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.


The HamburgHammer Column

Keep calm and forget preseason! It doesn't define the season ahead

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I can’t say that the Newcastle game exactly kept my Minces glued to the screen for the duration of the game. It wasn’t nice to watch, our team looked flat, exhausted, tired, struggling with the heat and rarely likely to produce the kind of football Manuel Pellegrini has in mind for his West Ham side.
I am also aware that Newcastle were having to deal with the exact same conditions out there on the pitch, they handled it better, they scored, we didn’t , big deal!

I have come to learn over the years that preseason is not the be all and end all in football (it’s in the name really, PRE-season, it’s not the real thing, but merely the preparation stage). Managers expect preseason to do several things for them: Get the team together and start the bonding and acclimatisation process as some players will have left the club with new players arriving to replace them. They need to gel as people and footballers.

The coaches then start the training sessions and the manager may get an idea during that process of which players to pair, maybe tweaking the playing style. Or try out some new formations, mix and match line-ups, chop and change and see how things go.

That process will continue over the course of various preseason games against opposition from various countries and league levels.
Sometimes it can even include trips abroad which can be exhausting due to the travel involved, but the change of scenery may also help the team bonding, like a school trip to Paris…;-))

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It doesn’t matter if it’s Manchester City, West Ham or Concordia Hamburg: Winning in pre-season games is always a bonus, a nice-to-have, but it’s not your main objective at the start of a new season. If you can avoid major injuries to your players, if their fitness levels are up to where they need to be right when the league fixtures kick off and if the manager has got his answers as to how he wants his first XI to play and who his best first XI should actually be, then it’s been a successful preseason.

It doesn’t really matter if you have lost any games in preseason. We have seen teams beat everyone in preseason only to have a disappointing season when the games really mattered.

Or teams with disappointing preseason results then starting to impress and surprise later once the real season had kicked off. Therefore I will not push the panic button after the Newcastle defeat, in fact I don’t even know yet where my panic button is for next season, I’ll tell you should I stumble upon it when cleaning up my flat next week….-))

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I was happy to see the walking wounded of last season back: Wilshere, Yarmolenko, Reid, even Sanchez. Who knows, we might still need all of them next season, so no point really knocking any of those players just yet. I would say that Sanchez surely has been struggling to adapt so far, not helped by his lengthy injury absence, but I still haven’t given up hope in him – blimey, that tin hat still fits my Loaf, thank God for that!

After returning from China our squad will now begin to train with all of the new signings present and also those who were granted a few more days off after playing in games and tournaments for their respective countries. Balbuena, Fornals and Haller will all join their teammates to continue on the road to get West Ham ready for the new season.

I’m really happy we have signed Sebastien Haller eventually, despite my tempting fate with my column last Monday. I met the Frankfurt guy on Saturday while watching the Cordi U23s team beat a poor side in the first round of the local cup competition by a whopping 12:0 scoreline, and he told me a few more things about Haller that made me feel even more delighted about the signing.

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He said we had got ourselves a fantastic team player there, a player with plenty of skill and endeavour, with no airs of a diva or primadonna. Rather than throwing toys out of his pram he would neatly arrange them according to size and colour. And share them with teammates who wanna have a go with those toys.
My mate told me Haller isn’t your typical out and out striker really, he can also perform in that role, but he needs to be surrounded by teammates really to bring out the best in him.

Haller, he said, would set up more goals at West Ham next season than he would score. He would be likely to score plenty of goals still, no doubt, but he will assist even more.

Simply because Haller isn’t selfish, he is constantly searching for his teammates and if any of them is in a better position to score he will give the ball over and let them rake in the glory of scoring. He wants the goal for the team and for the team to win. If that means that he ain’t scoring himself in a game, he won’t mind.

With Haller it’s all about the team and I think that’s something to really get excited about. Haller will find plenty of decent footballers around him at West Ham to create an environment where we can hopefully begin to score for fun. And that will not only make it easier for our still vulnerable defence but it will also help to build up confidence and team spirit.
There’s nothing better as a West Ham fan to see the entire team celebrating together after scoring a great goal after a glorious attacking move involving six or seven players.

