Competition

Join the WestHamTillIDie Fantasy League 2019/20

WestHamTillIDie are again running a league for the upcoming season’s Premier League Fantasy Football. We invite you to take part and submit a team!

If you participated last year, you will automatically be part of the league. All you need to do is complete your team for the new season.

If you didn’t take part last year and are new to the WHTID League, firstly click here. When you’ve registered your details, follow the instructions to select your team.

When you’ve selected your team, you need to join The Official WHTID League by clicking on the ‘Create and join leagues’ tab on the right side of the screen (this will only appear after you have picked your team). Then click on ‘Join a league’ and then ‘Join private league’ before typing the code kje6ia into the relevant box. You need to register before the season starts on Friday 9th August.

Special thanks to Ray The Hammer for setting up the league.


Talking Point

From Madrid with hope

It’s been a while since I sat down to write about West Ham and pleasingly, a new face in the form of 25 year old Frenchman, Sebastien Haller has since arrived.

Along with a few friends, we went away to Madrid to visit our friend who’s been living in the Spanish capital for a couple of years. My takeaways from a great trip that also saw us visit both Atletico’s relatively new Wanda Metropolitano and the Santiago Bernabeu were Kieran Trippier’s name on an Atleti shirt looks very odd, the Spanish metro is far cleaner than the tube, plus McDonald’s in the UK needs to start selling beer like Spain!

As Manuel Pellegrini embarks on his second season managing at the London Stadium, the excitement is already building for what as fans we hope is successful and enjoyable campaign. Along with my family, I’ll be at the stadium on Saturday as we play host to La Liga outfit, Athletic Bilbao. Watching both Fornals and Haller make their home debuts will be enjoyable: let’s hope the two men with a combined fee of roughly £64 million pounds can lay on a couple of goals and assists like they did against Hertha Berlin.

Expectations are understandably high, and with the additions we have made coupled with the fact Anderson, Diop, Balbuena alongside a couple of others now have a full season of Premier League experience, we should be looking up. The opening fixture at home to the Champions is clearly the toughest test you could ask for. I’d like to see us win obviously but at the very least not lose convincingly, and use the attacking talent we now have in forward areas.

Our record signing who has represented France at every youth level, even featuring with centre back Issa Diop, is a real coup for the club. The statistics never lie: we have acquired a man as tall as me (6ft 3) who contributed 20 goals and 12 assists in all competitions. Haller was a part of a dynamic and dangerous trio consisting of Luka Jovic and Ante Rebic, the former now a Real Madrid player and the latter being repeatedly linked to Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid. Our new No. 22 was integral to Frankfurt’s domestic success as well as their journey to the Europa league semi-final. Not only can the Frenchman hold the ball up and drop deep to link up play, he has a great shot and will impress with his skill and hard work.

Similarly, former Villarreal midfielder, Fornals looks set to be a bargain. The Spaniard looks tactically flexible in that he’ll be able to play as a traditional 10 but also slightly deeper as an 8. Our new No. 18 will hopefully be able to interchange nicely with the likes of Lanzini, Wilshere and Anderson and provide a fluid quartet behind Haller. When we announced the arrival of the 23 year old playmaker, I distinctly remember a Spanish journalist and La Liga expert stating we’d got a great deal and he was surprised that a number of the top six clubs had not seriously pursued him.

We are very much in the cluster of clubs who are as they say the ‘best of the rest’ but we definitely should challenge for the European places while also looking to go far and try to win the League and or the FA Cup. In my opinion, the teams in and around us include Leicester, Wolves and probably Everton. The foxes may well struggle to replace ‘slabhead’ Maguire if he departs for Old Trafford, Wolves may prioritise the Europa League, while Everton have just sold one of their most important players to PSG in Gueye. No doubt these teams will all still achieve some success but, with the players we have, we really should be contending for that seventh position.

Ultimately, a season for West Ham and the fans often entails ups and certainly downs. However with a bit of luck and hopefully some consistent goal scoring from Haller, we’ll be in for an enjoyable season with few worries. The slight concern is that if we get injuries to several key players, i.e. Diop, Rice, Haller etc. the depth is concerning. Despite that concern, we are heading into the 2019/2020 Premier League season with the best starting 11 we’ve had in a long time with a great manager, and it’s about time we got some luck with injuries, surely?

