Tuesday, May 23

Daily WHUFC News - 23rd May 2017

Manager on Monday

Slaven Bilic believes West Ham United's strong finish to the 2016/17 season will stand them in good stead when the Premier League kicks off again in August. The Hammers completed a run of one defeat in their last seven matches, including three morale-boosting victories over Swansea City, Tottenham Hotspur and, on Sunday, at Burnley. Despite being shorn of eight senior players absent through injury or rehabilitation, Bilic sent out a side which played with verve, passion and no little skill, capped by a sublime equaliser from Sofiane Feghouli. Andre Ayew, who set up Feghouli's goal with a neat flick after Sam Vokes had put the Clarets ahead, then won the game when he reacted quickest after Edimilson Fernandes' shot dropped into his path via Tom Heaton's palms and the Burnley crossbar. When asked if the victory would put a smile on his face as he packed his bags for a summer holiday in his native Croatia, the manager said it most definitely would. "It gives you optimism," Bilic confirmed. "I didn't want to talk about the obstacles during the season and players being injured and all that because you want to be positive and talk about the players who are going to play in that game. "We know we had eight major surgeries and we had ten players who were out, each one of them, for a minimum of two-and-a-half months. This is scary. It is literally too much. "Considering that and considering the move to the new stadium, which is definitely long-term the best thing this Club has ever done, it needs time to adjust to it. "Considering all of it, we done well. It's not a season to talk about, to hail it as one of the best seasons because it ain't. Last year was, but there is something between great and bad and we've done it because never lost belief. It's permanent. The confidence was up and down and varied because of the results, but the belief was always there.
"It wasn't enjoyable, put it that way, but individually and as a team I am sure we will benefit from this season a lot. It was a great experience and I expect us to benefit from it, large."

Reflecting on Sunday's impressive and deserved win at Burnley, where his team played some superb football to recover from the shock of Vokes' opening goal, Bilic was positively purring. Feghouli's leveller was a thing of beauty as a quick free-kick was flicked into the Algerian's path by Ayew and the No7 made no mistake with a clinical finish. Then, a dominant second half performance was headlined by Ayew's sixth Premier League goal of the season, which the manager was more a case of judgement than luck. "The second goal may have benefitted from a touch of luck, but the whole action was for me brilliant," he stated, when asked if the winner was 'lucky' by a journalist. "How it finished, OK, it was a bit lucky, but we came with a lot of players there [in the box] and that's why that rebound fell to Ayew, like it did for Lanzini's goal against Spurs. "You have more chances that the ball will drop to your player when you have five in the box. Andre Ayew is great at being in the right place at the right tie. We came there, so alright it had an element of luck but we deserved it."

Ayew - It's great to finish strongly

Andre Ayew was delighted to score the Hammers' final winning goal of the 2016/17 season as the visitors won 2-1 at Burnley
Sofiane Feghouli had grabbed an equaliser after Sam Vokes gave the Clarets the lead early on
The victory saw Slaven Bilic's side finish the season in eleventh in the Premier League

West Ham United's 2-1 win over Burnley on the final day at Turf Moor was a great way to end the season, according to match winner Andre Ayew. The Ghanaian forward scored in the 72nd minute to sign off the 2016/17 in style, bagging his sixth of the campaign – a fifth goal away from London Stadium for the Hammers. It came after Sofiane Feghouli had drawn the visitors level following Sam Vokes' opener, and Slaven Bilic's side dominated a second half they could have scored further goals in. The victory meant the Claret and Blues finished eleventh in the Premier League table, though had results in the past swung one way rather than the other, Ayew highlighted it could have been even better. "We are happy with today's three points and to finish on a good note," the striker said. "The whole season has been difficult so we're happy to end like this. "Overall, the season has been difficult, but we're just a point away from eighth spot at the end of the day. "We were quite disappointed because there were games where we definitely could have had more points. "You take away from it that you need to win your points and take your chances and learn from this season now. We'll learn, and prepare for the next one."

Ayew scored when Edimilson Fernandes' long-range effort was saved well by Tom Heaton, though the keeper's stop cannoned off the crossbar before falling perfectly for the Hammers' record signing to nod in. And it was a case of strikers' instinct, said the forward who celebrated in front of the packed away end. "My goal for sure was right place, right time. I had a similar opportunity at Stoke and missed it, so I'm happy to score today and hopefully now it's the end of the season that will set us up for next season. "We are going to have holidays now and prepare for next season. "I think this year we have been unlucky with injuries and we didn't start the season well. We had the Europa League also, and we didn't manage to qualify, but after the start we had, we got to a point where we managed to turn things around, so it's been a good end."

Fonte – I'll be better

Jose Fonte wants to come back next season and show the Hammers fans his best true qualities
The defender helped the side to a 2-1 victory over Burnley at Turf Moor on Sunday
Fonte is keen for a full summer of rest having had little chance to in previous years due to international commitments

Centre-back Jose Fonte has vowed to come back after a well-earned rest this summer and show West Ham United supporters his best form in Claret and Blue. The defender, speaking after his side ended the 2016/17 campaign with a 2-1 victory over Burnley, has not had a full summer's rest for three years due to international commitments, but is keen to come back fresh next term. Fonte played the full 90 minutes at the heart of defence at Turf Moor, as goals from Sofiane Feghouli and Andre Ayew saw the visitors overturn Sam Vokes' opener.
And the Portugal international, who lifted the UEFA European Championship trophy in France last year, believes he is yet to show the Hammers fans his true qualities. He said: "Firstly, Burnley are a very difficult team to beat at home, so we're very pleased. We came in with a bright attitude and we go three big points. "But next season, the whole team wants to come back fresh, because I can be better and I want to be better for this Club. That's what I'm going to do. "After the internationals are done, I will speak to the gaffer to get a good rest, because I haven't had one in the last three years, for a good reason! "I want to get my rest, come back fresh, and have a great season next year."

Portugal, fresh off the back of their maiden European triumph, will compete in this summer's Confederations Cup in Russia, a tournament Fonte is keen to do well in. "Of course nothing over the summer can live up to winning the Euros, it was a great achievement," he continued. "But we still have the Confederations Cup in the summer, and we want to win that, but the main one is the World Cup next year. If we can challenge for that, it could be even greater than the Euros. "It's step-by-step, but first we have to win the Confederations."

Fonte arrived in east London during the January transfer window, switching the south coast and Southampton for the capital. And despite a turbulent season for the Club, the defender has absolutely no regrets about joining Slaven Bilic's outfit, in part down to the manager himself. "I think Slaven deserves a lot of credit [for how he has handled this season], because he's a great coach, a great manager, a great person. "Obviously I want him to be here, there's no doubt, and I can only say thank you to him for bringing me here to this great Club. "No doubt that it has been a challenging season since I came in. It hasn't been a perfect situation but all the focus now is on having four weeks' rest and coming back for a new beginning. "I want to come back and start over again and be loved."

Stat's A Fact - Andre Ayew

West Ham United signed off the 2016/17 season in style after a 2-1 comeback win against Burnley at Turf Moor on Sunday. The hosts went in front through Wales international Sam Vokes before Sofiane Feghouli netted his third of the campaign to see the scores in level at the break. Feghouli's equaliser was beautifully worked: he, Fernandes and Ayew combining on the edge of the box before the Algerian coolly slotted past Tom Heaton. It was however a familiar face who was on hand to put the Hammers in front and seal the three points.

Andre Ayew the quickest to react to Edimilson Fernandes' rebounded shot by heading in from close range. The Ghanaian, who is quickly establishing a reputation for being in the right place at the right time, has been in impressive form since returning from African Cup of Nations duty in January.

Sunday's goal was his sixth of a campaign which suffered a staggered and injury-plagued start. Since netting his maiden goal at Swansea on Boxing Day, the Ghanaian has scored his six from twelve starts and is the Hammers' joint-leading scorer in 2017.

Ayew is a modern-day 'fox in the box' and his goal return for Swansea was what attracted West Ham. It took a little time, but the signs in 2017 are very positive for West Ham fans. Ayew's six goals have all been scored inside the 18-yard box with four, including Sunday's winner, put home from inside six yards. Right place, right time - it is no coincidence. West Ham had a total of 14 shots on the Burnley goal on Sunday – five more than the hosts, with three falling to Ayew. Fernandes and Feghouli also had three each. Ayew was provider for Sofiane Feghouli's leveller too - his third assist of the season, on an afternoon where his 85 per cent pass success rate was better than any of Sean Dyche's players.

