Wednesday, May 24

Daily WHUFC News - 24th May 2017

Lanzini delighted by Argentina call-up

Manuel Lanzini cannot wait to get down to work with the star-studded Argentina squad after being called up by his country for the first time at senior level. The outstanding West Ham United No10 has been included in La Celeste's 20-man selection for a mouth-watering friendly with Brazil in Melbourne, Australia, on 9 June, followed by a first-ever meeting with Singapore four days later. Lanzini, who has scored 15 times in 70 appearances in Claret and Blue, is excited by the prospect of training and playing alongside the likes of Lionel Messi, Paulo Dybala and former Hammer Javier Mascherano. "I'm very happy for this," he told West Ham TV. "To get a call from Argentina is a surprise, but now I'll go to Argentina and relax and then I'll concentrate on the games. "Of course I am very excited. It's very good to play with Argentina and with my country. It's amazing and I'm looking forward to playing with amazing players. "I feel ready because the coach [Jorge] Sampaoli called me for the team and I am happy for this."

Should Lanzini impress in the two summer friendly internationals, the 24-year-old will hope to keep his place for Argentina's next round of vital 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. The two-times champions and 2014 runners-up are in danger of missing out on automatic qualification for Russia and need to win in Uruguay and home to Venezuela if they are to get their campaign back on track.

So, is he now targeting a place in Argentina's World Cup squad? "Maybe, maybe!" he smiled. Now it's time for me to be quiet and concentrate on these games. It's one chance for me to prove myself and I need to demonstrate myself."

Back at domestic level, Lanzini has become a hero among the Claret and Blue Army, particularly after ending the season in superb form.
The Buenos Aires-born star recently netted the winner in the home victory over Tottenham Hotspur and was again to the fore in Sunday's win at Burnley. "We needed to finish like this," said the man who made more Premier League appearances than any other Hammer this season. "Three points were very important as we were playing against a good Burnley team. The first half was half-and-half as we were asleep in the first minutes, but after that we played good. "Now is time to relax and go to visit my family, my friends and my son. It's good for us to finish like this. I go home now to visit my family. "I need to come back here and the fans for West Ham are amazing. It's very good for me because they always sing my name and this is amazing."

Midfield duo pen new one-year deals

Moses Makasi and Noha Sylvestre have signed new one-year contracts with West Ham
The midfielders have been key men for the U23s this season as they won Premier League 2 promotion
Both are keen to impress the manager this pre-season

Midfield pair Moses Makasi and Noha Sylvestre have signed new one-year-deals with West Ham United. The duo, who have both regularly featured for the Academy of Football's U23s this season, have put pen to paper on contracts which will see them remain in east London until 2018. Makasi, who played 29 times for Terry Westley's team this campaign, also featured on the bench twice for the first team at the end of the 2016/17 season, including at Turf Moor against Burnley on Sunday. Swiss 19-year-old Sylvestre was also heavily involved in the Hammers' Premier League 2 campaign, making 25 appearances in all competitions and helping the outfit win promotion to Division 1 via the Play-Offs. Makasi – now 21 – has been with West Ham since he was nine-years-old, and was naturally delighted to extend his stay at London Stadium. He said: "It's a good feeling. I've obviously had a good season personally, going on pre-season tour with the first team [to Seattle last summer] and I had a couple of games on the bench, so all-in-all, it's been a good season. "I played nearly all the games for the U23s to win the Play-Offs with them, so that was great. "For the first team, there have been a few of us on the bench this season and it shows that hard work counts. If you have a good season, then the manager is always watching. "Next season, hopefully I'll get the chance to come on and make an appearance. It's been really good seeing how the Premier League works and how the manager does he pre-match meetings, how everything is done before the game."

Ahead of next campaign, Makasi has no doubts about what he hopes to achieve. "I think it is my time to go out on loan now," he continued. "I've obviously done the whole U23s season, had a good season, and it would be good to get out on loan, have a good July to December of playing first team football. "Hopefully I'll have smashed it ready to come back and be in the manager's eye line here. "I've been here a long time, nearly 12 years. This is where I want to succeed and make a living at West Ham by breaking into the first team."

Sylvestre, son of former Switzerland international Patrick, has impressed this campaign with his versatility, featuring at full-back though primarily being a central midfielder. "I'm obviously delighted to sign," he said. "I have always wanted to stay at West Ham, and I've been here for four years now. "I'm happy about everything here – the football, the life outside of football, because that's very important. "I am really excited about the future and what's coming up. There's a lot of work to do now and it's not finished at all. "It couldn't have been anymore perfect, this season. It was amazing to get promotion and the season overall, if I look back, has been very positive for me. I had plenty of opportunities to play and show what was about and I took them. "I can always do better, but my mind is really clear for next season, my objectives, and I just have to put that into practice."

Having seen teammates such as Declan Rice go on to make his first team debut this season, Sylvestre believes there is a clear pathway at the Club for those in the Academy. "You can see how quickly football moves sometimes, and one day you're in the U18s and the next you can be in the Premier League on the bench. I'm so happy for Declan Rice for making his debut, he really deserved it. "I want to be at the very top too, and being on the bench for the first team next season is one of my objectives. I'm not looking too far ahead though; I want to have the best pre-season I've ever had. "That's the first aim. If there's an opportunity later to go out on loan, I will because I need to experience adults football and a bit more physicality. "

Head of Medical - Premier League is quicker than ever before

Premier League stars are facing ever more exacting physical exertions every time they take to the pitch.

With outfield players running more than six miles and averaging around 50 sprints in the average 90-minute match, the intensity of top-flight fixtures is placing ever more strenuous demands on their bodies.

