Talking Point

Keeping hold of the ball and players

As ever the transfer rumour mill continues to spin and, while we are being linked to some exciting players, inevitably some of our better players are bound to be touted for moves away from the club. Given the progress the club has made coupled with the fact that most Premier League teams can demand substantial fees if the big boys come sniffing, we are in a strong position. For the record, I firmly believe our young French defender who had an impressive debut campaign in England will not depart this summer, and the club which has supposedly registered an interest are a very unattractive proposition unless players want ridiculous wages.

As I’ve stated in previous posts, Pellegrini and Husillos are working hard to improve the team and we are starting to create a very interesting side. Only time will tell how we get on, but it’s a compliment to recent acquisitions that teams are interested in our players.

I was wracking my brains this week in terms of what I could write about, and I was partly inspired by my six a side game on Monday evening. For those wondering, we won 4-2, and our opponents were slightly older with a couple of players not in peak physical condition (think Benni McCarthy, Neil Ruddock, or Brian Dear even further back). However, they are an experienced and organised outfit who attempted to sit deep and counter attack. It was interesting to have a lot of possession of the ball and have to break a team down; it can be frustrating but clearly you have to remain patient. I thought that my team’s experiences on Monday might not be dissimilar to what West Ham might encounter next season…

Quite a few teams in the lower half of the table playing at the London Stadium next season will be content to sit deep (some deeper than others) and try and punish us on the break. Some teams can do that to great effect, other teams such as Sheffield United, Burnley etc might not provide a potent threat on the break but will try to make it extremely difficult in the final third and rely on set pieces. With the arrival of 23 year old Pablo Fornals combined with the likes of Anderson, Lanzini, Wilshere and Yarmolenko, we have an abundance of forward thinking creators who will be integral to breaking teams down, especially at home. I think Fornals will have the ability to play as an 8 and sit slightly deeper sometimes as well as being very threatening as a no. 10. The ever present Mr Noble is often a progressive passer and will still be useful in us improving and winning more games next season. Even if the man from Canning Town does not feature quite as much, he will remain a great motivator for the squad.

It’s certainly encouraging to hear Pellegrini say he wants to play attacking football, and against the sides in and around us as well as below us, hopefully we can be clinical and consistent. There has been a lot said about whether another holding midfielder/box to box style of player will come in, and I do think we need more support for Rice. In line with us perhaps experiencing more possession overall next season, you could perhaps argue that more emphasis will be put on scoring goals and Rice will be entrusted with more responsibility. However, I’m sure Pellegrini is already considering his tactics for the opening day against the reigning Champions. We can’t afford to be naive otherwise we will leak goals not only to the elite teams but teams across the board.

There will be more pressure on us as we add better players and, at home, you always want to see wins but at the very least a team of eleven players putting in 100% effort while ideally playing attractive and free flowing football. If the club is to progress next season, consistently getting results against lesser sides will be crucial, and being able to do that whilst not always playing brilliantly is key. In the words of the rock group ‘Bachman–Turner Overdrive’ and their 1973 song, West Ham must be ’Takin’ Care Of Business’ against teams on a more regular basis.

With a Premier League winning manager at the helm and a very efficient Sporting director working together to push us forward, expectations should start to rise. I believe Fornals is a fantastic addition and he should excite fans while also improve the team and create serious competition for places. I hope to go to more games next season and, much like the six a side fixture where we had lots of the ball, I shall tell myself to follow the advice of Take That in having a little patience, pray the goals will come and we can rule the world…

Hope everyone is well, and has a good week.

From the Archives

Happy Birthday Frank Lampard Junior

Happy Birthday to former West Ham and England midfielder Frank Lampard Junior, who turns 41 today.

Frank Lampard Junior was born in Romford to West Ham left-back Frank Senior and Pat on the 20th June 1978, a month after the Hammers’ relegation from the top flight. He joined West Ham’s Academy in 1994, spent a spell on loan with Swansea in 1995 and won the South East Counties League in 1996, making the FA Youth Cup Final in the same year, although the Irons lost to Liverpool.

Lampard made his Hammers debut at the age of 17 on 31st January 1996 as a substitute in a 3-2 home win over Coventry; he made one further sub appearance in 1995/96 and made 16 appearances in 1996/97, although his season was ended by a broken leg suffered at Aston Villa in March 1997.

