The S J Chandos Column

This forthcoming 'double header' could prove season defining!

Another international break has come and gone and we can now look forward to the exciting prospect of the (PL and cup) ‘double header’ with our old friends (formerly) from White Hart Lane. Very few fixtures galvanize Hammers hearts like matches with Spurs and they really do tend to be fixtures to saviour. It is a rivalry that is equally shared, although Spurs fans tend to pretend that (to them) it is just another fixture and the hype is all emanating from East London. While it is true that their local north London derbies, with Arsenal, are undoubtedly the most important matches in their season; methinks the Spurs fans do protest too much when they attempt to ‘big themselves up’ at our expense. You have only to witness the vitriol emanating from the Spurs fan websites to know, that despite their loud protestations to the contrary, these are matches that they desperately want to win.

To be honest, I see Spurs as fierce London rivals, but I am not particularly fanatical in my dislike for them. We have enjoyed some memorable matches down the decades and I have been privileged to be at most of them since 1967. So, I am hoping that the next couple will significantly add to that existing bank of cherished memories, with lots of thrills, spills and goals along the way (with the majority ending up in the Spurs net!).

It is not an exaggeration to suggest that the results of these two matches could define our season. We can only hope that the squad emerge from this international break as strongly as they did from the last one. And surely there is no fixture that is more likely to fire up the passions of players and fans, alike, then this one.

As you will be aware, we play Spurs in the PL, this Saturday, on 20 October 2018 and then face them again on Wednesday, 31 October 2018. A double victory would really boost the self-confidence of the squad and breed belief that we can we can proceed to do well this current season. Personally, I think that a score draw (in the PL fixture) and a win in the cup tie are the likeliest options. Spurs will be firing on all cylinders for the PL match, but I am convinced that we can match them. While I believe that we will have the momentum, and the advantage, going in to the cup tie, and that should result in a memorable Hammers victory. And if it actually happened, would it be that much of a shock? We have done very well against Spurs in the League Cup in recent seasons. After all, who can forget the famous 1-2 victory in the Allardyce era and that classic 2-3 turnaround (after being 2-0 down at half time) last season.

The added bonus is that both matches are at the LS. It will be two further opportunities to reproduce the great atmosphere generated at Man Utd match. We need fiercely competitive fixtures like these to fire up the Hammers fans and get them fully appreciating that their new home can produce a partisan and memorable atmosphere. Something that is entirely in the supporters own hands! The critics tend to portray the LS a ‘cold and soulless bowl,’ but to my mind that is an unfair and jaundiced description. The stadium atmosphere has been excellent on occasions and I it can very well be again. Hammers fans have shown that they can animate the venue, given the correct circumstances, and I would suggest that all the pre-requisite elements are present for these Spurs fixtures.

We obviously need the three points to push us up the table; and win the cup tie and we will find ourselves in the quarter-finals, with a very good shot at progressing (if the draws are kind?). People often talk of clubs having ‘bogey’ opponents, but you could almost argue that the League Cup has been a ‘bogey’ competition for us over the years. We have made the final and semi-final on a number of occasions and always failed at the last (or second to last) hurdle. It would be a really good to lay that ‘hoodoo’ to rest this season and finally win the competition. Such a victory would secure our place in European competition next season (by February 2019) and allow us to then concentrate upon securing a top ten PL finish.

So, I am going for a 2-2 draw in the PL fixture and a classic 3-1 victory in the cup. COYI!

SJ. Chandos.

The HamburgHammer Column

Is our record stuck ? Is it really our destiny to see our best young talent blossom elsewhere ?

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Maybe it’s because Concordia lost a nightmare of a game on Friday evening by a 2:4 scoreline in which basically every single goal conceded by the home team was a direct result of a serious blunder by a Cordi defender or goalkeeper. If a weekend starts like this and it’s an international weekend on top of that I tend to find my mind wandering first and wondering second. And more often than not worrying is not far behind.

