Friday, June 30

Daily WHUFC News - 30th June 2017

The amazing story of West Ham United's first home ground

Historian John Powles, author of 'Iron in the Blood: Thames Ironworks FC, the Club That Became West Ham United', reflects on the earliest days of the Club at Hermit Road in Canning Town...

In the summer of 1895, Managing Director of Thames Ironworks & Shipbuilding Company Arnold Hills took over the lease of the ground that Old Castle Swifts had vacated at the northern end of Hermit Road, which enabled his newly-formed football club at a ready-made arena.

When manager Syd King wrote a history of the club in 1905 (short though it obviously was) he described the venue as a 'barren waste' and a 'cinder heap'.

Bearing in mind that he joined Thames Ironworks FC in 1899 for its last season under that name and was not there at the time, he was possibly led to the misapprehension that the club was obliged to clear a scrub-like tip before a ball could be kicked.

Nothing could be further from the truth as the Old St.Luke's club had been residents since 1892, before amalgamating with Castle Swifts for the 1894/95 season.

Thames Ironworks FCWhen the ground became available due to the collapse of Old Castle Swifts, Hills was quick to acquire it.

The whole ground was intended to be used for a variety of sports, one of which included the cycling club, which had been inaugurated in June 1894, but had no cycle track for competitive use. A track of 360 yards circumference and six yards two inches wide was laid out by members in June 1895.

The entire length bordering the football pitch was a cinder track, and later on people probably had the mistaken impression that the pitch itself was cinder-based.

Some histories have said that the ground was surrounded by a moat, but this is an exaggeration. On the far edges of the outside area was a system of sluices, which were constructed to drain away excess water as the area was very marshy and formerly known to flood.

Before the Ironworks' first fixture, foreman Dave Taylor had affiliated the club to the FA and had recruited players before handing over to Mr. A.T. Harsent, who became Secretary.

Initially the Hermit Road ground was screened by canvas sheeting to hide the game from non-paying spectators, but later this became stable fencing.

Considering the club was of amateur status and basically part of a company sports section, the committee had an ambitious strategy by entering the team into the FA Cup.

With Hills a generous benefactor, and having players in the shipyard who already possessed experience and ability, why not dive in at the deep end?

As it turned out, a 0-5 defeat at Chatham was perhaps a step too far, but enthusiasm was not dampened and victories were obtained against local sides that led the committee to an idea which was pretty much a pioneering one at the time.

Floodlit football had been tried out at three grounds only—Blackburn, Darwen and Bramall Lane, Sheffield, all in 1878 – but this was still revolutionary, because those three clubs would become League clubs in the competition's earliest days, whereas Thames Ironworks FC was in its first season.

The ten lights were suspended on poles, giving 2,000 candle power for each light, driven by a generator. There were some initial problems in the first two games, with lights going out at various times, and the ball having to be dipped in whitewash which resulted in sarcastic press comments, but the committee ensured seven fixtures were completed without too many hitches, and two First Division sides in Woolwich Arsenal and West Bromwich Albion were among the opponents.

There were no more serious attempts at floodlit football in this country until 1930 and our club's forbearers have not been given the credit historically, that they fully deserve.

The enterprise that the infant club from the East End shipyard had shown, bode well for the future of the club.

Hammers Heritage: Happy birthday Thames Ironworks FC!

Thames Ironworks FC was founded on 29 June 1895, so the Club which served as the precursor to West Ham United is celebrating its 122nd birthday!

The original football club was the brainchild of Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company foreman Dave Taylor and was put into practice by managing director and keen amateur sportsman Arnold Hills.

Over its five-season existence, Thames Ironworks FC won the West Ham Charity Cup, London League and Southern League Division Two, while playing at three different stadia in the local area - Hermit Road, Browning Road and the Memorial Grounds.