Lampard was a key figure in the Hammers’ ever-improving team in 1997/98, scoring his first goal for the club a minute after stepping off the bench on the opening day of the season, the winner in a 2-1 victory at Barnsley. Lampard made 42 appearances as the Hammers finished eighth, scoring nine goals, including a hat-trick in the League Cup fourth round against Walsall, who had future Hammer Jimmy Walker in goal. Lampard also scored the opener in a 3-1 defeat at Leeds’ Elland Road, replicating his dad’s jig round the corner flag at the same ground in the 1980 FA Cup semi-final by way of celebration. He made his debut for England Under-21s during this campaign, going on to captain the side.

Lampard made 41 appearances as the Hammers finished fifth in 1998/99, scoring six goals. Becoming renowned for spectacular strikes from distance, he notched long range strikes in home victories over Leicester and Middlesbrough, and also scored a penalty at Anfield’s Kop End in a 2-2 draw against Liverpool.

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Arguably Lampard’s best season in claret and blue was the 1999/2000 campaign, scoring 14 goals from midfield in 49 matches. He started the season in style, scoring four goals by the end of August – three in the InterToto Cup against Jokerit, Heerenveen and Metz, as well as the winner in a 1-0 home triumph against Tottenham. He also scored in the UEFA Cup against Osijek and bagged winners in Upton Park goalfests against Sheffield Wednesday (4-3) in November 1999 and Bradford in February 2000 (5-4). Lampard also made his full England debut under Kevin Keegan in October 1999, starting and playing 76 minutes in a 2-1 win over Belgium at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light – his cousin, Jamie Redknapp, scored the winning goal.

Lampard’s final campaign in east London, 2000/01, saw him bag nine goals in 37 games. He scored his only brace for the club in a 2-1 win at Bradford in February 2001 and signed off as a Hammer with three goals in his final four games. His last goal for the Irons was a penalty in a 2-1 defeat at Newcastle on 16th April 2001, with his final match for the club being a 2-0 home defeat to Leeds on 21st April 2001 – the visitors had 22-year-old Lampard’s youth team colleague Rio Ferdinand in their ranks. Lampard made his second and final England appearance while with the Hammers in Sven-Goran Eriksson’s first match in charge, as a half-time substitute in a 3-0 win over Spain at Villa Park in February 2001.

A few weeks later, Lampard’s father and uncle (Frank Senior and Harry Redknapp respectively) both left the club. Feeling that his position as a player at the club was untenable, Lampard sought a move and rejected Aston Villa to sign for Chelsea for £11m in the summer of 2001 – he had scored 38 goals in 187 appearances for West Ham United. My video below shows 37 of these 38 goals. This video has proved to be one of my most popular, with in excess of 25,000 views since it was posted in October 2018.

Lampard went on to become Chelsea’s highest goalscorer of all-time, scoring 211 goals in 648 appearances. He won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups, two Community Shields, one Champions League and one Europa League during his time in west London. He won 106 caps for England, scoring 29 goals for his country. He represented the Three Lions at the 2004 European Championships, and the 2006, 2010 and 2014 World Cups. He missed the 2012 Euros through a thigh injury.

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Lampard spent a season with Manchester City before ending his career at New York City FC in the United States. Lampard, 41 today, is currently manager of Championship side Derby.


Payments to Premier League clubs for the 2018/19 season

I came across a nice little breakdown of the combined TV money, commercial revenue and prize money that each team in the Premier League received last season and it makes for interesting reading.

Each team secured a guaranteed £34.3m equal share of the TV money then on top of that they receive a facility fee which depends on how many of your games are shown on TV, in 2018/19 West Ham were shown on TV 16 occasions so received a facility fee of £18.9m accordingly. Then depending on your final league position you then get a merit payment which is about £2m per league place so we received a further £21.1m for finishing 10th in the league and then every team receives £4.9m from commercial revenues.

International TV money this season was a fairly hefty £43m which is split equally between every team BUT that will change next season after the top six clubs won their battle to earn a greater share of that revenue. They argue that because they have more fans abroad, they are entitled to a greater share of the money made from foreign territories so the gulf between the top 6 and the rest will continue to grow as the Premier League granted their wish. I’m not sure many people are aware of this bizarre decision so feel free to have a rant below.

