Friday, April 14

Daily WHUFC News - 14th April 2017

Slav - Confidence is back

Slaven Bilic says confidence has returned after a 1-0 Premier League win
over Swansea City
Victory lifted the Hammers eight points clear of the relegation zone with
six matches remaining
Manager admits he is not surprised to see Saturday's opponents Sunderland
struggling again

Slaven Bilic says confidence has come flooding back into his players after
they ended a five-match losing run by beating Swansea City.

West Ham United had not won in seven games going into their Premier League
meeting with the Swans at London Stadium, piling pressure on Bilic and his
players to arrest their slide with a vital victory.

Thanks to a first clean sheet since January and Cheikhou Kouyate's fine
goal, the Hammers got the win they craved and now travel to bottom club
Sunderland arguably just three or four points away from securing their
top-flight status.

"It's a big game for us," the manager confirmed. "We beat Swansea, which
also a big, big game and now we're approaching the second one. Every game is
big and Sunderland is in a situation that they are desperate for a win and
that's why it's a big game for them, but also it's a big game for us.

"We are looking forward to that game to secure, or getting closer to
securing our Premier League status.

"Every win gives you a boost, especially if you're doing it in such a big
game as we had against Swansea, after five defeats in a row. Of course, the
confidence is back.

"As I said before, belief is permanent and we never lost it, and the
confidence comes and goes. Sometimes you lose it in the same game because
you struggle in the first five or ten minutes, but belief never goes and it
is a key factor and you can't lose it.

"That's the reason why we played so good. Now we have the confidence back,
we have to build on that and not lose it again."

With home games to follow against Everton, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool,
and away fixtures at Stoke City and Sunderland, Bilic wants his team to
reach the 40-point mark as soon as possible, and they can get to 39 with
another three at the Stadium of Light.

"Of course, that's what we want, but I have had a look at the schedules for
all the clubs and most of them have similar schedules, playing two or three
games against the clubs either near you or below you, and two or three games
against the top six or seven clubs," he observed.

"We are in no different a situation and now we have the game against
Sunderland is going to be extremely hard, like every game is, but it is an
opportunity for us to come closer to safety and get some points."

When asked specifically about Sunderland, Bilic admitted he was not
surprised to see them struggling again this season, seeing as the Black Cats
have not reached 40 points in any of the last four Premier League seasons.

"Nobody expected in the beginning when David Moyes took over that they would
suddenly be safe just because they appointed a big name and a great
manager," he observed. "They already had big name managers, be they Big Sam
or Dick Advocaat, who are massive names in the world of football, and they
somehow managed to stay up, but in the last few seasons, sadly for them and
unfortunately, it has become a common situation for them.

"They have a lot of the same players, so the majority of their players have
been there before and somehow they have done it.

"I know David Moyes is a top manager. I mean, at Everton he made them come
back again to the position they should have been with the size of the club
and everything – the name of the club, Goodison and Evertonians and Toffees
and all that – so he's brilliant, but the manager can only do as good as his
set of players."

Bilic rues Antonio absence

Slaven Bilic confirmed Michail Antonio will be out for the remainder of the
season through injury
Winger suffered a hamstring problem in 1-0 Premier League win over Swansea
City on Saturday
Manager hopes Andy Carroll, Diafra Sakho, Sam Byram and Aaron Cresswell
could all face Sunderland

Slaven Bilic has admitted losing Michail Antonio for the remainder of the
2016/17 Premier League season with a hamstring injury is a 'massive blow'.
The manager confirmed that West Ham United's leading scorer will be
sidelined for the remainder of the campaign after pulling up in the first
half of the 1-0 win over Swansea City at London Stadium. Bilic told his
pre-Sunderland press conference that, while the No30 will be absent, a host
of other players, including forwards Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho and
full-backs Sam Byram and Aaron Cresswell, should be available for selection
for Saturday's important fixture at the Stadium of Light. "We are without
Michail Antonio," he confirmed. "For Antonio it is a significant injury so
he is out for the season. Mark picked up the tenth yellow card so he is out
for two games and it's a big blow for us. "Sam Byram had a problem with his
ankle in the first half against Swansea but he is training on Thursday, so
he should be OK, but we're going to see. Also, Andy Carroll should be fit
and is also training on Thursday.
"From the last game we have no Antonio and no Mark Noble, but Andy can be
back and then Cresswell is training with us on Thursday, and Winston Reid
will start to train with us on Monday. That's the situation with us."

When asked for his reaction to Antonio's injury, Bilic was naturally
disappointed, but backed his other forwards, including Jonathan Calleri, to
fill the void. The Argentinian replaced Antonio at London Stadium on
Saturday and caught the eye with his hard-working display, while also going
close to scoring his second Premier League goal on a number of occasions.
"It's a massive blow, of course," he admitted. "We know what he is giving us
in every game. He's one of our best players, so it's going to be a big blow
that we're going to be without him for the rest of the season."

"We're going to see. It's a good thing that, despite Michail's injury, we
have options. Calleri did really well when he came on against Swansea with
his energy, with his pressing and with his creating open spaces for other
people. Also, he had a couple of good chances.
"We're going to see with Andy. He is always a big weapon for us and a threat
for the opponent. It's a good thing we have options, and we're definitely
going to need both of them on Saturday to share the minutes of the game.
Who's going to start? We're going to decide on Saturday, of course."

When asked about Calleri's long-term future with the Hammers, Bilic had
further words of praise for the on-loan Deportivo Maldonado forward. "We
will see," said the manager. "He is a very good professional, a very good
boy. He didn't play a lot. He played at the start of the season and in the
middle of the season. He is not a regular, but he never dropped one per cent
of energy in training.
"He is great to have around. He is training like he is playing 90 minutes
every week, he is doing his best and that's why he deserved a chance. He
played really well when he came on against Swansea and it's good to have

Five-a-side selects a five-a-side team from players who have represented both
West Ham United and Saturday's opponents Sunderland...

1. Ernie England

No goalkeeper has pulled on the colours of both Sunderland and West Ham
United. Left-back Ernie England played 352 times for the Black Cats between
1919-29, making his name with his perfectly-timed right-footed slide tackles
that invariably stopped opposition wingers in their tracks. Signed from
non-league Shirebrook for just £100, England helped Sunderland to finish as
runners-up in the old First Division in 1922/23. England was 29 when West
Ham United paid £500 to bring him to the Boleyn Ground in October 1930, but
his debut did not arrive until 3 January 1931, when the Hammers played out a
sensational 5-5 draw with Aston Villa.
England played just five times in Claret and Blue before moving to Mansfield
Town and ending his career in the non-league ranks.

2. George McCartney

Another left-back, George McCartney had two spells with both West Ham United
and Sunderland, winning promotion to the Premier League with both during his
career. The Belfast-born Northern Ireland international was a committed,
tough and uncompromising defender who became a fans' favourite at the Boleyn
A quietly-spoken, amiable character off the pitch, McCartney captained
Sunderland to the Championship title in 2005, before joining the Hammers a
year later.
After returning to the North East for a less-successful second spell with
the Black Cats, he returned to the Boleyn Ground following West Ham's
relegation in 2011, and he played an influential role in the east London
side winning promotion via the Play-Offs in May 2012.
Now 35, McCartney has not played professionally since leaving the Boleyn
Ground in June 2014.

3. Harry Hooper

One of the oldest-surviving Hammers, Harry Hooper was born in the
traditional coal mining village of Pittington in County Durham in June 1933.
Now 83, Hooper joined West Ham United in 1950 after his father Harry Senior
was appointed as a coach at the Boleyn Ground, and his form saw him named as
a back-up for England's 1954 FIFA World Cup finals squad. A skilful winger,
Hooper spent six years in east London before enjoying shorter but
outstanding spells with Wolverhampton Wanderers and Birmingham City,
reaching the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup final with the Blues in 1960. Hooper
then joined Sunderland, spending three years challenging for promotion from
the Second Division, before winding down his career in the non-league ranks.