When there’s no West Ham league game on, you still get the usual rumours about players getting injured or recovering from injury. As for the January transfer window apparently Manuel Pellegrini is already busy compiling his wishlist which appears to include a new striker or two (one name being mentioned in that respect is former Hammer Jermain Defoe who is no longer flavour of the month at his current club and now seems desperate to finish his career back at the club where it all began for him), a defensive midfielder (that old chestnut again) and also a left back with neither Masuaku nor Cresswell representing quite what Pellegrini wants and expects from his full backs.

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My main concern at this point though is Declan Rice. It is an issue that really bothers me the most by far when it comes to West Ham at the moment. I am of course talking about the new contract that still hasn’t been signed yet. I have been raving about young Declan for a while now and in my happy West Ham related dreams (those where I grin from one ear to the other as opposed to waking up in a puddle of cold sweat) he is our future captain, leading out our team for games against international opposition in the Europa League or even Champions League (admittedly those dreams are few and far between and since I don’t smoke pot either they are even rarer than they could be).

So if it was up to me, which of course it ain’t, I’d offer Declan a deal that reflects his actual status as a regular starter in our team for league games in the Premier League.
In my book, that means parity with other starters in our team, regardless of his young years and modest growth of facial hair. Hence a decent basic wage of around 40k appears to be in order here, plus bonus payments in relation to hitting appearance targets, for goals scored, assists provided, clean sheets won etc.

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I read an interesting theory from one of the so-called club insiders on social media that the club feel they have been burned in recent years with generous deals for players like Carroll, Reid or Hernandez.
After seeing those players collecting considerable piles of cash despite being on the treatment table or in the gym a lot more often than on the pitch, our board now seems to favour a different approach for future contract negotiations: A lower basic wage, with significantly higher additional payments in shape of appearance fees, bonuses for goals etc., which means that players who perform well regularly can earn more than they can today while those who rarely play or who are injured a lot would earn significantly less than they currently do.

It sounds like very clever concept of course as it enhances competition for places (with everyone keen on raking in the appearance fee to begin with) and it may also push the players to go for more goals, or keep more clean sheets, as that automatically translates to higher wages.

And of course there is a bit of a security blanket there as well since players in the new contract scenario will only earn half of their regular basic wage if they are out injured, unable to contribute on the pitch. Problem of course is, this concept doesn’t work in isolation, other clubs need to follow a similar strategy, otherwise the players will simply shrug their shoulders and sign for a club that will still offer them the accustomed, tried and tested generous terms.

Us trying to be the forerunners here looks to me like trying to change a flat tire while the car is still moving in third gear.

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I really wish to see us one day become a club that manages to hold on to their top talent, to seize that window of opportunity and keep a golden generation together at West Ham for once, see those youngsters developing and playing their best football of their career not at the Liverpools, Arsenals, Chelseas and Manchesters of this world, but West Ham, playing on the same pitch with quality players joining the club from elsewhere in the transfer window.
We all probably ask ourselves occasionally: What if Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole and Michael Carrick had all been West Ham players during their peak years, exchanging passes on the pitch with a certain Paolo DiCanio in his prime ? What in Bobby Moore’s name could or might have been ?

The harsh reality is that money talks. And international football and ambition to win things also have a thing or two to say. In combination it merely means that the best players will end up with other top players at big clubs for generous wages. When I put on my common sense hat I know this is the most likely path young Declan Rice will take. Arnautovic too will end up at a big club eventually if the right offer finally comes his way. It saddens me, but I have stopped believing in the Tooth Fairy or the Cookie Monster, same as I’m no longer expecting a unicorn to arrive in my back garden anytime soon, doing a poo on the meadow of shiny new 100 Euro notes morning, noon and dinner.

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I keep reading how Declan loves it at West Ham and would love to stay, and that only demands fair treatment in a financial sense. I don’t know him enough as a person to be in a position to predict how much of this is just clever negotiating tactics or if his head might have already been turned elsewhere. The question is: If we allow players like Rice to get away while haggling over 20K a week or so (which is peanuts for a PL club in 2018 to be fair), then what chance do we have of ever growing as a team ?