Defensively, James Collins dealt well with the lively Burnley forwards, Andre Gray and Sam Vokes, by winning the most aerial duels (seven). Collins' six clearances was bettered only by Burnley's Matt Lowton as West Ham sought to squeeze out any loose space in the attacking third. For Burnley, Sam Vokes' goal was their only attempt on target while they also had over 100 fewer touches than the Hammers. The Hammers' record-signing admitted that he was now "feeling good" about his game and will hope to take his good form into a summer international tour of the United States with Ghana before returning to pre-season with West Ham in July.

AC wonder strike shortlisted for top award

Andy Carroll's unforgettable scissor kick against Crystal Palace is one of two West Ham United goals shortlisted for the Premier League's official Carling Goal of the Season. The No9's memorable strike in the 3-0 victory over the Eagles in January is one of ten fantastic finishes nominated for the prestigious award. Carroll took to the east London air to cap an important win over Sam Allardyce's side, slamming Michail Antonio's left-wing cross into the top right-hand corner with his left foot. The bicycle kick won the Hammers' own Goal of the Season award with ease, and now it will battle nine other wonder goals for the right to be called the Premier League's top finish of 2016/17. A second West Ham goal is also in the running, with Dimitri Payet's individual run and low shot against Middlesbrough back October also shortlisted. Voting is open to the public now and will close at 11.59pm BST on Wednesday 24 May. Click here to vote for Carroll's scissor kick now. The winner will be decided by a combination of the public votes and those of a panel made up of former managers and players.

The full Carling Goal of the Season shortlist is:

August - Cristhian Stuani (Sunderland v MIDDLESBROUGH)
September - Jordan Henderson (Chelsea v LIVERPOOL)
October - Dimitri Payet (WEST HAM UNITED v Middlesbrough)
November - Pedro (CHELSEA v Tottenham Hotspur)
December - Henrikh Mkhitaryan (MAN UTD v Sunderland)
January - Andy Carroll (WEST HAM UNITED v Crystal Palace)
February - Eden Hazard (CHELSEA v Arsenal)
March - Andros Townsend (West Brom v CRYSTAL PALACE)
April - Pedro (Everton v CHELSEA)
May - Emre Can (Watford v LIVERPOOL)

'Two or three signings will take us up a level' - Director of Player Recruitment Tony Henry

In the first of a series of interviews offering an insight into the work of key personalities at the club, Director of Player Recruitment Tony Henry lifts the lid on the process of scouting and recruiting new players. A former Manchester City and Stoke City midfielder, Henry has developed a track record for unearthing top talent at affordable prices. With the summer transfer window set to open soon, Henry explained how West Ham United will go about adding quality players to their squad ahead of the 2017/18 Premier League campaign.

Tony, can we start by talking about how you and your team of scouts identify potential targets?

"We started when the window closed in January. You're always on the lookout for players. I have a group of scouts who go around the world looking for players. I go around England with a lad, Rory Campbell, who's my assistant. I call Alan Harper, who's based in the North West. "Basically, we look at players all the time. We do reports, we then go back to the manager and I sit down with the manager every week and we put plans in place all the time for every window."

Presumably it can be a long and drawn out process, as you will do due diligence when considering investing millions of pounds in a new asset?

"Every day is different. A lot of people think that you just go out and sign a player. First, you've got to make sure the players that you're going for are going to fit into the team, which doesn't always work out, but it's a long process. "We make sure we have six or seven, eight, nine reports on players. We then sit down with the manager, with the staff, and we go through them, and we'll have a group of let's say strikers, and we look at the one we think would be the best in that position. "But then it depends on the deal. You contact the club, and if they want a ridiculous price, then that one's out the window. We do our homework, and what you also have to do if you can, is find out about the character of a player – his attitude, what he's like off the field. "You do as much background work as you can, speaking to people you may know at that club, but even them, he might come in and may have changed in the last 12 months. It is difficult but hopefully this year we will get the players that we want."

Slaven Bilic has talked about 'quality over quantity' being the Club's approach to recruitment this summer…

"We need two or three, maximum. If we can get the ones that we want, I think we'll be a really good team next year."

Can you talk to us about the scope of the Club's scouting network?

"We try and cover as much as we can. I'd like to think that we don't miss out on a lot. "Manuel Lanzini, for example – I saw him when he was 18, playing in River Plate, when I was at Everton. "All of a sudden, he went to the United Arab Emirates, and you forget about him. But then his name came up, and obviously I'd seen him three times and he was a top player. I couldn't understand why he went to the Emirates. But we got him on loan, he signed a new deal, and he's brilliant. He's now very highly rated and we're so happy to have him here. "We try and cover as much as we can. We're not going to cover every country obviously. But we know the sort of players we want here now. We know what Slaven wants, we know what's good for the team and what will make us better, and I just think this season, we've got a really good chance of getting a couple in who will be great for us."

How big a draw is London and London Stadium to potential new signings?

"Obviously London is a massive thing for players, but obviously the new stadium, players come and they love it. "I remember when we brought Jose Fonte in in January, he just said the stadium was brilliant. When he played for Southampton here, he said he thought it was fantastic. It's a massive pull."

*To watch the full interview with Director of Player Recruitment Tony Henry, including his views on hot prospects Domingos Quina and Toni Martinez, click on the West Ham TV player above.

Snodgrass relishing Auld Enemy visit

Robert Snodgrass is targeting a win over the Auld Enemy after being named in Scotland's squad for their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier with England.

The Tartan Army welcome the Three Lions to Hampden Park in Glasgow on 10 June knowing defeat would end their hopes of topping European qualifying Group F.

Snodgrass has a huge incentive to defeat England on home turf, having missed a gilt-edged chance with Gareth Southgate's side leading 1-0 in the reverse fixture at Wembley in November. England went on to win 3-0.

"This game is a massive one," said the West Ham United No11. "I don't think you'll get a bigger game in a Scotland jersey. It's one we've all been looking forward to.

"Wembley is gone now, along with that horrible taste in the mouth. If we had taken our chances we'd probably have won.

"I still think back to my chance. If it had gone in it might have been a different story. To now have England in our own backyard with a packed house will be huge."

For Snodgrass, the rivalry with England has been intensified by being surrounded by images of Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters lifting the Jules Rimet Trophy at both Rush Green and London Stadium.

The midfielder has also shared a dressing room with England internationals Andy Carroll and Aaron Cresswell, as well as proud Englishmen Mark Noble and Michail Antonio, since joining the Club in January.

"There are lots of lads who have a tradition with West Ham and England," Snodgrass observed. "There are pictures of them all around the stadium. You can feel that connection with England."

Capped 23 times, the Glaswegian has plied his trade south of the border since joining Leeds United from Livingston in 2008.

Scotland's most-recent hat-trick hero – he netted three in a World Cup qualifying win in Malta last September – may have spent most of his adult life in England, but representing his country gives him a feeling of pride which will never leave him.

"Playing for Scotland was a dream come true for me from the very start," added the 29-year-old, who was recently voted Scottish Football Writers' Association International Player of the Year for 2016.

"You're living the dream each time you pull on that jersey. It's a special feeling and a proud moment.

"To be named International Player of the Year is special for me. It's great that I can be there to pick it up."

Fourth-place Scotland go into their clash with England on seven points, while unbeaten England lead Group F on 13 points. Slovakia and Slovenia sit between the two on nine and eight points respectively, all from five qualifying matches played.

The 10 June fixture with kick-off at 5pm and be screened live in the UK by both ITV and Sky Sports.

Written by Steven McCarthy @stevenMcCarthy9

Well if ever 2 games showed just how far off we are from the top teams in the Premier League, these were the two! The injuries over the week and season have been horrendous and really showed a lack of depth to the squad. We were absolutely awesome against Spurs, constant pressing on the players in possession, hard tackles flying in from the off and great communication between the defenders…

Contrast that with the woeful display we just saw against Liverpool, in which we looked bright for about 10 minutes and then decided that this would be a nice time for the season to end. We struggled to perform even the simplest parts of the game, keeping the ball, passing to the man and simple defensive positioning. Today was one of the worst performances of the season for me, in a year that has seen numerous ones to choose from! And I think the worst thing for me was seeing just how little effort we put in after that Spurs performance.

I think that losing the likes of Kouyate and Noble (who I have been a harsh critic of!) showed just how much we lacked any physical presence, passion and drive in the midfield. Seeing that total lack of drive and passion has got to be one of the worst things for a football fan, I don't mind losing by a few goals to a team like Liverpool if we show commitment and hard work, because then we can simply hold up our hands and say "We tried, but the better team won and we were simply outclassed today!".