At the same time, the scrutiny emanating from growing world of digital and social media is placing more psychological strain on players than ever before.

To that end, Head of Medical and Sports Science Stijn Vandenbroucke and his staff face an ever-evolving challenge to keep players fit in both body and mind, with the aim of making as many as possible available for selection on matchday.

Stijn, it has been a momentous season for the Club, and for the medical and sports science department it has been no different, with moves to a new stadium and training ground…

"I think it's a vast improvement, and it just shows how ambitious the Club is. The training ground has improved a lot. We have five very big pitches for the first team, we have a good gym, we have got a good treatment room, so it's spot on."

What is your philosophy around training and how to prepare the players for matches, particularly as the physical demands of Premier League football have seemingly increased in recent years?

"Training is the biggest thing in a football club. We believe in training as a medical and sports science team. We believe in intense training and hard training is a vaccine against injuries. But we also believe that you need to be able to recover hard and be able to be professional.

"Football players should evolve to the environment where he is a football player almost 18 hours a day. We have gone away from footballers who are only athletes for two or three hours a day. So much more things are getting involved.

"Everything is quicker and more intense and more difficult and faster, so the room you have for improvement is becoming smaller. Details are becoming really, really important.

"In the last six years, the Premier League has become much quicker, the intensity is much higher and the risk for injuries is increasing with a congested calendar. We don't have a winter break, and there are many obstacles.

"But it's a challenge and I think we need to evolve to a different way of approaching day-to-day life and training, on and off the pitch, for all clubs in the Premier League to tackle this problem of injuries.

"It's more complicated but it's more challenging and more interesting, to be honest. Like I said, the Premier League is more intense, so we need bigger athletes, stronger athletes. To train different individuals and different athletes, you need different approaches than five, six, seven years ago.

"That's a challenge to implement those changes in the game."

What about the psychological pressures players now face that did not exist a decade ago – particularly the advent of social media?

"I think we all underestimate the power of social media. Sometimes an angry voice has a much louder voice on Twitter and Instagram and all these things. Not every player is built and has the robustness to deal with these mental things.

"If you have personal problems and you don't get in the team for example, or you have an injury and one thing after another piles up, it could just be too much."

We now go into the off-season. Some players are fit, some are undergoing rehabilitation following injuries or surgeries, while others are off on international duty, so how do you plan for this time of year?

"The players do an off-season programme and I urge the importance of taking a step back from football for a few weeks – not running, nothing – just enjoying yourself.

"And then the off-season programme kicks in for the fit players, and by the time they come back, they are really up and running.

"The balance is what is the right thing to do? You need to think about the total picture – what works, and what gives you the best results. Many of our injuries, depending on where they are in the stage of their rehab, will have holiday and they will work.

"Some players keep working and then have one or two weeks' holiday, other players will now be off for a few weeks and will then start very early in June all the way up to the season.

"We will find a way to deal with it but at the end of the day, we are a football club, and we need fit players and fit athletes, so we're looking forward to next season."


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

West Ham are set to bid for Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi, who looks set to leave Stamford Bridge after just one season. (The Sun)

It has now been confirmed that Batshuayi and Iheanacho are our top two targets for the summer, and I would be pleased with either of them. I would prefer to sign Batshuayi though, because I think he has massive potential and I have wanted him for so long.

Tony Henry has insisted that West Ham need a maximum of three signings this summer. (Evening Standard)

If I am being honest, I think we need a minimum of three and a maximum of six or seven. They must be players that will get straight into our starting eleven too. We need game changers now, not squad players like we opted for last season.

Slaven Bilic is staying on as West Ham manager, and has targeted four new signings after talks with the owners. (Mirror)

I am glad that Slav is staying. I feel that he deserves to keep his job after all that he had to put up with last season. It is now the boards job to back him in the summer so that he can improve the team.

Pablo Zabaleta is set to become West Ham's first signing of the summer. (Evening Standard)

A very good way to kick off our summer business in my opinion. A quality right back with plenty of experience and leadership skills. I am sure he will be a brilliant signing for us.

Chelsea are interested in signing West Ham star Manuel Lanzini. (Express)

This simply will not happen. Manuel has already stated that he is happy at West Ham, and I see no reason for that to change. He is a massive part of our future, and we have to keep him with us for the long term.

West Ham have made a £120,000 bid for Lincoln City defender Sean Raggett. (Mail)

I have no idea who this guy is, but he is a very exciting prospect according to the article. If he is just that, then I will not be disappointed with him signing. However, I do wonder what that means for Recce Oxford and Reece Burke…

Declan Rice: West Ham youngster called up to Republic of Ireland squad

West Ham youngster Declan Rice has been called up by the Republic of Ireland for their upcoming friendlies and the World Cup qualifier against Austria. Rice, 18, only made his West Ham debut as a late substitute in the Premier League against Burnley on Sunday. In March, Rice was named the Republic's Under-17 player of the year. Rice, who can play in defence or midfield, is the second call-up to the squad in 24 hours after Preston's Alan Browne was drafted in on Monday. The Republic face Mexico in New Jersey on 1 June and take on Uruguay in Dublin three days later before the qualifier at home to Austria on 11 June. Uncapped Corkman Browne previously played for the Republic's Under-21s. The 22-year-old joins his Preston club-mates Aiden McGeady, Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle in Martin O'Neill's squad. Browne joined Preston from Cork City in 2014 and made 35 appearances for the Championship club this season. The Republic are level on points with leaders Serbia after five series of games in their World Cup qualifying group. Wales and Austria are both four points off the pace.

