxford may be the one, he looks to have that Rio Ferdinand mix of speed and athleticism, my only concern with him is his physique but as I said he is of the Rio Ferdinand mould, and he didn't turn out too bad.
Well after that emotional game hopefully we can get back to something more West Ham. Three more points should do it, and we can all start wishing for the offseason, resetting expectations, and building a proper foundation to propel the team forward with the right signings with no distractions.
West Ham 1-0 Swansea (And Other Ramblings)
Filed: Monday, 10th April 2017
Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream
I have very few good memories of watching football games played in the sunshine. England, of course, play their games of import in the summer and England, of course, disappoint us all in the summer. I'm fairly confident that won't change after Brexit.
But I rather like my football in the dark of winter, with the night closing in and a thin layer of rain making the surface nice and slick. On this, at least, I can agree with Nick Hornby. Bright sunshine just seems to highlight our deficiencies, and usually signifies the end of the season where we are either floundering in our pursuit of success (last year) or staring disaster in the face (every other year).
So I watch this game like I'm watching a dream. I'm so far back and so far up it's like I'm in the clouds anyway. Up here I feel like I'm watching Inception. A dream within a dream. West Ham have barely any decent players - I must be dreaming. Each minute on the pitch lasts an hour in the stands. It's that sort of day.
Far below me, I wonder if Michael Caine is here, or maybe Tom Hardy is riding around on a snow mobile for no discernible reason. Maybe they are attempting to plant the germ of an idea in David Sullivan's psyche. "Let someone else buy the players, David". Christ, I hope so.
It's as near as anybody will get to being entertained on this particular day, when nervousness has settled over the stadium like a blanket being thrown high up over a child's bed and then fluttering down onto the toys below. Hello tension, my old friend.
But days like today aren't about anything other than the result. Pretty football and confident finishing are for those other London teams. We're here for the sweet embrace of mid table mediocrity, and the giddy promise of ninety million more of those television pounds to make it all better. I couldn't care less how we play today, so long as we prevail. It is a day for winning.
Bridge Over Troubled Water
We start nervously, but so do Swansea. The visitors press us high up the pitch and we don't have the wit to cope with it. Our most frequent early pass combination is Randolph smashing it long to Antonio, which eventually ends up with the latter injuring his hamstring. He did this originally in the Leicester game and was expected to miss six weeks. Instead he came back in a fortnight and failed to complete either game he started. It's the West Ham Way.
Most of the early exchanges are tepid, although Swansea break dangerously a couple of times before remembering they are Swansea and wasting the opportunities. Up the other end, it's our biggest home game in years so naturally none of our strikers are fit. In their stead we play wingers as forwards and pray. You'd think someone might pay the price for such incompetence, but you know deep down they won't. That's also The West Ham Way.
When Antonio gets injured Bilic turns around and eventually his gaze rests upon Jonathan Calleri. The young Argentine runs on with the confidence and derring do of a man walking the plank. The guy next to me yells "Come on Julian, score a goal". It's that kind of a day too.
We are playing like a team on a first date, filled with trepidation. Robert Snodgrass was a curious signing, but at least I thought he'd have an immediate impact. Instead he has no confidence at all, visibly wilting as the catcalls inevitably start raining down. It's The West Ham W...urgh, you know what I mean.
I glance at the bench, wondering if reinforcements are likely. Carroll and Sakho can't be trusted to play for an hour so it seems safe to rule them out. Elsewhere my eye falls to Sofiane Feghouli - he of the incriminating photographs - and I am not reassured. I have never seen a footballer do so many things right, whilst simultaneously managing to get them all wrong.
Better stick with the lads on the pitch then.
The Sun Is Burning
The early exchanges aren't worth writing about. Snodgrass nearly scores with a back post header, but Fabianski stops it right on the line. It's as near as we get to cohesive attacking, but in truth we look alright at the other end too. It doesn't hurt that there is more likelihood of an actual swan swimming up the nearby canal and sticking in a shot at goal than any of the ones on the pitch.
The Swansea team look bereft, as though their very essence was ripped out and forever destroyed by the midweek collapse against Spurs. God bless our nearby cousins - we should send them some flowers or, better yet, some lasagna, when they come to visit in a few weeks.
