Talking Point

Should They Stay Or Should They Go: The Defenders

Adrian

Officially the Premier League’s best goalkeeper it seems. There’s no doubt about it, he made some fantastic saves. I can’t explain why but he still leaves me squirming in my seat sometimes, but you can’t argue with his shotstopping abilities. And three consecutive penalty saves ia almost Rob Green-esque. VERDICT: KEEP. Obvs

Jussi

Jussi has served us well but he’s 40. Even he can’t keep going forever. He’s been a brilliant goalkeeper for Bolton and us, but all good things come to an end. Southend’s David Bentley could well be his replacement. VERDICT: RELEASE

James Tomkins

An in and out season for James Tomkins, mainly because of injuries. When he’s played he’s been his normal reliable self and having now signed a long term contract I can’t think anyone would think selling him ought to be on our agenda. A class act. VERDICT: KEEP

Winston Reid

Winston Reid hasn’t had his best season mainly due to several injuries but it’s hard to think of a game in which he has had a stinker. The contract shenanigins didn’t help either, but that’s seemingly over now. Until his head is turned the next time. The truth is that no one came in with an offer. VERDICT: KEEP

James Collins

Of our three central defenders Collins had by far the best season. At the beginning of the season you’d have put him as third choice, but I suspect most of us feel that he deserves better than that. Apart from a couple of glaring howlers he was an absolute rock. He also scored a brilliant own goal! He’s getting on and won’t get any quicker, but he’s Mr Reliability. VERDICT: KEEP

Reece Burke

What a pleasure it has been to see Reece Burke break into the first team and get a few games. He has the grace of Rio Ferdinand combined with the tenacity of James Collins. He certainly hasn’t let anyone down. He also isn’t afraid to shoot when he gets near the opposition penalty area. His distribution could improve, but all in all a very promising few games. VERDICT: KEEP

Carl Jenkinson

Carl has developed into one of my favourite players. I just hope we can persuade Arsenal to either loan him to us again or even better sell him to us. Frankly he’s worth whatever they want. He hasn’t had a bad game and like Aaron Cresswell has almost operated as a wing back. VERDICT: SIGN!

Aaron Cresswell

A brilliant initial season for the former Ipswich left back. Nothing has phased him at all. He’s brilliant on the left wing whether bounding forward or overlapping. His only weaknes is sometimes getting out of position and leaving gaps for opposition players to fill. He’s played every game and only had one stinker – at Stoke. He’s also got a rocket of a shot on him and I reckon he’ll be in the goals next season. VERDICT: KEEP

Joey O’Brien

Joey never lets anyone down and every team needs a Joey. He can play anywhere across the back or in midfield. He’s never going to be an exciting player and I’d be sorry to see him leave. However, he may decide that at his age he needs to be playing more. he’s the sort of player that ought to be interesting the three promoted clubs, but I for one hppe he stays. VERDICT: KEEP

Guy Demel

Guy Demel didn’t really get much of a lookin last season with Jenkinson ruling supreme down the right. I can’t see that changing if Carl stays. Demel is very athletic but he’s possibly getting long in the tooth to play the role of an attacking right back. Again, I’d be sorry to see him go, but I think he’s one who could be let go. VERDICT: SELL

Doneil Henry

We haven’t really seen him yet, but by all accounts he was outstanding when he went on loan to Blackburn. If he hadn’t been injured I suspect he’d have made the first team in front of Reece Burke. Definitely one for the future. VERDICT: KEEP

Dan Potts

I really regret that Dan Potts hasn’t been given the opportunity to build on the excellent start he made a couple of years ago. He made one of the mos timpressive debuts I have ever seen but inexplicably he’s been virtually ignored since then. With the purchase of Stephen Hendrie that is unlikely to change. There are rumours that Luton want him. I suspect he would well advised to go if he wants to kickstart his career. VERDICT: SELL UPDATE: I’m now told Potts has formally been released.

VERDICT

Bearing in mind we have Stephen Hendrie joining us from St Mirren, it seems to me we don’t need to spend an awful lot of money on defensive reinforcements. Assuming we can retain Carl Jenkinson and Joey O’Brien stays, we’re covered at right back. And with five central defenders, do we really need another one? Well, the demands of the Europa League might well suggest we do.