4. Bryan 'Pop' Robson

Sunderland-born centre forward Bryan 'Pop' Robson played for his hometown
club on no fewer than 154 occasions in the Football League, scoring an
impressive 60 goals, across three spells. The distinctive striker also spent
two separate spells in east London, netting 104 goals in 255 games in all
competitions, and finishing as leading scorer in 1972/73, 1976/77, 1977/78
and 1978/79. Amazingly, the prolific Robson also found time to bang in 82
goals in 206 League appearances for Newcastle United at the start of his
career, 26 in 72 games for Carlisle United and three in 15 appearances for
Chelsea. After hanging up his boots, Robson coached and scouted for the
Black Cats, before ultimately leaving the Stadium of Light in 2013.

5. Jermain Defoe

Signed from Charlton Athletic as a schoolboy, Jermain Defoe spend
two-and-a-half seasons in the West Ham United first team from August 2001
until December 2003. Despite the Hammers' struggles during that period, the
diminutive striker hit the back of the net regularly, scoring 41 times in
105 appearances – 33 of them as a substitute. Then just 17, Defoe scored on
his debut in a League Cup win at Walsall in September 2000, and enjoyed a
record-breaking loan spell with AFC Bournemouth later the same year. The
forward went on to enjoy a successful career with Tottenham Hotspur and
Portsmouth before joining Sunderland in 2015. His form there has seen him
earn an England recall, and he now has 20 goals in 56 games for his country.

Randolph ready for Defoe duel

Darren Randolph relishing his first-ever duel with Sunderland striker
Jermain Defoe
Goalkeeper hoping to make it two clean sheets in a row at Stadium of Light
Irishman also expressed condolences for Ireland teammate John O'Shea

Darren Randolph is relishing his first-ever duel with Sunderland striker
Jermain Defoe.

Despite both being senior professionals for more than a decade, the West Ham
United goalkeeper has never shared a pitch with the England forward.

Defoe and Sunderland have not scored in their last seven Premier League
matches, but Randolph is wary of the threat posed by the prolific

"He's a dangerous and clinical finisher, as he's proved throughout his whole
career," the Hammers No1 observed of Defoe. "Any half-chance, he will take
it, so that's obviously what Sunderland look for.

"This will be the first time I've played against him in my career, believe
it or not. I've played against teams he's been involved in, but he's never
actually played as he's been injured.

"We obviously need to limit his space and chances."

Randolph and his teammates head for the Stadium of Light in good spirits
after keeping their first clean sheet in 12 Premier League matches last

West Ham defeated struggling Swansea 1-0 at London Stadium thanks to a
resilient defensive display, and the Irishman is hoping the Hammers can
reproduce that form and extend Sunderland's unwanted run of more than eleven
hours without a Premier League goal.

The Black Cats have not hit the net since winning 4-0 at Crystal Palace on 4
February, but Randolph is still expecting to have work to do in the North

"It was our first clean sheet since Palace and it's nice for everybody, not
just me as the goalkeeper, because it means you have all put a shift in," he
said of the Swansea victory. "It's good to get that clean sheet and win
along with it.

"Sunderland will score eventually and it's just a matter of when.
Personally, I don't care if they score on Saturday as long as we win, as
that's all that matters.

"If we can go there and put them under pressure and frustrate them and try
to get ourselves ahead in the game, then clearly it will make it a lot
easier for us.

"But they are scrapping for their own survival and it's a home game for
them, and they're not looking at us as a Chelsea or a Tottenham or a Man
United or Man City, but as a West Ham who are only a few places above them,
so they might play with a bit more freedom than usual.

"Regardless, we'll go there our own gameplan and try to execute that as best
we can and get three points."

Last but by no means least, Randolph also made a point of expressing his
condolences to his long-time Republic of Ireland teammate John O'Shea, who
sadly lost his father Jim earlier this month.

O'Shea is Ireand's third-highest all-time appearance maker with 118 caps to
his name, and Randolph has huge admiration for the defender he lined up
alongside at UEFA Euro 2016 and in recent FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

"I heard the unfortunate news about John's father and I extend my sympathies
to him and his family at this time, and I hope I can see him on Saturday,"
said Randolph. "John has got more than 100 caps for Ireland and won loads of
trophies during his time at Man United, he's a great player and a good guy."


Hello Hammers. Here is today's lunchtime round up.

Michail Antonio will be out for the rest of the season with a hamstring
injury. (BBC Sport)

This is a big blow for us, but I believe we have enough in our squad to get
through to the end of the season. Hopefully Michail will come back even
stronger next season.

Mark Noble says he expects 39 points to see West Ham to safety this season.
(Evening Standard)

I agree with Mark on this one. I think we will be pretty much safe if we
come away from Sunderland with all three points on Saturday.

Andy Carroll is expected to start for West Ham against Sunderland this
weekend. (Daily Star)

I love Andy Carroll, and he is one of my favourite players at the club.
However, I think it would be incredibly harsh on Jonathan Calleri to not
start him at the weekend. He came on against Swansea and I thought he was
brilliant, so he deserves a run out in this game over Carroll in my opinion.

Joe Hart is set to be sold by Manchester City this summer, with West Ham
being linked with the England goalkeeper. (Football Insider)

I would love it if we were to sign Joe Hart, but I cannot see it happening.
I think we need a new goalkeeper in the summer, but I think we should look
at Jordan Pickford. He is a young goalkeeper who is already showing real
quality, and he is also more of a realistic target for us. I think we should
start building for the future and sign some younger players, starting with

Former Besiktas director of football Onder Ozen says Mario Mandzukic will be
a West Ham player next season. (Shoot)

Mandzukic is a very good player in my opinion, but I wouldn't want him at
West Ham. He is a target man, but we already have Andy Carroll for that
role. He is also on the wrong side of thirty now and as I just said, I think
we should start to build a younger side.

Havard Nordtveit is set to be given a final chance to save his West Ham
career against Sunderland this weekend. (HITC)

I hope Nordtveit is given a chance towards the end of the season, because he
is a real quality player. Sadly, he is another who just hasn't been given a
chance at the club. He is a tough tackling midfielder and I think with Noble
and Obiang both missing, he would fit in perfectly.

Slaven Bilic has suggested that a permanent deal for Jonathan Calleri could
be on the cards. (TalkSport)

I would not be against this deal at all. I know he hasn't had a season that
would warrant a permanent deal, but the game against Swansea has changed my
opinion on him. However, I do believe that he deserves a run of games to
prove himself properly in this league before any final decision is made on

Written by Daisy Lowe @DaisyLoweX

It wouldn't be a day at West Ham without seeing your stand out player from
the game limp to his car on crutches would it?

On Saturday I was lucky enough to be in Club London for a drink after the
game with my friend Shannon who worked The West Ham Way event with me. We
were leaving at the same time as a few of the players, including a rosy
cheeked Sam Byram hobbling around on crutches! I couldn't quite believe my
personal Man of the Match was now injured and in pain getting to his car?!

I will admit Byram hasn't always impressed me (perhaps because I was
secretly a massive Carl Jenkinson lover) but I have loved watching him
blossom and develop these past few games, throwing himself around the pitch
and expertly blocking shots on target. With a few starts under his belt, and
a vote of confidence from the manager and fans, Byram is becoming a
controlled and confident player who I believe will be essential in taking us

We haven't had the best of luck this season with injuries and signings, but
for me Sam is a perfect example of the standard of the type of player we
have on the bench, and for some reason, are not playing regularly enough …

Burke, Oxford, Cullen, Fernandes and Fletcher are just a few players who we
must utilise more! Whether they are on our bench our out on loan – It's time
to make these players feel important, before they lose sight of what it is
lik to play for West Ham United.

Being a footballer shouldn't be about turning up to a few hours of training,
getting your wages and then never playing a full 90 minutes for your club.
What discipline does this install? Does this encourage these youngsters to
work for their money? I worry that never having a vote of confidence in a
youngster kills their passion for the club where they ultimately lose sight
of the badge and get caught up in the world of caring more about what
nightclub they are going to that weekend, than if they are playing for the

In some ways I feel sorry for these players. I have friends that play for
the club and I know that football is mentally and physically demanding. It
can be demoralising to never make the team. I also know that if a manager
isn't giving players a chance to shine and feel important to our club, they
lose their head and playing for our beloved club becomes a job and not a
responsibility. I think Sam Byram is the perfect example of why we need to
put more faith into our youngsters.

