The S J Chandos Column

Mark Noble: Cometh the hour, cometh the man!

Shock-horror, England prematurely exit a major international competition! Just why is anyone remotely surprised? It is the latest in a series of failures and it’s causes can be laid squarely at the door of the Manager. There was a failure to pick players in form and half fit players (like Wilshire and Sturridge) were taken instead, badly out of touch players (such as Sterling) were selected and favouritism promoted, with the inference that squad selection was effectively a closed shop.

England’s failure is a failure of management, organisation and leadership. Who can really deny that? Yet, at his Nice press conference Hodgson perpetuated myth. According to him, the defeat was a surprise, which he did not see coming. The questions not posed to him by the media were: why did he pick players who had such mediocre seasons (like Milner and Henderson) and others (such as Wilshire and Sturridge) whose seasons were ruined by injury? Why did he ignore players who had an outstanding 2015/16 season, like Mark Noble, Aaron Cresswell, Andros Townsend, Michael Carrick and, even, Jermaine Defoe? Why the slavish loyalty to the disappointing Spurs nucleus of his squad, which so abjectly let England down? And why keep faith with Wayne Rooney, who (in terms of his personal performances) has always disappointed at major tournaments and is clearly not England Captain material?

Hodgson did not see this coming? There were no outstanding performances from England, we had disappointing draws with Russia and Slovakia; struggled to beat Wales, before losing to mighty Iceland. Do those results not indicate that there were some serious problems? The truth is that England’s selection policy and team tactics were totally inadequate and there was a deficit of leadership from the management team and, by extension, on the actual field of play. Where was the adjustment of tactics to turn the match in our favour and the dynamic captain who could rally the players and bring the best out of the team? Where indeed?

There are some talented individuals in the squad, such as Clyne, Stones, Barkley, Dier, Lallana, Sterling and Rashford. And hopefully this can be further supplemented by the addition of Butland, Shaw, Cresswell, Oxled-Chamberlain and others currently coming through the ranks, such as Reece Oxford. While out of favour players like Carroll and Townsend must be brought back in from the cold and others, such as Antonio, given an opportunity to prove themselves at international level.

Somehow, the FA need to find an inspirational manager, who has the tactical nous to play effective systems, forge England’s talented individuals in to an cohesive unit and promote an excellent team spirit/ethos. As for the captaincy, why not appoint an outstanding club skipper to the role? In fact, someone very much like our own Mark Noble! Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Perhaps this will finally prove to be Mark Noble’s opportunity to step up to the plate for England?

SJ. Chandos.

Transfer Gossip

Transfer update summary

It is four days until the summer transfer window officially opens and Sofiane Feghouli and Havard Nordtveit join West Ham on 1st July.

Despite being so called freebies we are likely to invest over £25m in the pair over the life of their contracts.

Feghouli signed a three year deal worth between £60k and £65k a week plus add ons after leaving Valencia on a free transfer. Had he been sold by Valencia with several years left on his contract it is claimed he could have reached a transfer fee as high as £12m .

Meanwhile, Nordtveit, who was Borussia’s most expensive wage earner at £51k per week is set to pick up a new salary at West Ham around £55k-£60k per week plus bonuses on a five year deal. Collectively the pair will cost up to £6.5m per year in wages which means we will invest up to £10m in Feghouli over his three year term and up to £15.6m in Nordtveit over his five year contract. Nothing is truly free in this game and free transfers often demand higher wages.

The most likely next signing is Gokhan Tore, Bilic wants to reunite with his former player, the player wants to reunite with his former manager but Beksiktas want a massive transfer fee for the permanent signing of the winger. I understand the board are not convinced he is worth a £11m+ investment up front and would rather take him on loan for the season with an option to buy like the Lanzini deal. Beksiktas are in financial difficulty after being sanctioned for breaching FFP rules and must conform to an agreement to bring their annual losses to under 10 millions euros by next May. I understand the deal is not yet done as Besiktas want a massive loan fee of millions for the 24 year old.

West Ham also had a 3 million Euro bid for Atiba Hutchinson rejected and it remains to be seen whether he will form part of any deal including Tore.

It now seems likley that Slaven Bilic is comfortable to make Michail Antonio his first choice right back this coming season with Sam Byram as backup meaning we are unlikely to see a big name right back join the club this summer.

The primary goal is land a prolific striker but this is proving more difficult as everyone wants one of those. As a consequence prices have been inflated with many clubs are just not willing to part with their most prized possessions understandable.

Alexandre Lacazette’s agents have told West Ham he doesn’t want to play for us or Spurs and wants to hold out for PSG. Arsenal and Atlético Madrid have been linked in recent days but I think there is a very soon chance the player will remain at Lyon this season. I don’t hold out much hope he will change his mind despite a £31m bid from the Hammers.\

Michy Batshuayi is another target which West Ham have bid but nowhere near the £31m reported in the press. Marseille value him at 40 million euros and they must find 25 million Euros by 5th July to avoid a possible transfer ban by French football authorities. Standard Liege will receive 35% of any transfer fee as part of a sell on clause. Tonight the Batman has been linked with a 38 milloin Euro transfer to Crystal Palace with the Guardian suggesting a bid has been accepted.

West Ham have already had a reported 20 million Euro (£16.7m) bid for Carlos Bacca rejected and were waiting for him to decide his future after involvement in Copa America which ended yesterday for Columbia. Ac Milan are said to want a 25 million Euros (£20.8m) for their 29 year old striker.

Liverpool striker Christian Benteke is also said to be in the top five of a long list of strikers targeted by Slaven Bilic. The 25 year old striker could be let go for around £19m, a huge discount on the £32.5m Liverpool paid in 2015. He does command wages of £140,000 per week which could be the sticking point unless he is prepared to take a drop for the chance of first team football. The gamble is whether he can find his Aston Villa form again.