Talking Point

Should They Stay Or Should They Go: The Midfielders

Kevin Nolan

When Kevin Nolan joined us four years ago it was quite a move for him, as we had just been relegated. Since then he has scored thirty goals in 139 appearances, a much better strike rate than he had at Bolton. However, his form this year hasn’t been so good and it’s easy to assume that age has caught up with him. He’s 33 in June. His contract is up and will not be renewed, I imagine. VERDICT: LET GO

Mark Noble

At the age of 28 Mark Noble is at the height of his powers, with more than 300 games behind him. It would be unthinkable for him to be sold, but stranger things have happened. A lot depends on the new manager, but for me he should be the new club captain. VERDICT: KEEP

Alex Song

At Christmas you’d have found it difficult to find anyone who wouldn’t have wanted to keep Alex Song but his form since then has been average to say the least. He’s certainly not worth the £100k a week he is said to command. He wants to stay in London so a new deal is obviously a possibility but I’d have thought unlikely. There’s no doubt he’s a quality player, and I have enjoyed watching him, but he is consistently inconsistent. VERDICT: HEART SAYS KEEP, HEAD SAYS FORGET ABOUT HIM

Cheikhou Kouyate

He’s been a revelation, and he should be our key midfielder next season. It’s handy that he can help out at centre back too. VERDICT: KEEP

Stewart Downing

A bit like Alex Song, he was excellent in the first half of the season but his form faded in the second half, especially when he wasn’t playing at the top of a diamond. He scored six goals this season,a big improvement on his single goal in the previous season. But at 31 you have to wonder how much longer his pace will last. If we sold him now we’d recoup most of the £6 million we paid for him. VERDICT: SELL

Matt Jarvis

Matt Jarvis cost a whopping £10 million and has never really fulfilled his early potential. He’s only scored 4 goals in 75 appearances, a pathetic return for a £10 million winger. One wonders if we’d recoup more than thirty per cent of that. VERDICT: SELL

Morgan Amalfitano

Amalfitano has done well despite not being given a huge number of games. His great asset is his ability to play out wide or through the centre. VERDICT: KEEP

Diego Poyet

With Kevin Nolan gone Diego Poyet might break through. He impressed whenever he played and certainly didn’t ever let anyone down. I’d like to see more of him. VERDICT: KEEP

VERDICT

With Noble and Kouyate first choice players in a midfield three, we need a top class ballplaying midfielder and another defensive midfield player. I also think we need more speed on the wings.


Talking Point

Should They Stay Or Should They Go: The Forwards

This week I will be analysing the whole squad and asking you to give your views as to whether each player should be retained or be sold. Let’s start off with the forwards…

Nene

Nene is 33 years old and was signed as backup in the transfer window. He was a Sullivan signing and was never wanted by Sam Allardyce, and was never really given a chance to show what he could do. He didn’t start a single game, yet has declared that he wants to stay. I fear he will be disappointed. VERDICT: RELEASE

Andy Carroll

Andy Carroll looked back to the player he once was and then he got injured again. He scored 5 in 12, which is a good rate of return, but bearing in mind he costs us £100k a week, that’s a million pounds per goal and almost half a million pounds per game. On is day he is a wordlbeater and gives the team something unique, but can we really rely on a striker who plays so few games? At the moment it’s unlikely any other club would pay a huge amount for him, certainly nowhere near the £20 million he cost. However, it’s clear that he can only ever be relied upon as one of three top class strikers. VERDICT: KEEP, BUT SELL IF A £15 MILLION OFFER COMES IN

Mauro Zarate

Although he was never given a real chance by Sam Allardyce his behaviour on loan at QPR has been nothing short of a disgrace. VERDICT: SELL. QUICK

Carlton Cole

I imagine there’s no way back for Carlton now, but at the age of 31 he still has a lot to give. I wonder if Norwich might put in a bid. Personally, I’d love it if he stayed as our fourth back-up striker, but to be fair to him he wants regular first team football. VERDICT: HEAD SAYS RELEASE, HEART SAYS KEEP