We have a great squad in the changing room. Let's give them a chance to
leave the London Stadium on crutches too!


Written by Elliot Pollard

Isn't it amazing how quickly football can change in just 1 week, with just 1
result; yet at the same time so incredible how quickly us as football fans

On the 17th of January 2010 West Ham United were precariously perched above
the relegation zone on goal difference with just 19 points from 21 games.
The club was owned by Icelandic bank Straumur-Burdaras who injected a lot of
cash into the club, demonstrated by the famous signings of Carlos Tevez and
Javier Mascherano. Unfortunately due to the collapse of the Icelandic
banking sector and miss management from the board, the club ended up in a
reported debt of £110 million and were flirting dangerously close to

On the 18th of January 2010 Mr Gold and Mr Sullivan bought a 50% share in
the club and became the majority shareholders. That year we did manage to
escape relegation; however were unable to repeat this the following season
suffering a miserable campaign; something which I do hold the David's
completely accountable for as they refused to sack hopeless Avram Grant!

Having said that the appointment of Sam Allardyce and the injection of cash
into the transfer kitty meant we were able to bounce straight back to the
top flight at the first time of asking; something only 3 other clubs can
boast of achieving in the last decade after finishing 20th in the previous

It is also worth remembering at the time of the clubs sale, the only other
serious bidders were Tony Fernandes, the then chief executive of Air Asia,
and Massimo Cellino, the owner of Italian football club Cagliari. Tony
Fernandes went on to purchase QPR in August 2011 who have since spent an
estimated £124 million on transfers, suffered 2 relegations from the Premier
League and are now currently lingering around the bottom half of the
Championship with no return to the top flight in sight.

Mr Cellino on the other hand went on to purchase Leeds United in 2014 and
has since attracted nothing but controversy, not to mention the dismissal of
7 managers in 3 years! This gives you an insight into what may have happened
to our beloved club, not to mention what administration could have resulted
in, you only have to ask Charlton and Portsmouth fans about that feeling.
The David's have since managed to stabilise the club financially, which has
allowed us to develop into a profitable Premier League football club again.

The David's should also be recognised for their bravery in letting Big Sam
leave and appointing fan favourite Slaven Bilic to take charge of our final
season at Upton Park. Allardyce would have been a certainty to maintain our
Premier League status going into the Olympic Stadium there is no doubt. This
change meant we were able to achieve one of our best league finishes and
witness one of the best players to ever represent West Ham; although he will
not be named for obvious reasons.

With 11 players arriving over the summer David Sullivan has since come under
a lot of criticism for the lack of quality brought into the club, with some
reports suggesting he went for quantity over quality. None of the signings
have made a real impact on the squad yet but at the time the players brought
in did look like they would improve the team.

Sofiane Feghouli was singed from Spanish giants Valencia where he scored 31
and assisted 40 goals in 202 appearances. He also has 40 caps for Algeria
and previously won the Algerian player of the year in 2012. A fairly
respectable return and a player who was in high demand on a free transfer at
the time. Simone Zaza was signed from Serie A title winners Juventus where
he scored 8 goals in 24 appearances and ironically demonstrated his scoring
ability in the opening game of at the London Stadium.

At the time these players looked like fantastic coupes from big European
clubs but unfortunately they have struggled to settle in the Premier League.
The efforts to try and sign a marquee striker were obviously well reported
and I'm hopeful that the club has finally learnt not to spread its transfer
intentions all over the media.

I also believe the London Stadium has been used a scape goat for our poor
results this season. Unfortunately the transition from Upton Park to the
Olympic Stadium has been bumpy to say the least. Having said that I do
believe a lot of fans were deceived by the final season we were lucky enough
to experience at the Boleyn. Thankfully the team gave Upton Park a
tremendous stadium send off last year with some unforgettable victories;
however in previous seasons this has not been the case. In fact I have
personally experienced the most hostile atmosphere of my life at Upton Park
following a 3-1 defeat to Wolves in 2010 with very emotive chants of "you're
not fit to wear the shirt".

The truth is, when we were winning Upton Park produced an electric
atmosphere, as does the London Stadium, noticeably experienced with
victories over Chelsea, Palace and Swansea this season. When the results
don't go our way the atmosphere drops. It's the fans who control the
atmosphere, not the stadium. I know we sit a lot further away from the pitch
compared to Upton Park and this does make a big difference, but I guarantee
if we had experienced the same home victories at the London Stadium as we
did last season, the stadium would have not been criticised as harshly as it

The move to the new stadium probably came a few years too early for us as a
club but the owners had no choice to take the opportunity to move to the
Olympic Stadium. You only have to look at Chelsea, Tottenham and Everton who
are all building new grounds with increased capacities to see how quickly
other clubs are growing.

As the club means so much to us fans it is natural to place blame when
results aren't going our way; but the reality is not many football clubs
have progressed as much as us in the last 5 years and we do have the owners
to thank for that. I believe our owners will carry us as far as they can
before they will inevitably pass us onto a bigger investor, but for now we
are in good hands.

With Sunderland coming up on Saturday a positive result will relieve the
pressure further and hopefully see us finish the season on a high!


Written by Elliot Pollard

Written by Greg Richardson @rakis14

Following Saturday's hard fought but thoroughly deserved win, I feel safer
on thinking about next season as a Premier League side. Way I see it we need
4 key players in summer = Goal Keeper, Right Back, a Payet replacement and a

For each I position I have stated a 'dream signing, a realistic signing and
the player I would go for if I was in charge of transfers.

Goalkeeper – Dream signing = Joe Hart

The England number 1s future seems destined to be away from Man City and Pep
and we have been linked with him in the press for a while. An excellent shot
stopper, has good command of the penalty area and communicates with his back
4, he would certainly be an upgrade on our current incubants between the
sticks. He is also prone to the odd rush of blood to the head (like our very
own Adrian) but the positives far out way his negatives and for this reason
he is probably bound for sides higher up the table than us…Liverpool,
Everton and Arsenal could all be looking in the summer and would be more
willing than our board to spend the money required to capture this keeper.

Realistic = Jordan Pickford

The fact that Pickford has won as many plaudits as he has this season whilst
playing behind the sieve like defence of Sunderland speaks volumes for his
ability. Young, English, good reflexes and full of potential he would be
well out of our price range but with Sunderlands relegation being more a
case of when rather than if, we could pick him up for a cut price (which
will appeal to our board). We may find competition from other clubs but
Saints and WBA both have solid keepers and I'd like to think we have more
appeal than the rest of the club's around us.

Me – Victor Valdes

For the record is like to see us go for Pickford but if we get priced out or
just out manoeuvred, Victor Valdes would be the guy I turn to. He's kept 8
clean sheets this season behind a very average defence at Boro and has shown
enough to suggest he could do a job for us. Like Hart he has a winner's
mentality and is still a very capable as a shot stopper. And as Boro also
look likely to go down he'd be a decent budget signing.

Right Back –

Dream signing = Kieran Trippier

The former Burnley man hasn't featured much for Spurs this year but in those
rarities he has played, as well as his time with the Tykes, he has shown
that he is a top class modern right back. Solid in the tackle, good
positional sense and adept at the overlapping run, his forte is his ability
to whip in a cross better than most wingers. In truth we should have gone
after him in the summer, promised 1st team starts rather than a squad player
at Tottenham and wages to match. Now his price will have sky rocketed
(purely because of how Levy operates) and will be even higher for us (purely
because of how Levy tries to screw us at every opportunity) so is only
possible really if the board have a desire to spend really big this summer.
Or if Levy has a lobotomy.

Realistic = Zabaleta

Linked with us and available on a free, he is the sort of signing our board
love. But whatever negativity that the 'free' price tag may come with, there
is no denying the pedigree of Pablo Zabaleta. A title winner, experience
international with Argentina and a leader on the pitch, he is tough tackling
defender who is not shy at getting forward either. He would be a good person
for Sam Byram to learn from and would be a solid addition to the defence.
His age may put some of, as will his undoubtedly high wages, but 32 is no
age in the modern game and if it is a relatively short deal, the ability to
call on his experience when we are away to the bigger teams, could be well
worth the gamble.