West Ham striker Ashley Fletcher eyes Austria repeat

Ashley Fletcher is hoping history will repeat itself when West Ham United travel to Austria in July. The young centre forward arrived from Manchester United a year ago and immediately made his mark, scoring in pre-season fixtures with FC Slovacko and Karlsruher SC in the Central European country. While speculation continues to grow over the possibility of the Hammers bringing in a big-money forward this summer, Fletcher himself is hoping to impress when Slaven Bilic's squad return to the Alpine nation this summer. "It was the same last year, as everyone was saying we need a £20m striker but they are hard to come by," said Fletcher, who netted his first competitive goal for West Ham in an EFL Cup tie at his former club in November. "It's not easy to go out and find a player who can score goals regularly in the Premier League, especially those who come in from abroad. "As a young player making my way through, if I am given an opportunity and a run in the team, I think that can only benefit me."
Fletcher cited the examples of his long-time Manchester United colleague Marcus Rashford and Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane, both of whom are young English strikers who have established themselves in the Premier League as two to attempt to emulate. "I look at Marcus Rashford, for example, who has taken his chance and stayed in the team and he's probably now one of the best strikers in England," the 21-year-old observed. "The same can be said for Harry Kane as well. "There aren't many young English strikers playing in the Premier League, so hopefully this season I can get even more game-time, as my ambitions are to play and do well for this massive Club. "Last season was a learning year for me, so I've been away and worked on getting fitter and stronger over the summer as I want to come back firing in pre-season."

Fletcher added that the support of the Claret and Blue Army would continue to aid him in his quest to become a first-team regular. The attitude and talent shown by the No24 last season won recognition from West Ham fans, and he is eager to repay them by hitting the back of the net in the future. "As a young English player, having the fans behind you gives you a massive boost," he confirmed. "I've just got to keep proving to the manager that I deserve minutes and when I get on the pitch, I need to show what I can do and show the fans why I should be playing. "They've been fantastic since I got to the Club, they've really got behind me and I can only thank them for supporting me."

Written by @whusam_

Before I write this article I'd like to thank Ex and the West Ham Way for giving me the chance to do so. This week Ex has left twitter and he does a lot for the fans of WH like proving transfer news, the radio show and organising events. He doesn't deserve the abuse he gets. Hopefully we will see him back on twitter soon.

This has been a very interesting week as a West Ham fan if I'm honest, we have been hearing on social media that we have a decent sized transfer budget and this along with our known revenue from sales of Valencia (potentially), Nordveit, TV rights, low stadium costs should mean that we are able to spend freely and compete with the like of Everton this summer.

A major issue for the club so far is that all of our targets rely on other clubs getting replacements in (Giroud/Batushayi) and that will be a waiting game, but missing out on a top youngster in Onyekuru and struggling to negotiate with City for Iheanacho has fans frustrated.

I've seen a lot of talk from fans about bringing in a Director of Football which I think is a great idea. We need someone who can bridge the gap between the football side of the club and the business side of the club. The trouble we have is that we are struggling to attract players to come to West Ham, the owners thought that the stadium would be a massive pull factor in transfers when in actual fact it isn't.

A Director of Football would need to be someone that knows the game and the club very well. Maybe an Ex player or even a Manager who wants more of an oversight role. We need this person who will run the club for the owners, work closely with Bilic and know their stuff when it comes to transfers and talent on the pitch, because at the end of the day, despite their experience at Birmingham, the owner's businessmen and they will always think like businessmen.

A Director of Football would need to be given a set budget from the owners at the start of the window, then he works with Bilic and they together sign who they want to and who will be best for the team, not someone who the owners see getting their money's worth on.

The owners have shot themselves in the foot over the last few years with promising big money signings last year and not delivering and struggling again this year in the transfer market. I know it's still early days yet and the window doesn't close until September but everyone has last summer in the back of their minds, and with Everton spending freely and and being so successful, it is a bit concerning.