Hope everyone is well, and has a good week.

During writing and drafting this, Fabianski appears to have picked up a minor groin injury in the warm up against Hertha Berlin. Sadly, it’s therefore very unlikely he’ll feature against Bilbao on Saturday, but he hopefully should be fit for the opening day against City.


The HamburgHammer Column

A pitbull, another terminator and a mystery freebie ? Putting the finishing touches on our 19/20 season squad

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First things first, there wasn’t loads to write home about in terms of West Ham United in the week just gone, but the major, yet not really surprising bit of news was the confirmation that midfielder Pedro Obiang had indeed returned to Italy to lace his boots for Sassuolo in future. I couldn’t begin my column without thanking Pedro for the games and memories he has given us during his West Ham reign. Yes, he scored THAT screamer against Spurs (always a surefire way for a player to get brownie points and potential legend status at West Ham), but apart from that one goal he was your model professional footballer, with a bloody nice personality added on top.

By all accounts he was popular with his teammates, always friendly, modest and respectful towards the fans and he instinctively knew HOW to leave our club once he had made up his mind about returning home to Italy.

No dressing room destroying diva-style shenanigans, no dodgy quotes given to the media in order to force through a hasty move to his desired location, no. Instead we had some kind of gentleman’s agreement that he would stay another season while we couldn’t afford to lose him – and one year later Obiang got his desired move without West Ham haggling for a ridiculous fee that might have put any move back to Italy in jeopardy.

Thanks for everything Pedro, I think I am speaking for most on here when I say that Obiang will always be welcome at West Ham, should that be as a fan, a future opponent (Europa League ?) or maybe even as youth coach.

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Despite certain rumours that Pellegrini was satisfied with the squad presently at his disposal and that there wasn’t any money left for new players anyway, other rumours are clearly saying the opposite, claiming we would definitely bring in another striker and also a versatile defensive midfielder who can also deputise in defence if need be. And of course there is always room for a mystery player, arriving from the Ecuadorian top division, either as a freebie or on loan…

One name that keeps getting mentioned in terms of potentially being bound for Stratford, is Chilean hardman/nutter Gary Alexis Medel Soto. Nicknamed “The Pitbull” for his aggressive make-no-prisoners style of play and some off-field episodes displaying a low tolerance of frustration, Medel is a proper beast of a player, surely one you’d rather want to play on your team rather than seeing him charging at you at full speed, face distorted, studs showing, putting in tackles Vinnie Jones would have been proud of in his heyday.

Some fans categorically don’t want Medel at West Ham, and I can see the worries involved here. A player with a reputation like Medel’s, with a flaring temper, can do your club more harm than good. But let’s not forget that Medel is Chilean and has been a staple for their national side. So if there’s anyone who can evaluate if Medel would be a good fit for West Ham at this point, it should be his fellow countryman, our gaffer Manuel Pellegrini.

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At just shy of 32 years of age (his birthday is August 3rd) Medel is vastly experienced, he’s been there, done a lot, probably got all the T-shirts too. You don’t get to play over 120 times for your country if you can’t play football. He has plied his trade in various countries, Italy, England and also Turkey (he’s currenty at Besiktas). So he ain’t shy adapting to new surroundings.

Yes, he is prone to the odd sending-off, in 376 games he has seen 3 straight red cards plus 8 second yellows – that’s an early shower after every 30 games or so on average, not good, but not the end of the world either.

What he does give you in return for that, though, is a tremendous work-rate and tenacity. He can also tackle and would be another leader on the pitch, similar to Balbuena or Noble in that regard. His reputation, actually, might even be an asset for his next team. As an opponent you’ll be very aware when Gary Medel is zooming in on you, he doesn’t even have to tackle necessarily, just the thought of him putting in a hefty challenge might be enough to frighten the opponent into giving the ball away carelessly or passing it back to his goalkeeper as a safety precaution to avoid Medel. I for one wouldn’t mind to see the Chilean reincarnation of Repka at West Ham and he also seems to be in the right price bracket too as he wouldn’t cost a fortune at this stage.