Me – Nyom

The WBA full back really caught my eye when the Baggies came down to The
London stadium. Big, strong, fast and defensively sound enough to play in a
Tony Pulis back four, he is what I imagine would happen if Kouyate and
Antonio had a child and trained it to play right back so they never had to
play there again! He has more tackles, blocks and interceptions than Kyle
Walker (widely regarded as the best right back in league) and whilst his
delivery isn't as prolific as other counterparts he still creates chances.
At 28 he is experienced but young enough to make the right back position his
own for the foreseeable future.

Payet replacement*

*Dsiclaimer; by Payet replacement I mean a midfielder who is capable of
creating and scoring goals.

Dream signing = Cesc Fabregas

Fabregas is a creator. In his time with Arsenal, Barcelona and Chelsea is
ability to pick a pass and assist is beyond question. He has featured as a
bit part player for Contes Chelsea playing just over 900 minutes but has
registered 7 assist and 4 goals in the time he has been afforded. His game
has developed over the years and he is now more likely to play a less
advanced role, instead preferring to play as a deep lying playmaker. His
signing would not only take some of the creative pressure off of Manuel
Lanzini but also still allow the little argentine to occupy his preferred
no.10 role. He would also bring with him a professionalism and winning
mentality that could help elevate those around him.

Realistic = Gylfi Sigurdsson

A man that many hoped we would spend the Payet money on in January,
Sigurdsson is as close to a guarantee of goals and assists from midfield as
we can realistically afford. In his 32 games this season for perennial
strugglers Swansea he has scored 8 and assisted 11 goals. He is athletic,
strong and not afraid to put in a shift when his side are under the cosh
something that cannot be said of all of our creative types. With Swansea's
position in the Premier League still in the balance, many of us will be
hoping that they, and subsequently Sigurdsson's asking price, will go down
by the seasons end.

Me = Aaron Ramsey

Forget the Aaron Ramsey that we have seen at Arsenal for the last season or
two. That Ramsey has been played out of position and has been a player on
the periphery of a side in a downward spiral. Think of Aaron Ramsey the
Wales international. He is the main man in that midfield, the conductor of
much of their play, capable of playing defence splitting passes, ghosting
into the penalty area and has decent finishing ability too. He is a wholly
different animal to the one used as a bit part player by Wenger this season.
He creates and scores goals for his country as he once did for Arsenal
before he was utilised differently by his club side. Given the
responsibility of being our main man and played as a central midfielder, I
believe he would be an incredible signing for us.


Dream = Javier Hernandez

The little Pea/Chicharito is the epitome of the fox in the box striker. He
just seems to be in the right place at the right time to put the ball in the
net. He also has great movement off the ball which would be a dream for
Lanzini as the argentine is crying out for movement ahead of him (which
Carroll just does not offer). In his 23 games for Leverkusen this season he
has scored 10 goals and registered 2 assists, whilst also creating a further
18 chances for his team mates. As a side we tend to create half chances,
little sniffs at goal – Hernandez would be the ideal man to have in the box
ot put those chances away.

Realistic = Jermain Defoe

Everything I have just said about Hernandez is equally applicable to Defoe.
Probably English footballs most natural born striker, his movement and knack
of being there to tuck away half chances have resulted in 14 goals in 31
games for Sunderland this season. His only down side is that he is 34 and
that some still hold his infamous transfer request against him. However his
age has not stopped him playing as often as he has this season or from
getting himself back into the England squad, so why should it put us off?
The fact that he is will be available for next to nothing in the summer
if/when Sunderland go down and that he feels he has unfinished business with
us also point to this being a signing that could and should happen.

Me = Kelechi Iheanacho

An honourable mention must go to Alvaro Negredo of Boro, who I also think is
an option worth exploring in the summer but for me we should chase up Man.
City's Kelechi Ihenacho. Young, strong, unerring finishing and capable of
playing as a lone striker or as part of a front 2, the boy could spear head
our attack for years to come if we can get him. He has played 20 times for
Pep's side this season, but only racked up 600 or so minutes as he has been
used predominantly as a substitute, but in these brief cameo's he has scored
6 goals, registered 3 assists and created 13 chances for team mates. At any
other club you would say he will have a massive role next season, but with
Aguero and Gabriel Jesus ahead of him and City bound to sign another
attacker in the summer, he could find himself well done the pecking order
and a sneaky loan to buy deal could get us a huge talent.


Written by Hammer and Talk @hammerandtalk

The mood has changed around the stadium as the season has progressed in my
opinion. The best way to describe it is when a married couple both finally
decide to put their cards on the table in a desperate act to save their
marriage, obviously referring to the fans on social media saying exactly how
they feel about the stadium and the ownership of the club. Since many fans
have vented their frustrations, I feel the calm has most certainly followed
the storm due to positive changes made by the West Ham board. Maybe this is
just how I see it.

Since the beginning of West Ham's ownership of the stadium there has been
much improvement in and around the newly built stadium. An increase of
stewards have been employed to aid the struggles of fan conflict within
games. This has been a proven success. Also shelving has been placed in
various blocks at the stadium to ensure fans can rest their drinks at half
time during the break. Drinks are now being pre-poured in almost all of the
blocks to ensure a shortage of queues.

Whether thoughts are of negativity or unrest, there's no denying that things
are improving around the stadium and the old saying of 'Rome wasn't built in
a day' has much more impact to West Ham fans now than than ever before
especially whilst going from the fortress that is the Boleyn to the London

Fan's anger at late fixture changes
Filed: Thursday, 13th April 2017
By: Staff Writer

A US-based West Ham United supporter arranged a trip to see both the
Tottenham and Liverpool games - but will now see neither due to fixture
amendments. Life-long Hammer Paul Wilkins, who moved from Stratford to the
Unites States three years ago had booked flights and accommodation that
would have enabled him too see his beloved Hammers face both teams as the
2016/17 draws to a close. However with the Tottenham match being moved
forward to the Friday and the Liverpool games pushed back 24 hours, Wilkins
- who was responsible for the web's first ever West Ham website back in the
mid 1990s - will now miss both matches. "Anyone that knows me will confirm
that I love West Ham," he posted via Facebook. "So much so, that when
booking a holiday back to London to see family and friends I purposely did
so with Spurs (Saturday, 6 May) and Liverpool at home (Saturday, 13th May)
firmly in mind. "I asked a good friend to get me some tickets and he obliged
accordingly. Fantastic! Er, not. "I found out that the Spurs game had been
moved to the Friday (5 May). Well, that's the day we arrive. But we still
have Liverpool, right? WRONG. They've changed it to Sunday 14th - the day we
fly back..."

Meanwhile another ex-pat Hammer, who posts on Twitter as 'Far Eastender'
also revealed that he would be out of pocket as a result of the Premier
League's decision to move the fixture at late notice. "Great. £87 to change
the flight for the Spurs game and £ 115 to change for Liverpool," he wrote
following the revelation that the Liverpool game was being moved.

Slaven Bilic fears attacks such as the Borussia Dortmund bus explosions are
'impossible' to prevent
Borussia Dortmund's team bus was rocked by three explosions on Tuesday
Police believe the explosions were a targeted bomb attack on the squad
West Ham boss Slaven Bilic fears such attacks are now hard to prevent
Bilic was in charge of Besiktas when rival club Fenerbahce's bus was shot at
By Andy Sims, Press Association Sport
PUBLISHED: 00:14, 14 April 2017 | UPDATED: 00:16, 14 April 2017

West Ham manager Slaven Bilic was shocked at the attack on the Borussia
Dortmund team coach, but fears such incidents are impossible to prevent.
Three explosions occurred around the bus - believed to be a targeted bomb
attack - as the Dortmund players left the team hotel en route to the Signal
Iduna Park stadium for the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final
against Monaco, which was swiftly postponed. Dortmund's Spanish defender
Marc Bartra was taken to hospital, where he required an operation for a
broken bone in his right wrist. Bilic recalled a similarly frightening
incident while he was managing Turkish side Besiktas, when rival club
Fenerbahce's bus was shot at. 'I remember once when I was in Turkey when
Fenerbahce were in Trabzon and the coach was attacked,' he said. 'There was
a shotgun and it just missed the driver, and they were driving at 80mph. It
was so close. 'Those people are doing those kind of things because they
don't want us to feel secure - not just footballers but you and me and the
whole world. Nobody is secure. But you have to try to continue with your
normal life. We sympathise with Dortmund, of course, and it was such a
shock. You have to continue to do your job. You have to continue with your
life. 'But I don't know, for example, how Dortmund could stop that attack.
It's impossible. What one club can do to prevent it, I really don't know.'
West Ham have suffered their own security scare this season, with striker
Andy Carroll having been the victim of an attempted robbery at gunpoint in
November as he drove home from training.


