Saturday, April 8

Daily WHUFC News - 8th April 2017

Preview - Swansea City

When and where?

West Ham United v Swansea City
Premier League
Saturday 8 April 2017, 3pm BST
London Stadium

What's the story?

West Ham United have the chance to move eight points clear of Swansea City
when they host Swansea City at London Stadium on Saturday.

The Hammers have lost five in a row but would move back into mid-table if
they end that run with an important victory at the weekend.

A 3-0 defeat to Arsenal on Wednesday, with all three goals coming after the
58 minute mark, saw Slaven Bilic's men drop to 15th in the Premier League
table – but they remain within three points of Leicester City in eleventh.

West Ham will take confidence from their last meeting with Swansea, when
goals from Andre Ayew, Winston Reid, Michail Antonio and Andy Carroll handed
them a 4-1 win in South Wales on Boxing Day.

That result spelled the end for Bob Bradley in the Swans hotseat, with Paul
Clement taking over as boss soon after.

His appointment led to an improvement in form, although a 0-0 draw with
Middlesbrough followed by defeat to Tottenham Hotspur in midweek has dropped
them back into the relegation zone.

The Swans could count themselves unfortunate against Maurico Pochettino's
men, however, having led through Wayne Routledge until the 88th minute.

But Dele Alli's late leveller opened the floodgates, with Son Heung-min and
Christian Eriksen scoring in added time to secure a 3-1 win for Spurs.

Team news

Andy Carroll and Michail Antonio were withdrawn during Wednesday's loss at
Arsenal but will be fit to face the Swans.

Carroll felt some tightness in his groin, while Antonio was suffering with
illness on the matchday, but their problems will not keep them out.

Diafra Sakho made his first appearance since November in midweek and could
be involved again, but Winston Reid (thigh), Pedro Obiang (ankle), Aaron
Cresswell (knock) and Angelo Ogbonna (knee) are all out.

For Swansea, striker Fernando Llorente could return from an ankle problem,
but Angel Rangel (foot) and Nathan Dyer (Achilles) are out.

Hammers Academy product Leon Britton is also missing with a hamstring

Any links between the two?

Hammers forward Andre Ayew joined for a Club record fee from Swansea City
last summer, and has scored three goals in six games since returning from
the Africa Cup of Nations.

He notched his first for the Club back at the Swans, as West Ham won 4-1 at
Liberty Stadium over Christmas. Ayew's brother Jordan has been with the
Swans since joining from Aston Villa in January.

How do I get to the game?

Supporters heading to Saturday's game should not that there will be no DLR
services between Stratford and Bow Church on Saturday due to Crossrail
works. As a result, Pudding Mill Lane station will be closed.

Greater Anglia and TfL Rail services are also disrupted, with no services
between Ingatestone/Billericay and Liverpool Street. Replacement bus
services will run, connecting Newbury Park on the Central Line with
Ingatestone and Billericay.

For TfL Rail services, buses will run between Stratford and all stations to
Chadwell Heath, and from Shenfield, Brentwood, Harold Wood, Romford, Gidea
Park and Chadwell Heath to Newbury Park.

Click here for more info on TfL rail services, and here for Greater Anglia.

For the latest updates on the tubes, bus services and roads, click here.
National Rail service news can be found here.

A sunny day is expected in east London on Saturday, with temperature at
kick-off a positively balmy 19C (66F).

How can I watch the game?

This match is not being broadcast live in the UK. However, if you are tuning
in from overseas it might be screened in your territory. Check our widget
below for details.

You can follow all the action as it happens right here on, with
live audio commentary, social media updates, in-running stats, photos and
more. Get involved in the conversation on social using #WHUSWA

Both Sides of the Fence - Frank Nouble

Frank Nouble enjoyed an eventful three-year career at West Ham United,
playing under three different managers and experiencing a change of
ownership, relegation to the Championship and promotion back to the Premier

The powerful striker joined the Hammers in the summer of 2009 at the age of
just 17, after turning down a professional contract at Chelsea, where he had
progressed through the junior ranks from the age of 10.

He made his debut in a 2-0 win at Wolves on the opening day of the 2009-10
Premier League season and went on to make a total of 19 appearances for the
club over the next three seasons, during which time he spent long periods
out on loan at various teams, including Swansea, where he impressed under
Brendan Rodgers in 2010.

Now battling for promotion from League One with Southend United, the
25-year-old talks exclusively to about his time with both clubs
and his nomadic career so far...

I still follow West Ham closely and the club will always be in my heart.
With social media now it's easy to keep track and so I always check the
results and how things are going. I loved my time at West Ham and have some
great memories. I've not actually been to London Stadium yet – I have been
planning to go all season but just haven't managed to grab an opportunity.
I'm good friends with Aaron Cresswell from our time together at Ipswich and
still keep in touch with him. It's obviously a huge game for West Ham on
Saturday and I know how much a victory will mean to everyone at the club.

I was at Chelsea from the age of 10 but turned down a contract there to join
West Ham in 2009.
And the main reason was Gianfranco Zola. I had so much respect for him, and
I had worked with his assistant Steve Clarke at Chelsea, so it was a
fantastic opportunity for me. Obviously it didn't work out as well as I
would have liked - he left at the end of my first season, which was a big
disappointment. The club was going through a transitional period at the time
and that can be difficult, especially for young players, especially as
managers like Avram Grant and Sam Allardyce preferred experience to youth.
It would have been nice to have had a bit more stability and pushed on a bit
more than we did, but that is football, and I still look back on my spell at
West Ham as a good time in my life.

The fans were always brilliant to me during my time at the club. I think
West Ham supporters always have a special affinity with young players coming
through, it's a big part of the history of the club and I always felt that
extra support. They love nothing more than seeing a local lad establish
themselves in the first team, and the likes of Mark Noble, James Tomkins and
Jack Collison all had that special bond. I obviously didn't play many games,
but the fans were always right behind me when I did play, and I think they
could see that I always gave 100%. And no-one can take away my one goal for
the club! That was at Derby on New Year's Eve 2011. We lost 2-1 but it was a
proud moment to score my first goal.

My loan spell at Swansea in 2010 was only brief but very enjoyable.
They were heading for promotion from the Championship at the time under
Brendan Rodgers, who had been my youth team coach at Chelsea. I joined on a
three-month spell and played up front alongside Scott Sinclair and Nathan
Dyer, who were absolutely flying. The team played a brand of football that
suited me, and I loved playing under Brendan, a great coach who really knows
how to treat players and get the best out of them. Sadly, my time there
ended early, when Avram Grant called me back to put me on the bench because
of a few injuries. And that was frustrating, for both me and Swansea,
because I was really making good progress there.

I've had more clubs than girlfriends to be honest!
I think it's something like 14 in total, counting the loan spells, and a
couple of those clubs I've been at twice. It's difficult, because as a young
player you just want to play. You are used to playing every week in the
youth team and maybe the reserves, and then you find yourself just training
and sitting on the bench watching games, so when the opportunity to go out
on loan comes along, you take it simply because you want to play. At West
Ham, there were a lot of changes going on that made it hard for me to
establish myself, and so I took the route of just trying to play as much
football as I could. When I look back, perhaps I should have told myself to
stick around at the club a bit more, and just train every day with the best.
It's catch 22, though, because the only way to really impress is during

I'm hoping to establish myself in one place now having moved around so much.
I came back from China last October after a year out there, which was quite
a random experience. I even had another loan spell while I was there! I'm
now at Southend and just looking to play as much as I can and to prove to
myself that I can be a success. The team are doing well, hoping to at least
be in the play-offs at the end of the season, but we have a lot of strikers,
so it's tough to break into the side regularly. I'm just working hard,
making sure I'm ready if called upon and hoping to make an impact whenever I

There are some strong West Ham links at Southend.
It seems that a lot of people around here support both clubs! Anton
Ferdinand is the captain and his influence and experience has been great for
the team. Zavon Hines is also here, so there are always a lot of stories in
the dressing-room about West Ham and our time there back in the day. Anton
actually scored a good goal recently, a volley from the edge of the box
against Walsall, which gave him an opportunity to remind everyone about a
wonder goal he scored for West Ham against Fulham a few years back. We've
heard that story once or twice from him…!

