Ihenacho to inch closer to West Ham?

West Ham's search for a striker will intensify this week, with promising young striker Kelechi Ihenacho the main target.  Wary of the interest of Leicester City in in the starlet, the Hammers have tried to reach agreement with Manchester City over a buy back clause, which has been the main stumbling block in negotiations.  City are said to be seeking a 40% clause whereas the Hammers are holding out for 50%.

As the players start to return to training and the new season gets closer, a new striker remains the priority for the team.  Calleri and Zaza are long gone with Carrol and Sakho still both on the treatment table, at the moment we might have to play Randolph up front!

Will Slaven Save Our Season?

It's a game most fans look out for when the fixture list comes out but there will be no sterner test this season than when Tottenham come to town.  Spurs have become a well drilled outfit this season, even down to ensuring they get marginal penalty calls.  Meanwhile, the Hammers need a couple more points to ensure safety and be able to relax going into our final games against Liverpool and Burnley.

According to the Guardian, these last games will define his future but I think the board already know, though which they will act, I can't yet tell.  Just as last season did not mean Bilic is a managerial genius, this season does not mean he is a managerial failure.  He is still learning, especially when it comes to the Prem, and the fact is he exists in a world between the two.  He is a competent manager who will have his ups and downs.  There are very few managers who are not like this and those that are will be out of our salary range.

I'm all for giving Slaven another season.  With the Payet and Stadium issues largely behind us, a decent transfer window could see a good season.  We certainly have the foundations with the likes of Reid, Antonio and Lanzini, add a bit more depth and magic and we could be there.  Come on you Irons!

Upton Gardens – Take a look at the new flats at Upton Park

Upton Park is slowly fading as memory but the wounds may well be re-opened with the announcement that the public can register for the flats at the newly named Upton Gardens.

There are 842 properties in total, ranging from one to four bedroom homes.  The site includes a fitness centre, underground parking, 24 hour concierge and private outdoor space.  Starting to sound more Chelsea than West Ham in all honesty.

Upton gardens

(image courtesy of Barratt Homes)

I sincerely hope that the development works for the area.  As we know, many businesses have been affected by West Ham moving to Stratford, such as the Pie and Mash Shop and Ken's Cafe, and this development could hopefully seen an upturn in fortunes for them.  Tough Ken's Cafe may have to start selling Lattes and Croissants rather than double egg and chips.

Meanwhile, the London Stadium is starting to feel more like home.  Against Leicester on Saturday there was a good atmosphere, certainly helped by the vocal away fans and hopefully we are reaching a tipping point on and off in the pitch in our favour.  

‘Slav Wanted To Keep Me’ – Kevin Nolan

Kevin Nolan has revealed that Slaven Bilic offered him th chance to stay at West Ham but he felt the time was right to move on.  In an interview with the Daily Mail, Kevin talks about how he didn't want to be an 'enigma in the background' and wanted new captain Mark Noble to have a fresh start.  He also has kind words to say about our chairmen.  

On the Payet situation, Kevin stands up for his former teammate 'I've played with Dimitri, he is a lovely lad, got fantastic ability, but he has been really badly advised' but he does recognise how the incident has tarnished his time at the Hammers 'For all the good Dimitri Payet has done for West Ham United, this has overshadowed it 10 times over, and no fan will ever forgive him'.

 

Overall, Kevin comes across really well, as one would expect him to, he always gave 100% for us and I hope he succeeds in his new role at Notts County and who knows, maybe one for the West Ham future?

Jose Fonte – The Southampton Fans View

So, we've got our man, but what do the opposition think of the one who got away?  There's certainly a tinge of sadness among many, along with some bitterness which I won't feel too much schadenfreude about having gone through the same with Payet.  But we're defintiely talking of Simone Zaza style relief here..Views courtesy of SaintsWeb..

'Massively overrated player. He's been a good player and good servant but nowhere near as good as everyone makes him out to be. He makes just as many mistakes as Yoshida. I won't wish him well but won't wish him bad either.'

'There will be a lot of posts like this, so let's nip the narrative at the bud, shall we?  Jose Fonte has been an absolute giant for us, one of our best players and a symbol of our progression. To step down from the Championship to League One and end up as a Euro 2016 winner and one of the best defenders in the Premier League, all at this club and in the space of seven years, is remarkable.'

'Shame, fantastic servant to the club and a big loss to us.'

'Fonte has been a powerhouse for Saints, and his leadership on and off the field has been immense. So he's gone to a flawed though ambitious club'

'We have had a lot of deals that have been described as 'good business ' lately but we seem to be getting weaker by each transfer window. I'm sad to see him go'

'Fonte was absolutely class for us over the years but feels a bit like when Lambert left, he's on the decline and he's served as well. Just a shame it was West Ham he ended up'

The 32 Strikers Signed by Gold and Sullivan Who Have Delivered 125 Goals in 642 Games

I'd like to analyse this more a little later, but wanted to point you in the direction of an excellent article on the Guardian website which has looked at the poor record of Gold and Sullivan when it comes to signing strikers for the club.  The saying 'a stitch in time saves nine' comes to mind, with an earlier outlay on a good striker would have cost the club less than continual mistakes such as Wellington Paulista and Simone Zaza.  A good read…

West Ham 3 Crystal Palace 0

A fantastic response after a terrible 8 days for West Ham United.  From Man City tearing us apart to former Hammers favourite Dimitri Payet throwing his toys out of the pram and deciding he wants to leave.  