West Ham have two great 'keepers at their disposal, current first choice
Darren Randolph who regularly features for the Republic of Ireland and
Adrian who is perhaps my favourite West Ham 'keeper in what feels like a
very, very long time.

Both are at the age now of 29 and 30 respectively, which is not old for a
keeper by any means, but with our third string 'keeper Raphael Spiegel at
the age of 24, I just cannot see him breaking into the first-team with some
of his performances. Randolph's performances haven't been up to scratch
lately also, keeping just one clean sheet since January, which is why I do
think it is time now for Adrian to return, but maybe we should look forward
into the future?

An excellent young keeper is Alban Lafont, currently playing for Toulouse
and at the age of just 18 is regularly featuring for their first-team. I do
not doubt that many top clubs will be vying for his signature, but if the
board are going to be keeping their promises of bringing in quality talent
and pushing for European places, a place we could start is in the keeper

Many teams are playing more youthful keepers now, with the likes of
Gianluigi Donnarumma, Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland, Mattia Perin and Jan
Oblak all playing for their first teams and being 24 and under, it would
seem very wise to attain a young keeper as they usually play a lot longer
than their outfield compatriots. Even another young keeper, Simone Scuffet,
who is 20-years-old and was touted to be the man who would take Italian
legend Buffon's mantle as number one for Italy, could be a great
alternative. Maybe something for West Ham to ponder in the future?


While Slaven Bilic may be public in his support for both of his goalkeepers,
the co-owners aren't strangers to getting themselves involved in transfer
activity. There have been reports that West Ham are interested in signing
Joe Hart, as the Daily Mail note, but they aren't alone in their pursuit of
the England international as both Everton and Chelsea have made their
interest known. Hart was made an outcast by Pep Guardiola at Manchester City
and was sent on loan to Serie A with Torino where he has enjoyed a great
season and maintained his place as England's No.1. City are keen on a
permanent sale for Hart in the summer and have rebuffed a second loan offer
from Torino. It's understood they're after a fee in the region of £15m to
part ways with Hart. The 29-year-old would like a permanent return to the
Premier League and a move to West Ham where he would instantly become the
club's No.1, much like he would at Everton.


Amongst the talented crop of players we have in our ranks vying for a centre
back position, namely Reece Oxford and Reece Burke, there is an interesting
player plying his trade in Croatia which we should definitely have a look

Filip Benkovic, who currently plays for Dinamo Zagreb, is building a name
for himself through rising through the youth system to become a first-team
player. Part of a successful Zagreb side that have won two trophies that
including capturing the Croatian league title, he has also grabbed himself a
couple of goals in the Croatian first league, he has also appeared in the
Champions League facing the likes of Juventus and Sevilla, playing the full
90 minutes of each.

At the tender age of 19, he is a year older than Oxford and has been given a
lot more game time, gaining valuable experience in the field, which I think
given a chance Oxford would definitely be able to cope with. A young centre
back with valuable experience beside our maybe one-day captain would be a
very good pairing indeed.

Bilic's strong ties with Dinamo Zagreb (even advising the coach on how to
beat Arsenal back in 2015), and hailing from Croatia himself, he certainly
wouldn't feel out of place at West Ham but the deal wouldn't seem likely. As
mentioned before we have extreme talent in the burgeoning star of Oxford,
and taking a gamble on available first team minutes might not appeal to the
young Croatian, but it would be a very good signing for the future.


This season has been a real struggle for West Ham and Jonathan Calleri. The
Argentine striker joined on a season-long loan from Uruguayan side Deportivo
Maldonado and the Hammers beat off the likes of Sevilla and Inter Milan to
land his loan signature.
In purely a move to put his name out there in Europe and try to land a
lucrative transfer the following summer, Calleri really hasn't lived up to
the hype since arriving at the club. With 14 appearances to his name to date
and no starts in the Premier League, it's fair to say that Slaven Bilic
hasn't had much faith in the former Boca Juniors standout, but that could be
changing. Many thought that his goal at Middlesbrough would be the catalyst
for a turn in form but he only played 47 minutes of football in the nine
games between then and the Swansea match last weekend. Calleri replaced an
injured Michail Antonio in the first half and really put in a good shift.
His off the ball movement was very good, his hold up play was solid and
overall it was a decent outing, even if the end product wasn't always there.
There's talk that he could start at Sunderland this weekend with Antonio out
and both Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho not at 100% in what could very well
be his last chance to make a lasting impression. When asked today about the
chances of signing the 23-year-old on a permanent basis, Bilic hinted that
the club are still weighing up the decision.
Las Palmas were keen on take him on loan in January when the Hammers were
expected to terminate his contract with the club, but a decision was made to
keep him around and perhaps we're about to reap the rewards of that

Full transcript: West Ham boss Slaven Bilic rules out Antonio for the season
and looks ahead to Sunderland
The boss had a lot to say at his press conference this morning
Football London
11:46, 13 APR 2017

Slaven Bilic faced the media at Rush Green on Thursday morning ahead of this
weekends Premier League clash away at Sunderland. The Hammers boss ruled out
Michail Antonio for the rest of the season through injury and provided
updates on other injury news, the prospect of Jonathan Calleri starting this
weekend and looking ahead to the Black Cats clash. Here is everything the
boss had to say.

Injury news

We are without Antonio. it is a significant injury so is out for the season.
Mark [Noble] picked up the yellow card, his tenth so misses two games and is
a big blow. Sam [Byram] had an ankle problem against Swansea but is training
today and should be OK. Also, Andy Carroll is also training today and can be
back for Sunderland. [Aaron] Cresswell is training today and Winston Reid is
starting to train on Monday.

Antonio out for the season

It's a big blow, we know what he gives us in every game and is one of our
best players that we are going to be without until next season.
Jonathan Calleri or Andy Carroll to replace him? We will see, we have
options despite the injury to Michail. Calleri done really well when he came
on against Swansea with his energy and opening spaces for other people, he
had some chances, but we will see with Andy.
He is always a big weapon for us and a threat. Probably, most definitely, we
will need them both on Saturday to share the minutes. Who will start, I'll
decide on Saturday.

Beat Sunderland and safety secured?

Win and safe? Yeah, I think so. It's a big game, we have won our last big
game and this is the second one. Every game is big. Sunderland are desperate
for a win and it's a big game for them as well as us and we are looking
froward to it to secure or get closer to securing our status in the Premier

Slavisa Jokanovic being linked with his job

I didn't see it until i was just told. I know Slavisa, we are from the same
region, speak the same language, I like him a lot as a person and a manager,
he is doing with great with Fulham but I am not bothered, the same as last
week or last year. I don't talk to the owners about every name that appears
in the papers.

Who is your Premier League player of the year?

It's difficult, they all have had great seasons. [Harry] Kane, [Alexis]
Sanchez, [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic definitely, [N'Golo] Kante obviously but for
me to pick one, then it's [Eden] Hazard, that's my opinion. All of them are
great. They all make the difference, Ibra at United definitely, he's amazing
but that goes for every one of them. A big team like Spurs are different
without Kane, Chelsea without Kante, Sanchez has been unstoppable but for me
it's Hazard. The way he creates chances for other people, the way he makes
space, the way he breaks defences, he tears them apart and then he scores
goals regularly, very important goals. He's amazing, with his skill, he is
for me the best player of the season.

