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!

Talking Point

Mad Max (i)

I am unaware if someone well known came out with this quote, but it’s appropriate in all aspects of life; but specifically with the sheer amount of football fans in the world. The quote is ’That’s the problem with opinions, everyone has one’.

Fans of any club, especially at the elite level of the game will always disagree on the ability of players, transfer targets etc. and those disagreements are often amplified because of social media. In the words of one hit wonder and Canadian musician, Daniel Powter, ’You’ve had a bad day’ and you vent on Twitter or a forum about West Ham’s recent inactivity in the transfer window. It’s understandable but relative to where the club has been and the players in recent windows that have arrived, there’s certainly reason to be positive.

My six a side team played in a top of the table clash on Monday, we came out with a good 3-1 win which for the first time means we are top of the league. As is the way with six a side, some of the teams we face sometimes are lacking numbers and we win fairly comfortably. However we do also encounter difficult opponents regularly. We all want to win or be successful in whatever we do, but sometimes, in the case of football beating a weaker side is not all that enjoyable or beneficial. As a team we always learn more and improve when we play better opposition and have to be more organised. My rather long winded point in relation to West Ham and the transfer window relates to six a side and facing different qualities of opposition. West Ham could probably acquire a striker for example with relative ease and not have to blow the budget but chances are fans would complain that the club haven’t been more ambitious and spent more money! Similarly, when the club pursues the likes of Maxi Gomez for a substantial fee and the saga drags on for a while, people complain that the club are punching above their weight/it is unrealistic.

Pellegrini has been vocal about his desire to push the club into the European positions. The question is, do we need a £40 million pound striker to elevate us to Europa League status? Do we actually need to be in the Europa League to attract the calibre of striker that Pellegrini wants? I would hope that the prospect of living in London, playing in the most competitive league in the world and a handsome wage would attract a striker that could realistically play for a team already competing in Europe. Alas, I hope the club is learning from these transfer negotiations much like we learn when we play football against better footballers.

Without knowing the very specific intricacies of transfer negotiations, and having no sources close to the club, it can be frustrating deciphering what might be true and what is wildly inaccurate! The fact of the matter is regardless of which players the club sign before the window closes, negotiations will not be completed overnight given there are always various dominos which have to fall into place.

One case you could make for acquiring a slightly cheaper forward is that then the club may still have some funds to search for another holding midfielder and perhaps a left back. It will be interesting to see what happens, with the arrival of Pablo Fornals combined with the return from injury for Yarmolenko plus a more experienced Anderson, and then the likes of Lanzini and Antonio you would hope for decent goal production from them. If they can all pull their weight with regards to goals and assists and stay healthy (a lot of luck required) that certainly should reduce the pressure of Hernandez and whomever else arrives.

You often have to encounter negativity when it comes to matters of football on social media, and in the case of West Ham fans I think some panic is starting to set in. Realistically, there is definitely still time to sign some good players who are attracted by Pellegrini’s project, and Husillos appears to move quickly with negotiations when a primary target is identified. There are areas of the team that could still be improved and I’m sure Pellegrini knows that, but we will be heading into this season with some exciting attacking talent and we must hope we can stay balanced while playing some positive football.

Hope everyone is well, and has a good week.

From the Archives

Happy Birthday Kenny Brown

Happy Birthday to former Hammer Kenny Brown, who turns 52 today.

Kenny Brown was born on 11th July 1967 in Barking – his father Ken made 474 appearances for the Hammers between 1953 and 1967, winning the FA Cup in 1964 and the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1965. Kenny began his career with Norwich under his father’s management in 1986 before moving to Plymouth in 1988. He made over 100 appearances for the Pilgrims before moving to First Division West Ham United in August 1991, initially on loan. The Browns would be the third father-and-son pairing to play for West Ham after Jim Barrett Senior and Junior, and Bill Lansdowne and Billy Lansdowne. They have since been joined by Frank Lampard Senior and Junior, Steve and Dan Potts, John and George Moncur, and Rob and Elliot Lee. Alvin and David Martin could soon join this unique club if David makes a competitive appearance for the club following his move earlier this summer.

The 24-year-old Kenny made his debut in a 0-0 opening day draw with Luton at Upton Park on 17th August 1991 and scored his first goal for the club in his fourth appearance in a 3-1 win over Aston Villa at Upton Park 11 days later. His move was made permanent for what would become an eventual fee of £235,000. His second goal for Billy Bonds’ men was the first West Ham goal I ever saw, in a 2-1 home defeat to Manchester City on 21st September 1991. Kenny had to wait seven months for his next goal but it was one that went down in Hammers folklore – the winner in a 1-0 triumph over Manchester United which helped deny the Red Devils the title and handed it on a plate to Leeds. The Irons’ relegation would be confirmed just three days later. Kenny made 33 appearances in all competitions in 1991/92.