Burnley 1-2 West Ham (And Other Ramblings)
Filed: Tuesday, 23rd May 2017
By: HeadHammerShark

1. Holiday

So here we are. And there we were.

Stamford Bridge, August 2016 seems like a lifetime ago. On that balmy night under a crimson London sky, we still had the fresh faced innocence of youth. Back then we could destroy Death Stars and rescue princesses. We were Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. At Chelsea we came striding on to the stage, bursting with the confidence of a season spent bloodying the noses of the elite and with the strut that comes from having Dimitri Payet in your ranks. We lost, naturally, but with the ill fortune that seems to have been our constant companion during Slaven Bilic's tenure.

But ultimately we ended somewhat as we started, with injuries everywhere, no fit strikers and a seemingly terminal lack of direction to our play. By now we were limping forlornly to the finish of a dismal season. Now we were Luke Skywalker at the denouement of The Empire Strikes Back.

In that vein, this wasn't a terrible game. It had the important feature of being unimportant, allowing us to watch it in the slightly catatonic, vacation like state that end of season games have when you're a bang average, mid table, vanilla scoop of a team in the giant Ben and Jerry's stand that is the Premier League. But that same lack of tension betrays something in itself. None of us watch our teams for safety. We watch to be entertained and for the pursuit of victory, however vain that might often be. To watch, perchance to dream, if I might misquote the Bard.

However much it might knot the stomach, I think I prefer my football with something riding on it.

2. Giving Up The Gun

I have seen some comments that paint this season as a triumph of sorts for Bilic. Amid the rubble left behind by Payet, he has fashioned a team that finished just two points - or a last minute Darren Randolph error at Sunderland - from 8th place. The stadium move, injuries like Platoon and a disrupted dressing room were among the trials he faced, and in the end he came through it all to lead us to 11th place.

There is no doubt some truth to all of that, but it's also true that the gap between ourselves and Everton (16 points) is enormous, and that's before we even consider the distant top six. We are firmly embedded in that glut of mediocrity that covers the bottom two thirds of the league.

I also find it hard to look past the self inflicted nature of some of our problems. The constant lack of a right back and the ludicrous and damagingly long exclusion of Adrian were both issues Bilic brought upon himself. Likewise, he must have some say in our transfers and therefore deserves a slice of the opprobrium for them, for if he really has no involvement then he should be moved on for a manager with a bit more spine who won't let his bosses suggest he does.

Sadly, as much as I find Bilic to be personally engaging and a seemingly very decent guy, I also can't look past those repeated shellackings at home. Arsenal, Man City, Liverpool, Man City again, Southampton, Leicester and fucking Watford all scored at least three times at our ground, whilst it would be remiss to ignore that we also somehow managed to go 4-0 down to West Brom without even the hint of a match fixing scandal.

At some point it feels like we need to stop fixating on the rumour that Payet was being disruptive and focus a little more on the fact that the former Croatia centre half and manager couldn't organise his defence to stand in a straight line and stop Salomon Rondon from scoring.

Arguing for Bilic's dismissal is pointless as he isn't going to be fired and also because I'm a blogger and nobody listens to me. But it feels reasonable to point out that Bilic surely won't survive another season of shambolic defending like this again. Sure, David Sullivan is happy to use the Club to promote his straight to DVD story about little known East End gangsters the Krays, but letting in four at West Brom is a bit embarrassing all round.

3. I Stand Corrected

I wonder if I owe Andre Ayew an apology.

Probably not as he's never read a word of anything I've ever written and therefore doesn't give a shit about anything I think. But, if you can just exclude the memory of him having an epileptic fit last week and hitting the post from two yards out, he's actually been playing pretty well of late.

He started this game up front on his own because Bilic lost a game of pre match swingball to Sean Dyche or something, but made a very decent fist of it anyway. He's absolutely not a front man, but as a support striker you can see his merits easily enough. If nothing else he has the happy knack of finding himself in goalscoring positions more often than any of his team mates.

The early pickings were slim as Burnley exploited the gaps in behind our wing backs very effectively, and opened the scoring after a glacial Andre Gray cross went through the legs of all three of our centre halves, two barstools, a giraffe and a snooker table before Sam Vokes tapped it past Adrian for the opening goal.

We were level within minutes however, as Sofiane Feghouli ran on to a lovely Ayew flick to smash home a very well worked equaliser. That chance arose after Burnley midfielder Ashley Westwood fouled Ayew and was rightly booked. It seemed inevitable then, that the home midfielder would see red when shortly after he landed a knee high tackle on James Collins.

Weirdly, referee Bobby Madley decided that knee high tackles are fine so long as you do them on the last day of the season and it's sunny and all the fans are in fancy dress. As such, Westwood got a mild telling off, while Lanzini then got a yellow card for a fairly inconsequential trip a few minutes later.

Premier League refereeing continues to distress me.

As it was, Sean Dyche would later announce that his team should have been "out of sight" at half time, which confused me as his team managed one shot on goal all day, so perhaps he really meant he literally didn't want to see them as they were a bit crap. No matter, as we came out firing after the break and dominated much of the play. This included winning our first corner after an hour which we then executed so brilliantly that after taking it short on the left we somehow managed to engineer a situation where the ball made it's way out to the right for Jose Fonte to cross towards Feghouli. This actually happened.

The winner eventually came when a Fernandes shot was parried straight up into the air by Tom Heaton, only to bounce off the bar to a waiting Ayew while Burnley defenders flung themselves into the net like parachutists exiting a glider. Aye meanwhile, buried it, as he is absolutely, unequivocally deadly from three yards except when he isn't.