On the terror attack in Dortmund

I don't know that we have shatterproof glass [on the team bus]. We all have
security but it's very hard to stop, you cant secure everything. It was a
very sad day for the world of football for that to happen. Unfortunately, it
happened and we all unite with [Marc] Batra and with Dortmund. It shouldn't
be happening of course but unfortunately that is the world we live in.

Calleri's long term prospects at West Ham

We will see. He is a very good professional, a very good boy. He hasn't
played a lot, but he never dropped one per cent of energy in training. He is
great to have around and training like he's playing every week, he's doing
his best and he deserves a chance. He came on against Swansea and did well,
he is good to have.

Planning for next season

I spend a lot of time with my staff on a daily basis to discuss next season
as well as this one but to be fair, it's all about Sunderland at the moment.
I have spoken with the chairmen for next season, of course.

David Moyes

He is a great manager. But they have had big names before, Sam Allardyce,
Dick Advocaat have been there and somehow they managed to stay up. In the
last few seasons it has been a common situation and now it looks really bad
but the majority of their players have been there before and they have done
it. I know Moyes is a top manager, at Everton he made them come back to the
position they should have been with the size of the club so he's great but
he can only do as good as his players.

Boost of confidence after Swansea

I mean, every win gives you a boost especially if you do it in such a
massive game and after five defeats in a row. The confidence is back but as
I said before, it's belief that is permanent and we never lost it. The
confidence it comes and goes but belief is there, it is a key factor you
can't lose and that's the reason why we played so good. Now we also have
confidence back and have to build that and not lose it again.

Remaining fixtures this season

It sets us up for the rest, yes but of course, I look at the schedule for
all the clubs and most of us have two or three against teams with and around
you and below you, then two or three against the top six or seven, so we are
in no different a situation. Against Sunderland, we know it'll be hard,
every game is but it's a good opportunity for us to come closer and get some
points of course.

Why did Calleri come on against Swansea instead of Carroll or Diafra Sakho?

I spoke about Calleri and how he is doing, we needed a fit player. With Andy
it was he'd be on the bench and if we needed him, 15 minutes maximum 20 but
now it's totally different. With Diafra also he was out for a long time,
played half hour against Arsenal but we opted for Calleri, it was a good


During the win at Swansea, West Ham were dealt a crushing injury blow in the
first half when top scorer Michail Antonio suffered a recurrence of the
hamstring injury he had been struggling with and had to come off, an injury
which has since ruled him out for the rest of the season.

The expectation was that Andy Carroll would come on to replace Antonio and
lead the line, or possibly even Diafra Sakho for only his second appearance
since November.

Slaven Bilic saw differently and decided to give Jonathan Calleri the best
part of 60 minutes to make his mark on the game and to his credit, he gave a
determined performance, probably his best for the club to date.

But why were Carroll and Sakho not picked ahead of the Argentine like one
would expect? Bilic says they simply didn't have the legs.

With Andy, he could play for 15-20 minutes against Swansea, but this
Saturday is completely different. It's the same with Diafra.
Carroll started the 3-0 defeat at Arsenal last week but was brought off at
the hour mark and replaced by Sakho who had only just returned from a
long-term back injury.

Bilic later confirmed that Carroll felt a niggle in his groin which had been
plaguing him for a number of weeks and was substituted as a precaution.

Both players failed to see any action during the win at Swansea three days
later and have another 10 days of rest and training under their belts with
no setbacks and should be able to play some part at Sunderland.

After his performance at Swansea, however, Bilic seems keen on handing
Calleri some more game time to see what he can do and Sakho appears to be
the one who'll have to sit on the bench for the time being.

It's a big blow with Antonio [missing the rest of the season] because he has
been good in every game. We have options up front with Andy Carroll and
Jonathan Calleri. We're likely going to need both Andy and Jonathan on
Saturday and they'll share the minutes on the pitch.
West Ham know that a win at Sunderland will virtually secure their place in
the Premier League for next season and with a couple tricky fixtures left in
the run-in, getting points on the board is paramount.

DAN BRIARD @briard_dan

Is Mark Noble's successor rotting on the Hammers bench? Quite possibly I
think. Havard Nordtveit joined on a free transfer from Borussia
Monchengladbach last summer but has found that first-team opportunities are
hard to come by, making only 17 appearances since his move from Germany. The
former Arsenal youth player was a regular in the side early in the season,
playing a holding midfield role in the Europa League qualifiers and started
the first two Premier League games of the season but soon lost his place due
to Pedro Obiang's fine form.

In the midst of West Ham's latest injury bug, Nordtveit, who had found
himself on the outside looking in during the Autumn, playing just seven
minutes of football in October and November, was shunted into right-back and
he started four games during December and January at the position but failed
to make an impact in a position he's not comfortable with.

A lot of fans hold the defeat at Tottenham against him after coming on as a
late sub to see out the game before giving away a penalty at the death which
Harry Kane slotted away and gave Spurs the win.

But is the Norway international really that bad? I'm not so sure. During his
six seasons with Borussia Monchengladbach, he made over 150 appearances for
the German club and was even made captain of the team. He has Champions
League experience, which only a handful of players can say in the current
Hammers squad.

More importantly, Nordtveit is a central midfielder and has to be given a
chance in his natural position, given that Pedro Obiang, the midfield
maestro is out injured for the rest of the season and Noble will now miss
two games after picking up his 10th booking of the season.

West Ham fans will be sick of hearing about the number of players who have
been used at right back this season, with Nordtveit being one of the those.

The central midfielder has waited patiently for his chance and I do believe
that he could fill in well for Pedro Obiang. After all, it seems that
Nordtveit will be moved on in the summer, but will he be given one last
chance to prove himself?

He's not featured since January 2nd, a 12-game run and has seemingly fallen
out of favour with the coaching staff but perhaps he could be handed a
reprieve at Sunderland. You never know, these last games could help us see
that Nordtveit can perform on the big stage, but he has to be given a chance
where I think he may be able to shock a lot of fans, let's hope so.

West Ham captain Mark Noble expects 39 points to make Slaven Bilic's side
safe this season
Evening Standard

Mark Noble expects 39 points to be enough for West Ham to retain their
Premier League status this season. The Hammers started the campaign aiming
to push towards the European places, having finished seventh in their final
season at the Boleyn Ground, but have fallen short of expectations. Slaven
Bilic's side lost five consecutive top-flight fixtures prior to last week's
crucial victory over Swansea but are now eight points clear of the
relegation zone ahead of the run-in. The 40-point mark is commonly seen as
the total required to stay up but Noble is convinced just one more victory
will be enough for the Hammers, who currently have a tally of 36.
"One more win should see us safe," he told the club's official website.
"Hopefully we've broken that run of losses – games we shouldn't have lost.
Sunderland away is massive and then we have some tough games."
The Hammers face Sunderland on Saturday afternoon and will be hopeful they
can get the better of David Moyes' side. The Black Cats have failed to win
in seven games and appear destined to drop into the Championship next term.
Noble will not feature at the Stadium of Light due to suspension but the
club captain is planning to travel north with the rest of Bilic's squad
regardless. "I'll be going up with them, for sure. I wouldn't be able to
relax otherwise. My Saturday would be the worst Saturday in history if I
didn't go! "I need to be there, so I'm pretty sure the manager will be happy
with me travelling up with the lads and supporting them, because obviously
we're in this together," Noble added.

West Ham winger Michail Antonio to miss the rest of the season with
hamstring injury
Michail Antonio is to miss the rest of the season with a hamstring injury
He limped off in the first half of West Ham's win over Swansea on Saturday
Antonio will miss the Hammers' remaining six games
By Sam Cunningham for MailOnline
PUBLISHED: 10:55, 13 April 2017 | UPDATED: 10:59, 13 April 2017

West Ham winger Michail Antonio is to miss the rest of the season with a
hamstring injury suffered during the first half of his side's 1-0 Premier
League win over Swansea. Antonio will miss the Hammers' remaining six games,
including their trip to Sunderland on Saturday, but it is not clear if he
will be fit for England's World Cup qualifier with Scotland on June 10.
Having been on of West Ham's most impressive players this season, the
England winger limped off during last weekend's crucial win. West Ham
manager Slaven Bilic told a press conference: 'We are without Michail
Antonio. It's a significant injury and he's out for the season.'It's a big
blow with Antonio because he has been good in every game.'