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Predominantly a right-back but happy to fill in at left-back or in midfield, Kenny made 19 appearances the following season and scored two crucial goals in the promotion run-in. His late long-range strike at Birmingham on 3rd April 1993 sparked a dramatic comeback from 1-0 down to an eventual 2-1 win and he bagged the third in a 3-1 win at Swindon on 2nd May on the penultimate weekend of the season – the Hammers were promoted by virtue of scoring one more goal than nearest rivals Portsmouth.

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Kenny found game time hard to come by in the following two seasons, making 12 appearances in each of the 1993/94 and 1994/95 campaigns. Harry Redknapp had taken over from Bonds by the time Kenny scored his last goal in claret and blue, in a 2-0 FA Cup third round win at Wycombe on 7th January 1995 (he is pictured above, celebrating with Alvin Martin). A flurry of loan spells followed – Kenny made five appearances for Huddersfield in 1995 and also spent time at Reading, Southend, Crystal Palace, Reading again and Birmingham before signing permanently for the Blues in a £75,000 move in January 1997. Kenny’s final appearance for West Ham had been in a 1-0 home win over Nottingham Forest on 3rd February 1996. He had made 79 appearances for the Hammers in all competitions, scoring six goals. My video below is a compilation of Kenny’s six strikes in claret and blue.

The 29-year-old Kenny quickly realised he had made a mistake in moving to St Andrew’s, the club then being owned by David Sullivan and David Gold – he teamed up again with Bonds at Millwall just four months later. His last action in the Football League came at Gillingham, where he spent the final months of the 1998/99 season. Kenny signed for non-league Kingstonian before moving to Ireland with Portadown, then on to Wales with Barry Town. Kenny became player-coach and later manager at Barry, winning the Welsh League and Cup double in consecutive seasons. He resigned after a turbulent change of ownership which saw the club unable to pay its players. Kenny returned to England, signing for Tilbury, and ended his playing days in Spain with Torrevieja, an hour south of Benidorm.

In May 2006, Kenny was appointed Director of Football at Javea, near Alicante, and ran a summer school there with Julian Dicks. Kenny was appointed Dicks’ assistant at Grays in September 2009 and was named assistant manager at Concord Rangers in June 2012. Just a month later though, he was appointed Lead Development Coach at Barnet. After a season with the Bees, Kenny moved to Chelmsford to be assistant manager to Dean Holdsworth but departed before Christmas 2013 when Holdsworth left the club. Kenny joined Dagenham and Redbridge as Academy Manager in the summer of 2014, working with the Under-12s to Under-16s. Kenny completed his UEFA Pro Licence in the same group as Thierry Henry and Mikel Arteta. 52 today, he is currently Head of Coaching at Millwall.

The HamburgHammer Column

Arnie shanghaiing West Ham - And is Maxi snubbing Stratford for Valencia ?

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Those of you who have watched the film “Mutiny on the Bounty” (one of its various versions over the years) will be familiar with the unpleasant practice of shanghaiing, also called crimping, in which unsuspecting folk were kidnapped by press gangs, straight from pubs, markets or street corners, in order to (against their will) serve on ships of the Royal Navy on the Seven Seas en route to faraway shores, hence the Shanghai reference.

The press gangs used trickery, intimidation, violence or the element of sheer surprise in order to reach their targets and it’s quite ironic that Marko Arnautovic is apparently going to play for Shanghai of all places next season, in this case reversing the shanghaiing tactics somewhat in order to force West Ham to sell him to China.

As I don’t intend to focus my entire article on Arnautovic, I’ll try to keep this short.Once again we are likely to lose one of our best players/goalscorers for nowhere near his true market value due to some incredibly selfish and gutless stance employed by Marko Arnautovic and his scheming agent/brother.
They managed to get a contract extension and a payrise out of West Ham just a few months ago which didn’t really improve the player’s desire to remain at West Ham though.
Players these days have basically all the power when it comes to switching clubs, if they want to move elsewhere, chances are they will.

But even in this day and age there are different ways how to engineer your dream move: You can play by the book and also show some respect and professionalism to your current employer, making sure the selling club gets a decent and fair fee out of the transfer.