Oh, brother!

Andre Ayew says there is 'no rivalry' as he prepares to face brother Jordan
again this weekend
But West Ham United winger wants to get one over his younger sibling and
boost the Hammers' survival hopes
Pair have also played together dozens of times for both Olympique Marseille
and Ghana

Andre Ayew will share a football pitch with younger sibling Jordan again on
Saturday afternoon – but he will not be showing the Swansea City striker any
brotherly love! Jordan followed Andre through the youth set-up at French
club Olympique Marseille, before spending five years alongside his older
brother of 15 months in the first team at Stade Velodrome. The dynamic duo
have also lined up together nearly 50 times for Ghana, the country for whom
their father Abedi 'Pele' Ayew starred and became one of the finest players
Africa has ever produced. The pair were also footballing adversaries on a
number of occasions, with both enjoying successs. Both scored as Jordan's
Lorient beat Andre's Marseille 5-3 in April 2015, before repeating the trick
as Andre's Swansea beat Jordan's Aston Villa 2-1 in October of the same

Andre and Jordan will be on opposite sides again at London Stadium, with the
winner going a long way to securing their team's Premier League status.
Despite the importance of Saturday's game, the West Ham United winger told
the Official Programme he will not make it personal. "We've never had a
rivalry!" he smiled. "We're very close and we try to help each other to give
our best and to do better. We are only a year-and-a-half different in age,
so we grew up together and talk about everything. "We've played against each
other a few times now, and we played together for the national team and
Marseille, so it's always nice. "It's a different feeling and I'm always
happy to meet him on and off the pitch, but I always want to win!"

In a feature-length interview, Andre also lifts the lid on a challenging
season for him personally and the Hammers collectively, his ambitions for
the future, playing with expectation and his season with Swansea. Elsewhere
in Saturday's issue, Swansea fan John Hartson reflects on his own eventful
career, Ian 'Moose' Abrahams talks to Welsh Olympic medal-winning swimmer
Jazz Carlin and Ken Dyer hears from Frank Lampard about his formative spell
in South Wales. With exclusive columns penned by Joint-Chairman David
Sullivan, manager Slaven Bilic and captain Mark Noble, and the complete
lowdown on visitors Swansea City, the Official Programme is a must-have for
all supporters, whether you are watching in London Stadium, at home or in a
supporters' club bar! The action-packed 100-page issue No22 of a historic
season will be available in and around Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on
matchday, priced £3.50. Order your copy online here.
Alternatively, you can download the Digital Edition to your tablet or
smartphone for just £1.99 from 9.30am on Saturday right here!

Five Talking Points – Swansea City

The major subjects up for discussion as West Ham United face Swansea City at
London Stadium in the Premier League...

1. Must-win?

Saturday's game is being built-up as a clichéd 'relegation six-pointer'
between two clubs fighting for their Premier League lives. While victory for
West Ham United would certainly make Slaven Bilic's side feel a lot more
comfortable, and heap more pressure on Swansea City in the process, one look
at the table shows that the Hammers are closer to the top half than the
bottom three. So, with Swansea sitting five points behind West Ham, with a
markedly inferior goal difference, is the London Stadium showdown a
'must-win', or more of a 'must-not-lose'?

2. Swan Upping

There is an annual ceremony entitled Swan Upping in which mute swans on the
River Thames are rounded up, caught, ringed, and then released. If there was
a footballing equivalent of this ornithological festival, Andy Carroll would
undoubtedly be among the best swan uppers around! The West Ham United centre
forward has scored more goals – six – against Swansea City than he has again
any other opponent, with Arsenal, Manchester City and West Bromwich Albion
each conceding to No9 on five occasions. What's more, Carroll has scored
those six goals in just seven Hammers appearances against the Swans, adding
three assists for good measure.

3. Ayew v Ayew

Saturday's fixture marks the fourth time in the careers of Andre and Jordan
Ayew that the brothers will come up against one another in a domestic game.
The duo, who played alongside one another dozens of times for Olympique
Marseille and Ghana, have been on opposite sides in both French – Andre's
Marseille faced Jordan in the colours of both Sochaux and Lorient – and
English football – both scored in Swansea City's 2-1 win at Aston Villa last
season. With one win apiece and a draw in the three previous meetings, this
weekend's Premier League fixture gives one of the Ayew brothers the chance
to take the bragging rights, earning his team three vital points in the

4. No case for the defence

While West Ham United's own defensive record has not been impressive this
season, Swansea City's has been worse. The Swans have conceded 66 times –
five more than anyone else in the Premier League, and nine more than the
Hammers – in 31 matches. Polish goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski has been in goal
for all 31 of those games, letting in five goals once, four goals on three
occasions – including the 4-1 home defeat by West Ham on Boxing Day – and
three goals no fewer than nine times. Fabianski has also made three errors
that have led directly to opposition goals – joint-highest in the Premier
League this season.

5. West Ham United

Manager Slaven Bilic has spoken of the need for a team 60,000-strong to
unite behind the eleven players who pull on a West Ham United shirt on
Saturday. Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Bilic was a mixture of
confidence and realist when asked to assess the Hammers' current situation.
He said: "We have to forget about egos, forget about who is going to start
the game, forget who is going to score the goals. We have to leave our egos
in our beds at home and be as one, totally." In past times of struggle, West
Ham fans have been the personification of rallying behind their team and
inspiring them to the result they so badly need. Saturday at 3pm is
definitely one of those times.

Bilic – We're in it together

Slaven Bilic says the supporters, staff, players and everyone connected with
the Club will have to come together as one team on Saturday
The Hammers face Swansea City in a crucial Premier League fixture at London
And the manager knows his squad has the belief required to drive them to a
win against their Welsh opponents

Slaven Bilic has urged everyone connected with West Ham United to come
together as one team when his team face Swansea City in a crucial Premier
League clash at London Stadium on Saturday. The hosts, on the back of five
defeats, are as desperate as their relegation-threatened opponents for
maximum points from the fixture which has been labelled by many the Club's
biggest in years. And Bilic, issuing a rallying cry ahead of the crunch
contest, believes his side's destiny is in the hands of every single Hammer.
"Now we have to think only about the team," said the West Ham manager.
"We're not only the team of eleven – we're a team of nearly 60,000, plus the
18, plus the staff, plus the players not involved. Every single person's aim
is to win the game. "If the fans see us closing down, if they see us
running, if they see us doing everything, they are going to give us a big
boost. "It's our job to keep the fans behind us for the whole game, because
they are going to be nervous too. It's in our hands. The destiny is in our

West Ham's latest defeat came on Wednesday when a trip to Arsenal's Emirates
Stadium saw the hosts claim a 3-0 victory. And though the boss admitted his
squad's confidence may be reaching a low point, he also highlighted the
importance of belief around the Club. "Previous games affect your confidence
approaching the next game," he continued. "We can't lie, we don't have it on
that level that is required at the moment. "But we are experienced enough,
we have leaders, we have a team, and if we stick together, we can approach
the game with a lot of confidence. "As a team, we can walk around and say we
have got confidence, but of course individually it can't be great after five
defeats. "What we have got is belief. And if you have belief you can get
your confidence back. Belief is different to confidence."