Mark Noble is everywhere. It's his four hundredth appearance for West Ham, which is a lot of futility for one so young. But his badge somehow looks bigger than the others and the shoulders a little broader, for Noble never shirks anything. It's easy to roll your eyes at the "West Ham through and through" stuff, but in the end it's true. The man isn't going to let the occasion pass him by like so many of his team mates are. He still spends too much time going sideways, but just before half time he finally straightens up. At last a little jink, and suddenly the door is ajar. Snodgrass plays it short to Cheikhou Kouyate and I'm finally roused to edge forward in my seat.
The Senegalese is a giant of a man, who runs first and asks questions later. Today he is perpetual motion, and right now he's flying. Swansea help out a lot by continuing to defend like they are unfamiliar with the concept. Would be tacklers split like the Red Arrows and his shot is unerring and tremendous and right in the corner and stick that up your fucking Championship.
As the ball arches into the bottom corner there is a release like no other. Finally we can all breathe out - finally we have something to cling to. At half time people in the concourses are smiling. It's an odd, unfamiliar sensation, like when they play a decent song on Capital FM.
Keep The Customer Satisfied
Our defence will need to improve next year if we're to have any hope of avoiding another season of despair like this one. Reece Oxford seems like he might be the man for that particular job, so at half time I check how he's doing on his loan spell at Reading. They are 6-1 down at Norwich so that's all going swimmingly. I reckon he might think he's dreaming too.
Who knows what was said here at the interval, but I'm guessing it was something along the lines of "Don't concede to this lot - they're appalling". The visitors change things themselves, abandoning the neat, ineffectual passing of Tom Carroll and instead opting to smash it long to Fernando Llorente. I don't blame them - nothing else has worked.
The thing is, we carry James Collins around especially for days like this. He's our air raid shelter - useful when you come under aerial bombardment and not quite what you need the rest of the time. He and Jose Fonte are doing yeoman work. Even though Swansea press forward desperately, they just look hopeless. Our fullbacks aren't venturing upfield very much, and we look almost solid as a result. Arthur Masuaku is prone to dive in a little, but he has an odd serenity to his play that marks him out as a man to watch. I come away impressed, if jittery.
On the other side Sam Byram is coming of age. He is outstanding, and even earns himself a team wide high five when he successfully snuffs out a last minute Gylfi Sigurdsson foray into the box. It's possibly the first time any of his team mates have seen any honest to goodness right backing all year long. He will later leave the ground on crutches, because West Ham.
As the minutes slip by, I find the knot in my stomach growing ever so slightly. I can't see how Swansea are going to score, which probably means they are going to do it any minute. They eventually conjure up a shot, from Luciano Narsingh, which Darren Randolph appears to tip over the bar, and the referee awards a goal kick. I almost wish we could let them have the corner so we can save up that luck for when we might actually need it.
The visitors manage only four efforts at goal all day. They have an xG lower than their mascots. It is a risible performance and I could not care less.
El Condor Pasa (If I Could)
Up the other end we are looking threatening, but the chances keep falling to the players least capable of taking them - Byram, Calleri and Ayew. Two of them are our strikers. I hope you'll join me in a moments silence for this dead, decaying fucking season. I wish I could set it on fire and shove it off down the river on a Viking longboat.
The sun has arched across the sky now and is slowly being impaled on the Canary Wharf skyscrapers, so the shadows are lengthening. Bilic is bent over on the half way line but then he always does that so it's hard to know if he's nervous or not. He gets a word in his ear from the fourth official for venturing outside of his technical area, which is remarkable as it has a bigger square footage than my house.
On comes Feghouli for the disappointed and disappointing Snodgrass. The Algerian actually does some pretty good things, generally immediately followed by something equally less good. I think there is probably a decent player buried inside him somewhere like a Russian doll. Who knows whether he'll stick around long enough to emerge at West Ham, where the only constant is change.
I'm reminded of that opening day win at Arsenal again. Of the eleven who started, only two appear today - Noble and Kouyate. We have been ravaged by injury and poor decision making, but I wish they'd keep some players together for a while and try and build a team. Not these particular players though, mind you. Good ones.
