Friday, May 12

Daily WHUFC News - 12th May 2017

Antonio signs new deal
• Hammer of the Year Michail Antonio has signed a new and improved contract with West Ham United
• Winger and leading goalscorer has put pen to paper on a deal until summer 2021
• Antonio has scored 18 goals in 69 appearances since arriving in east London in summer 2015

Hammer of the Year Michail Antonio has signed a new and improved long-term contract with West Ham United. The newly-crowned player of the season and leading scorer put pen to paper on a four-year deal at London Stadium on Friday, pledging his future to the Club he joined in September 2015.
The 27-year-old will now spend the prime years of his career in east London, having already made a huge impact during his two seasons in Claret and Blue by scoring 18 goals in 69 appearances and earning his maiden England call-up. Antonio was pleased to put end speculation over his future and commit himself to the Hammers until June 2021.

"It's about time, eh!" said the winger, with a laugh. "I'm only joking! I'm over the moon, I've loved my time here and I'm just happy that we have managed to get things sorted so I can move onto next season and do what I've done this season. "I'm delighted to have signed a new four-year deal. I'd like to thank the Chairman [David Sullivan] because we had a nice little deal for this to get sorted. He's a lovely man and thanks very much!"
"When I was younger, I was growing up in south London and I used to come to West Ham games. I've loved my time here. Last season I managed to finish as runner-up in the Hammer of the Year award and this year I've won it, so it's a case of pushing on and I don't want to drop my standards next season.
"This year has been a better year than last year because I've played from start to finish and I managed to get the England call-up I've been dreaming of since I was a child. Hopefully I can keep pushing on and doing even better, because I always want to do better than I have done previously."
I'm delighted to have signed a new four-year deal. I'd like to thank the Chairman David Sullivan because we had a nice little deal for this to get sorted. He's a lovely man and thanks very much!

Joint-Chairman David Sullivan, who worked tirelessly to secure the deal, said: "Michail has been absolutely outstanding since he joined the Club nearly two years ago, and was deservedly voted Hammer of the Year this week. "We are determined to keep our best players at the Club and Michail is certainly one of them. His best years are still ahead of him and we are looking forward to seeing him spend them in a Claret and Blue shirt. "We wish Michail well with the rehabilitation off his hamstring injury and look forward to seeing him come back stronger next season!"

Antonio's new deal marks the latest stage in his stunning career, which saw the winger start out with non-league Tooting & Mitcham United before climbing the Football League ladder with Reading, Southampton, Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest. A relentless worker and model professional, the ambitious Antonio made it to the Premier League at the age of 25, when he joined the Hammers from Forest 21 months ago.
The powerful and versatile south Londoner made his debut at Manchester City before netting his maiden goal against Southampton at the Boleyn Ground just after Christmas 2015.

It marked the start of a marvellous run of form, goals and eye-catching celebrations, including vital headers against Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United, that saw him become a hero among the Claret and Blue Army. After being rewarded with a new four-year deal in July, Antonio continued to make the headlines by nodding in the first Premier League goal in London Stadium history against AFC Bournemouth. Further goals against Manchester City, Watford and West Bromwich Albion followed, while he was named in the England squad for the first time by former West Ham boss Sam Allardyce. Antonio's versatility shone through when Slaven Bilic lost key players to injury, with the No30 turning out on both wings, at right-back and as a centre forward during the winter. The season ended on another high when Antonio was voted Hammer of the Year for the first time by supporters, receiving his award at the 2016/17 Player Awards earlier this week.

Antonio - I can fulfil my ambitions here

Michail Antonio put the finishing touches on a memorable season by signing a new long-term contract with West Ham United.

Fresh from scoring the first Premier League goal at London Stadium, receiving his first England call-up and winning his first Hammer of the Year award, Antonio put pen to paper on an improved four-year deal with the Hammers.

Having pledged his future to the Claret and Blue, the winger sat down with West Ham TV to reflect on an unforgettable 2016/17 and look ahead to the future.

Congratulations Michail! What's your reaction to signing a new deal until 2021?

"I'm over the moon, I've loved my time here and I'm just happy that we have managed to get things sorted so I can move onto next season and do what I've done this season.

"I'm delighted to have signed a new four-year deal. I'd like to thank the Chairman [David Sullivan] because we had a nice little deal for this to get sorted. He's a lovely man and thanks very much!"

You've had quite a year…!