Bilic's men put in one of their performances of the season in their previous
encounter with the Swans, thrashing their hosts 4-1 at the Liberty Stadium
on Boxing Day. And that, coupled with Swansea's late defeat to Tottenham
Hotspur in midweek, could give the Hammers a slight psychological edge on
Saturday, according to Bilic. "Of course, when you lose like [Swansea did
against Tottenham], that is a killer. We did the same at White Hart Lane –
we were leading 2-1 with a couple of minutes to go and then lost 3-2. That's
a killer.
"But then again, I would love to lose like that than to get hammered 5-0. Of
course, we can't imagine how down they were after the game but they can say
'hey, we lost, but we were almost there, we played good'. "It will be
extremely difficult [on Saturday]. I rate Swansea and I rate Paul Clement.
But they are below us and our aim is to win. "The win against them [on
Boxing Day] we will mention to the players, but that was ages ago. 4-1, it
was a really good game. We had belief then and we haven't lost that."

Manager on Matchday

The manager says a 'team of 55,000' will be willing West Ham United to win
today's Premier League fixture with Swansea City...

Good morning everyone.

Today, we host Paul Clement and his Swansea City team at London Stadium in
what is our most-important game of the season, without a doubt.

We have been on a bad run, but what has happened in the past is not
important today. We need to be together, go onto the pitch believing this is
our game to win, and show confidence and ability and desire and all that to
get the job done.

We need everybody together, on the pitch, on the bench, in the dressing room
and in the stands.

We are optimistic that we should have Andy Carroll and Michail Antonio
available to play. Andy had some tightness in his groin, but he was able to
play on for 15 minutes, while Mikey was ill during the day, so he played the
first half before we took him off to rest him for today's game.

Mikey's attitude sums up the unity and determination in the squad. We have
lost five games, which is very bad, but we want to turn things around

We know the position we are in and it is us who are to blame, starting with
me as the manager, but it is now more than the right time to get the points
we need to get out of trouble.

I didn't smell this. I didn't think we would lose these five games, and we
had chances to get points from four of them. We didn't, and that is my

My biggest job this week was to take those defeats on the chest and prepare
the team to face Swansea – a team we beat 4-1 on Boxing Day in their own

It is the key point for me to get the players ready for two massively
important games. It is not a do-or-die situation, but we want to do our job
now. We need one win and it will change everything for us. Three points at
this stage of the season are massive.

We are not just a team of eleven fighting for those points this afternoon;
we are a team of 18 players, the staff and 55,000 fans supporting us inside
London Stadium.

We have to put everything towards our one and only aim and that is to win
the game.

Make no mistake, I rate Swansea and I rate Paul Clement and everything, but
they are below us in the table and we have the ability and belief that we
will beat them.

I will never stop believing in myself and my methods and the quality of my
work, but we have to deliver results, and now is the time to do that for the

It's a great challenge for all of us, including myself as a manager.

We are experienced and we have leaders and, if we stick together, we can
approach the game with a lot of confidence.

It's not a question of 'Can we do it?' – We have to do it.

Please give it everything and get behind the team today. Together, we can
rise to this challenge and meet it.

Come on you Irons!

Slaven Bilic

West Ham United v Swansea City
Venue: London Stadium


West Ham hope Michail Antonio and Andy Carroll will be fit despite both
being forced off at Arsenal because of illness and injury respectively.

Defenders Aaron Cresswell, Winston Reid and Angelo Ogbonna and midfielder
Pedro Obiang remain injured.

Swansea City will assess top scorer Fernando Llorente and Kyle Naughton, who
are nursing respective ankle and hamstring problems.

Midfielder Leroy Fer could play at right-back if Naughton is ruled out.

The Swans will also check on goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, who was involved
in a heavy collision during the closing stages of Wednesday's game against


Jonathan Pearce: "If West Ham lose this they will be deep in trouble, while
Swansea's cave in against Tottenham means another defeat could open a chasm
between them and safety.

"Slaven Bilic has the backing of the owners for now but he must get four
points from this and the Sunderland away game next week. After that,
Everton, Tottenham and Liverpool lurk in the run-in.

"Five defeats in a row and no wins in seven makes grim reading for the

"Four consecutive away defeats is concerning for the Swans but for a long
while they were decent against Spurs. They could catch West Ham on another
nervy day at the new stadium."


West Ham manager Slaven Bilic on the battle to avoid relegation: "We have to
do the job. We wanted to do it before now. I didn't smell this, I didn't
think we would lose five games.

"It's not 'can we do it', we have to do it and we've got to do it on
Saturday. It is our job to keep the fans behind us the whole game because
they are also going to be nervous... but it is in our hands and that is the
best you can ask for.

"We are playing a team we have beaten, a team that is five points below us.
We have big belief."

Swansea head coach Paul Clement: "We're in the bottom three and there are
seven games to go, and West Ham are a team who have had their own troubles
recently, so we have to go there believing we can get a result.

"We need to get a result, especially in the next two games because the games
are running out now."


The Hammers were rolled over by Arsenal last time out but this is a chance
to get some breathing space over the bottom three, and leave Swansea in big

This is a huge game for Slaven Bilic and his side, and I think they will win

Prediction: 2-1



Swansea won 4-1 away to West Ham in May 2016, becoming the final visiting
team to win at Upton Park.
That is the Swans' only win in their last eight games against the Hammers
(D3, L4).
West Ham United

Defeat would be the Hammers' 10th home loss in all competitions this season.
They lost just four league and cup games at Upton Park last term.
They have won just one of their last seven games at the London Stadium in
all competitions, losing five of those matches.
A sixth consecutive Premier League defeat home and away would be their worst
run since a similar streak between February and March 2010.
Andy Carroll has scored six Premier League goals against Swansea - more than
versus any other side.
Carrroll has five goals and three assists in his last six appearances
against the Swans.
Swansea City

The Swans could lose five consecutive Premier League away games for the
first time.
The Welsh side have conceded two or more goals in each of their last four
away matches.
They have conceded 66 Premier League goals this term. All 11 of the previous
teams to have conceded 64 or more goals after 31 games have been relegated.
Swansea have lost 19 league games this season. The only top-flight campaign
in which they suffered more defeats was 1982-83, when they were beaten 21
times in a 42-game season.
Gylfi Sigurdsson has scored or set up eight of Swansea's 15 away goals in
this season's Premier League.

SAM's verdict
Most probable score: 2-1 Probability of draw: 21%
Probability of home win: 58% Probability of away win: 20%
SAM (Sports Analytics Machine) is a super-computer created by @ProfIanMcHale
at the University of Salford that is used to predict the outcome of football

The Slaven Bilic column: 'West Ham vs Swansea is a battle we need to win'
Evening Standard

Everyone here at the club knows just how important tomorrow's game against
Swansea is. The players know they are in a fight because I've been telling
them for some time. Even when we had won six league matches out of nine, I
was saying we still needed the points — the job was not done. These are my
players, this is my team, my squad and now they have to show character and
resilience, not just for some of the match against Swansea but for the whole
of it. This is a battle and we need to win it. It's about time for us to
show these qualities. Of course, the confidence is not what it should be.
We've lost five in a row and after every defeat, the confidence goes down a
bit more.
It was similar when we won those six out of nine. In each successive
victory, we looked a little more confident. It is not only here at West Ham.
A lot of managers are talking about the confidence part of the game. I know
it sounds too simple or even boring to the fans to be talking about the
importance of being confident but it is true and sometimes the truth is that
simple. We do have character on paper and we have shown it in some games but
this is the time now to put everything on the line.
What can I do? I am the manager, I can do everything, I have to do
everything. I have never run from my responsibilities. Blame is one thing
but responsibility is something else. I would like ideally to take all the
responsibility so that the players feel free to express themselves in the
best possible way. That is why I am here at the end of the day and I have to
do it.