Ayew draws two good saves from Fabianski and Calleri shoots wide after some ludicrous skill from Manuel Lanzini. The diminutive playmaker is central to anything good we intend to do in the future. They should try and build a team around him as the people of Pompeii built their city around Mount Vesuvius. I was ill the week they told us at school what happened there, but I'm sure it was all fine.
On comes Edmilson Fernandes for the last few minutes to shore up the middle. He runs around promisingly, and reminds me that the one area where I think West Ham have done well is to invest in young players. Fernandez, Martinez, Quina, Fletcher, Holland - they are doing a good job at trying to replace the players who should be arriving through our Academy.
Elsewhere Darren Randolph gets booked for time wasting, which renders me speechless having seen Ben Foster in action earlier this season. It doesn't matter. The whistle blows and the low thrum of the crowd becomes a crescendo. Bilic falls to his knees like he's in that old Take That video, and Paul Clement wonders where his team have disappeared to exactly.
El Condor Pasa, Paul - I'd rather be a Hammer than a nail.
James Collins clenches his fist and goes into the crowd to give a child his shirt. Great stuff. It's the action that launches a thousand tweets - almost all of them containing the word "passion". Give me strength.
The Dangling Conversation
I am not sure where all of this leaves Slaven Bilic. I have lost faith in the manager, but I can't find it within me to dislike the man. Seemingly, neither can anyone else, as his name rings round the bowl as the match draws to a close.
I am pleased for him, but worried for the future. There has been nothing in this performance today to suggest that a corner has been turned. We look pretty much just like we have for weeks, but now we have the benefit of playing a team who are somehow worse than us.
Swansea finish the game with Alfie Mawson up front. He sounds like he should have played in this fixture 70 years ago, when we would have won 8-2 and then inexplicably played the reverse fixture two days later and lost 6-1. In the end, Mawson doesn't have any joy either, as he bumps up against the Great Wall of Ginger that we've strung across the back.
To my right sit the Directors, who have to be ashen with fear. Defeat today is unthinkable, but in some ways a victory isn't much better, as it serves only only to highlight the paucity of our success. I feel almost ashamed as I punch the air at the full time whistle. It's Swansea at home in April, and somehow this is game is HUGE. What a fucking shitshow.
I am shocked at the disintegration of our team. Like an elderly relative with an illness, they have declined in front of my eyes and I have barely noticed. How did it ever get to this, where we are relying on Calleri and Ayew to get on the end of chances created by Snodgrass and Feghouli? It's easy to castigate Bilic for the lack of organisation and all those disjointed performances, but what a nonsensical level of turnover he has had to deal with. Plenty of it has been self inflicted, but still it makes his job all the harder.
I believe Gold and Sullivan when they say they don't want to fire Bilic, but they are still marked by their inertia of 2011. Then, they should have jettisoned Avram Grant, but failed to successfully line up a replacement and instead soldiered on until it was too late. Relegation should have been avoided now, but the larger question remains - does Bilic have it in him to get challenge for the Top Four? It feels like a ludicrous way to frame the issue, but Leicester and the new stadium changed the scene. As I watch our front three play here, I am moved to ask the question "Do they all have their laces tied together?" . Champions League football doesn't immediately spring to mind.
The Sound Of Silence
The stadium is a weird place again. The teams emerge to a wall of noise that dissipates quickly in the spring heat. It's a lot of effort to keep optimistic and chant all day, and even the Swansea fans don't manage, unusually for an away following.
I am struck by how few of our players have their own songs nowadays. Antonio gets a couple of rounds, so too Lanzini and then it's back to singing about our goalkeeper from the 1990's. Someone in the West Ham choir sure does like the "Ludo Miklosko/I come from near Moscow" line.
That's mainly it from what I can hear, until a late first half round of "Stand Up If You Love West Ham". This makes sense as buying tickets and attending games isn't enough. You must stand to truly prove your allegiance.