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Another name you hear a lot these days in connection with West Ham is Moussa Marega, a Malian striker, nicknamed the Terminator. Presumably not because he has an Austrian accent, but due to his force and impact in the opposition’s box. Marega is a late bloomer, it wasn’t that long ago that he was scoring his goals for a club at the French 6th level. By now though he has become a regular in the Malian national side and has also got a taste of CL football with Porto.

In Julian Dicks we had a Terminator before, so if Marega is only half the player for us than Dicks was, we can look forward to quite a player!

West Ham, of course, were interested in signing Marega before and he won’t come cheap. What might be possible though, if Pellegrini is really keen on getting the player, is a loan deal with an option or, more likely, an obligation to buy next summer. The good thing is that Marega can play as part of a dynamic front three or also just behind the main striker.

Built like a brick shithouse, he is hard to stop by legal means for any defender, he is equally adept at heading the ball, finishing and playing lethal passes.

28 years old, Marega’s best years should still be ahead of him. I wouldn’t mind seeing him at West Ham, causing havoc upfront with Haller, Anderson and Antonio.
That should be fun…;-))

With every week that passes, the West Ham Women’s team seem to confirm yet another decent addition to the squad, this time French attacking midfielder Kenza Dali who will celebrate her 28th birthday on Wednesday. She’s been on the fringes of the French national side as well in recent years, scoring 4 goals in 22 games so far for her country.
Despite not winning the title with PSG, she still was part of one of the top sides in France until 2015, scoring 33 times in 82 games, so far the most prolific spell in her career. After that she played for Lyon, Lille and most recently Dijon, so you can tell she’s mustard…(see what I did there ? LOL)

Just as her namesake, Salvador Dali, was an artist with brush on canvas or sculptures made of bronze, Kenza Dali is an artist with the ball at her feet.

She is the third highly promising signing for the West Ham Women’s team and one would expect the ladies to become a much better side now, potentially maybe even a side to be reckoned with next season, a dark horse to spoil things for the usual suspects, we’ll see. I cannot wait to see them in action myself.

A quick word on the Fulham preseason game on Saturday. It was great for the new boys Haller and Fornals to finally get their debuts for West Ham against decent opposition. With Lanzini scoring a fine goal apparently in our 1:0 win.
I say apparently as I didn’t see the game, not even highlights, like most of you I guess. But it was valuable gametime for various players and there were no new injuries to report, so mission accomplished for now. COYI!!!

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Hamburg football update: Finally, the new season proper has now started for most clubs in Hamburg with the league calendar kicking off.
Hamburg SV have started their season under new manager Dieter Hecking with a game against their bogey side Darmstadt, drawing 1:1 with a late penalty equaliser deep into injury time.
St.Pauli will play their first fixture later this evening at Arminia Bielefeld.

All three main Concordia teams have been in action yesterday.
The Cordi first team started their league fixtures with a home game against recently promoted Bramfeld, winning 2:0 in unspectacular fashion. As no other team managed a win by a bigger margin in their first league game the Cordi boys are officially (and unexpectedly) the first table toppers this season. Maybe I should print out the table, get it enlarged and framed nicely and hang it on my living-room wall…;-)

The Cordi U23s also played at home first, against TuS Hamburg, winning 4:0. Great start for them into the new season!

And finally the Cordi Women’s team had another preseason game against local rivals Berne, losing 1:3, but gaining valuable on-pitch experience while improving their fitness levels.

What was really nice last week was the Concordia club president texting me, asking if I was actually paying for the match tickets at home games. I replied to him that I did, as a matter of principle, and that I was happy enough to do so. He was having none of it though, saying that I shouldn’t have to pay as I was regularly providing content for the club’s matchday programme. So he made sure there was a free season ticket waiting for me at the turnstile, prior to kickoff, which means I now only have to pay for the away games. Good man!