Gold: you'll win nothing with kids
Filed: Thursday, 29th June 2017
By: Staff Writer

David Gold's insistence that young players will find it harder than ever to break into Premier League teams has not been received particularly well by Hammers fans. The club's co-chairman told Talksport that it was now "virtually impossible" for an Academy player to break through to the first team - adding that it would be "very rare" for a teenager to do so. Naturally that caused a degree of consternation from many Hammers fans, some of whom took to the KUMB Forum in order to express their frustration with the octogenarian's comments. "Herein lies the main reason why my interest in us has dwindled dramatically," wrote steveyrockstar. "I simply don't enjoy seeing us become just another squad of randomly assembled overseas stars. "We're barely clasping onto an identity. It's very sad. Part of me thinks DG is simply stating the truth, the other part of me is like 'well do something about it!'"

Meanwhile Hamburg Hammer felt that Gold's comments - added to opinions he shared recently regarding the club's once world-famous Academy - suggested that the Board may be trying to to pull away from investing in it, something he warned against. "If they even tried to lay their hands on the Academy, they should get ready for some serious backlash from the supporters," he wrote. "Our kids just got promoted. It takes time, patience and money to nurture talent. "Spurs, Everton and Southampton are all producing stars regularly and Bournemouth, Arsenal, Liverpool and Leicester all field young British players regularly."

However Gsbgsb felt that Gold made a valid point - but questioned whether enough was being done to keep the Academy at the top of the pile. "This is not a West Ham or West Ham board problem," he said. "It is the problem of money in the modern game and the implications of relegation. "The point DG makes about the number of foreign players in the game is correct, it limits the opportunity of younger players, being good is no longer enough, exceptional is required. Whether the product is broken is a different debate, it is the product we have now."

Speaking to Talksport earlier today, Gold had said: "There is nothing more pleasurable, for a fan, owner or manager, to have a young Academy player breaking through. However, I think we've got to be realistic and say that is now virtually impossible. "It's just not going to happen on a regular basis. It's different now. We have to face the fact that 17, 18 and 19-year-old young men are not going to get into the Premier League first-team. That would be very, very rare. "From a financial point of view we'd like them to come through earlier, but we've got to face up to facts. "The Academy is in place and that's not going to change, what will change is that instead of teenagers breaking into the first team they are going to have to go out on loan - and they may do that for three of four years."

Liverpool fan secures OS season ticket
Filed: Thursday, 29th June 2017
By: Staff Writer

A Liverpool supporter is looking forward to watching regular Premier League football next season - at the Olympic Stadium. Rather than making the 250-mile pilgrimage to Anfield 18 times every season, Liverpool fan Mo Mayet will instead be visiting the home of West Ham on a regular basis after purchasing a season ticket earlier today. And that will no doubt come as a major surprise to many West Ham fans who have been unable to purchase a season ticket for the forthcoming season - especially those who have previously been told they were on the club's waiting list.

"Season ticket purchased for #westham next season", wrote Mr Mayet, a recruitment agent based in London on his twitter timeline this afternoon. "Look forward to watching live #PremierLeague #football every 2 weeks or so."

Last season there were a number of incidents in the stadium as a result of the club selling tickets to non-West Ham fans in areas of the ground reserved for home supporters. Meanwhile, a number of fans who have been on the club's waiting list since 2015 remain ticketless.

Paolo Di Canio to return to east London as latest Italian 'Star Sixes' signing
Filed: Thursday, 29th June 2017
By: Staff Writer

West Ham United legend Paolo Di Canio is heading back to east London as he joins a star-studded Italy squad to take part in the inaugural Star Sixes tournament at The O2 between 13-16 July. The Hammers hero is returning to a place where he was adored by Irons supporters, and admired by football fans in general, for his entertaining – and sometimes controversial – style. Di Canio scored some spectacular goals just a corner-kick away from The O2, when West Ham played down the road at the Boleyn Ground, and he is aiming to reproduce that form as Italy try to lift the first Star Sixes trophy.
Italy's opening fixture at the six-a-side World Cup for legends is a glamorous clash with Brazil (13 July), whose side include Roberto Carlos, Rivaldo and Juninho.
But Italy are led by the great Alessandro Del Piero, and with Fabrizio Ravanelli alongside Di Canio, they have also confirmed Champions League winners Angelo Di Livio and Massimo Oddo, World Cup winner Marco Amelia, Stefano Fiore and Marco Delvecchio in their line-up.