Otherwise it's just a low, nervous hum that reverberates around like a fourth afternoon Test match crowd. People will talk later about the atmosphere, but I'm not really feeling it where I am. Most people sit gnawing their fingernails to the bone, wondering why the clock seems to be frozen. By the time Ayew fails to bury his late chance I've gone past the fingernails and I've chewed off most of my lower arm.
Only when the end is in sight does the noise begin to increase. A small pocket behind me even start chanting about the Spurs game, because some people just want to watch the world burn .
On days like today it's hard not to pine for the Boleyn. I'm over that particular separation, and I'm certainly done with seeing stage by stage pictures of the old place coming down, but – to paraphrase ol' Shakey – when she danced, I could really love. Spurs and Ipswich were among those who visibly and memorably wilted when confronted by her charms, but it's hard to imagine that here. But by the same token, just as songs could gather momentum as they rushed around the ground, so too could the negativity. That doesn't seem to happen in the new place. By and large, the crowd stay with the team today, even allowing for the frustratingly short half lives of most of our attacking moves.
Maybe the crowd will save Bilic, as the Board don't like being unpopular and firing him would certainly go down poorly with most. I used to think the West Ham crowd was one of the more knowledgeable around, but now I'm not so sure. It feels like we must be fairly easy to dupe if 54 games and fucking off to Everton can make you a cult hero. Paolo di Canio would have a job for life, although we might find ourselves without a manager on some of those trips to the icy far North.
Perhaps it's me who knows nothing of football. I don't care about passion, or the perception of effort. I care about what players do, and how they actually play and I like to see a scientific approach being taken to this most emotive and instinctive of games. Maybe I'm depriving myself of something, but I don't really care. Fist pumping doesn't win anything, as we're likely to find out when James Collins has to mark Harry Kane in a few short weeks.
But that's for another day. Far below me, Randolph and Fonte exchange a celebratory hug and briefly look like Turk and JD from Scrubs, which makes me chuckle. I think I'd almost forgotten what it was like to laugh at a football game, so joyless has the experience been lately. I make a vow to myself here and now to try and prise some pleasure from the last few games of this season.
I'm back to dreaming my peyote dreams again, I think.
Wednesday Morning, 3AM
Later tonight I will watch Match of the Day for the first time in months, and wonder why I bothered. The euphoria of the win will have gone, the pundits will be underwhelmed and I'll be hit by the sad ennui of realising that 36 points does not a successful season make.
I will spend the rest of my night listening to Simon and Garfunkel, two men with voices so gorgeous you can drink them. I will allow myself to be whisked away to a dream state and try to forget this whole season. We've seen worse, let's be honest, and our grandfathers would probably think us pretty uppity if they heard us whinging about being one point off tenth with a few games to go. Those were men who went to watch West Ham with no dreams of Europe or top four finishes. Indeed, if Pards were to get them t-shirts made up they would doubtless have said "Moore in hope than expectation".
And so I walk out of the ground into the fading sunlight of Saturday London and there is a weight lifted and a curtain lowered. The Arsenal game from Wednesday night is still burning at the back of my mind and I don't think this particular scrappy home win will be enough to erase it. This manager was a shooting star once, but I think he might have burned himself out, and faded and died.
Just, in fact, like my dreams.
Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.
Zaza completes €16million La Liga switch
Filed: Monday, 10th April 2017
By: Staff Writer
Former Hammer Simone Zaza has completed a permanent switch to Valencia. The Italian international completed his switch from Juventus earlier today having scored four times since moving to the Mestalla in January, where he has become a firm fans' favourite. "I'm very happy," Zaza - who signs for an intial €16million with a further €2miilion to follow in clauses - told Valencia's website. "I've travelled a lot, the only time I've spent two straight years with a club was at Sassuolo. "I want to stay here, I'm grateful to Valencia, who wanted me at a time when I wasn't playing at my best level. I want to do well here and return to the Italian national team as soon as possible."
And in stark contrast to comments made by one or two of his former team mates in recent weeks, Zaza insisted that training in England under Slaven Bilic and his team was TOO intense. "I wasn't able to fit in in London, the style is different," he said. "The training was more intense in England, but very short. The others were, however, able to express their talent on the pitch, while I couldn't get into my groove. I need to work more in order to do well during a game. "
Is Sunderland trip the perfect time for West Ham to give Edimilson Fernandes a rare start?