Or you don’t give a hoot about anyone else and antagonise teammates, managers and fanbase to a degree that they want you out at almost all costs, thereby playing into the hands of the primadonna player. This is pretty much what happened with Arnautovic here and I agree that it’s certainly best for West Ham to get rid quickly.
It’ll be interesting in the near future to hear a few more honest comments on Arnautovic’s time as a Hammer from his team mates.

I think Mark Noble in his diplomatic way has already confirmed that Arnautovic wasn’t exactly a team-player in the dressing room when things didn’t go his way. I’m sure a local East End boy like Mark Noble would have chosen a few expletives if talking about the Austrian in a corner of a Plaistow pub rather than to the journo of a national media outlet.

Be that as it may, good riddance and time to move on – we are a bit low on strikers, so that’s where our transfer business needs to be focused now.

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Over the weekend several rumours unfortunately seem to have pointed towards our Number One target, Maxi Gomez, allegedly choosing Valencia over West Ham after all.
Apparently our offer was better in financial terms, however, the lure of CL football and playing under a sunny Valencia sky rather than an overcast version in Stratford seems to have done the trick. (Other rumours suggest we are willing to pay the full release fee, but would want to pay in instalments.
If and how this may change the player’s preference I don’t know. Other rumours late last evening also suggested that Gomez had decided to sign for West Ham, so all that follows may obviously be old news already when you read this.)

Of course Gomez not joining us would be disappointing on various levels. Both Pellegrini and Husillos were really keen on getting the lad into a West Ham shirt, being convinced he’d be the perfect forward for our footballing style next season. I have no doubt that Maxi Gomez is a very good striker. I am pretty certain he would do really well in England.

But I am even more convinced it’s better for him to play in Valencia if that is the club of his true personal choice. I don’t want players coming to West Ham only half-convinced of the job in hand or being lured/forced into signing for us reluctantly just because of a massive wage offer or because his greedy agent tells him to sign on the dotted line, earning himself a hefty commission fee in the process.

If Gomez does indeed sign for Valencia, Pellegrini and Husillos need to be quick on their feet and work down their list of transfer targets to sign an alternative or two.

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Surely we need new strikers in as, frankly, with Carroll, Arnautovic, Perez and possibly Hernandez gone, we do need reinforcements. At this point we still have Jordan Hugill (is he good enough even as No.3 or 4 striker at PL level ?) and young Xande Silva (is he ready yet ?). Not enough firepower.

I remember us playing the odd game in the recent past without a nominal striker in the starting XI, picking a winger like Antonio to play upfront or relying on one of the regular midfielders to score goals by going into more attacking positions during certain situations in the game.

Yarmolenko of course started out as a striker before being moved onto the wing later in his career.
So if push came to shove, not only would VAR most certainly give a penalty, but Yarmolenko could also surely play as a striker again, with passes being provided by Anderson, Lanzini and Fornals this might work really well actually.

Then again, I still trust that Pellegrini and Husillos will earn their corn and find us a few more decent signings yet.

Getting your Number One target is something that a club like ours cannot count on as a mere formality – we currently are still a midtable PL team, with no European football, nevermind CL, to offer. It seems we did push Valencia really hard for Gomez though – and they can offer CL football.

But we should be able to find and attract different options if need be – and while Pellegrini and Husillos may be disappointed with the Gomez deal not coming off (or will it, maybe ?), both are professional enough to have considered a possible negative outcome in advance.

I am not even going to try and guess who we might sign instead. It could be some under-the-radar signing like Fornals who nobody really expected to join us until the deal was practically announced in public. Don’t underestimate the network and expertise that Pellegrini and Husillos have in terms of Spanish and South American football.
If they sign a player from the Spanish League or maybe from Peru, Paraguay or Ecuador I would trust them to have done their homework and pick a good one.

Other mothers have beautiful daughters too…as they say in Germany…LOL

With the Arnautovic/Gomez developments, I’d expect our transfer business to pick up some pace this week, it should be exciting, annoying at times, maybe disappointing also, but ultimately still bring us a few more good players, putting on the claret and blue shirt with the crossed hammers…COYI!!!

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Hamburg football update: Not that much happening really. Saw the Cordi first team lose a preseason encounter 1:2 and the women’s team drawing their first test fixture by a 3:3 scoreline, albeit with several players away on vacation still or out injured. So a bit early really to draw conclusions how the new season is going to shape up for good old Concordia Hamburg…


Marko Arnautovic Has Left the Building

I’m sure you’ll join me in asking him not to close the door on the way out.

That is all.

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