"When I was younger, I was growing up in south London and I used to come to West Ham games. I've loved my time here. Last season I managed to finish as runner-up in the Hammer of the Year award and this year I've won it, so it's a case of pushing on and I don't want to drop my standards next season.

"This year has been a better year than last year because I've played from start to finish and I managed to get the England call-up I've been dreaming of since I was a child. Hopefully I can keep pushing on and doing even better, because I always want to do better than I have done previously."

You have achieved so much in your career already, but you only turned 27 in March, so do you feel the best years of your career are still ahead of you?

"Definitely, I always wanted to get this sorted, get the contract sorted because this year I'm going to be in my prime of my career and anything could happen.

"Every footballer wants to leave a mark in their career and I've managed to do that. I scored the very first goal at London Stadium, one of the last goals at the Boleyn Ground so I just love that I manage to leave a mark in my football career but I don't want to end on that and I want to leave more marks as I go."

You've always said you are ambitious and want to take the next step in your career whenever you can, so presumably signing a new deal means you feel your ambitions can be fulfilled with West Ham United?

"I'm a very ambitious person, one thing I want to do is play Champions League and me signing this contract now, in my prime years, is showing that I believe West Ham can get in to the Champions League spots. I believe that we can push on and that we can be involved in the top four and that is my mission and something I'm hoping we achieve."

Are West Ham a bigger club than you believed you were signing for in September 2015?

"I've always known West Ham as a massive club with a massive fan base. When I went to the Boleyn Ground, I was very surprised it was only 35,000 holding there because I was thinking 'where are all the rest of the fans?' Everywhere I'd go, I meet West Ham fans – doesn't matter where I've gone, Dubai, Japan – wherever I go there is West Ham fans there! "I knew we definitely needed to double the capacity and moving here was definitely the best decision we've done."

You've already been part of some of the biggest moments in our history at London Stadium. Do you feel we are now making this magnificent arena home?

"Leaving the Boleyn Ground, that's where people's whole lives were and so much history was left there and so obviously people were going to be intimidated by moving to the new place.

"It's like moving home – it's not going to feel like 'home' for a couple of years and it's taken a bit of time for us to get used to it and work through everything but now things are working out and this will turn in to the new West Ham home."

Sorry to put a downer on things, but you're currently nursing a hamstring injury. How is the rehab going?

"The rehab is going well, right now I'm still on the crutches and will be for the next week and after that I'll be off them. I'll start doing some strength work for the next two, three, four weeks, then I'll be outside doing running and I'll be in and out of training to get my way back in for the start of the season.

"It's either I'll be back for the first couple of games or, the worst case scenario, I'll be back fully available for the team after the international break at the end of August."

You're getting married next month, so presumably you want to be off the crutches by then!

"I'll definitely be off the crutches by then [the wedding], I said I need to be off crutches by then! Imagine that, stood at the isle with the knee brace on and crutches in my arms – imagine the first dance – it's just not a nice look! But no, It will definitely be off by then and I'll be well on my way to strengthening it."

Finally, when you think you were playing non-league football just a few years ago, do you have to pinch yourself when you think about what you have achieved in the game?

"I do pinch myself. There's times when I wake up and I just can't believe my luck. To this day, I've got three kids, and I still pinch myself - 'I've got three kids, I'm 27, I still remember being 18 like it was yesterday.

"Life has just flown by and I am taking it my stride so it's a bit off both, I am really enjoying life. People say I one of those happy people, I'm always smiling, what can I complain about?"

Noble to undergo surgery

West Ham United captain Mark Noble will have an operation to rectify a long-standing abdominal injury on Saturday and will miss the remainder of the 2016/17 Premier League season.

Head of Medical and Sports Science Stijn Vandenbroucke confirmed that Noble has been playing with the painful condition for many weeks, but the skipper requested to delay the operation as long as possible.

"Mark has been playing in pain, but he is the captain and he wanted to do everything he could to ensure the Club retained its Premier League status," Vandenbroucke confirmed.

"Mark is as brave as they come and he ignored the pain as best he could, but the Premier League takes it toll.

"We attended an appointment with the specialist on the evening before the Tottenham game and it was deemed that the surgery was now urgent, he played in the game and played a big part in our victory that ensured the Club's safety."

Noble will miss the Premier League fixtures with Liverpool and Burnley.

Bilic delighted by Antonio news

Slaven Bilic has expressed his delight at seeing Michail Antonio agree a new long-term contract and backed the 27-year-old to enjoy a brilliant future with West Ham United.