After their Brazil encounter, Italy face a Nigeria squad led by Jay-Jay Okocha, and the Super Eagles have also just added new faces to their exciting team. Former Everton defender Joseph Yobo, Inter Milan icon Taribo West and Monaco striker Victor Ikpeba will be in their squad for the four-day tournament. West is best remembered for his flamboyant hairstyles and rampaging style when he played for Derby County, while Yobo, who won 101 caps, was a firm favourite with both the Goodison faithful and Nigeria fans. England, meanwhile, have also bolstered their ranks with former Aston Villa midfielder Lee Hendrie – the ninth addition to skipper Steven Gerrard's squad.
Hendrie joins Phil Neville, Michael Owen, Emile Heskey, Danny Murphy Paul Merson and ex-Hammers David James and Rio Ferdinand in the Three Lions set-up.
Star Sixes promises spectacular action at London's O2 Arena, with other world-class stars including Robert Pires of France, Germany's Michael Ballack, Spain's Carles Puyol and Portugal's Deco among a galaxy of stars on show.

Tickets for the inaugural Star Sixes, starting at £30 adults and £10 U16s, are on sale at

Newcastle, West Ham want Tottenham-linked Suso
Shane Callaghan

Everton, Newcastle United and West Ham United are also interested in signing a reported Tottenham Hotspur target. International Business Times has reported that Newcastle United, Everton and West Ham United are also interested in signing AC Milan winger Suso. It was reported by Marca last weekend that Tottenham Hotspur were interested in signing the 23-year-old, whom had been linked to Spurs earlier in the year. This week, The Mirror claimed that Tottenham's efforts of signing him had been boosted by suggestions that Milan would let him join the North Londoners, if it was a choice between them and Italian rivals Roma or Napoli.
That being said, competition for his signature might be hotting up as more Premier League clubs join the queue for the ex-Liverpool attacker. According to The International Business Times, Everton, Newcastle United and West Ham United have also "expressed an interest" in the young Spaniard, who would favour a move to Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham according to the report. Suso's stock has risen considerably since leaving Liverpool for Milan in 2015, netting 13 goals over the past two seasons for the Rossoneri - and nine assists last season. West Ham have been mostly linked with strikers this summer and while Newcastle are reported to be in the market for a winger, it remains to be seen who manager Rafael Benitez signs. The Magpies boss has endured a frustrating summer thus far after watching a number of his reported transfer targets slip through his fingers, but if the report from the IBTimes is to be believed then Suso fancies the Lilywhites over Newcastle, West Ham or Everton.

David Gold says West Ham will get 'the very best strikers we can afford' as club targets Giroud and Iheanacho
Evening Standard

West Ham joint-chairman David Gold has vowed to buy "the very best [strikers] we can afford" as the club plot an overhaul of their frontline this summer. The Hammers are targeting ambitious swoops for Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud and Manchester City's Kelechi Iheanacho, for whom they submitted a £20million bid last month. They were however beaten to the punch for Nigerian youngster Henry Onyekuru, who announced yesterday that he was set to join Everton. However the 20-year-old was not West Ham's top priority and Gold is willing to spend big if it means he can furnish Slaven Bilic with strikers such as Giroud and Iheanacho that have a track record in the Premier League. "We are interested in all good players but we have to face the facts here – we have got good midfielders," Gold told talkSPORT when asked about the Hammers' reported interest in Giroud's Arsenal team-mate Jack Wilshere. "We have got a good defence, we have got good midfielders, we have got good wingers. We need strikers and that is the key to everything for this season so we are focused first and foremost on bringing in two strikers. "It's clear to most fans that we are desperate for centre-forwards," Gold continued.
Andy Carroll is injury-prone as we know, we have had an injury problem with [Diafra] Sakho and we have just got to bring in centre-forwards. We have got to find the money. "Without strikers, you struggle in the Premier League. You struggle in any division because strikers are your key players. "You have to spend your money wisely but it must be on strikers, particularly strikers that have had experience with Premier League football - the very best we can afford."