In terms of challenges in my managerial career, it is up there but it is not
all negative. We approached the home games against Burnley and Hull [West
Ham won both games 1-0 in December] in a worse position but we had more time
then to recover and put a run together, which we did.

We still have a gap and it's not just goal difference, it is five points. It
is not do or die but in a different way, it is. In tennis terms, we are not
at match point yet but we don't want to end in a situation when we only have
one service left.

There are clubs, Swansea included, in worse positions than us but I don't
care about that. We have to do it now.

Our home form recently, in terms of performances, is not bad. Against West
Brom [2-2], Leicester [2-3] and Crystal Palace [3-0], we played well for
long periods.

We don't need to panic but we have to win games, we have to win every
throw-in, every tackle. We have to treat every challenge as though it is our
last. The way Swansea lost against Tottenham is a confidence-killer. We had
the same feeling when we led Spurs 2-1 with minutes to go and lost 3-2. I
still feel it. It is much better to lose that way, though, than to get
hammered. Our supporters tomorrow can help us a lot. They will definitely to
be our advantage at the start and we have to keep them like that, with our
performance. Yes, I would prefer us to be sitting safe in the middle of the
table or even better but this is a massive challenge.

If you are a sportsman and you are confident, you will always be up for this
kind of challenge and you will look forward to it because it will test you.
I was like this as a player and I haven't changed my character since. I hope
Michail Antonio will have recovered from the sickness bug which affected him
on Wednesday night, while I also expect Andy Carroll to be fit after feeling
his groin a little.
We may well make a few changes but we will see what happens in our final
training session. Finally, I appreciated some words from Arsene Wenger at
the end of our match on Wednesday. He said he was sure we would get the six
points we need to ensure our survival in the Premier League. I agree with

Slaven Bilic to remain West Ham manager until the end of the season
regardless of results
Evening Standard

Slaven Bilic will manage West Ham until the end of the season it has been
confirmed as he prepares for the biggest match of his reign.
Speculation over Bilic's future has intensified following five Premier
League defeats in a row that have left West Ham just five points above the
relegation zone. Tomorrow, they host Swansea, who are 18th in the table, and
a report today suggested that West Ham would consider sacking Bilic if they
lost to their relegation rivals. However, a club source denied that and
said: "It is 100 per cent guaranteed that Slaven Bilic will be our manager
whatever happens tomorrow for the rest of the season. The next seven games
are important and we will review the season, as we always do, after that."
Tomorrow's match comes at the start of a huge week for West Ham as the
following Saturday they travel to Sunderland, who are at the foot of the
League. Writing in his Standard Sport column today, Bilic highlighted the
need for his players to keep their focus. He said: "Everyone here at the
club knows just how important tomorrow's game is. The players know they are
in a fight because I've been telling them for some time. This is a battle
and we need to win it. It's about time for us to show these qualities. "We
don't need to panic but we have to win games, we have to win every throw-in,
every tackle. We have to treat every challenge as though it is our last."

After last week's defeat to Hull the board issued a statement giving a vote
of confidence to Bilic, who was appointed in the summer of 2015 on a
three-year deal. Bilic's position would appear untenable were West Ham to
drop into the Championship. However, should the Hammers maintain their
place in the Premier League then Bilic could remain although the club's
hierarchy are likely to insist on changes for next season, chiefly among the
coaching staff. That may cause a clash with Bilic, whose staff includes
assistant manager Nikola Jurcevic, first-team coach Edin Terzic, fitness
coach Miljenko Rak, former West Ham defender Julian Dicks and goalkeeping
coach Chris Woods. During West Ham's poor run a number of names have been
linked with the club as possible replacements. They include former
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini, who has been out of football since
leaving Inter Milan last summer. West Ham hope Andy Carroll (groin) and
Michail Antonio (illness) will be fit to face Swansea.


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

West Ham have made a contingency plan to replace Slaven Bilic if the club
lose to Swansea tomorrow. (Telegraph)

West Ham will sack Slaven Bilic if they lose to Swansea tomorrow.

As much as I love Slav, I love West Ham more. I think he is a good manager,
but I do not think he is the man to take us forward in the long run. I would
give him until the end of the season and then I would part ways with him.

Slaven Bilic has called for West Ham to unite as a club and secure a much
needed victory against Swansea tomorrow. (Express)

Slaven Bilic has told the players to forget their ego's ahead of tomorrow's
match against Swansea. (Guardian)

The players simply need to give everything they have tomorrow. There are no
excuses, we simply have to win this game. If we win, then I think we will be

West Ham are hopeful that Michail Antonio and Andy Carroll will be fit for
tomorrow's game. (Sky Sports)

It has been reported that both are fit to play, and I am sure that they will
be playing. We need them both to be playing tomorrow, because they are two
of our biggest threats going forward.

Diafra Sakho is set to be handed a start for tomorrow's game at the London
Stadium. (Daily Star)

As much as I would like to see Sakho start, I think it is too soon. I think
we need to be careful with him and not rush him back.

West Ham United v Swansea City
Filed: Thursday, 6th April 2017
By: Preview Percy

Preview Percy's struggling a bit this week. We hear he is receiving
treatment for some sort of strain sustained during the 100th rendition of
"The Wenger Hokey-Cokey" up at Arsenal the other night. Apparently he got
stuck during the "knees bent" bit. Here's his look at this weekend's visit
of Swansea, with due apologies for the overpowering smell of linament...

Swansea next. 3pm kick-off at what I will carry on calling the Olympic
Stadium unless the sponsors want to chuck a new S8 plus my way. Then I'm
willing to negotiate. Possibly. Trains. Well as mentioned last week, they
cleverly held back engineering works in and out of Liverpool Street until we
were at home. Great planning guys. The tubes look ok though.

So Swansea, or as the road signs insist for 50% of their surface area,
"Abertawe". They currently sit in 18th place with 28 points from their 31
games played so far. That's 3 places and 5 points below us now that we are
looking. Like many in their situation they changed their manager when things
looked a bit bad. In fact they've done so twice this season with Francesco
Gudoilin lasting until October before being handed his P45.

Enter Bob Bradley. Now by any stretch of the imagination this was a bit of a
gamble. Yes he had experience of managing at international level, notably
for his own USA. However, there is a gulf between managing a side through
qualifications and friendlies (most of which simply involved having to not
be the worst team in the CONCACACACAF zone) and taking over the day to day
running of a club, even before you throw the fact that we are talking
Premier League into the equation. For all his undoubted experience at
representative level his last position prior to Swansea was Le Havre,
something one can't help but feeling ought to have been a clue to the
Swansea board.

Bradley muddled through until Boxing Day, including a spell of umpteen
consecutive matches letting in three or more goals. The final straw was
letting in four. To us. In some respects one could almost take Bradley's
dismissal as an insult (you let in four?? to West Ham??? You're out) but the
way this season has gone you can see their point I suppose. Bradley did not
go quietly into the night, claiming that the Swansea board hadn't realised
that his project needed time to work. Reacting to other claims that the
players called him "Ronald Reagan" behind his back, Bradley commented that
none of his players had ever heard of Reagan.

So enter Paul Clement. Clement has some big names on his CV, albeit largely
as assistant manager. Indeed his role immediately prior to taking over at
the Liberty stadium was that of assistant to Ancelotti at Bayern. The
appointment of Clement sparked a mini-revival – three wins out of four in
January saw him get the manager of the month award (do they still give them
one of those massive bottles of scotch? I expect not more's the pity) but
they have lost three of their last four and their injury-time capitulation
against Spurs the other night (1-0 up on 89 minutes 3-1 down at the end)
coupled with Hull's win saw them slip back into the bottom three.