The 2016/17 Hammer of the Year was at London Stadium on Friday afternoon to sign a four-year deal, and the news was a huge boost for his manager, who admitted that Antonio's talent had not surprisingly attracted rival clubs.

"It's great news for us," said Slaven. "To be fair, I have always been confident Mikey would sign, but it is still a great feeling to have one of our top players to commit himself to us for the long term.

"The Chairman has worked very hard to get the deal done because, to be honest, it's not just paper talk – there have been a lot of big clubs interested in him, so it is great for the club to do this before the end of the season.

"He appreciates that we have done a lot for him as a club, and he sees his future at West Ham, which is brilliant."

Signed from Nottingham Forest back in September 2015, Antonio has enjoyed a scintillating first two years in the claret and blue. After making his debut as a substitute in a 2-1 win at Manchester City later that month, he broke into Bilic's side two months later and hasn't looked back since, with nine goals in each campaign.

"His progress has been incredible," said the Hammers boss. "He was raw material when he played in the Championship, but he has now improved tactically, as a team player, and has kept that amazing physical ability.

"Of course, like any player, there are still things he can work on and continue to improve, but now he is much more complete.

"He represents the real modern day player. He can play up front, on the wings, or he can defend, he has pace, he has power and he scores goals, which of course is the most important thing in football. He's a great asset for us."

Having broken into the full England squad at the start of the season, Antonio was all set to make his international debut in March before injury ruled him out. However, Bilic firmly believes that the former Reading, Southampton and Forest star will force his way into Gareth Southgate's team next season.

"Yes I do," he said. "England have some good players in attacking positions but if Mikey continues to show the form he showed this season then he will be in the running.

"He got into the squad at the start of the qualification early in the season, and I expect him to push on and stay involved. Because not many players can do the kind of things he is doing on the pitch, week in, week out."

Written by @6_AaronLee

After Friday nights brilliant performance and result against Tottenham Hotspur we confirmed our Premier League status for next season and also stopped Spurs effectively having a chance of winning the league ( its happened again…).

I thought everyone on the night was brilliant the fans,players and also Slaven Bilic who I thought got his tactics absolutely spot on despite some questions being raised when the team news was confirmed,but one man in particular stood out for me and that was Manuel Lanzini. In a season of up's and lets be honest quite a few down's Manu has stepped up massively especially since Dimitri Payet's departure in January. He along with the likes of Antonio,Reid and Obiang have been consistent performers for West Ham this season and he has gone on to make himself a vital player for us.

You only need to look at his stats since January when he became our main creative man to see how pivotal he has been for the club by scoring some important goals for us and grabbing a few assists.

I've always been a big fan of Lanzini. You can't fault the guy for his work rate going forward and coming back when needed. On many occasions last season we see him during games beating opposition players with ease and getting into the right areas when the opportunity presented itself but there was always a claim that at times he would often go missing. This season after missing a few games due to an injury sustained at the Olympics with Argentina, upon his return he began to show glimpses of the player he can become but once again fans at times claimed that he would still drift in and out of games far to often. For me the moment he began to really assert himself was in our away victory against Crystal Palace in October, where he netted the winner and absolutely run the show, we were on a poor run of results and hadn't won away from home so far in the Premier League. Obviously we are all aware of what took place in the lead up to the January transfer window and despite the negativity we managed to put a run of form together and Lanzini was one of the main reasons for our upturn in form. I believe he has relished stepping out of other players shadow's and asserting himself as one of our key players and long may this continue because I think he has the talent to be one of the best players we have seen pull on a claret and blue shirt in many years.

For me personally Lanzini is the player we need to build our team around. You could see on Friday night just how important he is to us the fans, his team mates and Bilic. He was giving Kyle Walker the run around after the first few minuets, helping out defensively, dropping deep to collect the ball to begin an attack and going past the Spurs players as if they wasn't there and once again popping up in the right area to net our winner. You could see how much it meant to him as he ran towards the fans and displayed the hammers sign in celebration at his goal and once the cheering had stopped his song was belted out around the London Stadium.

It came as no surprise to me that he was voted players player of the season at our award ceremony on Tuesday, also coming runner up Hammer of the year to Michail Antonio due to his performances this season. Hopefully we can manage to keep hold of Lanzini for many years as I'm sure he will only get better and better.

Come on you Irons!