Diafro Sakho*

Ten goals in 23 appearances says it all. Possibly the find of the season. Allardyce would have preferred Connor Wickham, but David Sullivan got his way, and thank God he did. Sakho, if he keeps fit, could be the 20 goal a season striker we’ve been searching for for many years. VERDICT: KEEP

Elliot Lee

Elliot Lee is not a Premier League class striker and never will be. Even on loan to Luton he only scored three in eleven games. It would have been lovely for him to break through, but it’s not going to happen. VERDICT: SELL

Enner Valencia

When Enner Valencia scored that wonderful free kick against Hull we allowed ourselves to believe we had got a pearl of a player, but sadly he’s never really lived up to the hype. He has flashes of brilliance, but they are few and far between. Four goals in 30 games tells its own story, bearing in mind he has scored 11 in 17 for Equador. Maybe our style of play wasn’t to his liking or he just found the physicality of the Premier League too much. Chelsea are said to be willing to pay £21 million for him, although I doubt we’ll ever see the colour of their money. VERDICT: SELL IF WE CAN GET OUR MONEY BACK

We should also remember that technically Modibo Maiga is still a West Ham player, as he will return from his loan period with Metz, where he scored a more than respectable 9 goals in 24 appearances. At least that puts him in the shop window.

VERDICT

With Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho, it seems to me we need to buy two strikers before the start of next season – one small, nippy striker and another who can replace Carroll or Sakho is they get injured.


The Brian Williams Column

Thanks for the memories

With the hunt now on for a new manager, and the fresh dawn that will bring, it is easy to forget that we are nearing the end of an era. This time next year the gates of Upton Park will have been locked for the final time and the bulldozers will be on their way. There will be no going back.

They say you don’t miss what you’ve got ’til it’s gone, but it’s not going to be as simple as that next season. For all of us who have a lifetime of loyal support invested in Upton Park the final game of next season is going to be one of the most emotional days of our lives. That’s not to say other matches won’t be poignant too, though.

In its way, each game is going to be a final game. It will be the last time we play Chelsea at Upton Park; the last time we play Man Utd; the last time we play Tottenham. With each game the recollections of past battles will come flooding back. For me that means Geoff Hurst v Chopper Harris; Bobby Moore v George Best & Co; Martin Peters and Jimmy Greaves playing for the “wrong” sides. When we entertain Newcastle I’ll allow myself the luxury of a journey back in time to 1986 and big Alvin’s hat-trick. Arsenal will give me the chance to privately salute Sir Trevor; Man City means Dean Ashton; Everton equates to Stuart Slater. And just about everybody will make me think of my personal king of Upton Park, William Arthur Bonds.

My advice is to soak up the atmosphere at every game; cherish the memories of our final season at the Boleyn Ground and lock them away somewhere very safe indeed. You never know when you might need them.

What are the memories you will take from this season, I wonder? Whether they are good or bad will much depend on whether you’re a glass half-full or half-empty kinda person. The early part of the season was terrific, of course – not just the results, but the brand of free-flowing attacking football that we were serving up under Sam Allardyce. There wasn’t a hoof to be seen as we dispatched Liverpool, Man City, Newcastle, Swansea and Leicester at Upton Park before Christmas. For the traveling supporters there were even a couple of away wins as well.

Yes, we had our tongues in our collective cheek as we warned Barcelona that we were coming for them. But it was fun, nevertheless.

You don’t need me to tell you the second half of the season was nowhere near as enjoyable. A toxic cocktail of injuries, loss of confidence and hurtful late goals saw the party turn into a hangover as we won just three league games. And a desperately disappointing exit from the FA Cup after we’d all started to believe this might just be our year to go back to Wembley induced nausea to go with the headache.

Would we have taken a comfortable mid-table position with no hint of relegation if we’d been offered it at the beginning of the season? It’s my bet most of us would. Also, whatever you think of Allardyce, there is no gainsaying that the standard of football was the best we have seen for several years. Even in some of the games we didn’t win, the quality was undeniable. We were exceptional against Man U, and excellent in the second half against Chelsea, for example.