In some ways Swansea in general and Fabianski in particular were the
architects of their own downfall on Wednesday. Fabianski's time wasting
antics, including a lengthy pause for a non-existent "injury" contributed to
seven minutes of stoppage so it's hard to have any sympathy, even if it was
against Spurs.

Missing of late has been top scorer top scorer Fernando Llorente. The
Spanish striker, who fits in well in Wales with the double "L" at the start
of his surname, had been pencilled in for a return to action on Wednesday
but his troublesome ankle proved to be too bothersome. Informed sources
(well the work experience girl wearing the Bonnie Tyler t-shirt without
knowing who she is anyway) reckon that he should be fit for Saturday.

They brought in four players in the last window. Having somehow relieved us
of £20m in the summer for Andre, they quelled the withdrawal symptoms of not
having anyone on the books with the surname "Ayew" by signing brother Jordan
from Villa in return for a conditional £5m plus Neil "Not That Type Of
Player" Taylor. Ayew has been playing up front in the absence of Llorente of
late with mixed success.

Another £4m went on Netherlands international (16 Dutch Caps for those who
like a running gag) Luciano Narsingh. Narsingh came in from PSV with whom he
had previously won the Dutch league. He had been selected for the Dutch
squad in the last World Cup but missed out through injury.

The defence was bolstered by the addition of left back Martin Olsson who
arrived for yet another £4m fee from Norwich. Olsson started his English
club career with Blackburn and, although he seems to have been around for
the last 40 years, he is in fact still only 28. Much capped by his native
Sweden, he caused controversy a few years back by breaking the unwritten
rule in football that, no matter how blatantly you cheat, you should never
admit to doing so ("The Anfield Protocol"). His sin was admitting to diving
to win a penalty in a match for Blackburn against Burnley.

The fourth of the quartet to arrive in January was Tom Carroll who came in
from Spurs, Swansea adding another £500,000 to their standard £4m fee to
secure the player's services. How unlike Spurs to overcharge for anything.
This is Carroll's second spell with Swansea, him having had a season-long
loan a couple of seasons ago.

I think that's enough of them and, reluctantly, it's time to move onto us.
Well for about 20 minutes on Wednesday we looked ok. We were keeping the
ball well and playing in their half. Antonio was giving Bellerin a hard time
and and even Atikinson wasn't falling for some of the most laughable diving
spotted outside Anfield, though, of course he stopped well short of actually
doing the job he is paid to do by booking anyone for simulation. Not for the
first time this season we were treated to the sight of an official telling
someone that they had dived and proceeding to do nothing about it.

The problem we had then was that we got cocky. Instead of working hard in
their half we started to sit back and we allowed a team low on
self-confidence to start to knock it around. That's West Ham for you. Making
the very average believe that they are world beaters since 1895. Of course
it wouldn't be Arsenal without the usual assistance from a referee. The
handball leading to the first goal was so embarrassing that even Ian "I
don't care how bent Arsenal are They Can Do No Wrong" Wright was forced to
grudgingly admit that he would have been "aggrieved" (translation: "gone
completely mad") at the decision.

Those of you who got their information from Match Of The Day won't be aware
that we had a great chance to equalise straightaway, some good work down the
left ending with a Carroll shot that required a rather desperate block from
the home defence. Can't imagine why they edited that out. But, by and large
the goal removed what little spirit we had and we can be thankful that we
weren't playing anyone half decent or we might have faced a cricket score –
and not one involving an England mid-order collapse either.

There was one nice little bit of Irony at the end when they were denied a
possible penalty, presumably Atkinson weighed up the balance of
probabilities and decided that the most likely position was that it was a
dive. 999 times out of 1000 he would be right.

It was worrying to see Antonio depart (or more accurately fail to reappear)
after half-time. The fear was that he might have been rushed back from his
hamstring problem but it transpires that the player had been suffering from
some unspecified "illness" (sick as a parrot?) and should be available for
the weekend. The return of Sakho was a welcome sight, though I'd personally
have preferred to have kept Carroll on as well if we were genuinely wanting
to chase the game (rather than, as I expect, write it off) However, it seems
he may have had a recurrence of his groin problem and he is described as a
"slight doubt" for the weekend. The remaining injuries are all a while away
from return, with the exception of Arbeola whose invisibility has gotten so
bad they have even stopped pretending he's injured, judging by the usual
injury sites.

OK this is a bit of a crunch match. We need to be bold and take it to them.
We also need to develop a spot of concentration, the lack of which has cost
us dearly in recent weeks. It may be the time to reinstate Adrian into the
fold – Randolph is currently inspiring not an awful lot of confidence at the
moment and he ought to have done better with the first on Wednesday (blatant
handball notwithstanding). We need to keep the ball a whole lot better than
we did in the second half of Wednesday. For Pete's sake it's Swansea we're
playing not Barcelona. Go for it so we can get this season out of the way
and regroup for next term.

Prediction? I shouldn't be optimistic. I'm not optimistic but, I think we
will win if that's not too much of a contradiction in terms. If we can get
over a nervy start and stop giving away stupid goals (big if I know) I think
an early goal will settle the nerves. I will therefore plump for a home win
and I will be putting the whole £2.50 I was going to spend on the best
selling book in Islington "How To Do The Hokey Cokey" (When I called the
bookshop it was out……) on us to win 2-0.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at the Boleyn: Lost 1-4 (Premier League May 2016) A rare
off day at home last term. We were all over them for 20 minutes and then
suddenly found ourselves 3-0 down, including a goal from Ayew (A). Sakho
netted our consolation in a match where three of our goals could be traced
to the problem right-back position, occupied at that point by Antonio. This
match was supposed to have been the final match at the Boleyn but having
cheated their way past us in the FA Cup Man Utd found themselves having to
come to the Boleyn in midweek instead.

Referee Kevin Friend Another of the "not quite sure what I am doing here"
group of referees as opposed to the "you've paid to watch me" group. There
has, however, been a disturbing hint or two that he aspires to the latter

Danger Man: Gylfi Sigurdsson Often the one to make them tick he surely must
be able to do better than Swansea? Slav?

Percy's Poser: Last time out we gave you a "what happened next" after Piers
Morgan commented that "You'd have to be stupid to fall off a Segway" when
George W Bush did exactly that. Congratulations to Mrs Clarabelle
Voicemail-Hacker (no relation) of Great Dunmow who told us that a few years
later the obnoxious Morgan had a go on a Segway – and fell off. Mrs V-H
added "I am a confirmed agnostic" however sometimes I reflect on this
incident and I am reminded of the fact that Morgan broke several ribs in the
process. I know from personal experience just how painful broken ribs are
so, knowing how much Morgan must have suffered I am forced to wonder if
there is a God after all". Well done Clarabelle! A copy of the "Wit And
Wisdom Of Piers Morgan" is on its way to you. You can use the blank pages to
write shopping lists on if you like.

For this week's poser we ask: What was unusual about the sending off of
Swansea Striker Walter Boyd against Darlington in 2000? First correct answer
out of the digital hat will win Wales. Or, if I find another quid down the
back of the sofa, a bar of chocolate.

Good luck everyone!

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,

Reinstate Adrian, say fans
Filed: Friday, 7th April 2017
By: Staff Writer

West Ham supporters have overwhelmingly called for the reinstatement of
former number one Adrian against Swansea tomorrow.

Yesterday we asked members of the KUMB Forum and those who follow our social
media channels to vote on which of the club's two first team goalkeeper's
they would like to see between the sticks against Swansea this weekend.