How much would it cost, in terms of wages and in terms of a transfer fee, to bring in even an average PL level holding midfielder needed as replacement if we were to lose Rice to a bigger club ? It won’t be cheap, that’s for sure. And it’ll cost far more than just money, it’ll also lose our club a ton of goodwill, reputation and status.
How our club solves the Declan Rice conundrum will be a useful pointer as to where this club is headed.

If Declan Rice really is the next Rio Ferdinand, I hope against hope we will get to see the best of him in a West Ham shirt. I know we have been burned with some other players and their mindblowing contracts in the recent past. But fear of history repeating itself is not a good advisor. Declan Rice is the kind of player you want to build a team around.
Let’s give him the dosh a player of that ilk deserves, COYI!!!

Hamburg football update: Due to the international break HSV and St.Pauli were off. Concordia’s first team lost 2:4, as mentioned already, at home to Dassendorf (the Man City equivalent in this league).
The U23s won a close game, 3:2 away, while the women’s team humiliated their opponents by a 19:0 scoreline on Sunday afternoon (yes, that’s no typo, NINETEEN goals!).

Dan Coker's Match Preview

Crossed Hammers & Three Lions: Frank Lampard Senior

Welcome to the latest in a series of articles designed for international matches – a look back at former Hammers players who wore the Three Lions of England.

Today, as England prepare to face Spain in Sevilla, we look back at a true legend of West Ham United Football Club – Frank Lampard Senior. Frank was born in East Ham on 20th September 1948 – his father, also Frank, passed away in 1953 at the age of 33 when young Frank was only five years old. He joined West Ham’s Academy in 1964 and, aged 19, made his first team debut on 18th November 1967 in a 3-2 home defeat to Manchester City in front of 25,495. He made 22 appearances in the 1967/68 season, quickly establishing himself in his preferred left-back position but disaster struck when he broke his leg in a 2-1 win at Sheffield United on 27th April 1968. He would not play again for over a year, making his comeback in a 1-1 draw at Maine Road against Manchester City on 30th April 1969 – it was his only appearance in the 1968/69 campaign.

Frank scored his first goal for the club in a 4-2 home win over Halifax in a League Cup second round tie on 3rd September 1969 and made 33 appearances in 1969/70, playing alongside the likes of Bobby Moore, Martin Peters and Sir Geoff Hurst as West Ham finished 17th in the First Division. Frank made 44 appearances in 1970/71, scoring his first league goal for the Hammers in a 2-1 defeat at Chelsea on 19th December 1970. He made 53 appearances in 1971/72, scoring one goal in a thrilling 3-3 home draw with Derby on 22nd January 1972.

A goalless 1972/73 followed, with Frank making 42 appearances as the Hammers finished in sixth place in the First Division – having represented England Under-23s on four occasions, the 24-year-old Frank also made his England debut under Sir Alf Ramsey in a 1-1 draw against Yugoslavia at Wembley on 11th October 1972. Hard as nails and fierce in the tackle, Frank was also comfortable on the ball and possessed a ferocious shot.

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Two goals in 47 appearances in 1973/74 would follow, with strikes coming in a 4-2 win at Chelsea on Boxing Day 1973 and a wonderful, curling drive into the top corner in a 2-2 home draw with Liverpool on 27th April 1974. Ron Greenwood later stated that Frank had intimated that he would like to leave West Ham during this season – in doing so, he lost out on the captaincy when Bobby Moore left the club in March 1974, with Billy Bonds instead named as Moore’s replacement.