Thereafter we had several chances to get a third on the break, but managed to butcher them all like we were drafting policy for the Tory manifesto. Thus we were left to cling to a 2-1 win that propels us to the giddy heights of two places below Bournemouth, with one victory more than 17th placed Watford.

All in all we've generally looked a better team away from home this season, where the uncertain atmosphere and general malaise of the London Stadium has been but a memory. More importantly, on the road we've been able to sit back and seek to hit teams on the counter and we did that very well here in the second half, frequently disrupting play high up the pitch and then leveraging that into opportunities for our wide players to run behind and then spectacularly fail to play the correct final ball.

No one disputes that there will need to be some major personnel changes this summer, but there does seem to be a method to how Bilic plays away from home that is working at least some of the time. We've still been too passive at places like Arsenal and Everton, but it's not hard to see the blueprint. The trick for next year is to find a more effective way to play at home.

4. White Sky

Anyway, I feel like Ayew needs a song and the chorus of this is perfect.

Skip to 1:06 if you can't stand the preppy magnificence of Vampire Weekend but either way I'm sure you'll agree it's perfect and not at all out of our vocal range.

5. The Kids Don't Stand A Chance

On a scale of "1" to "Oh Christ, What Now?", how much did you enjoy this tweet by David Gold?

The thing is, I actually have some sympathy for Gold here. He was responding to a graphic showing West Ham had zero minutes from teenagers in the league this year, albeit this was prior to Declan Rice's four minute cameo today that may well have been Bilic's way of trying to shut up his chairman.

I think what Gold was clumsily trying to say is that most youngsters don't make it at Premier League level. This isn't news to anyone who watches the game, but the problem is that he said it at a time when fans are particularly desperate for help from the youth team because the senior squad looks so sparse.

So, fresh on the back of the u23 team winning promotion to Division 1 of what is effectively the old reserves league, fans were clamouring for some kids to be blooded. Nowhere was there much questioning of the fact that they were in Division 2 for a reason and didn't even win it but needed a play off. Instead, there was the usual lust for "something else". Football fans at heart are romantic and we are suckers for the story of the local kid coming through the ranks while skilfully ignoring the reality that when it goes wrong - Ince, Lampard, Defoe - it does so spectacularly.

But the thing that Gold really didn't appreciate is the value that players acquire in the eyes of fans when they can't see them playing. Diafra Sakho has had a brilliant season from this perspective as he is more highly rated now than ever, simply by virtue of being absent from the fray for much of the year. Likewise, young players like Martinez, Rice and Oxford simply must be better than what we have because there is no evidence to the contrary. One might point to the fact that our Academy hasn't produced a worthwhile first team player since Junior Stanislas, but that will never land with those fans who demand youth as the answer to all, and the elixir for our dying first team.

Gold's angle, I hope, was that young players who are good enough will always force their way into the side through their performance in training or out on loan. As prime examples Martinez didn't do much at Oxford, whilst Oxford didn't do much at Reading, which is a sentence you may have to read a couple of times to make sense of. However, Martinez scored a couple of goals in said play offs, getting lots of fans excited, although many seemed to ignore the fact that Newcastle u23 seem to defend in homage to Kevin Keegan and therefore didn't actually bother doing any.

Look, I'd love for our young players to emerge soon and be brilliant, but I also trust our Academy coaches to properly evaluate them to determine those who are ready. They have the advantage over 99 per cent of West Ham fans because they have at least, you know, seen them play.

I'd also add that calling on them too young can be devastating for young players if it simply highlights their lack of readiness. I'm not entirely sure that Stephen Bywater ever recovered from his traumatic Bradford experience, as an example.

I'd like to think this is what Gold was trying to convey but, yet again, we find that tweets are rarely useful for addressing points with any nuance to them. What's perhaps most disturbing about this whole episode is that Gold somehow thought tackling it in 140 characters was a good idea. Yet again one of our chairmen is now a media story, as happens with depressing regularity, when a simple question to a media officer about whether this was a good idea for a tweet would presumably have elicited a "What? Jesus Christ, no! Give me that phone" response that I feel could preface about 50 per cent of all public pronouncements made by our current Board.

There is no doubt in my mind that our Academy has underperformed for years, but look at Chelsea for a salutary lesson on youth production. They regularly have the best youth set up around, but are yet to graduate anyone properly to the first team due to the fact that none have been good enough to displace the incumbent. One might call that harsh, or simply the nature of professional football, but the point is that if even the best Academy in England can't progress many youngsters to help the first team then perhaps we should readjust our sights accordingly.

However, in some ways that issue at Chelsea should be our biggest selling point. We should be advertising ourselves to young British footballers as a place to come and play because at least there is a pathway to the first team here. "Come and play for us - we're not Chelsea!" - that sort of thing.

Which brings us back to where we started. Instead of that positive message, this ill judged tweet, however Gold meant it, gave the impression of the exact opposite and punctured any good feeling that had built up after the u23 play off win. I like David Gold and think his willingness to interact with fans on social media is both stupid and slightly endearing, but getting dragged into topics like this is just ridiculous. A good rule of thumb, David - if it requires to you to send anything more than three tweets to clarify your position, then it's too nuanced a subject for Twitter. Go write a long ranting post on Facebook like everyone else.

6. Run

I can't be bothered to write anything further about a season ending game at Burnley, especially given that it had all the dramatic tension of a North Korean election, albeit with less accurate shooting. So instead let me give you some H List end of season awards:

Player of the Season

1. Manuel Lanzini
2. Michail Antonio
3. Pedro Obiang

Apologies to: Winston Reid

No apologies to: Darren Randolph, Simone Zaza, Gokhan Tore

In the week that he gets a call up to the full Argentinian squad, Lanzini picks up this prestigious award as well. There's a new series of Game of Thrones on the way too - Christ, what a time to be alive, Manu.