By Michael Brook 13 Apr 2017 at 08:00

"Armageddon" is how David Sullivan described relegation from the Premier
League. The financial chasm between English football's top two tiers has
never been greater; demoted clubs currently receive £86m in parachute
payments over 3 years on a front-loaded sliding scale, but miss out on a
minimum of £100m per season in TV rights. Based on a three-year cycle of
'bouncebackability', that equates to a deficit of £214m. The gap continues
to widen as the tectonic plates shift further apart.

Relegation inevitably results in 'fire sales' as companies look to strip out
expendable assets, resource and overheads. Squads are overhauled as clubs
seek to underwrite themselves in order to absorb considerable losses and
work within EFL financial regulations. Relegation in 2003 decimated our
squad – Defoe, David James, Carrick, Joe Cole, Sinclair, Glen Johnson, Di
Canio and Kanoute all departed the Boleyn. Our ill-fated inaugural campaign
under Avram Grant similarly culminated in the likes of Demba Ba and Scott
Parker leaving the Club.

Many of these players moved on cut-price deals. Purchasing clubs have little
incentive to act before the latter stages of the transfer window, knowing
full well that selling clubs are desperate to offload. Inequality of
bargaining power drives down price. Post-season vultures begin to circle in
gleeful anticipation of feasting upon the charred remains of another Premier
League casualty. Attractive propositions can be readily enticed with a
return to the Promised Land. Take Newcastle for example: having been
relegated at the end of last season, the following players became available
– Krul, Townsend, Coloccini, Cissé, Wijnaldum, Cabella, Janmaat, Sissoko,
Tioté, Thauvin and Rivière. Not a bad carcass to pick the bones out of
there! Opportunity knocks again this summer and the Hammers must be ready to
pounce. Relegated players can meet a variety of business and sporting needs;
purchase to plug gaps, develop, upsell or enhance our current squad.

For me, it's now 3 from 4 for relegation; Sunderland will be joined by
Middlesbrough, Swansea and/or Hull City. Whilst I'm not suggesting we should
recruit all (or even any) of the following players, I'm curious to consider
how we might bolster our ranks by targeting trapdoor teams:

Relegation XI 2016/17

GK: Lukasz Fabianski – The Swansea shot-stopper has always impressed me and,
at 31 years of age, still has several good seasons ahead of him. Whilst
Jordan Pickford also deserves a mention, we need a keeper to hit the ground
running and truly replace Rob Green. There will also be greater competition
for Pickford's signature.

RB: Kyle Naughton – Our relegation candidates lack a stand-out right back.
Middlesbrough's Fabio is a liability and the Tigers' Elmohamady is a winger
by trade who lacks defensive discipline. From the options available in the
basement battle, I'd be tempted to take a punt on former Spurs man Naughton.
However, the reality is that we need to invest heartily to secure an
accomplished PL performer to tackle this problem position properly.

CB: Alfie Mason – At just 23 years of age, this lad has a bright future.
Quick, reads the game well despite his inexperience, good in the air and has
an eye for goal with 4 strikes already in just 21 Swansea appearances.

CB: Lamine Koné – Built like the proverbial brickhouse, the Ivory Coast
international brings sheer physicality and athleticism to the backline. With
a tad more focus and application, he could be a colossal centre half. At 28,
the Black Cats' defender looks a shrewd purchase. I would have included Ben
Gibson, but we won't beat other bidders for the Borough boy's services.

LB: Andrew Robertson – The marauding fullback has done enough in his 2
appearances against us alone to warrant inclusion. Loves to get forward but
has added maturity and leadership to his game. Martin Olsson gets a nod, but
I'd plump for the young Scot to team-up with his international colleague
down our left flank.

RM: Luciano Narsingh – I watch a lot of Dutch football and this boy is a
tricky customer. At his best in transition and clinical on the counter
attack, he would suit our style of play, particularly away from home.
Players from the Edervisie take time to settle whilst they get to grips with
the frenetic pace and physicality of the league. A modicum of faith would
reap rewards on this occasion.

CDM: Jan Kirchhoff – A class act when fit (which raises justifiable question
marks), the former Mainz and Bayern Munich man is adept at breaking up play
and forging intelligent passes between the lines. A slick and silky operator
who strikes the right balance between skill and pragmatism.

CAM: Gylfi Sigurdsson – All. Day. Long. This guy has vision, guile and
technique. Not to mention he chalks up goals and assists for fun. A
go-to-guy for fantasy football fans everywhere, a goal-scoring central
midfielder is exactly what we require if Slaven persists with playing one up
top. Gastón Ramírez was considered, but the temperamental and nomadic
midfielder simply cannot compete with the Icelandic technician.

LM: Kamil Grosicki – Full of technique and dribbling ability, the diminutive
Pole has more twists and turns than a series of Broadchurch. Adama Traoré
gets an honourable mention, but is a winger of the headless chicken variety,
a la Yannick Bolasie. Application is a given, but output is key.

ST: Jermain Defoe – The former Hammer simply had to be included. With 14
goals in a struggling Sunderland side, it is embarrassing to consider where
the Mackems would be without him. The prolific forward has a relegation
release clause, so expect widespread clamour for his services. I have a
hunch that Spurs will come calling to bolster their stable of strikers.
Wouldn't it be great if 'Judas' finally restored the balance and chose us
over them?

ST: Fernando Llorente – Slim pickings in the forward department amongst our
relegation fodder. The Swansea target man's 11 league goals this season
represent a healthy return. The Spanish international has also forged a
decent partnership with Sigurdsson. Indeed, the Swans have missed Llorente
dearly in recent weeks as their form has tailed-off alarmingly. Abel
Hernández and Álvaro Negredo were considered, whilst Borini, Mbokani and
Anichebe were roundly mocked and quickly consigned to the relegation

It's a game of opinions – what's yours?

Alan Stephenson: 'It's certainly another 'must-win' game for West Ham'
Thursday, 13 April 2017 By Brian Jeeves in Football
By Brian Jeeves

ALAN STEPHENSON was relieved that his former side saw off Swansea City last
time out, easing their relegation fears. The Hammers had lost five Premier
League matches on the bounce going into last weekend's clash with the Swans
at the London Stadium. However, Stephenson, who made 108 appearances for the
east London club between 1968 and 1972, was mindful that they had to make it
back-to-back victories when they travel to the Stadium of Light to face
rock-bottom Sunderland on Saturday. Speaking to Yellow Sport ahead of the
clash, Stephenson said: "It was a crucial win for Slaven Bilic and the team
last week. It lifted a little of the gloom and doom around the London
Stadium. They now need to secure their Premier League status as soon as
possible. That way they can play with a little more freedom in the remaining
games, perhaps giving their supporters some optimism for next season. "It's
certainly another 'must-win' game for West Ham at the Stadium of Light.
Sunderland are rooted to the bottom of the table and have not so much as
scored a goal at home since mid-January. Bilic's team must make it count
this week as three points should make them all-but safe from the drop."

Despite Sunderland's struggles, Stephenson was wary of one particular Black
Cats player who he believed would offer a genuine threat: "Jermaine Defoe
has recently been linked with a return to the Hammers. He has scored more
than half of Sunderland's twenty-four goals this season and will be busting
a gut to add to that tally this weekend. "Remarkably, Defoe recently made a
goalscoring return to the England side. He has made a big impact for every
club he has represented and is an excellent example to younger footballers.
"The Hammers backline, particularly James Collins, were terrific against
Swansea. They will have to be on their toes again this week to snub out
Defoe's threat. "

But Stephenson was also concerned with the Hammers ever growing injury list,
adding: "Michail Antonio appears to be out for the remainder of the season,
while there are question marks over Andy Carroll's fitness. This is a big
worry for Bilic, especially as his side need another four or five points to
be safe from relegation. "For me, Andre Ayew has to come alive and justify
just why the Hammer paid a club record £20 million for him. This is a
perfect opportunity for him to get amongst the goals and help his team away
from trouble. "West Ham still have eighteen points to play for. However,
with the likes of Everton, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur still to come
they will face an anxious run-in if they fail to win against a poor
Sunderland side."