And both polls resulted in a huge majority for the Spanish 'keeper, who was
dropped by manager Slaven Bilic last November following a string of
high-profile blunders.

Combined, Bilic's current first choice stopper Darren Randolph polled just
5.5 per cent of nearly 1,500 votes cast during the past 24 hours - with
Adrian able to call upon the support of a huge 84.5 per cent of voters.

However the former is still expected to retain his first team slot - for
now, at least - against Swansea at the Olympic Stadium tomorrow.

Poll: A Goalkeeper For Saturday
Conducted via the KUMB Forum and Twitter.

KUMB: Adrian 95%; Darren Randolph 5%.
Twitter: Adrian 94%; Darren Randolph 6%.

Manuel Lanzini ready to ease pressure on Slaven Bilic as he eyes World Cup
tilt alongside Lionel Messi next summer
The Argentinian is looking to step up after the Hammers have lost their last
five games on the bounce
The Mirror
22:30, 7 APR 2017

Manuel Lanzini is ready to ease the pressure on under-fire boss Slaven Bilic
and take a step closer to his dream of playing alongside Lionel Messi at the
World Cup next summer. Bilic's position will be severely under threat if the
Hammers suffer another home defeat against fellow strugglers Swansea at
London ­Stadium today.
West Ham have lost their last five Premier League games and are ­rapidly
slipping towards the bottom three. The long-term future of Bilic has been
called into question once again and, with the likes of Roberto ­Mancini,
Rafael Benitez and Jaap Stam being heavily linked with the east London club,
the Croatian cannot contemplate another defeat this afternoon. Lanzini has
no doubts that Bilic is the best man for the job and the ­Argentinian star
is confident he will put things right and will still be at the club next
Lanzini said: "Slaven has shown a lot of confidence in me since the very
beginning. He is a big part of the reason I signed for the club and has
always treated me very well so I am very grateful to him for that. "He is a
great coach and works very closely with the players.There is still a level
of respect between him and the players. "It is not my decision about
Slaven's future but he led the club to a great season last year and I am
very grateful to him. I would love him to stay."

One thing Lanzini can control is becoming the star man in the ­Hammers
line-up and he is relishing the chance to take over the mantle from Dimitri
Payet, who left the club in January. The 24-year-old certainly has big shoes
to fill as Payet was idolised by the West Ham fans before he went on strike
and turned the whole club against him. But Lanzini thrives on the ­pressure
of becoming the main man and hopes to maintain his recent good run of form
and force his way into the Argentina team. He added: "The responsibility is
there for me and it always has been. I always remember when I was a
youngster and my coach Ramon Diaz told me that I had to be the key man in
the River Plate team. That is something that I managed to do and we won the
league. "It is something that I have tried to do throughout my career and
every club I play for. I enjoy ­playing under pressure and it helps me
perform better. "I have always been someone who likes challenges and I like
to think that I am the key man."

After missing out on the Olympics last summer when he suffered a knee injury
in the build-up, Lanzini is determined to make up for that heartache and
achieve his dream of playing at the World Cup finals in Russia next summer.
With the prospect of a certain Barcelona superstar playing alongside him,
Lanzini says it would be a dream come true to make it. "Lionel Messi is the
best player in the world and I admire him, not just as a player but for the
class he shows when he is off the pitch," Lanzini said. "He is the kind of
player that, when you perform alongside him, he makes it easier for you. It
would be amazing for me to play alongside him – it would be a dream. "When
there is a major tournament just around the corner it is obviously something
that you think about as a player. "I know getting there will be very tough
but in terms of my own form I feel that I am doing very well at the ­moment
and I feel fit and strong. I am scoring goals so I am in good form.
"At the end of the day it is down to the coach to decide and all I can do is
to keep working hard for West Ham."

Manuel Lanzini was speaking on behalf of Betway, official principal sponsor
of West Ham United. The leading online bookmaker is paying out each-way bets
to an extended SIX places on the Grand National

West Ham v Swansea preview: Andy Carroll and Michail Antonio doubts
By James Walker-Roberts
Last Updated: 07/04/17 9:13am

West Ham are hopeful Andy Carroll and Michail Antonio will both be fit for
their key clash with Swansea on Saturday. The duo were taken off in the 3-0
defeat to Arsenal on Wednesday, with Antonio coming off at half-time and
Carroll replaced in the second half. But Slaven Bilic hopes both will be
available as the Hammers look to snap a five-game losing run and pull away
from the Premier League relegation zone. "Andy felt a groin at half-time
against Arsenal, but it was not major," said the West Ham boss. "Andy is
vital to us, of course. It's vital on Saturday and we need everyone now that
can help us in this situation. "Mikey felt really sick...and at half-time,
we decided that we were going to basically take him off and rest him for

The Hammers' recent dip in form has seen them slip down to 15th in the
table, five points ahead of third-from-bottom Swansea. After losing 3-1 to
Tottenham in midweek, Paul Clement's side have lost three of their last four
matches to slide into the relegation zone.

Team news

Aside from the doubts over Carroll and Antonio, West Ham have no other new
injury concerns. Defenders Aaron Cresswell, Winston Reid and Angelo Ogbonna
and midfielder Pedro Obiang are out injured.

Top scorer Fernando Llorente could return for Swansea after missing the last
two games with an ankle problem. But Kyle Naughton is struggling with a
hamstring injury sustained in the midweek defeat to Tottenham. Midfielder
Leroy Fer is likely to be deployed at right-back if Naughton misses out,
while goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski will be checked after he suffered a heavy
collision in the closing stages against Spurs.

Opta stats

West Ham have been beaten just once in their last eight Premier League games
against Swansea, though it was at home to the Swans last season (W4 D3).

Swansea's 4-1 win in May 2016 over the Hammers ended a run of 12 away games
in all competitions without a victory against them (D2 L10).

In his last six Premier League games against the Swans, Andy Carroll has
scored five times and assisted another three goals.

West Ham United have lost their last five Premier League games - they
haven't lost six in a row in the competition since March 2010.

The Hammers have already lost seven times at the London Stadium in the
Premier League; four more defeats than they suffered in their final season
at the Boleyn Ground (three). The most home defeats they've registered in a
Premier League season is nine (2006/07, 2010/11 and 2013/14).

Swansea have lost four consecutive away games in the Premier League,
conceding two or more goals on each occasion. They've never lost five in a
row on the road in the PL.

Gylfi Sigurdsson has had a hand in 53 per cent of Swansea's away goals in
the Premier League this season (eight of 15).

Paul Merson's prediction

What a massive, massive game this is. If Swansea win it could bring West Ham
right back into the relegation battle. It's must-win for West Ham, and if
they can that should see them safe, but it would put Swansea into massive

It could be a nervy one, but I think it will be a draw.

Paul predicts: 1-1 (11/2 with Sky Bet)


West Ham are Sky Bet's 11/10 favourites for the victory with Swansea a 23/10
chance while the draw is priced at 13/5.

Paul Clement's men were cut to even-money to face relegation following their
late capitulation against Tottenham, while the Hammers are hardly considered
safe at 12/1.

Andy Carroll heads the first goalscorer betting at 9/2 while the importance
of Fernando Llorente is emphasised by his position at the head of the hosts'
side of the market at 7/1.

West Ham v Swansea is included in this weekend's Super 6 line-up, with
£250,000 up for grabs for simply predicting the six correct scores. Enter
your selections here.