West Ham are also thought to have submitted a bid to Juventus for Italy striker Simone Zaza, believed to be in the region of €20m (£16.7m), however Wolfsburg are said to have submitted a €25m bid while Juventus are though to want to hold out for a bid of €30m (£25m).

We seem to be at a stalemate position at the moment with regards to a new striker with Sullivan unwilling to pay over the odds and taken for a ride.

On the outbound front, it appears James Tomkins, Pedro Obiang, Enner Valencia and Diafra Sakho are all on the market and available to leave West Ham if club valuations are met. Sakho has a club valuation of £15m , while Valencia and Tomkins are valued at £12m each with Obiang anything more £7m

That’s all for now


Transfer Gossip

How About Selling Randolph & Bringing Back Rob Green?

The Sun reports that Southampton want Darren Randolph and are prepared to pay £3 million to get him. They want him as number two to Frazer Forster.

On the face of it you’d have to ask why he’d want to go to another club as number two. However, let me suggest something which some of you may think is mad.

How about cashing in on him and then offering a one year deal to Rob Green to return?

I like Randolph, although his appearances later in the season were not on a par with his previous performances in the first team. Ordinarily I would be in favour of keeping him – and if we do I will be happy – but bearing in mind we paid nothing for him, and he will be on a decent wage, a return of £3 million isn’t bad for a 29 year old second choice keeper.

I also think Rob Green would be a good influence on Adrian. He clearly still has a lot of feeling for the club and must really regret ever leaving.



Olympic Stadium Update

Karren Brady takes us on a tour.

Talking Point

Is Slaven Bilic Immune To Second Season Syndrome?

There aren’t many connections with West Ham United on show at Euro 2016. Dimitri Payet has shown what a world class player he is, two man of the match performances and an inch of the crossbar away from being the joint top goalscorer in the competition, his value is certainly soaring (if we do decide to sell – something I won’t be talking about in this article). Darren Randolph hasn’t done himself any discredit in goal for the Republic of Ireland, although he conceded three goals against Belgium, he hasn’t made any glaring mistakes and looks worthy of a number one spot at a Premier League club. James Collins is yet to feature for Wales but his solidity and no nonsense defending will certainly be of use in the latter stages when a game needs closing out. One man who has perhaps drawn even more plaudits than the magnificent Payet isn’t even a West Ham player, it’s our manager, Slaven Bilic.

Since he took charge last year, we quickly became accustomed to his frank and honest analysis of games. None of this excuse making and sitting on the fence that we so often see from managers nowadays, Bilic says it how it is and everyone knows it. Having been signed up as a pundit for ITV’s coverage of Euro 2016, Bilic has quickly proven himself to be a man who knows his stuff. You expect elite level managers and players to have an extensive knowledge of the game, but they so often struggle to put that knowledge it into words. Thierry Henry is a classic example of someone who has lived and breathed football for his entire life, yet when giving his opinion on a game, he can’t seem to get a formulated point across. There’s something quite endearing and relatable about Bilic, he’s scruffy, funny, he doesn’t beat around the bush and most importantly for a pundit, he explains his opinions in a way that makes sense.

Now much like the problem with Payet showing what he can do on the world stage, Bilic could be putting himself in the shop window for a club that might become a temptation. Granted, West Ham are a club that are going places but if a team that challenges for the title in their league and plays regular Champions League football, it could easily persuade someone who is in the early stages of their managerial career. Now I doubt the president of Real Madrid or chairmen of other Champions League clubs are sat there watching Bilic outshine Iain ‘I don’t like collars on my shirt’ Wright and Lee ‘I need to read my notes before commenting’ Dixon and thinking he’s the man to bring success to their club. The issue lies in Bilic becoming popular amongst rival fans and when their club is looking for a new manager, that could potentially be a deciding factor.

Bilic being poached by another club might be a concern, but the worry lies in something numerous managers in the Premier League have struggled with in the past. The dreaded second season syndrome. Before I get started on this point, I’d like to state that I’m not predicting Bilic will suffer from a period of indifference after a great first season. I’ve already stated in the past that I believe Bilic is the man to take this club on to bigger and better things and I’m confident in his ability to do so. I merely want to address the subject as it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility, even if we want to think it is.

George Burley’s Ipswich followed up a 5th place finish in the 2000-01 with an abysmal showing the following year. With sound investment and a UEFA cup competition to deal with, Ipswich struggled throughout the campaign and were relegated after finishing 18th. Under the guidance of Steve Coppell, Reading suffered a similar fall from grace in the 2007-08 season. The previous year, the newly promoted side managed a remarkable 8th in the Premier League, but just one year later, they were down in the Championship following an 18th placed finish. Alex McLeish suffered a severe bout of second season syndrome whilst in charge of Birmingham during the 2010-11 season. Although it was slightly remedied by Carling Cup success, Birmingham were relegated after finishing 9th the previous year. Yes, every club (and every manager) is different but these are just examples that show these things do happen.

As I said before, I’m not too worried about whether Bilic will maintain the quality of performance we saw this season and I’d like to think there is an air of optimism amongst us fans about our potential to improve. People will claim refereeing decisions cost us a few league positions last year but if we cut out the silly mistakes and manage to turn a few draws into wins, we could really be going places. Keeping hold of our best players is essential and so to is investing in new ones. I’m not going to list who we should or could buy this summer (I think we all need a break from that) but I definitely trust Bilic to identify the right targets and the two Davids to make the right deals.

Is Bilic immune to the second season syndrome? Who knows is the honest answer, and I very much doubt it is my opinion on the matter. For now, I’m going to enjoy watching Bilic on ITV for the remainder if Euro 2016 and let my excitement for next season continue to build.


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