Picking up the mantle of being our only creative player after Payet disappeared, the diminutive midfielder was wonderful for the second half of the season. He scored crucial goals (helloooooo Spurs) and generally showed his team mates how to hold on to the ball for longer than the life span of a Tory policy on social care.

Behind him was Michail Antonio who started the season brilliantly, when played in his correct position which is Not Right Back. However, he tailed off a little towards the end and got injured before the run in. His fearsome physicality and unorthodox style made him one of our few leading lights this season, and the thought of him playing a full season with a proper striker in front is actually quite exciting. He also made the England squad but didn't get a game as Sam Allardyce opted for Theo Walcott instead and was fired shortly thereafter. Possibly as a result.

Third place goes to Pedro Obiang, who inexplicably started the season behind Havard Nordtveit but was soon making that position his own. As is customary, his season was cut short due to surgery, otherwise he probably would have won this award. He is, by now, the prime candidate to start in our central midfield with Kouyate next year.

7. Unbelievers

Goal of the Season

1. Dimitri Payet vs Middlesbrough (h)
2. Andy Carroll vs Crystal Palace (h)
3. Winston Reid vs Sunderland (h)

Apologies to: Manuel Lanzini vs Crystal Palace (a), Manuel Lanzini vs Leicester (h), Michail Antonio vs Watford (h)

I know, I know. It's not fashionable to speak positively of Payet, but to watch him slalom through the Middlesbrough defence was to watch a master at work. Carroll's spectacular bicycle kick at home to Palace was itself majestic, but it really only required one thing to be done well. By contrast Payet needed to do multiple things, moving at speed and ended up beating four players before slotting past the keeper.

Put another way, I think Payet could have scored Carroll's goal but the reverse isn't true. The mixture of skills required was sublime, and the fact that he later revealed himself to be an utter Sheffield United of a man doesn't erase that.

Elsewhere, I have a particular soft spot for Winston Reid's last minute winner against Sunderland as this was a last gasp throw of the dice where we eschewed giving it to any of our forward players and instead asked our centre half to do a Cruyff turn on the edge of the box and smash it home with his weaker foot. As one does.

8. Young Lion

Best Individual Performance

1. Cheikhou Kouyate vs Spurs (h)
2. Winston Reid vs Spurs (h)
3. Aaron Cresswell vs Crystal Palace (a)

Apologies to: Manuel Lanzini vs Spurs (a), Andy Carroll vs Middlesbrough (a), Michail Antonio vs Liverpool (a)

No apologies to: Darren Randolph vs Sunderland (a), Havard Nordtveit vs Liverpool (h), Gokhan Tore vs Literally Anyone

Victor Wanyama, Eric Dier - meet Cheikhou Kouyate, destroyer of seasons.

I'm just going to pick you up and put you out of the way. Big boys stuff, yeah?

It says much that all of the performances from the Spurs home game could have made their way in here, and none of it really dispels the myth that this is our Cup Final. Kouyate was immense, however, and gave us all a chance to nod and smile knowingly whenever our Spurs brethren start going on about the fearsome Wanyama.

Behind him Winston Reid was sublime, snuffling out Harry Kane - an achievement that would take on even greater merit when Kane would subsequently score eight times in his next three games.

It says an awful lot that the next best I could think of was a game in which the player in question was actually sent off. Cresswell made his return from serious injury at Palace and was superb up until referee Martin Atkinson went the full Hackett and dismissed him for having an offensive taste in music.

Elsewhere Lanzini turned in loads of brilliant games and could have easily filled all three spots himself, but I am nothing if not mercurial.

9. Step

Best Team Performance

1. Spurs (h)
2. Southampton (a)
3. Liverpool (a)

I doubt this can really have been a surprise to anyone. Our only decent home performance of the season against a good team and it came when we most wanted it. Half of the team were injured but we swarmed all over a neutered Spurs and Lanzini's second half winner was the least we all deserved for a season of rare travails.

Elsewhere we were much better away from home, and the come from behind win at Southampton was a doozy, as was the point earned at Anfield which is so rare that we welcomed it like a decent Ed Sheeran song. Or I imagine we would have done if such a thing existed.

10. Ya Hey

And with that, rather half hearted, effort we come to the end of the season. I would like to thank all of you who have persevered with The H List, and I want to say now how much I greatly appreciate every comment, like, share, retweet, link, upvote, subscription to the mailing list or just general nice feedback. It's been a laborious season in many ways, with the games often being shrouded in negativity and many of our faults going unaddressed for long periods, making the blog often feel repetitive.

I am therefore indebted to those of you who have kept reading and kept sharing my work. I can assure you that without that kindness I wouldn't bother carrying on.

In particular I would like to thank Graeme and Gordon at KUMB for carrying the H List on their site and to Phil and Jim from the Stop! Hammertime podcast who have been kind enough to have me on the show a few times this year. Michael Casagrande and Rob Coker were especially generous in helping me out with tickets and Andy Ellis single handedly ended the Lukaku streak by putting me in the Executive Boxes against Everton. I am indebted to you all.

Jacob Steinberg, Terry Land, Emily Pulham and Dan Silver were kind enough to participate in a roundtable with me and have foolishly agreed to do so again. Be prepared for Director of Football questions folks and keep an eye out for that sometime in the next month.

And lastly, I really must mention my wife - Mrs Shark - who never reads this blog ("it's too long - why on earth would anyone bother?" she says not unreasonably, before spending two hours reading Facebook posts), but is unfailingly supportive of me writing it, and puts up with a lot of me swearing at the iMac over our full back adventures.