However, the time has clearly come for a parting of the ways. The vital spark has gone from the team and, ultimately, the manager has to carry the can for that. As the season petered out we looked, as a side, to be too old, too slow, and too cautious. (There are those who would describe me in similar terms, but you don’t pay large lumps of money to watch me perform every week.)

There was a time I would have been desperate for a former West Ham favourite such as Slaven Bilic to take over. I’m not fussed these days – I just want someone who understands the club’s ethos and puts more emphasis on scoring goals than preventing them. I might even have a couple of bob on Michael Laudrup getting the job. I just hope the appointment is made sooner rather than later.

Alongside the question of who will be the manager comes the close season speculation about which players might be going and who may be joining. Somebody, somewhere, will doubtless put forward the suggestion we are about to sign Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Pele and Daniel Bentley (although I can’t see Bentley coming to Upton Park now Southend have secured promotion to League 1).

I like to kid myself that I will ignore the transfer gossip – telling myself I’m far too savvy to be taken in by all that stuff. But, try as I might, I won’t be able to resist the temptation to have a peek from time to time (Note to Miss Liddy: please note your spelling lesson did not go to waste.) I will endeavor not to believe every word of it, though. (Note to self: try not to let it ruin your summer when it transpires any rumour linking Carlos Tevez with a return to Upton Park is wide of the mark.)

Ah well, that’s the penultimate season done and dusted. I’m going to prepare for the next one – the final one at our beloved Boleyn Ground – by watching a bit of cricket and sparking up the barbecue when the weather allows. I hope you all have a brilliant summer, and I look forward to resuming our regular Tuesday get-togethers in August. As the man once said: COME ON YOU IRONS!

IAIN WRITES: If you’re wondering what to read on the beach this summer, why not try Brian’s book Nearly Reach The Sky – A Farewell to Upton Park? If it’s not in your local bookshop, you can order it online from publishers Biteback or Amazon.


Parish Notice

May Issue of Blowing Bubbles

Jack Collison believes he can still play a vital role as part of Wales’ golden generation.

In an interview with West Ham magazine Blowing Bubbles Monthly, the midfielder, who is currently without a club, said he is focusing on making sure he is in the best possible shape to make a comeback next season.

If Collison needed any further incentive to get his career back on track, he need only look at his Welsh international team-mates, who are currently in with a fantastic chance of qualifying for the 2016 European Championships, which would be their first major tournament appearance since 1958.

“It’s a bit tough to watch at times, but it’s great to see the lads I came through the ranks with, like Joe Allen, Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale, doing so well,” said Collison, who left West Ham 12 months ago and won the last of his 16 caps in March 2014.

“This was always Wales’s golden generation, John Toshack blooded them young and now Chris Coleman is reaping the rewards. I’m confident in my ability, so if I can get a decent run of games, I don’t see any reason why I can’t get back into the squad.”

There is also a Cup Winners Cup Final special where Blowing Bubbles caught up with Ronnie Boyce, Brian Dear and Jack Burkett to relive the magical night the Hammers conquered Europe.

Elsewhere in the May issue of the magazine, Julian Dicks uses his regular column to talk about his highs and lows during his first year as manager of the West Ham Ladies team but will he remain manager for the Ladies’ next campaign? “Whether I will be manager next season remains to be seen,” he wrote this month

Sky Sports’ Bianca Westwood writes in her column that Aaron Cresswell has been fabulous this season and fully deserved Hammer of the Year. She believes England manager Roy Hodgson must consider taking him to the next England squad.

She also criticises manager Sam Allardyce for not doing more to adhere himself to the fans. “He could’ve spoken about our great fans or our wonderful history and all the other great things about West Ham, but his comments about ‘what’s the point playing the West Ham way if you get beat every week’ might have been part of his downfall,” she wrote. “It’s all well not playing the West Ham way if you are winning matches but we haven’t been.”

Meanwhile Blowing Bubbles also asks whether Jussi Jaaskelainen, Guy Demel and Dan Potts deserve new deals at West Ham and will the Hammers ever solve the big Enner Valencia enigma?

The latest issue of Blowing Bubbles Monthly is now available to read for FREE on your computer, tablet or mobile phone.

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