Talking Point

The West Ham Catch 22

The brain cells are recuperating and preparing themselves for another season of psychological torture. The last three months have been spent watching events such as the Women’s World Cup, the French Open , Wimbledon and the Cricket World Cup. But nothing can compare to the release of dopamine when your football team scores and that makes us a little mad.

If we were sane, we would support teams where we were guaranteed more goals. After all, Premiership football is about a simple transaction. You get a load of cash for the football rights and you dole it out on transfer fees and wages. My ten year old grandson could do that.

I’ve been loving Catch 22 on Channel 4 and will read the book again when I go on holiday. And this is our Catch 22. To transfer your allegiance to a new club you’ve got to be sane , but the trouble is, if you support a club like West Ham, you’ve got to be a bit mad.

After all, it’s a club run by pornographers, doesn’t own a stadium, has a dame trying to screw the owners of the ground for a few thousand pounds when we could save £800,000 by getting rid of her, and thinks that by surrounding the pitch in maroon instead of green, the results will be improved.

But we love it. We can’t get enough of it. We all think it’s going to get better in the future. And, perhaps it will. We’ve splashed out £45 million on Haller and £25 million on Fornals. We’ve got Yarmalenko, Reid, Wilshere and Lanzini coming back from injuries (I won’t include Sanchez). And it doesn’t seem that we have lost Rice or Diop. So, we should all take our hats off to David Sullivan, who has probably calculating that he should take the risk to make the club more valuable when he sells it in the summer of 2021, when he is free from his agreement with the owners of the stadium.

Perhaps we are still short of full backs. And, although not taking too much from friendlies, we have shipped six goals, which is reminiscent of previous beginnings of other seasons. Personally, I would build a team from the back, but we have an attacking manager and we’ll see how that pans out. And let’s hope that now the traitor, Arnautovic, has gone, team spirit will soar.

So, there’s less than a month to go and let’s hope you’re going to get your dopamine in spades this season.


Haller's a Hammer

At 1pm it was announced that West Ham have made a record signing. He’s 25 year old French striker Sebastien Haller, who has been quite a prolific goalscorer for Eintracht Frankfurt over the last two seasons, and before that with Utrecht and Auxerre. The deal has been tied up relatively quickly given the complications in modern day transfer arrangements. The fee is £41 million plus an extra £4 million of potental add-ons. It’s a five year deal with another year as an option.

I have to say I am more excited by Haller than I was about Maxi Gomez, and all credit to doing the deal in the absence of Manuel Pellegrii and Mario Hussilos who are both in China. Seb Haller told

I feel really great,” said the centre forward. “I think it’s a really good opportunity for me to be here. It means a lot (to be the record signing). It proves that the club [has] really wanted me for a long time. I felt this desire to sign me and I’m really happy to sign, also. it is an ambitious club, a nice club, a nice city and nice fans too. For me I can guarantee that I will give 100% for the club because the club has given me this confidence and I will try to give it back every day in every game. I will always give 100% and respect the club. I think this is a normal thing and that I can guarantee. I know it’s a big transfer and there is a lot of expectation around me, and I just want to make people proud of this transfer and I will give everything I have."

Transfer Gossip

Introducing Sebastian Haller

This is Sebastian Haller, the Eintracht forward who West Ham are keen to sign. Looks quality, judging from this video.

The HamburgHammer Column

Will Seb be our buffalo in a China shop ? Let's hope so!

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I hope I am not tempting fate here, as the player is not quite ours yet, but early signs are promising that French striker Sébastien Haller (pronounced the French way, Sebastioooh ‘Alleeer, you gotta drop the H like a true Cockney and you’re halfway there…LOL) could indeed be West Ham bound.

If rumours are to be believed we have convinced the player of this exciting little PL project we’ve got going in East London, personal terms have been basically agreed including a release clause while the two clubs have apparently also agreed on a fee of around the €40m mark, according to some sources (other sources claim though that a fee is yet to be agreed).

Once again though, the payment structure of any fee could prove to be a major stumbling block as Eintracht Frankfurt may well be demanding a bigger fee upfront than we are willing or capable of handing over.
If we have to pay 20m upfront, I’d still go for it as preseason is already in full swing and we do need quality first-choice strikers soon, not freebie stopgaps.

As Mario Husillos has surprisingly travelled with our squad to China for the preseason tournament there, the West Ham director of football will have to continue negotiations for Haller by email or telephone conversations which would suggest that the face to face negotiations from now on mainly rest with either club intermediaries or David Sullivan himself. Is that a good or bad thing ? I’m not really sure, so fingers crossed and God be with us!