West Ham strikers combined to score just nine goals in all competitions last season, seven of which came from Carroll across 22 games in another injury-plagued campaign. Italian international Simone Zaza had been expected to be the marquee signing West Ham fans had been promised ahead of the 2016-17 season but was shunted off to Valencia in January so the club did not have to pay £20m to buy him from Juventus. Zaza was not the only arrival from that summer to struggle to establish themselves in the Premier League – Havard Nordtveit has already been sent back to the Bundesliga and Alvaro Arbeloa has retired – and West Ham are keen to recruit players with greater experience in England. That has already been proven through the arrival of Pablo Zabaleta from Manchester City on a free transfer, the only business West Ham have so far conducted this summer.

West Ham ready to offload Robert Snodgrass - just six months after £10million move from Hull
The Hammers only bought Snodgrass in January but after just eight league starts he could be on his way out
The Mirror
22:30, 28 JUN 2017

West Ham are ready to offload Robert Snodgrass - just six months after signing him for £10m. Scotland midfielder Snodgrass, 29, struggled to make a big impact at West Ham after arriving from Hull in January. Hammers boss Slaven Bilic is now ready to cut his losses and is also set to have a mini shake-up to try and clear the decks to bring in new signings. They are ready to listen to offers for Algeria international Sofiane Feghouli who struggled to make an impact after arriving on a free transfer last summer. West Ham are keen to offload Enner Valencia despite turning down an offer from Mexican side Tigres. Ecuador forward Valencia, 27, spent last season on loan at Everton after originally joining West Ham from Mexican side Pachuca for £12.5m in 2014. But Snodgrass's potential departure is the one that catches the eye but Bilic often started with him on the bench rather than the starting line-up. They will look to get their money back on him but realistically could have to take a financial hit. Snodgrass signed a three and a half year contract. West Ham beat off competition from Middlesbrough and Burnley in January but he struggled to settle in London. Now newly-promoted Brighton could come in for Snodgrass and it remains to be seen if Burnley come back. West Ham have some ambitious targets with Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud the big-name on their summer shopping list and Bilic is keen to improve their transfer dealings.

Chelsea's Nathan Ake to make £20m Bournemouth move today snubbing Newcastle and West Ham - report
The Blues defender is set to return to the south coast permanently
Football London
06:00, 29 JUN 2017

Chelsea defender Nathan Ake is repotedly set to return to the south coast on a permanent basis with Bournemouth having agreed a £20m deal. The 22-year-old spent part of last campaign on loan with the Cherries and was in impressive form under Eddie Howe until he was recalled to Stamford Bridge in the January transfer window. The defender only made two Premier League appearances for the Blues last season compared to 10 whilst on loan at Bournemouth - with the south coast side trying and failing to keep the Dutch international permanently last January. Now, according to reports, the Cherries have agreed a £20 million deal with Chelsea - with Goal understanding that Southampton, Newcastle and West Ham United were all interested. However, the report suggests that Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe played a big part in Ake's decision to return. Ake will become the second Chelsea player to move to the Cherries this window if the deal goes through, with Asmir Begovic also making the move for £12 million earlier in the window.

Report names three players put up for sale by West Ham United, as Slaven Bilic plans shake-up
John Verrall

West Ham United are expected to offload some of their fringe players in the coming weeks. According to the Daily Mirror, West Ham United boss Slaven Bilic is planning a mini shake-up at the London Stadium. West Ham suffered a disappointing campaign last time around, where they failed to live up to expectations.
And Bilic has decided that he needs to offload some of the players who fell short of the standards required. Havard Nortdveit has already left West Ham this summer, but more players have been put up for sale. Robert Snodgrass is one name at West Ham, who is available. The Scottish winger only joined West Ham in January but could move on - with Brighton & Hove Albion and Burnely said to be interested by the Mirror. Sofiane Feghouli is another player who West Ham would like to get off their books this summer. The Hammers also want to get rid of Enner Valencia, as Bilic looks to help fund moves for some of his planned additions.