In total West Ham received £122,528,663 for the 2018/19 season placing West Ham 10th place in terms of money received which seems fair as we did finish 10th in the table and all of the Premier League teams combined received just shy of £2.5 billion between them with bottom placed Huddersfield still raking in £96.6m which is staggering considering Juventus, the Serie A champions only earned £102 million according to an analysis from the football finance blog Swiss Ramble.

The HamburgHammer Column

Four nails or four candles ? As a new signing Fornals is formidable

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Finally another new signing to get excited about – and finally a reason to write something, allowing me to put out my column again. Bringing in Pablo Fornals is fantastic on many levels. The way it happened was, by the looks of it, straightforward, without ITKs discussing the move weeks on end. I suppose rumours only really started to bubble up to the surface once the deal was pretty much done and dusted. It’s refreshing to see business at our club being done in such a professional and efficient manner.

It’s also encouraging that our Director of Football, Mario Husillos, obviously knows exactly what we’re getting with Fornals. He used to work with the player at Malaga and both Husillos and Pellegrini apparently have monitored the progress of Fornals closely in recent times.

Fornals, by all accounts, is a highly promising prospect, with age very much on his side, but also, according to Pellegrini, a good person to have in the dressing room which obviously is another crucial factor when picking your targets.

Looking at his interview below, Fornals seems certainly like a young man with ambition and skill, but also with his head firmly screwed on, more interested in helping the team rather than just boosting his own goals and assists tally, that will surely take pretty much care of itself, once he has started to develop some chemistry with his teammates.

Of course I have watched highlight reels of him, but frankly they don’t mean a lot. I could watch ten hours worth of material on him on Youtube, and still be none the wiser.

These clips can be very cleverly edited, with fancy hip-hop beats added for dramatic effect, still they can be somewhat misleading (even Julien Faubert looked the nuts on Youtube). I doubt though that Husillos and Pellegrini have chosen Fornals on the strength of a few clips they found online, their scouting will have been thorough and regular, so if they have given the deal the thumbs up, I’m all for it.

So, what are we likely to get then ? An attacking midfielder whose best position is in central midfield, in the #10 role ideally, but he can also switch to the wing, if need be.
He’s a great dribbler apparently, strong on the ball, but also not afraid to win back the ball either in his own half, putting in a tackle, or by pressing the opposition in theirs by chasing them relentlessly.

So, essentially a winner of the ball, a keeper of the ball and also a distributor of the ball. The latter seems to be his strongest selling point really, finding the lethal pass, either to the wing or as a through ball to the striker, just seconds before the ball bulges the net.

He doesn’t score many himself, but that’s not really his role. He sounds like the kind of player I love though, a player who feels at his best when he makes his teammates shine and perform better. Someone who will not rake in the plaudits for his goalscoring but who will happily have a hand (or rather foot) in most moves leading to goals for his side.
I cannot wait to see what he can do for us, our little Spaniard (Pablo is Spanish for Paul or Paulus, meaning “little”).

But where does that leave Manuel Lanzini ? There are only so many shirts available for central midfielders in our starting XI, but Pellegrini has already confirmed he wants to see both on the pitch at the same time if possible – and the prospect of seeing both of them terrorising opposition defenders with their tricks and flicks is mouth-watering.

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Apparently Lanzini wants a new deal, with better terms, paritiy even with the highest earners at the club, if you believe certain sources. Which is perfectly understandable from Lanzini’s standpoint. He’s just returning from a potentially career-threatening injury, his contract is coming to an end soon, and he obviously wants the best in terms of financial security for his family.

For the club, on the other hand, you don’t want to run the risk of dishing out a new five year deal on high-wages when you cannot quite be sure how his knee will be holding up when playing more games in succession again. Make no mistake, Lanzini in top form is a player you want on the pitch, playing for your colours, period!
I can see a compromise solution being found here, a deal with better terms and certain incentives or contract extensions kicking in if Lanzini has proven he can play and perform regularly again.

Saying that though, every player can be replaced and should Lanzini overplay his hand, starting to hurl toys out of his pram left, right and center, then I’d reluctantly sell him.