Some supporters have been calling for the youngster to get more game time
14:32, 10 APR 2017
With Mark Noble's two-game coming into effect this weekend, is now the perfect time to give Edimilson Fernandes a Premier League start?
Noble picked up his tenth booking of the season in the 1-0 win over Swansea and will now miss the trip to Sunderland and the home game against Everton on April 22. The 20-year-old summer signing from FC Sion has had limited opportunities this season. In fact, he's only completed 90 minutes once in the top flight and that was, ironically, against Sunderland on October 22, when he picked up a yellow card but put in an impressive stint out of position at left wing back in a 1-0 win. He's been restricted to substitute appearances, with the odd start in cup competitions but he has been brought on in all of West Ham's last six games. Fernandes came on and got 23 minutes of action after Pedro Obiang's injury against Leicester City and performed well but was overlooked for the visit to Hull when Noble was injured, with Sofiane Feghouli coming in and not really doing much.
So, with that in mind, is a trip to Sunderland the perfect time to see what Fernandes can do?
He's an energetic lad and loves a tackle. In the ten minutes he played in the 3-0 defeat at Arsenal, he had a 100% success rate in that department, the same went for his passing stats as well. Against Leicester, he had a 95% passer rating in 23 minutes of action, completed two dribbles and also made two interceptions. He then got 24 minutes of game time against Hull, he racked up 20 touches of the ball and made 85% of his passes, winning possession in his defensive third twice and winning all of his tackles as well. We know he has an eye for goal, as he demonstrated with that wonderful strike against Chelsea in the EFL Cup tie last October. With that in mind, a trip to Sunderland could be ideal for Fernandes to slot in alongside Cheikhou Kouyate and show us what he's got. The dismal Black Cats are almost certain to get relegated, havent scored a goal in ten hours , have 20 points from their 31 fixtures and are now ten points behind 17th-place Hull in the table. So, could Edi get his chance to shine? It seems the perfect opportunity for him to put in a performance that could see him earmarked for more game time next season.
A summer overhaul is expected but here are four West Ham youngsters who could freshen up the first team next season
An overhaul is expected but could some stars be promoted from within the Hammers set up?
13:00, 10 APR 2017
Isn't it amazing what one important win can do to morale? There is a feel good factor back in E20 after picking up those enormous three points on Saturday and we've decided to piggy-back off of that. The West Ham youngsters are back at the London Stadium tonight for a PL2 clash as they host Middlesbrough and with the season drawing to a close, some of the Hammers starlets are playing for a spot in the first team squad. Some of them are already out on loan and going great guns in some cases, while others are being frustrated. A summer of overhaul is expected at West Ham after what has been a very difficult season but could some of the youngsters at the club be given a chance to impress? Our Hammers writer Sam Inkersole has picked out four that could make the grade next season and freshen things up a bit.
The PL2 side captain has been in inspired form this season and is pushing hard for a promotion to the first team for next season. The Irishman signed a new professional deal with Hammers back in January to fend off interest from Arsenal and the Hammers rate the 18-year-old highly. Might be a risk to throw straight in the starting line up next season. Rice was also voted the Irish U17 player of the year. The centre back could learn so much from the likes of James Collins and Winston Reid just being involved with the first team. Expect to see more of him next season.
On-loan at Oxford United since January and has found the net a couple of times but has also, found opportunities hard to come by. That said, he is an enormous talent and was certainly snapped up with one eye on the future. We expect the Hammers to sign at least one, maybe even two, strikers this summer but we are also expecting some departures as well, with injury-prone front men Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho certainly in that equation, while it's not a given Enner Valencia and Joanthan Calleri will be with the club either. Martinez could be seeing a lot more action next season, likely from the bench, but Hammers fans wont mind that as they rate him highly. Clearly has the goalscoring talent and if the club can be seen as promoting from within, it'll go down well.