Arsenal & West Ham receive transfer boost as French giants pull out race for £17.6m ace who has been involved in 69 goals since leaving London
By Emre Sarigul - June 29, 20170

Arsenal & West Ham receive transfer boost as French giants pull out race for £17.6m ace Oguzhan Ozyakup Marseille have pulled out of the race for Oguzhan Ozyakup according to reports in France. La Provence report that the Ligue 1 outfit are not interested in Ozyakup and will not be pursuing him this window. Per the source, the 24-year-old does not play a position that Marseille are trying to strengthen. The latest developments follow Fotomac claiming the French giants were ready to offer £8.8 million [€10m]. News that Marseille are not in the running will serve as a transfer boost to Arsenal and West Ham. The report claims that the Hammers are interested in the Turkish international. This is not the first time Slaven Bilic has been linked with a move for the midfielder he coached for two seasons during his time in charge of Besiktas. Turkish-Football report that Arsenal have been tracking their former academy player for months. Arsenal scout Jurgen Kost revealed over the 2016-17 season that a summer move could be on the cards. Kost was quoted by Turkish-Football as saying: "Ozyakup is a player we have been closely tracking and when we do our next search for players in his position there is a possibility he return to Arsenal."

Besiktas value their star man as being worth £17.6 million [€20m] and are reluctant to accept offers below their asking price. Ozyakup has just 12 months remaining on his contract and has yet to sign an extension. The 24-year-old has been directly involved in 69 goals since leaving Arsenal for Besiktas in 2012.

David Gold interview full transcript: Every word on West Ham academy, Wilshere and other signings
West Ham news includes David Gold's interview on talkSPORT about Reece Oxford, transfer targets and other key topics
Football London
12:30, 29 JUN 2017UPDATED12:34, 29 JUN 2017

AB: There's just no time to blood youngsters, managers are under so much pressure and fans expect so much, especially in the Premier League.

DG: "I think that's true. I think the issue is the changing landscape. I think a good analogy is to look at the FA Cup in 1980 when West Ham were playing Arsenal and we brought in young Paul Allen. "He was 17-years-old and playing in a cup final at Wembley. If I remember rightly Trevor Brooking scored the winning goal and West Ham won 1-0. The important thing was Allen got into that team at 17, but the team had one international and that was Trevor Brooking. "Today, if we're having a cup final, there probably would be 30 internationals on the pitch, so there is a big difference and a changing landscape that's changed the whole dynamics. "There is nothing more pleasurable, for a fan, owner or manager, to have a young academy player breaking through. However, I think we've got to be realistic and say that is now virtually impossible. "I think we had one or two that broke in this season. I think we had Rashford and that was really a freak situation. That wouldn't have happened under normal circumstances and I think there was an injury during the warm-up and he got his chance. "It's just not going to happen on a regular basis. It's different now. We have to face the fact that 17, 18 and 19-year-old young men are not going to get into the Premier League first-team. That would be very, very rare."

AB: Does that mean you will have to cut back on your expenditure on your academy? Chelsea and Manchester City have spent millions.

DG: "We're spending about £5million a year on our academy and we've had young Reece Oxford play a couple of games. "From a financial point of view we'd like them to come through earlier, but we've got to face up to the fact, the academy is in place and that's not going to change, what will change is that instead of teenagers breaking into the first team, they are going to have to go out on loan. "That's what is happening and there is a big drive for players to go out on loan and they may do that for three of four years. "A 17-year-old that may have got into the team 30 years ago will have to go out on loan to a team in the first division or second division and then eventually the Championship. Then he becomes 22 or 23 and breaks into the first team. That's the route that I think the future holds."

AB: How difficult is it for West Ham to bring in a big player?

DG: "It's clear to most fans that we are desperate for centre-forwards. We need strikers. Andy Carroll is injury-prone as we know, we have had an injury problem with [Diafra] Sakho and we have just got to bring in centre-forwards. We have got to find the money. "Without strikers, you struggle in the Premier League. You struggle in any division because strikers are your key players. "You have to bring in and spend your money wisely but it must be on strikers, particularly strikers that have had experience with Premier League football - the very best we can afford."