But when we looked like we are getting ready to put the Rubber rings, flip flops and shades on for a nice lounge by the pool then it pretty much ruins my weekend and leaves me with a really bitter taste!

From the positivity of last weeks win, I think the Burnley game looks like a real challenge, particularly given Burnley's form at Turf Moor.

Are there any positives to be taken from the game?

I think I would be reaching if I said yes for anything on the pitch…can we count it as a positive that it will only be one more game till we get the sizeable wages of Tore and Arbeloa off the bill?

But with football in mind, it was excellent to see Ogbonna named on the bench!

However I wouldn't even risk him for next week against a tough tackling and physical side like Burnley. I hope that after surgery we just let him get recover over the Summer and get him ready for a good pre-season, because given this seasons luck, and The West Ham Way, he'd injure himself in a different and undoubtedly worse way!

The exciting news of the week, and after another great Radio show, Ex confirmed that we would be interested in Iheanacho.

A player who I mentioned in a previous piece as a dream loan signing, but from my understanding a bigger name is in City's sites and this is a great example of how quickly things change in football!

If the 20 million asking price for Iheanacho (Who I shall now refer to as Kelechi, because I find myself constantly confused by the surnames spelling!) is correct, then I would hope the owners go all out to sign him. I would much rather us spend big money and large wages on than an ageing Defoe.

Now although I still think Defoe would be a great signing, the gossip that he and his agent are looking for a 6 million signing on fee would really put me off!

Yes Defoe is a proven goal scorer, but Kelechi is being compared to Rashford who is being touted as having a 40 million price tag. Kelechi player with a similar record is being said to have a price tag at half that, my only worry being that I am sure he would attract a lot of interest from bigger clubs around Europe, so I think we would really be pulling something special out the bag if we could sign him.

A player who seems to be popping up on my Twitter feed and being linked to us is Success of Watford, Kelechi's international stike partner for some time now in the Nigeria set up.

He has found it hard to adjust to the Premier League, without scoring a single league goal. Normally that wouldn't be much of a concern for me, however a 12.5 million price being bandied about and a record of 1 in 5 throughout his career, I do not think he is someone good enough for us if we want to push on.

I recently saw a poll asking if I would take Kelechi or Batschuyai, the ideal would be both. And to be honest, I don't see why we cannot have both!

I know the 80 million transfer fund being talked of is probably a bit ambitious, However we have a few players across the squad who I feel are easily replaceable at the moment and could fund this. One in particular is Carroll, I still maintain that on his day, he is unplayable, but I think that these days are way too far and few between!

And I have never bought into this idea that he is the only player on the planet who can have the impact he does, he is a great hold up man, he is athletic and strong in his defensive duties, but players like Llorente,Wout Weghorst from AZ Alkmaar and Kalifa Coulibaly from the endless production line of the Belgium League (who I am a big fan of!) offer very similar styles and attributes. So I would happily fund the purchase of two young and hungry strikers by selling Carroll.

A real addition to the side in my view would be the signing of Zabaleta, despite my views on Defoe!

I think Zabaleta is not only a Defender of great quality and all the attributes of a real leader, but he is someone that would not only lift the entire squad, but who I think Lanzini would really want to play with and learn from. Lanzini is a player of immense quality and with his end goal surely looking to be a place in the Argentine squad, I don't think there is a better player on the market we could realistically sign to motivate him and possibly get the very best overall performer out of Lanzini.

I would love to hear other fans ideas on who they would sell or sign in the summer.

For me Snodgrass and Fonte have both been signed too recently to attract real interest, particularly given the low quality performances from them both. But I would sell Fonte in a flash, Snodgrass I think has far more to show, but we should look to sell for a decent sum.

But who do you think we could realistically sell and replace easily in the Summer?

Written by Jason Inge @jasoninge

Another week, another controversial topic at West Ham! The latest coming from David Gold's opinion on the youth development at Premier League clubs. When I first saw his initial tweet, I thought to myself, Christ here comes World War 3 from West Ham fans and it didn't disappoint. I do agree the tweet was completely irresponsible and potentially could put players off signing with the academy. In Mr. Gold's defence though he gets hounded on a daily basis for his thoughts on anything related to our club, so he's damned if he does and damned if he doesn't.

However when you actually look at the bigger picture of what he is actually saying, he's in fact saying that the days of 18/19 year old, becoming first team regulars are gone, but they will get their chance at 20/21 if they have developed and shown they are good enough. He's not wrong in that regard.

So why has this changed? Well with the Premier League now a global business, it attracts a lot more foreign players than it used to 20 years ago. At West Ham, we have seen an influx of foreign exports come in, some of have been exceptional, and some have diabolical. However with our squad now having so much competition for places, it isn't exactly surprising to see how difficult it is for the youngsters to now break through and become first team players during their teenage years.

We have 3 extremely talented centre backs in Reece Burke, Reece Oxford and Declan Rice, but in that position we also have 4 international players that are ultimately seen as better options right now than them. Likewise, a lot say Josh Cullen should have been given a chance this year, yet we've got 6 central midfielders in front of him, so he wouldn't of kicked a ball. Therefore the best course of action is to loan them out for a season or two to a lower league club and let them develop, so when it comes to 20 they are ready.

A lot of people say well if they are good enough, they are old enough. That's all well and good to say, but imagine if the owners turned around and said ok, we'll sell Reid, Ogbonna, Obiang, Kouyate for a profit so these kids play regularly. There would be an absolute outrage and rightly so. Hell even if they sold James Collins, who is arguably the 4th choice centre back, people would be distraught.

People also point to how we've fallen behind the likes of Spurs, Manchester United and Everton. Is that entirely true?

Spurs as a club, like us, have two methods of developing the young players.

They give their talented youngsters debuts during their teenage years, then loan them out for a season or 2, until they are ready to feature regularly at 20/21. For example Harry Kane and Harry Winks. They buy from the lower leagues and because they have essentially skipped the loan period by playing at that club, they are ready earlier. For example Dele Ali. Furthermore, they also had the luxury of the Europa league to give these youngsters the opportunity. We unfortunately, screwed up 2 fantastic chances in that competition, which would have been the perfect platform for the youngsters to play.

Manchester United, like Spurs have had Europa League football and frankly stumbled across Marcus Rashford due to a horrific amount of injuries in the striker position and to his credit he took his chance in Europe, then in the Premier League. He has however spent most of this season bench warming for a 36-year-old Swedish striker called Zlatan Ibrahimovic, so once again goes to demonstrate my point of foreign talent over youngsters.

Everton, this season have to be applauded for Thomas Davies becoming a regular in their team. He has ousted Gareth Barry and James McCarthy and has looked at top quality prospect. However, it doesn't take a rocket science to work out that clearly Everton don't have the squad depth in that role, so it was easier for him to breakthrough. As I said earlier Josh Cullen, at 21 has 6 other midfielders in front of him, so no easy task to get in the match day squad let alone the team.

So what do I believe needs to happen with our talented youngsters next season? Well personally, I think that Oxford, Rice, Samuelson and Martinez need to go out on loan. We need to make sure they play week in, week out, which is where we did fail quite badly this season. I also think that the club would be doing the right thing and sadly selling James Collins, so that Reece Burke who I believe will be at the heart of our defence for years to come, the chance to play regularly. I also would sell Havard Nordtveit, who bar a couple of performances has majorly struggled, allowing Josh Cullen a chance to impress.

In conclusion, we have to accept that times have unfortunately changed. We have plenty of quality young players in our academy. That's evident with winning the league cup last season and the playoffs this season. We just have to be patient; the players' time will come. I just hope that one day the Premier League and Football Association enforce a rule that makes clubs have to have a certain numbers of youth players in their match day squads, ending the abundance of average foreign players that fill up our beloved clubs.

West Ham 2016/17 Premier League season review
Last Updated: 21/05/17 8:15pm

West Ham's first season at the London Stadium was an up-and-down one. Read our review of the club's 2016/17 Premier League season with expert analysis.

Finishing position: 11th (-4)
Total points: 45 (-17)
Europa League: Play-off round
FA Cup: Third round
EFL Cup: Fifth round
Top scorer: Michail Antonio (9)

Season review

Life after the Boleyn Ground began with a win over Bournemouth but it was a tricky first season at the London Stadium for West Ham. Slaven Bilic's side went out of the Europa League at the play-off stage and were in the relegation zone by October.

The loss of star player Dimitri Payet in the winter transfer window was acrimonious, while the new signings were nowhere near as successful. Even so, six wins from nine games either side of Christmas ensured even a late run of defeats didn't plunge the Irons into danger.