Frank would win the FA Cup with the Hammers in 1975, scoring in a 2-1 third round win at Southampton on 4th January 1975 to set the Irons on their way to the Final against Fulham at Wembley. 1974/75 would also be Frank’s best goalscoring season in claret and blue, with his other four goals coming in a 2-0 home win over Luton, a 2-1 defeat at Tottenham, a 1-0 win at Carlisle and a 5-2 home win over Wolves. He would score four goals the following campaign – the winner in a 1-0 home victory over Manchester City, one in a 3-3 draw at Leicester, another in a 5-1 win at Birmingham and a typical thumping strike from distance in a 3-1 European Cup Winners’ Cup quarter-final second leg win over Dutch side Den Haag at the Boleyn Ground. Lampard’s short backpass to goalkeeper Mervyn Day sadly contributed to the Hammers’ 4-2 defeat in the Final to Anderlecht. When his studs caught in the turf, leading to the short backpass, Frank also sustained a stomach injury which saw him flown home immediately after the game for an emergency operation. Frank had made 54 appearances in both 1974/75 and 1975/76.

Despite talk of a move to Norwich, Frank’s only goal in his 39 games in 1976/77 was a crucial one, coming in a 4-2 home win over Manchester United on 16th May 1977 which secured the Hammers’ top-flight survival. The reprieve would not last long with the club relegated the following season, Frank failing to get on the scoresheet in his 44 matches. He would score three goals in 31 appearances in his first campaign in the second tier, in a 3-1 home win over Preston, a 4-3 defeat at Wrexham and a 5-0 home win over Newcastle.

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Arguably Frank’s finest moment in a West Ham shirt arrived in the 1980 FA Cup semi-final replay against Everton. With the match locked at 1-1, Trevor Brooking’s right-wing cross was nodded down by David Cross for Lampard, popping up out of nowhere to send a diving header into the corner and send the Hammers to Wembley for a Final meeting with Arsenal, which of course the Irons would go on to win. Frank’s celebratory dance of delight round the Elland Road corner flag has lived long in the memories of many West Ham United supporters. It was his only goal from his 49 appearances in 1979/80 – and what a time to score it! On top of his second FA Cup Final triumph, the 31-year-old Frank won further reward from his former West Ham manager Ron Greenwood with his second and final England cap on 31st May 1980, in a 2-1 win in Sydney against Australia.

Frank made 55 appearances as the Hammers secured promotion back to the top flight in 1981, scoring one goal in a 5-0 win over Preston on 31st January 1981. He made 35 appearances to help the Hammers consolidate their First Division status in the 1981/82 campaign. 42 appearances followed in 1982/83, along with two goals, the first coming in a 1-1 draw with Ipswich at Upton Park. Frank was sent off in a 3-1 defeat at Brighton on 23rd October 1982. His second goal of the season also transpired to be his last for the club; it came in a 1-1 home draw with Southampton on 26th February 1983 – on a personal note, this was the first Hammers goal of my life (I had been born three weeks earlier).

Frank would play 24 matches in 1983/84 and only one in 1984/85 – his final game for West Ham came in a 3-0 home defeat to Liverpool on 20th May 1985, 13 months after his previous match. Frank Lampard Senior had scored 22 goals for the club and made 670 appearances – he remains second only to the great Billy Bonds in the Hammers’ all-time appearance chart. My video below is a compilation of ten of Frank’s 22 goals for West Ham United.

The 36-year-old Frank was granted a free transfer and moved to Third Division Southend for the 1985/86 season. Bobby Moore was the Shrimpers’ manager at the time, with fellow former Hammers Kevin Lock and Harry Cripps on the playing and coaching staff respectively. Frank retired as a player at the same time Moore resigned as manager.

Despite pursuing a number of business ventures outside the game, Frank continued to work for West Ham in a part-time scouting and coaching capacity before being appointed assistant to his brother-in-law, Harry Redknapp, in August 1994. He saw his son, Frank Junior, score 38 goals in 187 appearances for the club, before Frank Senior departed alongside Redknapp in May 2001. Frank Junior won the same number of caps (two) while with the Hammers as Frank Senior had – Frank Junior went on to win 106 caps before his international career came to a close in 2014.

Frank Senior was married to Patricia before her death on 24th April 2008 following complications from pneumonia. Frank and Pat had three children, Natalie, Claire and the aforementioned Frank Junior. Pat’s twin sister is Sandra Redknapp, wife of Harry. Frank Senior is also uncle to former England, Liverpool, Tottenham and Southampton midfielder Jamie Redknapp.