Ex-Newcastle man Andy Carroll will need no extra motivation to move
Sunderland closer to relegation
Thursday 13 April 2017

Sunderland have a second consecutive home game when West Ham United provide
the opposition this weekend and while there is a glimmer of hope they have
got to go for it even though everyone knows we are so far behind we could
win on Saturday and probably still go down. ADVERTISING inRead invented by
Teads West Ham have had a troubled season. The move from Upton Park to the
new stadium has proved to be anything but easy; star player Dimitri Payet
engineered a move back to France and lost his hero status with fans; and the
team's results haven't been as good as I'm sure the owners expected. Slaven
Bilic might be feeling the heat a little bit and I am sure he will be
desperate to finish the season with a flourish after they scraped a win over
Swansea City on Saturday. Then, of course, there is Andy Carroll – so often
a thorn in our side. If fit, he will need no extra motivation to pile on
more misery for the Sunderland fans. The ex-Newcastle striker might have his
critics but if you play a system that suits him and get the service right,
then he is a huge problem for any centre-back and I am sure all of our back
four would prefer to play a Hammers team with him out of it, than in it.
Sunderland's position now is beyond desperate, even before the United game
every Sunderland fan I talked to thought we would go down – even the blindly
optimistic ones. So a 3-0 defeat in that game hasn't improved morale one
bit. There were nearly 44,000 fans at the last home game, and no doubt there
will be another good turn-out against West Ham. Unbelievable support both
home and away considering what the fans have had to endure this season.

'Embarrassing' - West Ham fans react to Jack Sullivan writing about the club
in national newspaper
Damien Lucas

West Ham United fans have reacted furiously after the teenage son of
co-owner David Sullivan announced he is writing a column for The Sun.
Sullivan, fellow co-owner David Gold and Karren Brady have come under fire
for washing the club's dirty linen in public. Fans have also been critical
of Sullivan's sons David and Jack for discussing club affairs and transfers
on Twitter. A bizarre columnist dubbed The Insider - which openly discussed
transfer targets and fees amongst other things - was pulled on the orders of
Brady earlier this season after complaints from supporters. So you can
imagine how West Ham fans have reacted to the revelation from Jack Sullivan
that he is to write a twice monthly column for national newspaper The Sun.
Announcing his column, Jack said on Twitter: "My first Sun article, about
the Swansea game. Check it out, will be writing 1/2 a month."
The teenager went on to insist he will not be 'giving anything away' and
donates the fee for the column to charity. But fans were still disappointed,
with some furious reactions. As the son of the club's owner and a West Ham
fan, it must be exciting for young Jack who says he just wants to interact
with the club's supporters. Indeed many fans enjoy his regular updates and
inside information, particularly when the transfer window is open and in
full swing. But just as many feel it is unnecessary and point to the example
set by other clubs who conduct their business in a more professional manner.

Jack Sullivan ? @jsullivanwhu
My first sun article, about the Swansea game. Check it out, will be writing
1/2 a

Fred Stanley @fredjstanley
@jsullivanwhu @TheSun when will you and the rest of club management learn to
keep your gob shut??
5:20 PM - 12 Apr 2017
1 1 Retweet 13 13 likes

@jsullivanwhu Scum bags news paper disgusted our club world be linked with
it's disgusting lying scum bag paper
5:16 PM - 12 Apr 2017
1 1 Retweet 2 2 likes

George? @George_Whufc
@jsullivanwhu Why the sun? Disgraceful
4:57 PM - 12 Apr 2017
12 12 Retweets 26 26 likes

Steve Brown @Steve_Brown01
@jsullivanwhu Sorry, but this is another major PR own goal (for WH)
Jack...This rag is the most despised in football. Suggest u retract
5:03 PM - 12 Apr 2017
12 12 Retweets 16 16 likes

Dylan Dench @DylanDench
@jsullivanwhu Owners son writing articles about the team in the Sun haha
couldn't make it up, club never learn, embarrassing
4:58 PM - 12 Apr 2017
14 14 Retweets 29 29 likes

46 and 2 @KingYeates
@jsullivanwhu the sun? For Shame. Expect it from Brady, but not so much you.

?They Fly So High? @TFSH_WHUFC
@jsullivanwhu @karren_brady and you should be ashamed after what Sun has
done to the genuine football fan, but then you lot like lies don't
7:35 PM - 12 Apr 2017
View image on Twitter
1 1 Retweet 5 5 likes

@jsullivanwhu Just what we need ... we don't hear enough from your family.
Not like your dad shouts his mouth off to anybody who'll listen
5:08 PM - 12 Apr 2017
Retweets 5 5 likes

joe kuzsel ? @JoeKuzsel
@jsullivanwhu @ExWHUemployee If you dont understand why you shouldnt write
for the sun then you understand very little about football fans. Very sad
8:05 PM - 12 Apr 2017 · Stratford, London
1 1 Retweet 1 1 like

Tony Price @tonycprice
@jsullivanwhu Hi Jack, I haven't got a problem with you writing about a club
you are obviously passionate about, but please, please not for that rag.
6:44 PM - 12 Apr 2017
1 1 Retweet 1 1 like

Munky @IAmTheMunky
@jsullivanwhu Another one using my club as a platform to build their
personal brand, just like @karren_brady . Oh, and #dontbuythesun
6:20 PM - 12 Apr 2017
Retweets 1 1 like

Pep Harris @UglyKidPep
@jsullivanwhu Why doesn't anyone at our club know when to shut their mouths?
Too many flash Harrys. oh, and #DontBuyTheSun
5:57 PM - 12 Apr 2017
1 1 Retweet 2 2 likes

JACK SULLIVAN West Ham's brilliant 1-0 win over Swansea can be catalyst for
change after problems on and off the London stadium pitch
Jack Sullivan, son of Hammers chairman David Sullivan, reflects on the win
over Swansea and looks ahead to the game against Sunderland
The Sun
By Jack Sullivan
12th April 2017, 4:11 pm Updated: 12th April 2017, 7:37 pm

WHAT an important win that was on Saturday. It wasn't the prettiest but it
was effective and, for me, the best win at London Stadium to date. We won
1-0, possibly a scoreline that flattered Swansea, as Andre Ayew, Jonathan
Calleri and Sam Byam all had decent chances that we maybe should have scored
from. I thought we played decently and the most important thing for me was
the clean sheet – something we have struggled with this season, conceding
1.8 goals a game on average – something I know we will be looking to rectify
for next season.
If you look at Chelsea and Spurs, who are the top two teams in the Premier
League, both do not concede goals. Possibly because I've grown up watching
teams managed by Steve Bruce, Alex McLeish and Big Sam, I do like a clean
sheet with strong tackles, blocks and shape.
However, I do also love good football as well, and this is something that
Slaven Bilic's teams do like to give you – there is a balance to be struck
and it is possible to achieve. For me, the Man of the Match on Saturday was
James Collins. His heart and passion was second to none, as it always is and
in a six-pointer game like that, that is exactly what is needed. Sam Byram,
someone who has had to fight for his place this season, also performed
superbly. He has really grafted for his chance and has been improving with
every game. Sadly, he has a minor niggle, but hopefully nothing serious. The
most impressive thing about the goal was the celebration, as it showed how
much it meant to the players! Everyone at the club knew it was a massive six
pointer and a game we had to win. We all know it's been a far from ideal
season, with problems on and off the pitch, but let's hope this is the
catalyst for a strong last few games of the campaign. Your support on
Saturday was one of the best it's been and it massively helped – we know it
has been a tricky season of adjustment, but just bear with us.
Hopefully we can get a result against Sunderland and really move up the
table. We have a difficult last five games, but winnable if we go in with
some form. The list of injuries is getting longer, which is a worry for the
Sunderland game. However, we do have decent back up cover so hopefully we
can get a result. Finally, readers might be wondering why am I writing for
SunSport? I was asked and for me it gives me a platform to connect with
Hammers' fans and write my views on the club – I hope this will be something
informative and entertaining for you all!

Please follow me on Twitter at @jsullivanwhu and Instagram at @jsullivanwhu
– and it goes without saying that all views are my own and not those of West
Ham United.


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