I can't say for sure if The H List will return in the same format next season as there are a couple of other irons in the fire (not Zaza and Tore, sadly) whereby I might be doing some writing for some other publications next season. It's not my intention to abandon The H List however, but maybe my wife might get her wish and I might abridge it a little, or alter the frequency. We shall see.

That's all in the future, however, and I do plan to put some articles out over the summer. I was considering some retrospective H List's for games of yesteryear. If there are any you think would be decent let me know in the comments, and if I saw the game I'll give it a whirl.

And with that, I'll bid you all adieu for now. For all my whinging I love West Ham as one might love a family member. I know every flaw and every failing, but I also love them unfailingly and with the ferocity of a raging forest fire, and being able to share that with like minded Hammers is a privilege I don't take lightly.

Thanks to you all.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to,

Rice named in full Irish squad
Filed: Tuesday, 23rd May 2017
By: Staff Writer

West Ham United's uncapped teenage defender Declan Rice has been named in Martin O'Neill's Republic of Ireland squad for the forthcoming friendlies against Mexico, Uruguay and Austria. 18-year-old Rice, who made his first team debut for the Hammers at Burnley on Sunday afternoon will join the squad for the matches which are scheduled to take place between 1-6 June.
The Irish fly to the US for the friendly with Mexico on 1 June before returning to Dublin for another friendly against Uruguay three days later. 48 hours after that they face Austria - also in Dublin - in a World Cup qualifier. The move to introduce Rice to the full Irish squad is thought to ensure he cannot subsequently feature for England, who he is also entitled to represent.

Feghouli "determined" to make an impact
Filed: Tuesday, 23rd May 2017
By: Staff Writer

Sofiane Feghouli has signed off for the season - by insisting that he intends to make a success of his move to West Ham. The Algerian international featured in 27 of West Ham's 46 matches during the 2016/17 campaign but insisted that he wants to come back better and stronger ahead of the new season "I arrived last summer after signing a three-year contract with West Ham," he wrote in French via his Twitter page. "In a new city and a new challenge. "For various reasons, I did not play as much as I wanted but it does not change my goals for next season: to be as competitive as possible. My coach know that he can count on my professionalism and determination, as always. "When I come back from holiday in preparation for next season I'll be even more determined that when I first arrived."
Feghouli joined West Ham on a free transfer from Valencia last summer. He is contracted to West Ham until the summer of 2019.

West Ham United owner's son to house homeless hero following Manchester attack
by Danielle Joynson
23/5/2017 | 10:00pm

The son of West Ham United co-owner David Sullivan has revealed that he and his father want to rent a property for a homeless man who helped victims in the aftermath of the devastating terror attack in Manchester on Monday night.

Twenty-two people were killed and a further 59 taken to hospital with injuries after a man detonated an explosive at the Manchester Arena at 10.33pm.

The attack, which also resulted in the death of the perpetrator, occurred shortly after American popstar Ariana Grande completed her set in front of a 21,000-strong crowd, the majority of which were young people.

The identities of those that tragically perished are slowly being revealed, with the youngest so far just eight years of age.

Alongside the devastation there have been stories of heroics, one of which has caught the attention of many, including West Ham's owners.

A homeless man known as Steve was filmed by ITV explaining that he helped tend to the victims after witnessing the carnage while trying to sleep close to the venue.

ITV News ✔ @itvnews
'We had to pull nails out of children's faces': Steve, a homeless man who was sleeping near #Manchester Arena, rushed to help young victims
1:58 PM - 23 May 2017
52,118 52,118 Retweets 75,552 75,552 likes

David Sullivan Jr revealed in a series of tweets that he and his father want to help Steve get his life back on track as a reward for his selfless act.

Me and dad want to rent the homeless man in manchester a house for 6 months to help him get on his feet 1/2
6:04 PM - 23 May 2017 · Theydon Bois, East
1,531 1,531 Retweets 2,117 2,117 likes

If anyone can help us get in touch much much appreciated. Such a self less act needs rewarding. Please tag anyone who can help us 💪🏼 2/2
6:04 PM - 23 May 2017 · Theydon Bois, East
764 764 Retweets 647 647 likes

After using Twitter and contacts at ITV, the Sullivans were able to track Steve down.

WE HAVE FOUND STEVE ! Shows the power for good social media has. Thank you to all those involved, you have helped change a mans life ❤️
8:46 PM - 23 May 2017 · Loughton, East

West Ham need a 'maximum' of three signings this summer, insists director of player recruitment
Evening Standard

West Ham need to make a "maximum" of three signings during the summer transfer window, according to the Premier League club's director of player recruitment. Slaven Bilic bolstered his squad extensively last summer, courtesy of nine new arrivals, but poor results on the pitch soon extinguished dreams of a European place. West Ham eventually sealed an 11th place finish on Sunday after beating Hull City on the final day of the season, leading to suggestions another overhaul may be required in order to propel the Hammers up the table.
But Tony Henry is adamant it will be a case of quality rather than quantity as he attempts to lure players to West Ham. "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," he told West Ham's official website.
The recruitment chief also expects the proposition of playing at the London Stadium to act as an added incentive for potential targets.
Henry added: "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."
Standard Sport understands Pablo Zabaleta is set to become West Ham's first signing of the summer. The Argentina international, who has been released by Manchester City, is due in the capital this week to discuss a two-year deal.