A real gem has been unearthed in Cullen, who has really starred fr Bradford in two loan spells with the Bantams. They would love to have him permanently but you can't see the Hammers letting him go, considering how well he has done. He's already got eight Ireland U21 caps to his name and the midfielder is going places. Lots of Hammers fans would love to see him given a chance and if he can keep up his form for the rest of the season, we might see him in claret and blue at the London Stadium next season.
Bit of an obvious choice for us to make but you suspect next season could be a big one for Reece Oxford. Forget about him shipping seven goals on loan at Reading this past weekend for a minute... He has struggled with injuries this term and was being protected from the limelight by Slaven Bilic. Now he has signed his four-and-a-half year deal though, been sent out on loan, the club will now be expecting him to progress. He's arguably more accomplished and more experienced than the previously mentioned Declan Rice and has more of a shout of being a first team regular next season. Winston Reid and Jose Fonte will still likely be the first choice centre back pairing but if anyone can push for a spot in the starting line up, it'll be Oxford.
Cheikhou Kouyate says he's never felt such intense pressure amid West Ham relegation fight
Cheikhou Kouyate says he has never been under so much pressure as he has in West Ham's battle for survival. The Senegal international scored the goal that beat Swansea to end a run of five Premier League defeats and take the Hammers a huge step towards safeguarding their top-flight status. Kouyate, who also scored West Ham's first goal in the London Stadium in August, ensured West Ham's gap over third-from-bottom Swansea stretched to eight points with his first half effort and admitted: "I have never experienced this sort of pressure before in my career. "It was a good moment for me and the most important goal I have scored for West Ham. The most important thing though, was not my goal but the victory. Now we must continue to work hard for the rest of the season. "This victory," said the 27-year-old former Anderlecht midfield player, "was very important for the team because we have had a few difficult weeks."
Kouyate was a key member of the West Ham team that finished seventh in the Premier League last season. "Last year was unbelievable," he said, "but this season has been a struggle. We have had a lot of injuries. "We have six games left and we have to go for as many points as we can. Then we'll see where we finish."
Kouyate paid tribute to beleaguered manager Slaven Bilic when he said: "I like the boss, he is unbelievable and he has worked hard for the players. This was a good win for him." Bilic was today keen to emphasise that West Ham, despite the most important win of what has been a difficult season, are not yet safe. "I don't know how many points we need to be absolutely safe," he said. "I would like it to be 36 but I am talking about 40 points to secure the minimum goal and let's do it as quickly as possible to ease the pressure and then hopefully climb the table. "We made a gap six games ago and then, in no time, five defeats and the gap wasn't what we wanted. We don't want that situation to happen again. "It's not like we've done the job, we are nowhere near doing the job, so let's do everything we can. "We can celebrate the day and we have to be happy, but now we begin the big preparation for the Sunderland game. "I believe we can still finish in the top half. Watford are tenth and they are only one point above us. We want to finish as high as possible but first let's do the minimum job." Bilic also believes that the trials of this season will stand the club in good stead in the future.
West Ham United FC transfer news: Hammers scouting Yacine Brahimi ahead of summer bid for Porto star
Yacine Brahimi scored against Belenenses with West Ham scouts in attendance
By talkSPORT - @talkSPORT
Monday, April 10, 2017
West Ham are scouting Porto star Yacine Brahimi ahead of the summer transfer window. The Algerian has previously been linked with the likes of Crystal Palace and Everton after impressing in Portugal since moving there in 2014. Now, according to O Jogo, West Ham are tracking the 27-year-old too after sending scouts to watch him in action. The Hammers are expected to bring in a number of recruits this summer to bolster their squad for next season. Brahimi is a player who has previously been on their radar and they now want to look at him closely ahead of a concrete offer. West Ham scouts were reportedly at Porto's game on Saturday against Belenenses and they would have been impressed with Brahimi as he got on the scoresheet in a 3-0 win
Was 50 minutes of action enough to give Jonathan Calleri another West Ham chance?