For the highlight of the season, supporters had to wait until May and a 1-0 win over rivals Tottenham thanks to Manuel Lanzini's goal. It was a night on which the new stadium came to life and means they go into the summer with hope of a better season next time around.


Managerial review

I'm a big fan of Slaven Bilic and I was saying last year that he'd be on my list for potential successors for Arsene Wenger, but that is no longer the case. Despite clearly being a very clever manager he's struggled to understand what his team is about this season. He hasn't been helped by the owners, who have their own interests, but this team has no identity. To just turn up for one game against Tottenham and celebrate it was just embarrassing for them.

Player of the season: Michail Antonio

For most clubs you'd be debating three or four players but it's only been Michail Antonio and Manuel Lanzini who have caught my attention. Lanzini is the one who can change games but Antonio deserved his new contract and England call-up with his early-season form.

2017/18 prospects

What they need is a lot of new players. I think they'd be mad to get rid of Bilic but they need a new central midfielder as Mark Noble is declining, while they need some proper full-backs. They also need to get past the issue with the new stadium and if they can then you'd be looking at a good cup run and finishing mid-table.

Slaven Bilic believes several factors hindered West Ham this season
Last Updated: 21/05/17 7:59pm

Slaven Bilic insisted he thought West Ham's season would have panned out better, but believes several factors hindered their progress after his side's 2-1 final day win at Burnley. Victory in Lancashire elevated the Hammers to an 11th-placed finish and earned them some welcome, additional prize money. Nonetheless, after an up-and-down-season, there is speculation that the Hammers boss' position could be under threat in the close season. Bilic admitted that he is aware that many expected better from his side this campaign, but believes a new stadium and a long injury list haven't helped matters. "It is always nice to win on the last day," Bilic told Sky Sports. "I am pleased for the players. "We thought that we were going to do better [this season]. I didn't want to talk about that in the season, I wanted to stay positive. "We had so many obstacles, so many injuries. We had eight surgeries, which is not normal. "Although the move to the new stadium is the best thing that has ever happened to the club in the long term, like any club, it is going to take time to settle. "It has been difficult. If you are talking about England, it happened with Arsenal, it happened with Man City, Southampton when they moved to their new stadiums. You need time. "It is very hard to get that Upton Park feeling, but it is going to get better and better. "The game against Liverpool last week, there was a bit of complacency, because we thought we had done the job against Spurs. I am expecting to better next season, of course. "It has been a tough season with ups and downs, but we have finished it now, and I want to praise the guys. "We finished 11th, we wanted to finish higher, but we are just one point away from eighth. In this league, it is not a very, very bad season."

Despite an outlay of over £70m on players this campaign, Bilic was also adamant that some first-team additions are needed in the summer transfer window. "I think next season every club is going to be busy [in transfer market]," Bilic added. "Even Barcelona want to improve.
"Today we showed that we have a good squad of players. Some players maybe will go [in the summer] and we will replace them. "Today, we were without eight players and still looked good. If you are talking about the squad I am happy with the squad, but we need a few players to improve our first XI. We have our targets."

Adrian West Ham contract extended
By Peter Gilbert
Last Updated: 22/05/17 8:52am

Adrian will remain with West Ham for the next two years after the Premier League club activated a clause in his contract. The 30-year-old Spanish goalkeeper, who has made over 100 appearances for the Hammers since joining the club from Real Betis in 2013, has kept three clean sheets in the last five league games and six in 19. "Adrian is out of contract but we have an option, and we activated that option," said Bilic. "He is our player and we are happy with him." The Hammers boss also revealed the club are also looking to add to their squad during the close season but claimed media speculation about potential targets was wide of the mark. "Most players are linked with West Ham in the papers. To be fair, the big majority of those rumours, there is no truth in them," he added. "But we have our targets and we are going to try to do them."

West Ham to make loan bid for Chelsea's Michy Batshuayi - sources

Antonio Conte admits he's worried that Chelsea's Premier League celebrations could affect their chances of winning the FA Cup final.
West Ham are lining up a loan move for Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi this summer as they look to bolster their attacking options, sources close to the Hammers have told ESPN FC. West Ham have held a long-term interest in Batshuayi and tried to sign the Belgium international prior to his move to Chelsea from Marseille last summer. The 23-year-old has struggled for regular first-team football at Chelsea, making just one start in the Premier League this season with another 19 appearances off the bench. Sources have told ESPN FC that Chelsea are reluctant to sell Batshuayi, but could be open to the idea of loaning him out if he finds himself down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge. A number of clubs are monitoring his situation, but West Ham are hoping to steal a march on their rivals by setting up a loan deal for the striker. West Ham have made striking reinforcements one of their main priorities this summer as they have struggled for goals this season. Batshuayi has impressed in recent weeks, scoring the goal which secured Chelsea the Premier League title against West Bromwich Albion, while he netted in his start against Watford and followed that up with a double in Sunday's final game of the season against Sunderland. But he may struggle to be a regular starter for Chelsea next season with the club linked with summer moves for Everton's Romelu Lukaku and Real Madrid's Alvaro Morata.

Peter O'Rourke is ESPN FC's transfer news correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @SportsPeteO.

Kemp's laughter, Ayew's irons and Fernandes' astonishing tackle - 5 moments you might have missed from Burnley vs West Ham
Here are five moments you might have missed from West Ham's 2-1 win over Burnley
Football London
13:08, 22 MAY 2017

Dan Kemp having a laugh in the warm up

He may only be about five feet tall but U23 winger Dan Kemp was drafted into the first team squad for the final game of the season. While the Hammers playing were warming up for the game, someone cracked a joke which was obviously hilarious as Kemp was almost rolling on the floor laughing. It was good to see the youngster really settling in with his much more experienced counterparts.

Ayew throws up the irons in celebration

You may have seen it, you may have not as you were too busy jumping around, but Andre Ayew threw up the irons in his celebration after netting the winner. After a difficult debut season in E20 which was hampered by injury, Ayew has started to show glimpses of what we can expect from the£20.1m man and Sunday was his best shift for a while, topped off with a goal.

Fernandes' beastly tackle

Just after the start of the second period, the game was a bit scrappy as neither Burnley nor West Ham could dominate the ball. The Hammers eventually won it back thanks to an absolute monster of a tackle by Edimilson Fernandes on the rampaging Robbie Brady, with the Swiss star going to ground and hooking the ball so cleanly away from Brady that he got up with the ball under his spell. Wonderful stuff.

Ashley Westwood nearly snapping James Collins' knee

Westwood shouldn't have been on the pitch midway through the first half. He had already been booked for tugging back Sofiane Feghouli's shirt and just a few minutes later, launched into a ridiculous, studs up, knee high challenge on James Collins that left the Welshman writhing in agony. He didn't get booked, he could have easily got a straight red from Bobby Madley, but somehow stayed on the pitch.

A pointless pitch invasion

Well if you were there then you would have seen it but if you weren't here's the deal. Burnley, who ended the season in 16th, were due to do a lap of honour at the end of the game. Fair enough, it's the final match of the season. But a pitch invasion? For finishing 16th? Come on. They ran straight over to the Hammers fans to goad them (why, I don't know) and the wouldn't get back to their seats, meaning Sean Dyche and the Burnley players refused to re-emerge until they did. Utterly pointless.

West Ham's first season in Stratford marked by mediocrity and frustration

The 2016-17 season was always going to be difficult for West Ham. The move from Upton Park to Stratford was expected to be painful and so it proved. A poor summer in the transfer market made things more difficult, however, and the club struggled to rise over mediocrity for most of the campaign.

Surviving without any real relegation threat might prove to be the season's real success.

Rating out of 10: 5


The 1-0 win against Tottenham was not only a good night in terms of beating a local rival, it was also the evening the team showed a desire and tenacity that had eluded them for most of the season. The reward was an atmosphere that rivalled that of the post North/South Bank Boleyn -- and there were few who ever thought that was likely to happen this season.

Running it close was the 2-1 fourth-round EFL win against Chelsea, when it seemed -- for just a brief period in October -- the Hammers might be able to turn the early season tedium into something positive. It wasn't to be.

The move to the London Stadium was an important step for West Ham. In reality, the season's highlight was all around. Many supporters complained and, early on, there was much to complain about. Some stayed away and will never come back. Too many who had nothing to do with the club, said West Ham had sold its soul. The fact is the London Stadium has secured West Ham's future and has raised the profile -- not to mention the attendance -- of the club several notches. It will take time, but the Hammers have taken a giant step into the future.