West Ham move for Nigerian striker Isaac Success denied, but Watford teammate could replace Dimitri Payet
Damien Lucas

West Ham United have been linked with a move for Watford's Nigerian striker Isaac Success. The Hammers are turning their attentions to the summer transfer window after bringing a difficult season to a close with an impressive 2-1 win at Burnley. Slaven Bilic has already been heavily linked with a host of moves for the likes of Joe Hart, Jordan Pickford, Daniel Sturridge, Wayne Rooney, Jermain Defoe, Kelechi Inhenacho and Hornets outcast Success. The Hornets signed Success for a club record £12.5million but the 21-year-old has endured a turbulent first season at Vicarage Road, starting only twice and playing barely 500 minutes of football.
Injuries took their toll as he fell out of favour with Walter Mazzarri and speculation had seen him linked with a move to East London, as reported by the likes of All Nigerian Soccer. But the Watford Observer has now claimed speculation is wide of the mark, reporting that sources close to the striker says he has been promised a clean slate under Mazzarri's eventual successor after the Italian was sacked. Hammers fans would be expecting the club to be more ambitious than going for a player who has thus far failed to make the grade at Watford. And Bilic could do a lot worse than turn his attentions to Success' teammate Roberto Pereyra who is battling his way back from a knee injury. The classy Argentine saw his hugely promising debut season in English football cut short through injury following his move from Juventus. Pereyra is on the comeback trail and the uncertainty at the club following Mazzarri's departure could leave the door open for clubs like West Ham to tempt him away.
While Manuel Lanzini has stepped up to the plate since Dimitri Payet forced through a return to former club Marseille in January, Bilic's side have missed the Frenchman's stardust. And Pereyra could bring some sparkle back to West Ham's play as they look to make up the ground they have lost on the top clubs this season when they rebuild the team this summer.

Manuel Lanzini is shock Chelsea target as champions look to raid West Ham - reports
The West Ham attacking midfielder is wanted by Antonio Conte
Football London
05:30, 23 MAY 2017

West Ham's Manuel Lanzini is a shock target for champions Chelsea. According to the Express, Michael Emenalo, the Blues' technical director, is a big admirer of the Argentinian playmaker and believes he has the ability to play at a much higher level. Lanzini has been one of West Ham's best players this season, filling in the boots of Dimitri Payet after the Frenchman's acrimonious departure in January. The 24-year-old has scored eight goals, including the winner against Tottenham earlier this month which helped Chelsea establish a crucial seven point lead over Mauricio Pochettino's side. However, Lanzini has insisted that he is happy at the London Stadium, saying:"The season was good for me on a personal level, at the beginning it was not great [as I suffered an injury on international duty in pre-season], but then I could achieve a good level. "For now, I am thinking of the next game then thinking of having good holidays with the family. I am very happy here."

West Ham make £120,000 bid for Lincoln City's Sean Raggett after impressing for the Imps this season
Sean Raggett was one of Lincoln City's standout performers this season
He helped them to the National League title and the FA Cup quarter-finals
Raggett scored a dramatic late winning header against Burnley at Turf Moor
Sportsmail understands West Ham want to give him a chance in the top flight
By Tom Farmery For The Daily Mail
PUBLISHED: 22:30, 22 May 2017 | UPDATED: 00:26, 23 May 2017

West Ham United have made a £120,000 bid for Lincoln City defender Sean Raggett. Raggett was one of Lincoln's standout performers this season, helping them to the National League title and the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. Raggett scored a header in the 89th-minute against Burnley at Turf Moor to book Lincoln's place in the last eight where they lost to Arsenal.

Slaven Bilic holds talks with West Ham's board over his future and the club's summer plans ahead of his hip replacement surgery
Manager Slaven Bilic has held talks with West Ham's board over his future
He is set for hip replacement surgery that will rule him out for up to six weeks
A meeting took place in London on Monday between Bilic and David Sullivan
The 48-year-old Croatian manager has a year left on his contract at West Ham
By Kieran Gill for the Daily Mail
PUBLISHED: 22:30, 22 May 2017 | UPDATED: 22:44, 22 May 2017

Slaven Bilic will go under the knife for his hip operation on Wednesday after holding talks with West Ham's board over his future and their summer plans. The 48-year-old is set for hip replacement surgery, which will rule him out for up to six weeks as he recovers.
A meeting took place in London on Monday between Bilic and West Ham co-chairman David Sullivan, who also acts as the club's director of football. Sportsmail understands there is no threat of Bilic leaving with the club happy to stand by the Croatian. They are planning for pre-season and looking at transfer targets together. Bilic has a year left on his contract and West Ham are likely to wait until January 2018 to decide whether to hand him a new deal. That could put pressure on Bilic to ensure West Ham start next season well but he has always remained relaxed about his situation. The club came 11th in the Premier League after finishing the season with a 2-1 win at Burnley. They finished seventh the season before, when they qualified for the Europa League. Bilic said: 'The doctors told me four or five weeks to come back on the pitch... I'm not a player.' He said he is still confident he will be able to conduct transfer business.
The circumstances of this campaign have not been ideal for Bilic. He and his squad had to get used to their new surroundings at the London Stadium after leaving Upton Park in the summer. Bilic also lost his best player in Dimitri Payet, who forced through a £25million move back to Marseille in January. The HMRC raids in April were also an unwelcome distraction. It is not unusual for West Ham – or other clubs – to hold end-of-season talks. They are seen as a review of the year gone by.

By Iain Dale 23 May 2017 at 08:00
Guest Post by Rugby Irons

There are enough of us on this site with football administration experience and player coaching/ management to truly recognise there really are major problems at the club. I'm very familiar with the Coventry City story. They were a long standing Premier club, who had greedy owners who moved the club to a new stadium without thinking it through long term. This lack of a 'project' has now badly backfired on them as they are in a sorry state. They don't own a ground or training ground, have just got relegated again and have their fans flocking to the rugger or not returning at all. And I tell you this because this has our club written all over it.