Does radio silence from Gold and Sullivan prove they have learned a lesson?
Damien Lucas

Things have been awfully quiet from the West Ham United boardroom after
another defeat this week. The Hammers have slipped right down into
relegation trouble after suffering five defeats in a row and are without a
win in their last seven matches. The latest loss came at the hands of
Arsenal, 3-0, on Wednesday night - their second of the week so far after a
2-1 reverse at Hull City last weekend.
It leaves Slaven Bilic's side sitting perilously close to the danger zone
and the club one loss away from the 'six defeat limit' at which point
co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold reportedly review their manager's
immediate future. Sullivan and Gold have been criticised in recent weeks for
their public profile. Sullivan took to to the club's official website to
criticise West Ham's defensive acumen after the 3-2 defeat to Bournemouth
and was lambasted by pundits and fans for issuing a public apology to
supporters following the 3-2 defeat to Leicester City.
David Gold has been criticised for his regular updates on Twitter while many
fans are irked by Karren Brady's regular column in The Sun where she often
discusses club and team affairs. The club issued Bilic with the dreaded vote
of confidence after the defeat to Hull.
But there has been a distinct radio silence in the wake of the loss to the
Gunners. Does that prove that the co-owners have finally learned their
lesson ahead of the huge six-pointer against Swansea City this Saturday?
Time will tell whether it makes any difference and Hammers fans will be
hoping their team is making the headlines rather than any individuals come
5pm on Saturday.

West Ham 'will sack manager Slaven Bilic' if they lose to fellow relegation
strugglers Swansea
Bilic has watched his team lose their last five Premier League matches
By talkSPORT - @talkSPORT
Friday, April 7, 2017

West Ham are working on a plan to replace Slaven Bilic should the Hammers
lose to fellow relegation strugglers Swansea City this weekend.
The east London club are on a terrible run, having lost their last five
Premier League matches and defeat by the Swans on Sunday would force the
club's owners into action. A statement backing their Croatian manager 100
per cent was released following last Saturday's defeat by Hull City, but,
with just eight matches left, time is fast running out to make a change. The
club would not appoint one of his backroom staff to take temporary charge of
the, Julian Dicks, for example, according to the Daily Telegraph.
Middlesbrough, Hull City, Swansea and Crystal Palace have all changed their
manager this season, with varying degrees of success. Leicester City looked
in terminal decline under Claudio Ranieri, but have won five on the bounce
since sacking the Italian and replacing him with his assistant Craig
Shakespeare. The Hammers are desperate to avoid dropping down into the
Championship, so soon after moving into their new home at the London

Enquiry for Real Madrid ace Alvaro Morata shows West Ham have not learned
Dan Coombs

West Ham don't have a hope of signing Alvaro Morata, but are trying anyway.
West Ham's troubles this season can be traced back to last summer's
disastrous transfer window. The Hammers set their sights too high, trying to
sign Alexandre Lacazette, Carlos Bacca, and even Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and
predictably failed. They ended up looking around in the bargain bins,
settling for signing Simone Zaza on loan, which predictably was a disaster.
So they've learned their lesson right? Perhaps not...

Spanish media outlet Don Balon reports West Ham have made an enquiry after
Real Madrid star Alvaro Morata. Morata has had a low key season at Real
Madrid, but the Hammers should give up and forget about it. The Spaniard is
a former Champions League finalist and Serie A winner with Juventus, and a
regular up front for Spain. Last summer Real invoked his buy-back clause,
paying a fee of £24 million. Even though he has featured mostly as a
substitute this season, Morata has still bagged 17 goals. At Real that sort
of achievement can go under appreciated, but after investing years into him,
don't expect them to suddenly give him up to West Ham. Nor would Morata want
to join a club battling away in the bottom half of the Premier League. If
West Ham cannot see this, then they really have learned nothing.


It looks as though West Ham may have sealed their first signing in
preparation for the summer transfer window, with Manchester City right-back
Pablo Zabaleta reportedly agreeing a three-year deal with the club.

The experienced Argentinian defender has been something of a cult hero at
the Etihad ever since his arrival but his contract comes to its expiry at
the end of the season, and it looks as though the Hammers have made the most
of this opportunity.

According to an exclusive report recently from Italian news outlet TMW,
Zabaleta has agreed a deal with Slaven Bilic's men ahead of the coming

The 32-year-old has been linked with a move to the London Stadium for some
time now and it looks as though the deal has taken a huge step closer.

West Ham have been struggling at right-back this season with Sam Byram and
Alvaro Arbeloa failing to convince, so Zabaleta's likely arrival will be a
welcome one.

West Ham eyeing two right back signings in Malcuit and Zabaleta; what next
for Byram?
Olly Dawes

West Ham reportedly remain keen on Saint-Etienne star Kevin Malcuit.
According to Sky Sports, West Ham United remain keen on Saint-Etienne
defender Kevin Malcuit – despite suggestions that a deal for Manchester
City's Pablo Zabaleta has been agreed. Whilst manager Slaven Bilic will be
desperate to bring in a new striker this summer, right back is another major
area of concern given that Cheikhou Kouyate, Havard Nordtveit and Michail
Antonio have all been forced into playing at right back or right wing back
this season.
With the summer transfer window drawing ever closer, Tutto Mercato Web
report that West Ham have agreed a three-year contract with Manchester City
defender Pablo Zabaleta, ahead of him becoming a free agent this summer. The
32-year-old Argentina international would give the Hammers an experienced
option at right back, with more than 200 Premier League appearances and two
league titles to his name.
However, with concerns over Zabaleta's age and recent injury history, West
Ham may not be done at right back, as Sky Sports report that the Hammers
also remain keen on Saint-Etienne ace Kevin Malcuit. It's claimed that West
Ham attempted to land Malcuit in January but failed, and will now return to
try and sign him again during this summer's transfer window.
Malcuit, 25, joined Saint-Etienne from Chamois Niortais in 2015, and he has
impressed in Ligue 1 with his pace going forward from right back, whilst he
also excelled in Saint-Etienne's recent Europa League ties with Manchester
United. Malcuit could offer something completely different to Zabaleta, but
signing both in a double swoop would raise questions about the future of Sam
Byram, who joined the club from Leeds in January 2016. Byram, 23, impressed
with Leeds, but has started just eight Premier League games this season, and
has been unable to make the position his own despite West Ham's troubles at
right back. If both Zabaleta and Malcuit both sign, we could see Byram leave
West Ham either on loan or permanently this summer in order to seek
first-team football, or he could be pushed forward to the right of midfield,
where he starred for Leeds under Steve Evans. Either way, news of West Ham's
interest in a multitude of right backs is not good news for Byram's
prospects, with his development stalling in East London after initially
arriving with so much promise.

Exclusive: West Ham make contingency plans to replace Slaven Bilic if club
lose to Swansea
Pressure is building on West Ham's manager CREDIT: REX FEATURES
Sam Wallace, chief football writer Matt Law, football news correspondent
6 APRIL 2017 • 10:30PM

West Ham United are considering a short-term appointment to replace Slaven
Bilic until the end of the season should the club's struggling manager lose
to Swansea City on Saturday, in what would be his sixth straight defeat in
the Premier League.

The club's co-owner David Sullivan and Karren Brady, the chief executive,
have shown faith in Bilic so far but results are reaching the stage where
the club feel that they would have no choice but to try to jump-start the
club's season by clearing out the manager and his staff. They are limited in
their scope to appoint a new face with so few games left but defeat at home
by Swansea would force their hand.

Every other club currently in the bottom six, with the exception of
Sunderland, have changed their manager since the start of the season. The
bounce given to Leicester City by the sacking of Claudio Ranieri and
appointment of his assistant Craig Shakespeare has not gone unnoticed at
West Ham. One point outside the relegation zone when he took over, Leicester
are now 11th after a run of five consecutive wins.

West Ham are not minded to give the job to any of Bilic's backroom staff,
including the former club captain Julian Dicks, with the feeling that a
complete change would be necessary to make any difference.