Low Point

There's always a tendency from those outside a club to assume the heavy defeats are the hardest to bear. Thrashings at the hands of Arsenal (5-1), Liverpool (4-0) and Manchester City (4-0) -- all at the London Stadium -- were certainly painful. However, the Premier League is a competition that isn't set on a level playing field and sometimes, when the opposition is demonstrably superior and playing at their best, the only thing to complain about is the manner of the defeat.

West Ham have looked clueless, out-classed and jaded at times this season certainly, but what fans do expect is for the team to perform against opposition their equal. The 4-2 defeat at home by Watford in early September, after leading 2-0 just before half time, was undoubtedly a low. Even at the time, it suggested there was a problem beyond settling into a new home.

Star Man

Michail Antonio was named the Hammer of the Year and would undoubtedly be classed one of the few players to show anywhere near his real form this season. Argentine Manuel Lanzini would run Antonio close though. Lanzini stepped up after the departure of Dimitri Payet and has been head and shoulders over most of his teammates, particularly since Antonio suffered his season-ending injury.


A Flop of the Season award at the London Stadium would surely consist of a queue of players jostling each other and shouting "Me! Me!"

Andre Ayew, Edimilson Fernandes, Havard Nordtveit, Gokhan Tore, Alvaro Arbeloa, Robert Snodgrass, Jonathan Calleri and Jose Fonte have all disappointed at various times. Some, like Fonte, have stuck to the task and have shown fleetingly why they were purchased; others, like Snodgrass, hold out hope for the future. Some though -- World Cup Winner Arbeloa stand up here -- just leave supporters dumbfounded; scratching their heads at exactly how football works sometimes.

Nevertheless, despite all the poor signings -- and even for West Ham this has been a bumper crop -- the biggest flop has been Payet. A man who could have ruled in Stratford and joined the legions of the greats, Payet had his head turned in the summer at Euro 2016 and, though his body arrived back in England, his head and heart never did. A tragic outcome that has benefitted neither club, nor one suspects, player.

Transfer Talk

The frustrating thing about talking about transfers in the summer of 2017 is that the club's needs are exactly the same as those in the summer of 2016. Last year, despite bold talk and brave attempts, the club was reduced to scuffling around and buying players for much more than they were worth.

To make any headway next season, the club desperately need two strikers. With some firepower up front, there might be less pressure on the defence and midfield.

A right-back and a creative midfielder are also needed, and the money for those could be found by ditching many of last season's failures.

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

West Ham end of season review: London Stadium move has been a disaster... only relegation could have made it worse for Slaven Bilic
West Ham finished 11th after a disappointing campaign under Slaven Bilic
Dimitri Payet left and the club failed to get past Europa League qualifiers
Hammers have struggled to play consistently well at the London Stadium
By Sam Cunningham for MailOnline
PUBLISHED: 12:29, 22 May 2017 | UPDATED: 12:29, 22 May 2017

West Ham endured a difficult campaign in their first season at the London Stadium following their move from Upton Park. After flirting with a relegation battle Slaven Bilic's side pulled away but failed to build on a seventh place finish last year.

So, how did it go?

Only relegation could've made it worse. The move to the new stadium was a disaster with fans fighting amongst themselves and clashing with rivals, they were knocked out of the Europa League qualifiers, star man Dimitri Payet forced his way out in January and for a while they appeared to be on their way down.

Player of the season

Michail Antonio. He started the season at left-back and ended it up front. An England call-up by Gareth Southgate arrived along the way until injury ruled him out. The performances earned him a deserved pay rise.

Best moment

There weren't many. A close one between beating rivals Chelsea in the EFL Cup 2-1, the first major result at the London Stadium (although it was marred by fans clashing), and ending Tottenham's title chances with a 1-0 win there on a Friday night in early May.

Lowest moment

Supporters were desperately looking forward to a Europa League campaign, only to see their side lose to Romanians Astra Giurgiu at home in the second leg of their final qualifier.

How did the manager get on?

Slaven Bilic has found himself under mounting pressure as the season has progressed. His signings were not great but other factors out of his control have not helped either. He has handled himself graciously at all times, though.

What can they improve in the summer?

They really need to get their recruitment right. Poor signings can have a destabilising effect for one season; after two or three it can become catastrophic.

Feghouli's future and transfer targets - just what are Slaven Bilic and the West Ham board discussing today?
The Hammers hierachy and the boss will meet later today
Football London
11:38, 22 MAY 2017

Slaven Bilic will sit down with David Gold, David Sullivan and Karren Brady later today (Monday) to pick through what was a very disappointing 2016/2017 Premier League campaign. The board are fully behind the boss, who has 13 months still to run on his current contract, but won't be offered a new one today. That's up for discussion for a later date and obviously depends how the start of next season pans out. But what exactly could the board ad the boss be discussing when they sit down for the cordial discussion later on? Here's a few things they will be having a chat about.

West Ham did finish a pedestrian 11th place in the table but there were some horrendous results in their eat times. Bilic says it often enough than when their backs were to the wall, they pulled through and they did to be fair, but it was what got the team there in the first place which is the concern. The London Stadium thumpings by Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool no doubt will come up, plus defeats to Watford, Leicester, West Bromwich Albion among others. The run of five defeats in a row in 2017, picking up just three points in their first seven games, the win over Burnley was West Ham's first in three months on the road. Results were not good this season, even with th circumstances and with the squad the club had, they weren't good enough.

The wretched injury record

It was absolutely horrendous and it wasn't like players were picking up knocks -they were serious injuries. Ten different players were out for at least two-and-a-half months or more this season. The injury list from pre-Burnley was horrible reading - Andy Carroll, Arthur Masuaku, Diafra Sakho, Havard Nordtveit, Jonathan Calleri, Michail Antonio, Pedro Obiang, Winston Reid, all missing through injury. Carroll has missed huge chunks of the season, Diafra Sakho has played twice, Andre Ayew missed four months, Antonio has missed a combined three months, Arthur Masuaku has missed four months, as has Sam Byram. Whether it's the methods at Rush Green causing these injuries, the board will want answers.

Changing his backroom staff

The board has hinted in the past at this, with Bilic staying loyal to his team of Nikola Jurcevic, Edin Terzic, Miljenko Rak, Chris Woods and Julian Dicks as his coaches. The board are still keen on this but are not going to force it upon the boss.

Sofiane Feghouli's future

It's one of the major questions as the Hammers could well cash in on the Algerian this summer. He was signed on a free transfer last year ad the club could now gt some money back on their investment. Feghouli put in a good shift at Burnley but for the majority of the season has been a big disappointment after arriving from Valencia. There is interest from around Europe in his services and the club will want to know if he is figuring in Bilic's plans for next season.

Transfer targets

Slaven Bilic will outline the players he wants this summer at the meeting and the board will then decide if it's a list they agree with. The names of Michy Batshuayi, Yaya Toure, Kelechi Iheanacho, Kevin Malcuit and others will be mentioned. The futures of players such as Andy Carroll, Diafra Sakho, Jonathan Calleri and Gokhan Tore will also be discussed. Bilic has maintained throughout the past few weeks that he is fine with quantity of his squad, it's th quality that eeds improving so don't expect the transfers to be a long discussion.

Match of the Day pundit Ian Wright has sympathy with Burnley in West Ham defeat
Tyrone Marshall / @TyMarshall_LT

FORMER Clarets striker Ian Wright had sympathy for Matt Lowton's attempted clearance during West Ham's winner on the final day at Turf Moor. The Burnley right-back position himself on the line to try and head clear after Tom Heaton's save from Edmilson Fernandes had sent the ball spiralling into the air. But as he jumped to clear the ball bounced off the crossbar instead and back to Andre Ayew, who could head into an empty net to secure victory for the Hammers. Wright, analysing the game on Sunday night's Match of the Day, was impressed with Ayew's reactions to be in the right place to apply the finish. "Lowton is the unfortunate guy. He (Fernandes) has a good shot here, Lowton think he's going to head it and off the line and it hits the bar," he said. "Ayew has done well, he's reacted very well to it, he's in the right place for it. I like that."

Wright's co-pundit Alan Shearer said both sides and both Sean Dyche and Slaven Bilic could reflect on a positive season now the campaign had come to an end. West Ham's victory took them to 11th in the table, while Burnley's defeat left them 16th, but they still finished six points clear of the bottom three. Asked if both sides should be happy with their respective seasons, Shearer said: "I think so. There's been a lot talk on Bilic's job but when they finish in 11th I don't think they can do any better than this season.
"I think both managers have done as well as they can."