I intended to write a review of the season but in truth you have to go back further than that and not just in time. We now have two owners who cannot take the club further. If you view them as using the club as a cash cow that is one angle, the other being they genuinely love the club but in truth do not have the money to take it further. They have also employed a number of people who have disrupted the club and its fan base with particularly poor judgement calls and lack of consultation/consideration with their clients, sorry supporters, which will now be difficult to put right. A number of these senior officials also look to be leaving for seemingly lower clubs so what's the problem in retention?

The owners and Karren Brady have clearly used the club to promote themselves and their interests but by using their families and social media have opened a huge gap between having owners you can respect and those who keep embarrassing the club. What is ironic is the very comments they make with stupid speculating ultimately cost the club in terms of points, success and most importantly for them money, as these same outbursts stop these players from coming to us. I understand that as owners they can do what they want so why let hangers on do their bidding (and so badly) for them. It comes down to professionalism or vanity, and probably both for our club.

However, as owners, they are more than just that. The playing staff is just one area and frankly who knows or understands their thinking on how it works. For us last season it clearly didn't.

This brings me to my other point. Just how does our behind the scenes team work? We have a frankly shocking injury record. Stop and think about this as it's been going on for far too long. If you have a long term work issue that stops the production or productivity then you fix it and sharp about it. So why haven't we? And it's this lack of positive action that concerns me.

Being on the tele and social media is one thing but shouldn't you be on the shop floor sorting out your grass root problems, or put another way, would you sit and do nothing if you were in charge? The fitness of our squad has been an issue ever since 41 year old Billy Bonds, who would still beat the entire first team squad in preseason running exercises, retired. Since then our preseasons have been very poor, our injury list no shorter and the fitness levels shocking. How many seasons have we got off to a good start and maintained it? Not many. So why aren't the owners doing more about it?

If the medical team cannot reduce the injury list then bring in a new team. It should be the same with the conditioning team. I also want to include the statistical review teams and scouts, who don't seem to being providing the right information to support the pregame routine.

And if anything the other huge area for improvement is our psychologist department (if we even have one). If you consider that statistically the best player in the Premiership has his own personal one, then why haven't we been progressive enough to recruit in this direction. If the other departments cannot perform at this level at least if the head shrinks do that will improve the on field levels. The rest are doing it, we must raise the bar on this.

And if it's the training ground then spend some money on improving or moving it. It's the source of our problems and keeps being ignored. So too does the standard of the coaching staff. This has to change more than anything else. It's the starting point for everything. I heard that Julian Dicks doesn't take 'defending but 'crossing exercises!

Whatever is going on the 'intensity' argument will rage on. On face value there isn't any. SB may be a laid back sort of guy, but that shouldn't stop his coaches pushing the squad. The whole kids in the tunnel v Liverpool seems to top off the real attitude of the playing side, it's all haphazard and we'll see how we go. Where is the real structure to what is going on? I wouldn't argue with SB's Managers assistant, as that's more about support for him, but the rest of his team are lacking. Is Chris Woods appropriate for the keepers we have? Possibly. Is Julian Dicks, if he's not helping in defence, then no frankly? We are crap in defence so why was Rio's offer turned down? Without fit strikers to work with it must be difficult but we haven't been anywhere near last season's levels and you have to question why? If I was the owners I would demand answers not let someone bring it up in a Saturday rag as an excuse.

The players will soon be swanning off on their second holiday this year. The first was the disastrous jolly to Dubai, which proved form the results straight after it that's it's a complete waste of time and money. Again a lack of discipline and pandering to the players. So as they do go off again for a well-earned break ( not) isn't this the time to get the backroom teams, give each a proper review , sack the ones who can't improve and let them work across the summer to improve the set up before the players return , before the preseason holiday to wherever.

I have deliberately not commented on the players performances as that's a row for another day but if you take them out of the equation and look at what's left its pretty much a shambles. We have owners who won't progress because they don't have the money or ambition and are happy to stick to tried and failed practises in pandering to family and hanger ons. They have not truly engaged with their client base (you stopped being supporters when you left Upton Park) and if the seating arrangements are not sorted by the chief hanger on, then the cycle starts again and we continue from the wrong place. Regardless of whether we like it or not the Stadium has to be an asset to the clients and club. Keeping her away from it would help unless like the others she can prove she can vastly improve her performance.

If the owners can put the backroom facilities and staff right over the summer, then I would be much happier than having to wait for Jack and her to start spouting over who we aren't getting in. No point in having good players if they aren't kept fit or motivated mentally and physically. When all said and done its just simple working practises. Keep your production up to date and working efficiently. The end product will produce the goods. Then look to improve the process with better and better and repeat. Anything that holds up the process, get rid. Do this and you keep your client base happy and keep coming back. Fail to do this and everything like in the cases of Coventry, Leeds, Forest, Wednesday, the O's you will fail. The first season at the new place is done. Now it's time to be more honest and get it right next season. Personally I won't be looking at which aging ex Worldy we will be bidding for but how the club looks at the picture as I see it above. I want the youths to be given a real chance and to see the club either improves or fails. If this season was a big one, next season will be even harder if we don't prepare properly. You all know the phrase, like many of you am sure you used it in your own training sessions. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Over to you the owners of this magnificent club.

NOTE FROM IAIN: These are Rugby's views and do not represent those of WHTID. Free speech can be a terrible thing sometimes… :)


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