Written by @mark7ward

I really hope that the fantastic win against Spurs is the break through period of what we all have wanted. A frenzied atmosphere created by the fans but only created because of the intensity and professional performance of the players-to a man-brilliant. Slav got his tactics spot on.Lets have the same v Liverpool on Sunday and it would be another scalp to be proud of and a really positive end to a disappointing season.
Before the game on Sunday i will be hosting the last West Ham Way Pre Match Event of the season and have the one and only MAD DOG Martin Allen !!! It is not to be missed!! Get your tickets here:
I would like to thank the two lads Dave and Ex for their hard work organising the event and we will be building on the success of these prematch events for next season. I hope to see more and more of you at them and make this the most go to place before any match!

Written by @farehamhammer

In July 2014 the club completed a much needed overhaul of The Academy, with Terry Westley replacing the legendary Tony Car as director of The Academy. Frankly, an overhaul was long overdue. We were producing quantity and not quality for far too long. Many people lived in the past, thinking we had a whole array of rich talent waiting in The Academy for a chance to prove they could be the next Peter's, Moore or Hurst.

After every poor run of results, whether it was Zola, Grant or Allardyce, the cry would be "Play The kids from The Academy! They will play for the shirt!" Well, you can play for the shirt all you want, but if you are not good enough forget it. Sam Allardyce got slaughtered for picking youngsters against Nottingham Forest in The FA Cup when we lost 5-0. Kids at 21 or 22? Do me a favour! When was he supposed to play them? Two of the brightest stars were Elliot Lee and Rob Hall, and where are they now? Luton Town and Oxford United. Says it all really. Granted, it is tough getting young talent to join the club in the first place. There is an ever decreasing pool of youngsters which clubs are virtually fighting over to sign.

Part of the problem is that a few decades back, families would often have 4, 5 or 6 kids. Now a typical family consists of 2 or 3 kids. Back then kids would head to the local Park, put jumpers down as goal posts, play till tea time, then after tea it would be back down the Park again! Kids would all want to be their personal hero. With the internet explosion things are different now. Instead of kicking a ball around, kids are updating their Facebook status or playing Call of Duty. The only football action they are likely to see is when they play FIFA.

The appointment of Terry Westley as Director of the Academy came as no surprise since he was Gold and Sullivan's youth Academy director at Birmingham City. In his first year at The Club, Westley saw the U 21's relegated from the The Premier League Division One without winning a single match. Yet Karen Brady rewarded failure by giving Westley a new five year contact. There have also been charges of nepotism against Westley, with his son Sam following him from Birmingham City. Clearly not good enough, yet he is kept on by The Club while other far more deserving players have been discarded.

However, it would be unfair on Terry Westley to say there has been no progress at The Academy. There has. The Club has gone about signing some talented youngsters who had been discarded by top Clubs, as well as players who turned down deals at their existing Clubs. We have signed the pacey and talented Nathan Holland from Everton, who has already made the bench this season, and former Chelsea midfielder Domingos Quina has had rave reviews for his performances for the U23's. Another rising star signed from Chelsea is U23 captain Declan Rice, has also made the bench. Toni Martinez, who has been a virtual goal machine at U 23 level, has done well at Oxford. Last but not least, my personal favourite, the wonderfully talented and elegant Martin Samuelsen, who can play down either wing or in midfield.

So as we can see it's not all doom and gloom at The Academy of Football. In the harsh world of professional football even talented footballers, for whatever reason, sometimes fail to make the grade.

I think few would argue that at this point the title of The Academy of Football belongs to Southampton Football Club. They have made big money bringing on talented youngsters and then selling them on for huge transfer fees. They don't send youngsters out on loan after loan and then discard them. What is the point of that? Copy Southampton's model! If they are old enough play them! At some point as in life, you must sink or swim in football. At Southampton Football Club, whether you are 16, 17, or 18, if you are good enough you play! One or two bad games? No problem! Youth players are kept in the squad, enabling them to develop a first team mentality. Are you telling me that you would back the likes of Jonathan Calleri over Toni Marinez? Must be having a laugh surely? Fair enough, if The Youth are given a fair crack of the whip and they fail then it's time to tell Terry Westley that he is the weakest link. However, if Southampton can do it, so can West Ham. With The Academy costing four million per year to run it's simply got to produce results. There is no reason why we cannot reclaim our worldwide reputation as The Academy of Football from Southampton. Over to you, Terry Westley!

We are more than a football club, we're a way of life!



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