West Ham United's 'deal of the century' on stadium just got worse for taxpayers
22 May 2017

West Ham United has become embroiled in further controversy after it emerged the club will pay just a fraction of the £2.3 million annual business rates bill on its London Stadium home.

Owners E20 Stadium, a joint venture between publicly funded London Legacy Development Corporation and Newham Council, have revealed the Hammers will pay additional rates on just the retail and office space in the 66,000-capacity stadium.
In a response to a Freedom of Information request seen by the Press Association, E20 confirmed it will pick up the bill for the rest of the entire stadium, dealing yet another blow to the taxpayer after West Ham secured the lease last year for just £2.5 million a year in rent.

The revelation comes days after mobile phone giant Vodafone pulled out of a £20 million naming rights deal to sponsor West Ham's London Stadium.

It also follows just weeks after officials from HM Revenue and Customs dramatically raided the Premier League club's offices at the stadium as part of a wider investigation into allegations of tax evasion in football.
E20 declined to reveal how much West Ham would contribute in business rates, saying this was still under discussion, despite West Ham having relocated last year.

It is likely to be far less than the £1.3 million it would have forked out in rates each year for its former home at The Boleyn Ground, according to business rent and rates specialist CVS.

Dubbed by critics as the "deal of the century", West Ham's lease agreement has come under heavy fire while it has also been revealed the taxpayer will foot the bill for the costs of policing, stewarding, heating, maintenance of the pitch and even corner flags and nets.
Its deal to share the rates bill is also likely to fuel anger among rival clubs, many of whom are paying millions of pound in property rates each year.

The TaxPayers' Alliance said the "deal of the century now looks even worse for taxpayers". James Price, campaign manager at the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "When other football stadiums are paying millions in business rates, it is ridiculous to expect taxpayers to pick up this tab for West Ham every single year, especially when considering the deal they got for the stadium in the first place.
"The whole relationship between West Ham and taxpayers needs to completely change."

The annual rates bill for the London Stadium was £2.1 million in 2016/17 and surged to £2.3 million after the tax shake-up on April 1, according to CVS. A spokesman for E20 said: "West Ham United does not own the stadium and only has full use of it on a certain number of days each year, for which they pay £2.5 million annually. "In addition, they pay the business rates for the office space and other areas they occupy exclusively. They do so via a contribution to the overall rates bill."

Rivals clubs are also facing steep hikes in their rates bills, with new Premier League Champions Chelsea paying £2 million this year in business rates for Stamford Bridge, while Arsenal will pay £3.3 million for rates on the Emirates Stadium.

The £700 million London Stadium has been dogged by negative headlines about its expense for almost a decade. Last year, London mayor Sadiq Khan ordered a review into the spiralling costs of converting it from an athletics arena into a multi-purpose venue with football at its heart.

A spokesman for West Ham United said: "West Ham United only use the stadium facilities on matchday so, as tenants, we pay for the share of rates on those matchdays. "We also, as tenants with our own specific areas, are liable for rates on the club offices, shop and warehouse. We will be separately assessed on this by the Valuation Office and this will be backdated to when we first moved in."

West Ham fans react to Robert Snodgrass's performance against Burnley
Vincent Ralph

West Ham United overcame Burnley in their final league game of the campaign. West Ham United included a number of young prospects in their match day squad for Sunday's clash with Burnley, but it was the same old faces that kicked off proceedings, with the Hammers ultimately running out 2-1 winners. Goals from Sofiane Feghouli and Andre Ayew ensured that Sam Vokes' opener proved to be a mere consolation, meaning Slaven Bilic's side finished in 11th place despite an up-and-down campaign. One player who struggled to make any significant impact on the day was January signing Robert Snodgrass and he was replaced by young forward Ashley Fletcher with six minutes of normal-time remaining. The Scotland international has struggled to replicate the form that earned him a move from Hull City at the turn of the year, managing only two assists in 15 appearances for West Ham to date. Snodgrass has a contract at the club until 2020 and he will be hoping to turn things round in time for next season, when he will need to prove his worth in what could be a new-look Hammers side. Still, it was disappointing that some of West Ham's next generation were only given chances late on while Snodgrass toiled for much of the encounter. After the match we took to Twitter to see what West Ham fans thought of the 29-year-old's latest performance and you can read a selection of what we found below:

COYI @jacxf0ster
@WestHamUtd I would rather start quina than snodgrass
2:38 PM - 21 May 2017

Benjamin Haas @BHaasTSD
Feghouli with his best performance of the year and Snodgrass shows his worthlessness again. #COYI #WHUFC #BURWHU
4:30 PM - 21 May 2017

COYI ⚒⚒⚒ @SilkyLanzini
Please please please take Snodgrass off Billic
4:37 PM - 21 May 2017

Darren Wood @dazzaaw
Only 6 subs we don't need to name any never makes any changes Snodgrass has been toilet but still on pitch #COYI #whufc
4:41 PM - 21 May 2017

ak @AsadWHU
why did we sign him? what a waste of space, time and money. needs binning
11:35 PM - 21 May 2017

MR ⚒ @WHU_MR2013
Feghouli was great today. Shame he's too inconsistent but I'd definitely keep hold of him for next season & sell Snodgrass whos garbage
5:12 PM - 21 May 2017

Glen H ⚒ @Glen_WHU64
Couldn't we put Snodgrass on e bay .... either bids or buy it now ..... someone must take him ..... please .. ⚒
4:23 PM - 21 May 2017
1 1 Retweet 7 7 likes

Sources close to Watford's Isaac Success deny West Ham reports
Ron Walker, Senior sports writer / ronnabe

Reports linking Isaac Success with a summer move to West Ham are wide of the mark. The promising young forward has endured a turbulent first season at Watford, starting only twice and playing barely 500 minutes of football, as injuries took their toll on his Premier League campaign, as did falling out of favour with head coach Walter Mazzarri. The Observer has learned Mazzarri was unimpressed with what he perceived a poor attitude from the 21-year-old which limited his first-team involvement, but Success will face a clean slate under the Hornets' next head coach. After playing a bit-part role at Vicarage Road speculation over his future is little surprise, however sources close to the player have indicated there is no truth to recent articles suggesting there have been discussions over his future with the Hammers. Success has made 19 appearances for Watford, scoring once.

Bilic meets board to dissect season and Fernandes is the future - Burnley vs West Ham talking points
The season is now over but there was plenty talk about from West Ham's 2-1 win over Burnley
Football London
10:02, 22 MAY 2017UPDATED10:12, 22 MAY 2017

Slaven Bilic will meet with David Gold, David Sullivan and Karren Brady to dissect the season today (Monday) before the Croat has his hip operation later this week. The board are 100 per cent behind the boss, they want him to stay, but he won't be offered a new contract just yet. They will tell him they are disappointed with an 11th place finish but after the troubles of the season, it's more acceptable that it could have been. No doubt transfer targets will be discussed - Bilic told us yesterday he has them already in mind - and it'll be up to him to go and get them. Once the boss is off his sick bed following his procedure, it's down to business.

Sort out your final ball, Sam

Irrespective of whether Sam Byram absolutely bossed the final few weeks of the season, a new right back will arrive at the London Stadium this summer. But, he could give Slaven Bilic - at least - something to think about if he could only just improve his final ball and decision making in attacking areas. Byram gets forward at will and does it well but when he gets into offensive positions, he either gives the ball away, puts in a poor cross or makes the wrong decision. He needs to learn from what Aaron Cresswell and especially Arthur Masuaku have done on the left hand side, their end product is much better. Had Byram been a better crosser of the ball, maybe the need for a new right back would might not have been such a pressing issue.

Is there a more wonderfully frustrating player to watch than Andre Ayew?

This column called him quit after the 4-0 defeat to Liverpool for not doing enough as the Hammers' record signing, four tap ins (prior to Burnley) wasn't a good enough return on £20.1m investment and some under par displays to go with it. Yesterday looked like more of the same as Ayew - leading the line by himself - made no impact whatsoever. Then he went and scored a tap in. That made it six goals for the season in what has been disrupted by injury and also, being out of favour and playing the role of substitute until the final two months of the season. In retrospect, that's actually a good return for the Ghanaian.

Edimilson Fernandes is the future, trust us

The young Swiss midfielder was the best Hammer on the pitch at Turf Moor on Sunday as he showed glimpses of unreal class and quality in that central midfield spot. Potentially freed from having the distractions of another defensive midfielder on the park, the 21-year-old completely bossed proceedings as Jeff Hendricks was a complete non-factor for the hosts, shut out by Fernandes. His passing was on the mark and crisp, finding their targets and building attacks. His tackling was superb, his strength is underrated and he is deceptively quick too. Fernandes signing was a bit of a strange one back in the summer but yesterday showed he was exactly what Slaven Bilic was looking for.