I’d still like to go ahead regardless and assume we will eventually sign up Haller (after losing out in the quest to sign new Valencia striker Maxi Gomez who may or may not have been used deliberately as an elaborate smokescreen for our real target(s), who knows ?).

I may have told you before about one of my Concordia mates who is also a diehard Frankfurt fan (due to the fact he was born by accident in a local Frankfurt hospital. His heavily pregnant mom and his dad were at that crucial time in a car on their way home from some holiday destination in South Germany when the labour pains kicked in, but he could just as easily have ended up as a Nuremberg or Hannover supporter depending on traffic on the Autobahn, I suppose).

So I know for a fact that like most Frankfurt supporters he isn’t happy at all about potentially losing Haller. Allow me to tell you a thing or three about the player who will hopefully be a Hammer later this week:

He’s 25 years old and grew up on the outskirts of Paris.

He is what is known as a street footballer as he played and breathed football virtually 24/7 when still a wee lad, kicking a ball and doing keepie uppies on the streets and courts of his suburban neighbourhood. So while he joined a proper club at the age of 10, well before that time he had already developed skills and instincts out there on the street you cannot really teach in club football.

Later on he became a member of the Auxerre academy, following in the footsteps of Bacary Sagna and a certain Eric Cantona…

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He was part of a trio of attackers at Frankfurt together with Jovic and Rebic, a group which was affectionately known as “The Buffalo Herd“, due to their physical and robust style of play. And while you wouldn’t want a buffalo herd, same as the proverbial bull, anywhere near your parents’ china shop, buffalo style attackers can be very fearsome in football even in 2019.

Haller and his mates in any case were scoring goals for fun, being one of the highlights and joys to watch in recent Bundesliga history. And the envy of every team in the league.

Haller’s main asset that catches your eye first is obviously his height and build. You won’t brush this guy off the ball easily, at least not by legal means and he can hold up the ball well enough to bring others into play time and time again.

Mark Noble might want to cover his ears now, but Haller is a fantastic penalty taker which could come in useful with VAR being a factor in the PL now.

He is also a great outlet when his team is under pressure as he is capable of winning balls booted high up the pitch as his height gives him tremendous range to control the ball with his head or either foot. Which of course is also a good asset to have when defending against a set piece.

You’d be forgiven for thinking his height might be somewhat hindering him in certain other situations on the pitch, however, his body control and agility is extraordinary for a man of his stature, indeed he quite regularly turns an opponent in astonishing ways, leaving him to snatch at thin air and using great initial acceleration to get away and have a shot on goal or play a pass to a teammate. (Although he is nowhere near as fast as, say, Felipe Anderson who can outrun opponents over half the length of the pitch, Haller doesn’t quite have that kind of pace over distance.)

One distinctive factor in Frankfurt’s attacking brand of football was his constant interchanging of positions on the pitch with Rebic and Jovic, rendering their moves and tactics highly unpredictable…and as a result lethal.

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Moreover Haller is not just a one-trick pony either as his collection of goals clearly showcases: Left foot, right foot, headers, penalties and bicycle kicks, you name it, he scored one just like that.

You can also add playmaking to his weaponry as his flick-ons are another major part of his attacking play, ideal for helping guys like Anderson, Lanzini, Yarmolenko or Antonio to boost their own goal tally.

In short: I think Haller would be ideal for West Ham, after missing out on Maxi Gomez. He is more than just a good finisher, he makes the players around him better and also is a proper team player.

If we get him we would have a very confident young man on our hands, with his peak years still very much ahead of him, but no egotistical diva or disturbing factor in the dressing room. His English at this point is as fluent as his movement on the pitch, so that should also help him settling into London life quickly, again, IF the signing happens of course!

Either way, we should have a decision in the next two or three days I reckon and than we can get in another striker on loan or a reasonably good freebie as backup.

Let’s hope for the best, COYI!!!

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A quick “Welcome to London!“ goes out to our first new signing for the West Ham women’s team, defender Laura Vetterlein, arriving at West Ham from Bundesliga side SC Sand.

27-year-old Vetterlein (translating as “little cousin”) has also played for German women’s football giants Wolfsburg and she’s won the Champions League with them twice, same as the German league title (twice as well), so you can be certain that Laura will bring experience, skills and solidity to our defence. As a fellow German I am obviously over the moon that West Ham have ramped up their Kraut quota, at least as far as the women’s team is concerned.

Maybe we’ll develop a taste for it and sign a German or two for the first team as well to follow in Hitzlsperger’s footsteps.