Sullivan has the option of turning to academy director Terry Westley, who
was in charge for the first game of last season, the home leg of a Europa
League qualifier that Bilic was unable to attend because of a family

The club would not be subject to onerous compensation payments were they to
sack Bilic after the weekend, and it is understood they would not be obliged
to pay anything at all were they to dismiss the 48-year-old in the summer
with a year of his contract left.

The club are five points ahead of Swansea in 18th and, after that home game,
they are away at Sunderland, the league's bottom team, which might present
an opportunity to a new manager to start with a win.

Bilic suggested in his press conference on Thursday that West Ham's new
London Stadium had not helped the team this season. He said that the club
were paying for the move in the short term, with the long-term benefits
still yet to be felt.

"The move always had a lot of positives but it also had negative things,
especially short term. One of those negative things is the time – you need
time to adjust. That goes with a new stadium. The stadium I've said it, 100
times, in the long term it is the best thing that the club has ever done.
Make no mistake about it.

"Like the Emirates is for Arsenal. Like Southampton's new stadium, like
Bayern's new stadium, like Schalke's new stadium, like Juventus's new
stadium. Short term, you might struggle. First you have to dip a little bit,
to go down like Southampton did at their new stadium. Like Arsenal struggled
in the first year. But the Olympic Stadium for West Ham is unbelievable.
It's great."

Bilic was forced to substitute Michail Antonio at half-time of the defeat by
Arsenal on Wednesday, a consequence of a sickness the player developed
during the day of the match. Bilic will be without the injured midfielder
Pedro Obiang until the end of the season. The centre-back Winston Reid is
also still out of action with injury.

In the long term, West Ham have looked at Huddersfield Town manager David
Wagner as a possible long-term target in the summer should they make a
change then. Bilic said he was convinced West Ham would stay in the Premier
League. "Is it going to be written in the history books as a great season?
It ain't," Bilic said. "It's going to be OK or negative. But I've seen
bigger clubs being in trouble. It happens. And then they celebrate like hell
if they stay up."

The new contract that was expected for Bilic has been put on ice until the
end of the season and, even if he survives that long, there will be a major
decision come the summer. Under scrutiny are the club's signings last
summe,r with Jonathan Calleri and Sofiane Feghouli both on the bench. Alvaro
Arbeloa has not played since Dec 3. Robert Snodgrass, who arrived in
January, was introduced as a second-half substitute.

Bilic said: "The pressure is big already and I have a strong belief in my
team. I know we can do it and we have to put everything we have on the line.
We have to forget about egos, about who is taking corners, forget about who
is going to start the game, forget about who is going to score the goals. We
have to leave our egos in our beds at home and be as one, totally. I am not
saying we weren't before but more than ever and win a game."

West Ham stars told to leave their egos at home as Slaven Bilic calls for
unity for relegation scrap with Swansea
West Ham will look to halt a dangerous slide towards Premier League
The Hammers are just five points above 18th-placed Swansea ahead of the tie
Bilic says his players must unite if they are to retain their top flight
He is confident seven points from their seven fixtures will guarantee
By Adam Shergold for the Daily Mail
PUBLISHED: 22:30, 6 April 2017 | UPDATED: 22:56, 6 April 2017

Slaven Bilic has called for unity ahead of West Ham's relegation showdown
with Swansea City on Saturday, demanding his players 'leave their egos in
bed at home.' West Ham will attempt to put a run of five consecutive defeats
behind them at the London Stadium and halt a dangerous slide towards the
Premier League relegation zone. And while Bilic refuses to believe his team
are now in a 'do or die' situation, and acknowledges their destiny remains
firmly in their own hands, he won't tolerate anyone who isn't completely
focused on the task at hand. The Hammers manager said: 'I know we can do it
and we have to put everything we have on the line. 'We have to forget about
egos, forget about who is going to start the game, forget who is going to
score the goals. We have to leave our egos in our beds at home and be as
one, totally. 'I am not saying we weren't before. But now more than ever to
win a game.' West Ham's 3-0 loss at Arsenal on Wednesday night has left them
on 33 points, just five above 18th-place Swansea, but Bilic is confident
another seven from their remaining seven fixtures will guarantee survival.
'We are talking about the magic number of 40,' he said. 'Forty was always
more or less, most of the time enough, especially if you have a better goal
difference. We have 33. 'It is interesting for the media to say "high
pressure" or "D-Day" and all that. It is not a do or die situation, we don't
want to come into a do or die situation, we want to do it [achieve safety]
as soon as possible. 'We wanted to do it before this game against Swansea.
When we won six games out of nine, which was right before these five
defeats, I was saying we are in a good situation but there are still lots of
points to play for and there is a job to be done. 'It is not like we realise
now that we need points, we know that. We really want to do it, we have
determination and everything to show that character, quality and everything
now and stop this run of results immediately. 'It is time to get points and
get us out of possible trouble.'
West Ham's seventh-placed finish in Bilic's first season and their
subsequent move to the 57,000-capacity London Stadium inevitably raised
expectations, and the manager admits it's been a double-edged sword. He
said: 'The new stadium and everything changed. I spoke about that as a good
thing, as a motivation of course, to look forward. 'Also, it's a burden if
it's not going good, if the expectations are suddenly big time. 'Is it going
to be written in the history books as a great season? It ain't. It' s going
to be okay or negative. But I've seen bigger clubs being in trouble, it
happens. And then they celebrate like hell if they stay up.' Despite their
predicament, Bilic said he has not even contemplated relegation and that he
has never once questioned belief in the work he is doing with the club
despite pressure mounting over his position. He said: 'We have to believe,
big belief and we're never going to lose the belief. Belief can help you get
the confidence back in no time. The confidence is the question of the
moment, belief is permanent.' Bilic is optimistic he will have key players
Andy Carroll, who felt his groin and went off during the second-half at the
Emirates Stadium, and Michail Antonio, who was suffering from sickness,
ready for Saturday.

West Ham eyeing short-term replacement for Bilic, preferred long-term target
Olly Dawes

West Ham United are reportedly making contingency plans should the club lose
to Swansea City this weekend. According to The Telegraph, West Ham United
are making plans to replace Slaven Bilic should the club lose to Swansea
City in the Premier League this weekend.
The Hammers lost 3-0 at Arsenal on Wednesday evening, meaning it's now five
defeats in a row for Bilic, and just two points from the last seven games.
The terrible run of form has piled the pressure back on manager Bilic, with
West Ham now just five points clear of the relegation zone with just seven
games to play. This weekend, West Ham host Swansea City at the London
Stadium, and desperately need a result to drag themselves away from the
bottom three, with a defeat to the Swans – who lie 18th in the Premier
League – a nightmare scenario for club and manager. The Telegraph report
that, should West Ham lose this weekend, then the club are set to make a
short-term appointment until the end of the season, giving Bilic his
marching orders. It's stated that West Ham wouldn't look internally for
Bilic's short-term replacement, with the likes of Julian Dicks, Nikola
Jurcevic and Edin Terzic not under consider consideration – but the club
appear to have found their No. 1 target for the long term. The report claims
that, should they need a manager at the end of the season, West Ham are
interested in landing Huddersfield Town boss David Wagner, who has worked
wonders with the Terriers this season.
Wagner, who worked with Jurgen Klopp at Borussia Dortmund and was the
Liverpool manager's best man at his wedding, has made a name for himself
away from Klopp with Huddersfield, taking the Terriers to third place in the
Championship table with an exciting brand of football. West Ham would surely
only be able to prise Wagner away if Huddersfield miss out on promotion, and
it's a situation that the Hammers board will be keeping an eye on, with
Bilic facing a crucial weekend.


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