Hold your horses on Sofiane Feghouli

Arguably one of the favourites to be booted out of E20 this summer after a pedestrian debut season in the Premier League, Feghouli was a real spark on the final day. Whether he has been told he is playing for his future or wanted to end with a flourish, Feghouli put in one his better performances this season. He was electric from the get go, with pace, beating his man and supplying deliveries.
He took his goal fabulously well and showed glimpses of what we had wanted to see from him all season lonmg. Don't rule him out departing just yet.

Ex Cambridge United loanee and Everton player linked with West Ham United move
09:38, 22 MAY 2017

West Ham are reported to be ready to make a £1million offer for former Cambridge United loanee Ryan Ledson. Ledson joined United on loan from Everton in November 2015 and went on to play every game he was available for – he missed two matches while on duty for England under-19s – last season. After an impressive campaign with United he returned to the Toffees, only for Oxford, who had been promoted to Sky Bet League One, to sign the midfielder on a three-year deal for an undisclosed fee last summer. But if the reports at WestHamWorld.co.uk are correct, Ledson could be set for a move to the Hammers. The website claims the Premier League club would pay £750,000 up front with a further £250,000 to follow depending on future appearances as well as a five per cent sell-on fee, while also sending Ledson back to Oxford on a season-long loan deal next term.

Slaven Bilic hasn't enjoyed West Ham's first season at the London Stadium... but he expects them to improve
West Ham struggled at home in their first year at their new ground
But Hammers have recovered to finish 11th in the Premier League this season
Slaven Bilic admits it was not a great season, but says the side will benefit from it
By Andy Hampson, Press Association
PUBLISHED: 09:44, 22 May 2017 | UPDATED: 09:44, 22 May 2017

Slaven Bilic admits West Ham's season was not enjoyable - but expects them to benefit hugely from the experience. The Hammers fell back from their impressive seventh-placed finish of 2015-16 to end their latest Premier League campaign in 11th after a 2-1 final-day win at Burnley. It was not a straightforward season with the club's move from Upton Park to the London Stadium proving problematic and other factors, including dressing-room unrest and injuries, also hampering the side. There was never any real danger of relegation, however, and manager Bilic views the year as one of transition that can be built upon. He said: 'It is not a season to talk about and hail as one of the best seasons, it is nowhere near the season of last year, but there is something between great and bad and we have done it.
'We never lost belief, it was permanent. The confidence was up and down - it varies because of results - but belief was there. 'It wasn't enjoyable but, individually and as a team, I am sure we will benefit from this season a lot. It was a great experience. 'We had a couple of black holes in the season but we had eight major surgeries and we had 10 players who were out for a minimum of two-and-a-half months. This is scary, it is too much. 'Considering that and considering the move to the new stadium - that is definitely, long-term, the best thing the club has ever done but it needs time to adjust - we have done well. 'We were never in real trouble but five times we were one game away from being in real trouble. Every time we really needed it we showed the character and showed the quality.'
A second-half winner from Andre Ayew ensured the Hammers ended on a positive note by coming from behind to win at Turf Moor. Sam Vokes put Burnley into a 23rd-minute lead but that was quickly cancelled out by the impressive Sofiane Feghouli. The hosts spurned a number of chances to reclaim the lead and West Ham capitalised when Ayew pounced on a rebound after an Edimilson Fernandes shot was turned onto the bar by Tom Heaton. It was a response Bilic had demanded after a 4-0 hammering by Liverpool last week had ended a five-game unbeaten run and spoiled a solid run-in. Bilic said: 'I wanted to avoid the factor of complacency, but it was there (against Liverpool). It wasn't the same step, the same players like it was the week before against Spurs. 'But, at home, in 2017 it was only Man City twice, in the cup and league, and Liverpool that we were really not on the same level with. I am happy the way we finished the season.'

Slaven Bilic to meet West Ham board today to discuss his future and these summer transfer targets
Jason Burt, chief football correspondent
22 MAY 2017 • 9:15AM

Slaven Bilic will today meet the West Ham United board to discuss his future and the club's summer transfer targets. The board want Bilic to stay – and he wants to remain as manager – although despite having just 13 months left on his contract he will not be offered a new deal. However no change is expected to be made and Bilic will stay.

West Ham fully intend to go into next season with Bilic in place and will decide around January whether he extend his contract depending on how the team performs. There is a general sense of disappointment at finishing 11th in the Premier League, after last season's impressive seventh place finish, although there is an acceptance that Bilic has had to work under trying circumstances and coped reasonably well. These have included the move from Upton Park to the London Stadium – formerly the Olympic Stadium – a spate of key injuries and the Dimitri Payet saga which saw West Ham's best player force a £25million move back to Marseille in the January window.

Today's talks are not unusual. West Ham have an annual review of their manager's performance at the end of every season but Bilic has been under pressure although club sources insist the "100 per cent" want him to stay. The 48-year-old Croat is also booked in for a hip replacement operation later this week so the meeting has to take place before then.

West Ham's board do want answers as to why there have been so many significant injuries this season – 10 in all – which have also contributed to the disappointing results. They would like Bilic to make some changes to his backroom staff but they will not insist upon this and accept it is the manager's prerogative to work with whom he wants.

The talks will therefore centre on transfer targets with West Ham discussing a move for Manchester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho – who is also wanted by Borussia Dortmund and a number of other clubs – and who may be available for transfer this summer. The 20-year-old has not featured greatly under Pep Guardiola.

West Ham have already agreed, in principle, a two-year deal to sign Pablo Zabaleta from City after the 32-year-old's contract expired although they are waiting for the right-back to fully make up his mind whether he wants to join them.

Another potential target from City is Yaya Toure who is also soon out-of-contract although there is an expectation that the 34-year-old midfielder may be offered a 12-month extension by Guardiola which would represent a remarkable turnaround given he was frozen out because of his lack of fitness at the start of the season.

West Ham are believed to have no interest in bringing Jermain Defoe back to the club. They attempted to sign the 34-year-old in January for £6million but that as rebuffed by Sunderland and although the striker has a release clause, allowing him to leave for free once his current club were relegated, West Ham are not going to enter the bidding for him. An ambitious target for West Ham could be Daniel Sturridge if Liverpool decide to make him available.

Double Rangers miss, but West Ham developments give Warburton transfer hope
Dan Coombs

Nottingham Forest boss should be buoyed by comments from David Gold. West Ham co-owner David Gold is under fire after stating on Twitter he did not expect any youth team players to push for the club's first team. The Hammers are blessed with talented young players, and have a rich history of progressing the likes of Michael Carrick and Rio Ferdinand into their first team. His comments could well be of interest to Nottingham Forest manager Mark Warburton, who wanted to work with two West Ham youngsters last season.

David Gold ✔ @davidgold
I think we all have to except that it is extremely unlikely that a teenager will break into a PL team full of seasoned international. dg https://twitter.com/billrobinsonwhu/status/865828528083935232
11:41 AM - 20 May 2017
249 249 Retweets 275 275 likes

Mark Warburton tried unsuccessfully to sign two West Ham players for Glasgow Rangers, targeting Domingos Quina and Reece Oxford. The Sun reported Rangers tried to sign talented winger Quina on loan, with the Daily Record detailing an approach on loan for defender Reece Oxford. Quina remained at West Ham while Oxford signed on loan for Reading instead, where he has largely been a bit part player.
David Gold's comments will be hugely discouraging to West Ham's youngsters, and he went onto suggest that loans are likely.

David Gold ✔ @davidgold
Teenagers gain experience by going out on loan to the 1st 2nd division and the championship. https://twitter.com/simonbarnes20/status/865962883351445505
5:32 PM - 20 May 2017
18 18 Retweets 77 77 likes

It will be hard to imagine that Warburton would not elect to explore the possibility of bringing either player to the City Ground, with his interest in them previously. Both Quina and Oxford will likely be available, with Gold's comments effectively putting them in the shop window for the coming season.