In any case, I hope to be able to catch Vetterlein, nicknamed Laurinho, in footballing action whenever I shall be over for my next visit. When I do, I can teach you all a few important German phrases to shout onto the pitch as encouragement, so that Laura may get a bit of extra spring in her step…not that she’d need it, of course!

To give you an idea what she looks and sounds like, here’s a little interview clip from the time at her previous club.

Hamburg football update: Hamburg SV lost a preseason game against Huddersfield, of all clubs. Concordia came runner’s up at a week-long local tournament of eight teams and the Cordi lads looks in decent enough shape now, judging by the preseason performances, to kick off their season in style this Friday with a cup game away to minnows Glinde.

Will they turn out to be Cordi’s Wimbledon and cause a premature cup exit ?

I also watched another preseason test yesterday, this time of the young Concordia women’s team, they got trounced 0:8, albeit against a frighteningly good side playing two levels above Cordi. The class divide truly showed on the pitch…

According to the manager he wanted to keep the girls firmly grounded and focussed for when the new season kicks off four weeks from now. So far the players were used to winning left, right and centre. Next season will be a tougher challenge, against better teams throughout the league and with definitely more defeats on the cards than in the season just gone. No reasons then for illusions of grandeur here…

So probably it wasn’t such a bad idea after all to show the team that there are still plenty of things to work on and improve in training. They make think they are a good team already, but there are sides out there that are far better…and that’s the kind of level where Cordi aim to be one day.

Talking Point

New Number 7 Found Quickly

But Hammers still in desperate search of a hitman

With Marko Arnautovic having departed to Chinese side SIPG Shanghai under highly annoying circumstances (on which I don’t want to waste words anymore) West Ham have immediately got a new number 7 in Andriy Yarmolenko.

Prior to West Ham’s first game of pre-season in Austria, Andriy said:

“I’m changing because it is my number in the national team and also because it is a lucky number for me and I hope it makes me play well for West Ham.”

Having been out for much of last season due to injury the Ukrainian added: “Maybe a little bit I am like a new signing!”

If he keeps fit, Yarmolenko could partly fill the gap that Arnie’s departure has opened in West Ham’s squad. But with Andriy being a winger it will be necessary to quickly also find other offensive options to guarantee that West Ham will reach their goals: finishing within the first third of the Premier League table, and to do that with offensive and entertaining football. Manager Manuel Pellegrini’s first transfer target Maxi Gomez unfortunately could not be signed, and therefore the search for a new striker has to continue.

With forward Andy Carroll released in the summer after another injury-affected season, also his squad number was handed to a new player in the 3-2 win over Austrian Bundesliga side SCR Altach, with Chicharito sporting the shirt no. 9. It is to be seen though if the Mexican will keep this squad number, as a new center forward might get it, and it is not a certainty at all that Chicharito will remain at West Ham.

Frenchman Sebastien Haller, playing for German side Eintracht Frankfurt and having netted 15 times in the German Bundesliga last season, is rumoured to be West Ham’s new striker target. He is said to be at the centre of a €40 million bid from the club, but he has no get out-clause in his contract and the German outfit will be reluctant to let Haller leave, as with Luka Jovic one of their stars has already joined Real Madrid and another one, Ante Rebic, could leave for Inter Milan.

West Ham’s shocking scoring record

West Ham is desperate to sign a really prolific front man after years in which the Hammers’ scoring record has been on low tide. A survey published by ClaretandHugh ( click here ) showed that West Ham are the only Premier League team to not have a league top scorer in excess of twenty goals this century.

The last player to score more than 20 goals in a season for West Ham, believe it or not, was Tony Cottee. The striker who just has turned 54 on July 11, scored 22 goals in the 1986/87 season. The season before, Frank McAvennie scored even more goals, hitting the net 26 times in the First Division when the “boys of 86” achieved West Ham’s all time best finish in the top flight! Together Cottee/McAvennie scored 46 league goals that season when the Hammers came a close third behind Liverpool and Everton winning 26 of their 42 games.

Long time gone … but in Pellegrini we trust! And in his director of sports, Mario Husillos, who hopefully will engineer an other transfer like the one that brought new midfielder Pablo Fornals to West Ham United recently!

Though there seems to be some doubt at West Ham that the Argentinian director of sports will be able to bring arguments weighty enough to lure Haller from Frankfurt to the London Stadium: media reports emerged on Friday that in this transfer case additional help by another agent, Willie McKay, has been called into action to help completing the deal.

Come on you Irons!

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