That leaves me with an opportunity to give some of my ticket money saved to the women’s team instead. They are always grateful for donations in order to buy new balls for practise, shin pads or training gear. As you can imagine, they are not exactly swimming in cash at Concordia, especially as far as the women’s team is concerned…


Player Analysis

How Sébastien Haller Will Fit into a New Look West Ham Team

Guest Post by James Hirlehey

The £45 million club-record fee for Frankfurt’s Sebastien Haller has raised hopes for the Hammers ahead of the new season. There were growing concerns after the departure of Marko Arnautovic that the club could be set for a Premier League season lingering in the bottom half of the table. However, according to Compare Your Odds, Westham are now 11/10 to finish in the top 10. The Hammers needed a proven goalscorer and Haller fits all the credentials that are needed.

There is no doubt that the squad has increased in quality immediately. The Frankfurt man had been touted to join a Champions League team this summer, so it is a massive sign of intent by the Hammers to get the deal over the line. West Ham have been on the hunt for a striker for the past three summers, but they could have hit the jackpot.

What Does Haller Bring?

Standing at 6 ft 3 inches he immediately will be an imposing figure to lead the line. He possesses the quality with both the ball in the air and at his feet to bring in the quality players such as Felipe Anderson and Manuel Lanzini around him. His hold up play could be pivotal in how the Hammers approach games last season as he could free up space for the influential players around him, while Mark Noble and Declan Rice will ensure that the Hammers aren’t left vulnerable.

The 25-year-old can score an array of goals and is as strong with the ball on either foot. That is highlighted by his 15 goals last season being divided between right-footed, left-footed and headed finishes. He is far more comfortable on his right-foot, with ten of his goals coming on that foot. However, his ability to find the right areas of the box to be in for when the ball gets there is the type of striker that the Hammers have needed for many years.

He has been described as an effective striker, and that is exactly what the club needed. He has already scored over 100 goals in club football, so it isn’t hard to see why the Hammers have been happy to part ways with the best part of £40 million.

Where Will He Fit In?

With Manuel Pellegrini seeming desperate to stick with the 4-2-3-1 formation it is likely that Haller will be playing in the lone striker role. Behind him, there will be the influential trio of Lanzini, Anderson and the returned Andriy Yarmolenko. There will also be a chance of rotation with the arrival of Pablo Fornals and Robert Snodgrass. There is an abundance of talent in the forward areas that will present the manager with many questions. Regardless, all of these are good problems to have.

Instead, he could opt to change the system and play a 3-5-2; something the Chilean did attempt last year. However, this season could reap benefits from this change in formation. The five in midfield can be anchored by Rice, with Fornals and Lanzini either side. The wingers of Yarmolenko and Anderson and the forwards being Haller partnered with Javier Hernandez. There will be an interesting dynamic to that system, but Pellegrini will need to find the right balance, so the team aren’t caught on the counter-attack.

Expectations

The hopes for the new season are the highest that they have been for many years now. There had been signs that positive things are ahead at the back end of last season, but the need for a striker was something that everybody connected with the club knew that they needed. The arrival of Haller means that the Hammers could have hopes of finishing in the top six now. If Haller adjusts to the Premier League quickly, then there is no reason that couldn’t happen.


News

Lots of Love, Pedro Obiang

Departing midfielder Pedro Obiang has written a lovely letter to West Ham co-chairman David Sullivan. He has left the club for Italian side Sassuolou for a feee, though to be around £7 million. Here’s his letter…

Dear Mr Sullivan,

I would like to take the opportunity to thank you for your help during my stay at West Ham United. I hope my attitude and behaviour has been as you expected and hoped for, I have always tried to be loyal and show respect toward you and the club. I am indebted to you for bringing me to the club and helping me to achieve a dream of mine – playing in the Premier League, a dream which I have now fulfilled with West Ham. I would have dearly liked to have achieved more in my time at the club, but maybe in the future, if the doors remain open to me, I can return.

Finally, I have to say some words for the supporters. I have some great memories with you all. The first one that comes to my head is the very first time I heard my song. Second is when I was out with injury, because I received so many good words from the fans. Third, the unforgettable last game we played at our old home, Upton Park, against Manchester United. And fourth, the many friends I made in and around the club. And there many more great memories.

I wish you all the very best – and maybe one day I will come to the stadium to feel again the passion I always felt when I was there.

Thank you.

Come on you Irons!

Pedro Obiang

They don’t make them like him anymore. Top chap.


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