The Argentine striker came on and did well on Saturday
09:35, 10 APR 2017
Jonathan Calleri got 50 minutes of action under his belt in the vital 1-0 win over Swansea on Saturday and let's get this straight out there - he did really well. It was the most amount of minutes he has played in a Hammers shirt since the 70 minutes he got in the EFL Cup match against Accrington Stanley way back on September 29 of last year. Eyebrows were raised when Calleri replaced Michail Antonio was forced off injured five minutes before half time with a suspected hamstring injury. It was particularly surprising as Slaven Bilic had Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho at his disposal on the Hammers bench. Clearly, neither were fit enough to come on so the Argentine was given the nod and, sadly, there were a few boos around the stadium as he did so. But, he didn't let it affect him and while he didn't score, his impact was second to none, especially if you compare him to Swansea's biggest attacking threat - Fernando Llorente, who was introduced at half time.
Calleri had two shots to Llorente's one, completed two successful dribbles, won two aerial battles and won both of his tackle attempts.
His two completed dribbles were in fact the joint highest for the Hammers with Manuel Lanzini, who had another excellent game and his three tackles were only three short of Arthur Masuaku, who led West Ham in that category. The Argentine also didn't lose the ball once in his stint on the pitch which is ever so crucial when you're playing the lone strike role. He made some very intelligent, space creating runs as well on Saturday which didn't go unnoticed. He looked sharp, the most confident he has been for a long time. He's only played 272 minutes of football since joining from that mysterious Uruguayan Second Division side Deportivo Maldonado in the summer. While he's only found the net once - in a 3-1 win at Middlesbrough - he's still at the club. He lasted longer than Simone Zaza, what does that say? Calleri was linked with a move to Spain - heavily - in January but Bilic kept him on. The manager maintained that he never wanted to get rid of the 23-year-old. Sure, there might have been some complications over his ownership but the manager rates him.
This is Calleri's first time outside of South America, having played for Boca Juniors and Sao Paulo, where was in fact the top scorer in the Copa Libertadores.
While he hasn't hit the net as much as he would have liked this season, maybe it's not worth giving up on him just yet. Expect Calleri to get some more minutes between now and the end of the season - if Carroll isn't fit for Sunderland this weekend, he may even get a start - and expect the Argentine to only get better. He's only here until the end of this season but don't be surprised if we see Calleri back in claret and blue next season.
HAMBURG, YOU'RE NICKED MATE!
By HamburgHammer 10 Apr 2017 at 08:00
I meant to write yet another deeply critical piece, delving into the future of our club, the next level, the owners, the upcoming transfer window, the changes we need in the squad, the case for keeping Bilic or letting him go and so forth. Yet I've decided against that in the end because my column can get quite gloomy at times and I can imagine that most of you enjoy a gloomy West Ham article at the start of the week on a Monday as much as root canal work at your local dentist. Plus it's been a very successful weekend football wise for my two clubs and I've also had a nice encounter with some random British football fans at the Concordia game (!!!) which is also where the headline of this post originated from, but more of that a bit later.
We won! I had almost forgotten what it felt like to enjoy a three pointer for the Hammers and we simply did on the day what we needed to do. I love watching beautiful tippy tappy passing football as much as the next bloke and to be fair, the Swansea game wasn't much to write home about really in terms of skill and panache. But relegation six pointers rarely are beautiful affairs, it was two teams that were shockingly low on confidence playing each other and at times it was hard to tell which of the two teams was more afraid of the opposition, both looked scared stiff at times.
Kouyate's goal was worthy of winning any game of football though and he certainly hasn't scored a more significant one in his West Ham career so far. It was a proper team effort and all the substitutes put in a good shift too, especially Calleri. We have now put some much needed daylight between ourselves and the relegation pack, in all likelihood this should be more than enough to see us through as I cannot see Boro, Sunderland or Swansea going on mesmerising winning streaks all of a sudden.
Sunderland away should be a game for us to attack, despite missing the likes of Antonio and Noble we need to go for the jugular in this one. Sunderland are struggling mightily at this point scoring any goals whatsoever (they scored their most recent competitive goal three months ago in mid-January) and while I am aware our defense may gift them a few opportunities to change just that I am convinced we will ask them a few serious questions at the other end too. The Mackems will be nervous as long-tailed (Black) Cats in a room full of rocking chairs. We are bound to unleash Carroll and/or Sakho against them at some point and maybe even someone like Calleri would enjoy getting a start against a struggling side like Sunderland.