AB: The wages must be above what you're paying at the moment.

DG: "That's the problem and the difficulty and we have to find a way over that to ensure we bring in the very best that we can afford. We have tried the route of going overseas to bring in players - that hasn't worked. "We had a very difficult season because players we brought in from Europe didn't make the grade and we paid the price. We struggled. "We were actually flirting for some time with relegation because we couldn't score goals. Our other strikers were injured and that is why we have got to bring in players with Premier League experience and that is what we ae working on now. "David Sullivan is working day and night in an effort to solve this problem."

AB: Do you have to balance the books to bring players in?

DG: "If there isn't enough money then we have to sell fringe players. We've done that. The Norwegian player [Havard Nordtveit] has gone to Germany, so there's a player who has taken £45,000 off the wage bill and a little money has come in. "All of that goes in to ensure that we have money for one of two strikers."

AB: A top ten finish will be very difficult for the club

DG: "It is but that's our aim. Our aim is to finish further than we did this year. "We'd like to be knocking on the door of European football, we think we have a good squad but we do need to add a couple of strikers to ensure we are attacking the top end of the table, whereas last year we were flirting with relegation for a long time in the season. "Our fans don't want it and I certainly don't want it."

AB: Do you think it will be easier at the Olympic Stadium next year?

DG: "Yes, I do. I think a lot of our problems have been resolved and we are getting better and better every day as we resolve these issues. "It's a new stadium, it wasn't like Spurs or Arsenal where they are building a brand new football stadium, we've had to convert an athletics stadium into a football stadium. "That's been more difficult but we have improved the matchday experience of our fans. I think they are beginning too warm to the new stadium. There's nothing like winning. If we get on a run or cup run, then things accelerate and the improvements accelerate."

MQ: Would you be interested in Jack Wilshere coming to the club?

DG: "We are interested in all good players but we have to face the facts here - we have got good midfielders. We have got a good defence, we have got good midfielders, we have got good wingers. "We need strikers and that is the key to everything for this season, so we are focused first and foremost on bringing in two strikers. They are top of our list."

AB: Would Slaven have been interested in signing Tammy Abraham?

DG: "We want proven, experienced centre-forwards. Maybe in another season, when you've got experienced strikers in place, you bring him in. We've got young Fletcher that could be anything, we don't know. "In this moment in time we can't rely on, and forgive me as this is part of the issue, teenagers and youngsters.
"We must get top, top quality players in at this time. It's nice to have youngsters coming through and when they're 22 or 23 they will be superstars. "You can only have that if you have a number of top class strikers in your squad. Then in the background you can have them coming through slowly that will next year make the first team."

Stephen Hendrie joins Blues

Southend United are delighted to announce the signing of former loanee Stephen Hendrie on a two year deal with an option of a third. Left-footed Hendrie can play in a number of positions and impressed for Blues during the 2015/16 season after joining on loan from Premier League West Ham United. Hendrie, who has played U21 football for Scotland, played five games for Blues and scored his first professional goal against Shrewsbury Town at Greenhous Meadow. The 22 year old joined West Ham United on 1st July 2015 from Hamilton Academical clocking up over 100 appearances for the Scottish Club including promotion to the Scottish Premiership via the play-offs. Hendrie also spent the 2016/17 season on loan at Blackburn Rovers in the Championship, who now join Blues in the Sky Bet League One. Hendrie was pleased to return to Roots Hall "I'm buzzing to be back, I came here on loan for a short spell and it's a great club, I can't wait to start playing. The Scot had fond memories from his previous loan spell at Blues and he can't wait to push on. "I enjoyed my spell here last time and last season I kept a look out on the results and it was frustrating to just miss out on the play-offs, I can't wait for the season ahead and hopefully we can go one step further. "I'm glad it's all sorted ahead of the start of pre-season, I'm looking forward to getting fit, meet all the boys and get going again."


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