Either way, the transfer business will now begin to pick up pace, with players like Obiang, Hernandez, Oxford, Hugill, Ogbonna and Byram likely to depart while we will surely sign at least one striker, another defensive midfielder and probably another CB. Exciting times, folks!

I have heard that we will monitor several players during the Copa America and that’s where Husillos and Pellegrini will come in handy again. We are certainly picking up some great players at bargain prices from the Spanish-speaking world. As we already have some Spanish-speakers in our squad this will also help any new arrivals during the process of settling into their new surroundings in London. I expect Fornals not needing a lot of time to adjust really and he might just surprise us all by hitting the ground running.

Talking briefly about women’s football again, while the World Cup is still on, I wanted to post some highlight clips from the internet, yes, the ones that can be misleading at times.

In this case I do not put up them clips in order to push certain people to like or appreciate the women’s game against their will, that’s not even possible, not by linking a few online videos anyway.
But what it hopefully will do is prove that women can essentially do everything with a football that their male counterparts can do as well.
There are more great male players out there simply because currently more men play football than women, but the best women footballers are a joy to watch for any connoisseur of the beautiful game, same as the top players doing their thing in the men’s game.

The above highlights are from Dzsenifer Marozsan who is currently the best German player (with Hungarian roots) and I would hazard a guess that she could even teach some of the West Ham first team a thing or two in training.
The other clip below shows skills from various players, skills that even the likes of Messi and Ronaldo would applaud.
I am a football fan first and foremost – and if I see a great move, crowned by a fantastic goal, I don’t care if the player in question has a womb or not, I appreciate the skill to shoot or pass a ball, that’s it.

If football fans cannot praise a footballing skill only because it comes from a woman, I can only shake my head in disbelief and move on. They showed some interview excerpts recently on German telly from the Seventies, with really famous German players and managers at the time, not being shy to voice their opposition and disdain over women playing football.

One even said there were so many lovely different sports for women to choose from, so they shouldn’t pick football and leave that up to the men.
Not the strongest of arguments methinks.

Ah well, they used to say the same about women’s right to vote, to drive a car or run a business, I presume…and look where we are now in that respect.

Football in Hamburg is still in its summer break, so just two brief mentions. The Cordi U23s have managed to switch divisions. They are still at the same league level, but will now face more local teams in Hamburg’s East End neighbourhood, rather than venturing out far into the south-eastern suburbs as they had to do last season. So this is nice and it will provide plenty of derbies, highly attractive for both players and fans.

And on a personal level I have positives to report from my brother: His most recent blood tests came back with very positive results as ALL markers and parameters are how they should be, at levels comparable to your average, healthy person. Which, of course, has been a total relief to me.

I cheer any new signing that arrives at West Ham, obviously, but it’s still quite a different reaction compared to what I felt when my brother was telling me his good news.



West H.A.M in the good ole U.S of A

Flicking through some of my old football magazines recently I was reminded of the original North American Soccer League over in the states, not only that though it seems West Ham were very well represented across the league during the 70s. Some I knew had been out there like “Arry” and Clyde Best but then I discovered others and the list just grew including a couple of surprises.
Pike USA

Geoff made his West Ham debut in March of 1976, he was 20 and had come through the ranks with the likes of Alvin Martin, Mervyn Day and Alan Curbishley.
In the Summer of 76, he joined the Hartford Bicentennial’s, so named as in 76 America was celebrating its 200th year of drinking coffee instead of Tea.
The Bi’s as they were known, (stop sniggering people I’m serious) was a new franchise, started in 75 and recruited quite a few English players into their roster.
They changed their name in 77 to Connecticut Bicentennials, where their coach was to be a certain Malcolm Musgrave, one of the original Cassetari boys and an Ex Man United manager. as per their previous season in 76, they were not successful and one story from a coach I have found regards a game against San Jose Earthquakes who included George Best in their side.