So, why am I not moaning about the club's owners here as usual ? Because I feel far too much relief that we have put ourselves in a good position to see Premier League football at West Ham again next season. That alone will make things a lot easier for us and I guess you will agree with me we have more than enough issues at hand to deal with here. Doing it as a lower midtable Premier League club will be challenging enough, trying to sort out the various building sites around our club on and off the pitch as a freshly relegated side would be a nightmare of epic proportions in comparison. I suppose our board are well aware anyway that the eyes of the West Ham fans and pundits alike will be on them all throughout the summer.
So, while West Ham certainly have done their bit on Saturday, Concordia followed suit the day after, but it was nerve wrecking stuff: Going 1:0 up early on, then conceding (and saving) a penalty shortly before half time, only to lose two sloppy goals in quick succession with fifteen minutes to go in the second half, Cordi managed to turn the game around with two late goals to nick a crazy 3:2 win in front of 154 delirious fans. As promotion rivals Altona drew their away game 2:2 in very lucky fashion (two penalties scored in the final nine minutes or so) the gap has now narrowed to six points again, Cordi have the better goal difference with seven games left to play. Doable, but difficult. It'll be emotional.
Talking of which the Cordi game on a purely personal level was a bit different than usual for a simple reason. As promised, I had brought the club executive Florian Peters a West Ham pennant as a gift for him to display in Concordia's club house. He was well chuffed with that (remember he's also the one who will one day join me to watch a West Ham game at the London Stadium), but he also told me "Look, we seem to have some English geezers here again today, pointing towards a group of six or seven guys of varying age, with one of them sporting a Crystal Palace shirt, another an Accrington Stanley one.
I obviously started chatting to them and found out they were a group of friends sharing not only a passion for football but also the fact they were all Old Bill, some still on active duty, one or two of them already retired. They all live around London but support different clubs, Palace, Fulham, Arsenal, Middlesbrough, Man United and Accrington Stanley.
Every April these guys meet up and go on a football groundhopping tour, so far they've been among other destinations to Istanbul, Copenhagen, Holland, Bavaria, Berlin and now Hamburg.
They took in the Hamburg SV home win against Hoffenheim on Saturday and then went on to watch a Sunday doubleheader of lower league football in Hamburg's East End, following the Condor-Turkiye fixture at noon and the Concordia-Wedel game straight after. Make no mistake, those guys are very serious about their football.
I was even given the task of teaching them some German football chants and I duly obliged, stopping short though at translating the nasty ones about the referee's mother.
I had a smashing time with the lads, we had a few beers in glorious sunshine and were chatting about football, the London Stadium, Gold&Sullivan, beautiful places to visit in Germany, the appeal of Middlesbrough as a tourist destination, the good old Brexit issue and the ineptitude of the referee trying his best to ruin the game for everyone (yes, in between the banter we were watching some of the football too). The ref even failed to send off an opposition player for headbutting the Cordi midfielder who had just scored the equaliser.
The ref booked both players in fact. I've never heard of a headbutt warranting a yellow card only, but maybe that's a local rule being employed at this level which has escaped me so far. One of the Brits was claiming he had just been watching the German equivalent of Mark Clattenburg. (It's all about you, it's all about you…)
All in all it was a nice precursor to my upcoming trip for the Spurs game. I've exchanged mobile numbers with one of the lads, so hopefully I will meet them again, either when I'm in London or should they decide to visit Hamburg again one day. You never know, it might come in handy in the future to know some members of the fuzz.
Should I end up in Plaistow nick somewhere down the road I know I'd be allowed one phone call, so why not call a Crystal Palace supporting copper living in Kent, if need be…;-)
Right, Sunderland up next. A game where we can hopefully maintain our most recent marvellous winning streak of, ahem, one game so far. Follow up the Swansea result with another win and we're pretty much safe. It promises to be another feisty affair at the Stadium of Light though. Let's hope we can put the lights out on their hopes of Premier League survival. We simply cannot afford to be courteous to other clubs at this stage of the season. COYI!