Ayew brothers Jordan and Andre score in the same minute as each other for Swansea City and West Ham United
Published on: 22 May 2017

Two brothers, scoring in the Premier League for different teams, in the same minute? Ayew serious? That is what happened this afternoon, with both Jordan and Andre scoring for Swansea City and West Ham United respectively. And in a bizarre twist both notched up a goal in the 72nd minute of their matches. Jordan Ayew was the first to strike, turning in a Gylfi Sigurdsson free-kick to give Swansea parity against West Brom at the Liberty. And in the same minute at Turf Moor older brother Andre, a former Swan, don't forget, gave West Ham the lead at Burnley. From all of three yards, the 27-year-old turned the ball home after a drilled shot had hit Tom Heaton's bar. The official times of the goals were: J Ayew - 71:12, and A Ayew - 71:08. Swansea went on to win their game 2-1 thanks to Fernando Llorente's winner, with West Ham also winning by the same scoreline. The result means Paul Clement's side finished 15th in the Premier League standings

By HamburgHammer 22 May 2017 at 08:00

The weekend started stormy for me on Friday evening, literally. Final day of the Hamburg Oberliga season, a final meaningless home game against already relegated opposition. Even the 50 or so spectators who had made their way to the ground more by force of habit rather than uncontrollable enthusiasm for the game didn't look like they wanted to be there. Neither did the two teams. Due to the very obscure local noise control regulations the game had to be played on the adjoining grass pitch rather than the artificial one usually used on the premises as it was a Friday evening game.

The game was played under a constant supply of drizzling rain. It was as exciting as a wet weekend in Wigan and then middle of the second half with the score at 1:1 the heavens opened for a furious crescendo. Freezing cold water hitting us from all sides, accompanied by heavy thunder and lightning, directly above the pitch. The referee had no other option than to abandon the game (and thus most likely end the season) and to tell the truth not a single soul was unhappy with that. The Concordia lads will now have to do some reshuffling over the summer, replacing some departing players, in order to then strive for promotion again next season.

The Concordia vice president once again told me over a beer he was very much looking forward to joining me on one of my West Ham trips next season with a few more guys from the Cordi hierarchy, so I may be asking you for some help with regard to providing a few tickets for that cause sometime next season.

As for our West Ham game I was in the bizarre situation of not being able to watch via one of my usual streams and I wasn't confident enough about using some of the other suggestions as I didn't want to put my laptop at risk of being attacked by spy- or ransomware. So I "watched" the game via the stats screen of the betting site I use which is a bit like watching one of those dodgy first video games that came out on one of those old Atari gaming consoles, but coupled with the WHTID thread it did the trick.

By all accounts we delivered a solid performance with the bare bones outfit we sent out onto that pitch, we were even one man short on the bench – with one of those substitutes being a rather short man too in the shape of my favourite youth player, young Dan Kemp. I was chuffed to bits for the lad even though he didn't get to play, but we got a good win at Burnley which not only pushed us up the table into a very respectable 11th place but the result alone should send Hammers far and wide into the summer in a much happier mood compared to the mindset we might have had to endure after yet another defeat or draw in that final game.

Apparently we now have an additional £19 million to spend in the summer, either on transfers or to pay off some more debt. I don't want to go over the season just ended in meticulous detail, and at the hazard of sounding like a broken record I need to reiterate that I consider it a minor miracle how we ended up in 11th place after this shambles of a season.

Now be honest: If I had told you at the start of the season that our best player in recent years, Payet, would leave the club in acrimonious circumstances after going on strike in January, that there would be fighting with rival fans, also among Hammers fans, coupled with trouble concerning the stewarding and fan segregation at the London Stadium, that we would have ELEVEN players out through injury for at least two months each over the course of the season, that our Number One striker Andy Carroll once again would be unavailable for more than half games of the season, that we would ship goals left, right and center to suffer an unhealthy number of maulings against several sides in the league, throw in a tax raid at London Stadium hyped up for the media to create maximum effect and finish it off with the lack of effort, pressing and even running shows by our team in most games this season – and if I then still offered you 11th place in the table, you wouldn't just have snatched my arm off, but probably a bit of the shoulder and a leg as well.

We all have differing opinions on who is to blame to what degree for the various issues affecting our club this season. I will make no secret of the fact that I doff my cap to Slaven Bilic for the dignity and courage he displayed in what must have been a season from hell for any manager. I maintain that the best managers in the world would have struggled in the same situation, maybe even crumbled and collapsed under the pressure encountered by Slav. But he rarely moaned or pointed fingers at others. He did his best and carried on managing the team. Although I get the impression that maybe he treats his players too well at times, is too much of a mate rather than the manager and chief in command.
Maybe he needs to put his foot down on them more at times, demanding more effort and fight. But maybe that just isn't his way. He still offers a lot more good than bad traits as a manager as far as I'm concerned.

Let's not forget, all of the above while suffering from a bad hip, the pain caused by which I dare not even imagine. Bilic deserves a clean slate now (don't we all?) and apparently he is headed for the notorious end of season review talks in Sullivan's office today. For me there can only be one outcome here: Keep Bilic and support him with the money to bring in 3 or 4 quality signings. That's all we need really. Eliminate the negative factors mentioned above, add quality players where we need them (RB and strikers mainly) and we should be well equipped for a top 8 finish next season.
I would actually consider keeping players like Feghouli, Nordtveit and Fletcher as they have rarely been given a run in the side and I reckon there is enough quality in them to be very decent squad players for us.

One of the biggest elephants in the room though is the high number of injuries buggering us constantly over the years. We have moved training grounds, so that's one cause eliminated.
Is it just bad luck or rotten karma ? I don't really believe that. The most likely reason for me is a combination of inadequate training/warmup routines and a dodgy medical setup. That's easy for me to say, with no professional background in physiotherepy or medical science, but this constant flow of long-term injuries has been following our club for years now, so the medical team surely warrants some serious looking at during the summer, same as Slaven's backroom staff.

But it all starts and ends with the owners. They are the ones who ultimately have to decide what kind of club we want to be and how we can achieve that vision, if they have one for West Ham that is. Talk alone will not do anymore. Social media snippets won't do. Aloof bragging in newspapers about capacity at London Stadium, number of punters on the notorious Waiting List, sizes of digital screens or increasing net worth of West Ham won't do. In the style of a famous quote by Bill Clinton:
"It's the football, stupid!"

The Premier League is a money business like never before in its history. If you want to tango with the big boys, you need to spend big and on top of that you need to spend wisely too. If you are very lucky sometimes you can get away with spending reasonably little money as long as you are still spending it eftremly smartly. But that surely is a pretty rare event and a makeshift approach that will not get you up the table long term.

Now the summer is upon us then. A long summer with very little football to be found. Of course there is always the silly season, but I sincerely hope West Ham will have learned their lesson and will only come out with stuff once players have actually signed on the dotted line, holding that shirt up while grinning like a Cheshire Cat (why are cats in other counties not capable of the same facial expression I wonder).

So I reckon I won't be writing my column quite as regularly as normal throughout the summer, unless there is West Ham related stuff to discuss of course. I am still surprised that people actually read my articles and sometimes even seem to enjoy them, so hopefully I can continue in the same vein, with renewed hope and enthusiasm next season.

As a final bit of fun, I've been talking in previous comments about a German TV host and comedian being the spitting image (in my view) of our skipper, Canning Town's own Mark Noble. The guy is called Jan Boehmermann and I have to admit the likeness somewhat varies, depending on what the guy is wearing, from what angle you watch him, how he's moving etc.

But I still think he looks like one of Mark's brothers, separated at birth and shipped off to Germany…LOL
Judge for yourselves!

Wishing you all a lovely summer and I hope to see you all again next season!
Or online of course if you occasionally still feel you want to talk about West Ham on a warm summer's day. COYI!!!

Rice Decision Shows How Premier League Need to Change Payments

West Ham travelled to Burnley for what was on paper a dead rubber from the outset. Perhaps the only issue of note was the possibility for each club of finishing as high as 11th or as low as 16th. That equates with a whopping £9 million up to play for - not so boring for the respective club's management all of a sudden!

However, although the prize money system keeps clubs focused until the very last kick of the season, today's game demonstrated how it may be impeding the development of young players. It had been widely rumoured that Declan Rice, Captain of the U23 side that recently won the PL2 trophy, would be rewarded with a first Premier League start but the lad had to settle for a 90th minute entrance as Angelo Ogbonna was preferred in the starting XI.

Rice looks the real deal, but it seems a terrible pity that the pressure to finish as high as possible in the league rankings can discourage managers to take a punt with young but inexperienced talent.

Let's hope the lad gets his chance next season but with Reid, Ogbonna, Fonte and Collins in the mix and with the two Reece's looking to push on, it'll be hard for the Irishman to break into the team. The preoccupation with end of season placings further detracts from the opportunities available to blood new talent.


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