As promised last week, here is a video I have found showcasing the skills of a slightly younger Laura Vetterlein, our new defensive signing for the West Ham Women’s team.
Please try and ignore the Manchester United beanie she’s wearing and the glum background setting with the suburban supermarket entrance, but her skills are something else and one wonders why she turned out a defender in the end…LOL

We have also signed a forward, an Aussie with the quintessential Australian name of Jacynta Galabadaarachchi (Put that on a shirt Mrs.West Ham United club shop employee!).

Her name is actually of Sri Lankan origin, but she was born in Australia and has played for Melbourne City and Perth Glory before joining West Ham.
She is only 18 years old and definitely one for the future. Jacynta knows what to do with a football too…

And another one. Which will also help you getting used to how to pronounce her name correctly – you know by now this is a slight pet topic of mine, bordering on obsession…LOL

Is our transfer business at West Ham done ? No, I don’t think so, not for the women’s team, and certainly not for the first team. We will definitely lose a few more players, Pedro Obiang by all accounts is already in Sassuolo, Italy to finalise his move to their local Serie A club as early as today.

And despite rumours coming out of West Ham that after Haller we could actually be done with new signings arriving in Stratford now, I ain’t buying that at all!

If there is a decent player available who will improve our team, if a deal, maybe a loan, can be agreed for that player, then of course we will do more business. We will also have to replace players that are sold in the coming days and weeks.
If we don’t have a (better) replacement lined up, we shouldn’t sell. Simples.

Our squad is still unbalanced and an injury or two to any of our key players could derail our season just like that. So I am expecting a few more transfers at our club, ins and outs…COYI!!!

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Hamburg football update: Those of you who have been out and about in Germany will know that the picture just above is certainly NOT Hamburg, but it’s actually the famous Holstentor (Holsten Gate) in Luebeck. I ventured to that beautiful old Hanseatic city about 50 miles north of Hamburg to watch another preseason game of the Cordi women’s team. That’s dedication, innit ? ;-))

The game was actually not in the nice (old) part of town, same as London tourists would rarely find themselves doing selfies in South Bermondsey, but the game was scheduled to be played in the northeastern suburb of Siems which turned out to be the indiustrial/harbour part of town.

But it was alright as it was the same route our car used to take every weekend when our family went to our camping site on the Baltic Sea coast in my childhood.
I even passed the beautiful old water tower, the one I swore as a kid I would eventually live in one day.

But I also did pass a dead badger, prostrate on the side of the motorway (no joke) and maybe I should have taken that as a bad sign and turned the car around at once.

The girls lost 3:12, with the halftime score at 3:3. A total second half collapse made for a shocker of an afternoon. A combination of far superior (and ruthless) opposition, tough conditions (very hot), various individual lapses and mistakes on Cordi’s side and there you have it.
At one stage the manager and players were shouting at each other and I thought they might even walk off the pitch after 70 minutes or so.

It was bad vibes, at least for the ten minutes immediately following the final whistle. But as usual there was a team talk at the end and the manager also called the next training session off to allow the girls to clear their heads.

The idea to play only teams in preseason which play one or two levels above Cordi looks a risky approach at this stage.

I just explained how you should never read too much into preseason results.
But 3:12 defeats don’t exactly boost confidence in your team’s ability.
The girls and coaching staff now need to put this defeat behind them fast and focus on improving concentration levels and fitness. I’m sure they will have a good season regardless. They will face easier opposition actually once the season begins.

Earlier this weekend just gone, the Cordi first team won their first-round-of-the-local-cup encounter 3:0 on Friday evening, away at Glinde. Not exactly a feast of football, but mission accomplished regardless. And I already mentioned the U23s winning their cup game 12:0 the day after…So plenty of goals, but not all of them for the right team…


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.


News

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 WHUFC.com

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."


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