Although Payet was on the radar before he joined us, he did not have the same profile that ourselves and the Premier league gave him.  For me, it's clear the club treated him well and somewhat indulged him with the undoubted talent he has.  It's shame then that having given him that platform, he rewards us with such behaviour.  I'm a big believe in karma, and though he will always have money, it's unlikely he will look back on places where he was truly loved when his career comes to an end in the not too distant future.  Perhaps he should have had a word with Carlos Tevez, who left without sulking and who will always be hugged by a West Ham fan no matter where in the world he is.  Additionally, I do not put this on the board at all, yes the Summer signings have not worked out as we had hoped, but it is pretty appalling to turn round and behave as he has.  The buck stops with Payet, he is a grown man who can makes his own decisions, and I hope to never see him in a Hammer shirt again.

To today's game and there was an excellent vocal backing for manager Slaven Bilic from beginning to the end.  We were nervous in the first half and things were not quite panning out how they were intended, so Slav moved to four at the back by taking off Ogbonna and moving Byram to right back.  It turned out to be a masterstroke as our attacking prowess subsequently improved.

 

The three goals has everything…a tap in, a scintillating scissor kick and a dinked one on one.  Lanzini did not shy away from the role bestowed on him today, that of creative playmaker.  Without Payet, he is the only one on the pitch and was buzzing around looking for the ball.  Other great performances came from Obiang, Feghouli, Antonio and Carroll.  I also thought Sam Byram did really well when he came on and hopefully we now have ourselves a right back!

A great result and performance and one which we can take to Middlesborough with some confidence.  Hopefully some of you go onto the more than 2.5 goals action and the Hammers completed your weekend.  Irons!

Reflections on the West Ham Olympic Stadium

I wanted to let it all sink in…this new era, this great leap forward!  West Ham United (London) will never be the same again, but will the team fade and die like bubbles or rise like the phoenix of the stadium we have inherited?  Only time will truly tell, but this stadium is built for success. Other supporters may laugh, but this is a stadium built for the big stage, it's a stadium one would expect to see for a Champions League game, not a Championship one.

West ham outside olympic stadium

The entrance, as you can see, is impressive.  Upton Park looks like a reserve team structure in comparison.  The club have done a good job of making this our home, with banners and livery providing impactful branding.  The look is one of 'wow'…it demands a photographic moment, and away fans will on the most part be momentarily breathless.  This is no longer small club, this a club knocking on the door of the elite.

West ham olympic stadium skyline

Inside, there are stunning moments to be captured, such as the one above.  Like I say, it's a big stage.  There were no queues to get in and once inside, toilets and food were seamless experiences.  This may have something to do with the lack of alcohol for sale, but I imagine it will be repeated for the Premiership.  Seats are larger than Upton Park and there is significantly more legroom.  No longer am I waiting the inevitable kick in the back from the seat behind me.  This is a comfortable experience….too comfortable?  Too sanitised?  Possibly, but what was the alternative?  Patch up Upton Park for eternity in the name of nostalgia?  Look at the clubs around us, where would holding us back get us?  This move let us get with the times, we are a destination, a club players want to sign for, I really feel this is the start of a new era.  A new vision…talking of which….

West ham playing mk domzale

The view, ah yes, the view. It's strange, I won't deny it.  I'm sitting in the lower end of the upper tier behind the goal. Below me are empty seats that the lower tier seating has been placed over.  There's a walkway to the lower tier and a spacious disabled section.  It's quite a way to the pitch.  The goals at the other end were visible although the minutiae of Kouyate's deft back flick was missed.  The gap from touchline to managerial bench is particularly long and I wonder if Slaven eventually insists on a temporary solution that is further forward.  It's different, I'll miss seeing the whites of Andy Carroll's eyes as he ran towards the corner flag in the old East Stand, but this is okay.  I imagine the players are enjoying it, certainly Noble and Nordveidt looked like they loved bossing it around the park.  What a lovely player Nordveidt is, he will be our un-sung her o of the season.

Those bemoaning the lack of atmosphere should remember there was no away support to speak of.  There were also plenty of times of quiet moments at Upton Park so let's not pretend it was a constant whirlwind of noise.  I can't wait for a derby match on a cold Tuesday night here, I think it the atmosphere will be electric.

As you can tell, I'm generally happy with what we have, I believe it represents real progress.  Yes, I miss Upton Park and loved the place, but to top it all, my journey home was 100 times more pleasant than the nightmare queuing and rude stewarding of Upton Park station.  Welcome to the 21st century folks, West Ham United have truly arrived….first London, soon the world…

West Ham – Looking Ahead

Sorry, but I am not one of those fans who wet themselves at a pre season loss.  I'm old enough to remember winning every pre season game under Avram Grant, and look what happened there!  However, it's not long before we get down to business for the season, so I thought the time was right to have a look where we are,

Sunday's friendly against Karlsruhe was possibly a bit more than a friendly, being the last match before our first competitive game in the UEFA on Thursday.  The performance was pretty solid, especially at the back.  The only black mark was the challenge on Aaron Creswell, which we are still waiting on to see how bad it was.  You could tell by the players reaction that they know the value of Cress, I get the feeling if it was Enner Valencia, they might have just shrugged it off a bit more! Speaking of which, up front i still don't doubt there are changes but the board are waiting for the merry go round to kick in before they are able to get their targets.  I'm not panicking, we've still got more strikers than Spurs , and their main man played (arguably) in the Euros.

Of the new signings, Nordveidt impressed me, strong in the air and assured on the ball, he looked like a class act.  Likewise Feghouli impressed with sensible passing and perception.  Tore was the weakest looking of the three, looked like he was possibly trying too hard, but I have the feeling he will frustrate and delight in equal measure.  We've also got some classy youngsters coming through, so some ocver at left back and a quality striker and we will look fairly solid for the season.  That said, I'd say we have enough right now to see off our UEFA cup qualifying challengers.

Further predictions for the season to come, but until then, enjoy the sunshine and up the Hammers!