“We used to cut the grass so high in the Yale Bowl that the other teams had trouble playing. It was like two or three inches high.
One time we were playing the Los Angeles Aztecs in New Haven and they had a bunch of foreign stars including Georgie Best. They came into town early in the week and were staying in a motel about ten miles away. Our Head Coach Malcolm Musgrove says ‘Rudi, go over there and see what they’re doing.’ I went over and sat next to the pool for most of the week and they were just drinking themselves to death and sneaking out every night, you know?
I came back and told Musgrove ‘Coach, we’ll kill these guys! They won’t be able to make the second half. They’re all drunk.’ They beat us 5-3. Musgrove said ‘You should have found out what kind of whiskey they were drinking.”
In 1977 Milan Mandaric bought the club and moved it, as is the way with franchise sports in the U.S over to the West Coast and Oakland. Just one year later he sold them and they became the Alberta Drillers in Canada until folding in 1982.
Geoff played 39 games scoring 8 goals and assisting in 10, and can claim to have played against the likes of Best and Pele as well. An experience that would stand him good stead for the rest of his career.

Hurst USA

In 1976 Hurst was finishing his time as a professional in England, his time at West Brom brought his career here to a close and so for possibly one last hurrah, or for a nice bit of wedge, he joined the NASL circus at Seattle Sounders.
The Sounders were packed with Brits and Hurst would team up with an old friend from his West Ham days, old Arry.
They though only had an average season with Hurst scoring 8 goals from 20 games with 4 assists, not bad considering his age at the time (37).
The next season though the sounders would fair better,
Under a new manager, Ex Everton, Southampton and Bournemouth player Jimmy Gabrial and though Hurst never returned, Harry was back and this time joined by Bobby Howe. Sounders would finish 3rd in the league but through the playoff system, they qualified for Soccer Bowl 77 where they faced the New York Cosmos.
Pele, Beckenbauer, Carlos Alberto and Italian legend Chingalia. Cosmos would win 2-1.
But Seattle would sign their own world superstar in 1978, the one and only Bobby Moore.

Moore USA

In 1976 while still at Fulham, Bob joined the San Antonio Thunder for a summer of football.
Thunder was a new franchise and 76 was only their 2nd season in existence. playing in the heat of Texas in the aptly named, Alamo stadium they struggled and finished off the pace and out of the playoff picture. Bob would play in more games than any other player for the Thunder that season.
It seems San Antonio wasn’t ready for Soccer and didn’t realise the value they had in Moore, as their average attendance was a [poultry four and a half thousand, and with that in mind the franchise moved to pastures new.
Bobby went to Seattle to join Harry while Thunder went to Hawaii and became Team Hawaii.

In a strange quirk of fate, in 1976 to help them celebrate the Bicentennial, The yanks invited over their old landlords to play in a soccer tournament, England along with Brazil & Italy would play with TEAM USA, in a four-team tournament. As the USA didn’t have anywhere near the quality of players they possess these days, they drafted in the best of the foreign legion in the NASL.
Pele, Chingalia from NY Cosmos, Ex-Spurs and Wales but aptly named Mike England, and Bobby Moore.
This led to Moore playing against England in their final group game, with Moore on the losing side as England ran out 3-1 winners thanks to 2 goals from Keegan and 1 from Gerry Francis. It seems this is not classed as a full international game by England as Keegan’s goals or appearance does not appear in his record.

I will finish off with a team mentioned above in regards San Jose Thunder moving and being renamed.
Now we know Bobby Moore didn’t move with Thunder so why would I mention Team Hawaii.
Well, it turns out if there is one team in the NASL forever linked with the hammers it turns out its Hawaii.
Five of their 20 players were from West Ham, Tommy Taylor, Keith Coleman, Keith Robson, Yilmaz Orhan and Pat Holland all played for Hawaii in 1977.
They lost 15 of their 26 games, losing 11 (draws not allowed in the US) and again only averaged around four thousand fans. Orhan played the most games, 24, and Pat Holland along with Keith Robson scored 4 goals each, Robson’s goals came in only 11 games though so a good ratio for him.
One season only in Hawaii before they were shipped off to Tulsa to become the Roughnecks but not one West Ham player followed them.

Pat Holland TH

Many other Hammers played in NASL including
Clyde Best (Portland Timbers 1978-1981 & various others)

Clive Charles (Portland Timbers 1978-1981)

Dennis Burnett (St Louis Stars 1977-1978)
Ade Coker (Various teams 1974 -1988)
coker & Jennings

Billy Jennings (Chicago Sting 1977)
Paddon USA

Graham Paddon (Tampa Bay Rowdies 1978)

Alan Taylor (Vancouver Whitecaps 1980-1984)

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