Frank was appointed as a Football Consultant to Watford manager Brendan Rodgers in November 2008 and followed Rodgers to Reading in June 2009 to take up a similar role at the Madejski Stadium. Frank left Reading when Rodgers departed by mutual consent in December 2009. Frank Lampard Senior turned 70 just over three weeks ago.

Spain v England

England face Spain this evening in a Nations League match – it will be the 27th meeting between the two nations. The pair met in Group B of the 1980 European Championships, with England winning 2-1 in Napoli on 18th June 1980. Don McLean was number one with ‘Crying’, The Empire Strikes Back was in UK cinemas and, the day before, Secretary of State for Defence Francis Pym had revealed to the House of Commons that US nuclear cruise missiles would be located at RAF Greenham Common in Berkshire and the disused RAF Molesworth base in Cambridgeshire.

Ron Greenwood’s England took the lead after 18 minutes courtesy of 31-year-old West Ham United legend Trevor Brooking, who thumped home from close range. It was the third of his five England goals, in the 39th of his 47 caps.

Spain equalised three minutes into the second half through a penalty scored by Athletic Bilbao’s Dani. Ray Clemence later saved a penalty before 24-year-old Cologne striker Tony Woodcock secured a 2-1 win for England in the 68th minute. The Three Lions had previously drawn with Belgium and been beaten by hosts Italy, meaning this win over Spain was not enough to reach the knockout stage. West Germany went on to win the tournament.

England: Ray Clemence (Liverpool), Viv Anderson (Nottingham Forest), Phil Thompson (Liverpool), Dave Watson (Southampton), Mick Mills (Ipswich), Glenn Hoddle (Tottenham), Ray Wilkins (Man Utd), Terry McDermott (Liverpool), Trevor Brooking (West Ham), Kevin Keegan (captain, Hamburg), Tony Woodcock (Cologne).

Subs: Paul Mariner (Ipswich) for Hoddle; Trevor Cherry (Leeds) for Anderson.

Spain: Luis Arconada (Real Sociedad), Jose Ramon Alexanko (Athletic Bilbao), Francisco Javier Uria (Sporting Gijon), Rafael Gordillo (Real Betis), Antonio Olmo (Barcelona), Cundi (Sporting Gijon), Julio Cardenosa (Real Betis), Jesus Zamora (Real Sociedad), Juanito (Real Madrid), Enrique Saura (Valencia), Santillana (captain, Real Madrid).

Subs: Francisco Jose Carrasco (Barcelona) for Cardenosa; Dani (Athletic Bilbao) for Saura.

The previous articles in the series are:

Jack Tresadern
Ken Brown
Johnny ‘Budgie’ Byrne
Bobby Moore
Martin Peters
Sir Trevor Brooking
Alan Devonshire
Alvin Martin
Paul Goddard
Stuart Pearce
Frank Lampard Junior
Joe Cole
David James
Robert Green

Dan Coker's Match Preview

West Ham's Spanish Connections: Part Two

With England’s upcoming Nations League match against Spain coming up on Monday, here’s Part Two of a look back at the Hammers’ Spanish contingent.

Part One can be viewed here.

Diego Tristan

Diego Tristan was born on 5th January 1976 in La Algaba, Sevilla, Spain and began his career with the B teams at Real Betis and Mallorca between 1995 and 1999 before progressing to Mallorca’s first team, finishing his first La Liga campaign with 18 goals from 35 matches. He moved to Deportivo La Coruna in 2000, representing the club in the Champions League and winning the Supercopa de Espana in 2000 and the Copa del Rey in 2002.

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Tristan made his international debut for Spain a year later at the age of 25, scoring in his first appearance in a 4-1 World Cup qualifying win over Bosnia and Herzegovina in Oviedo. He was part of the Spain squad at the 2002 World Cup – he won 15 caps for his country, scoring four goals, with his last appearance being a 3-0 friendly win in Portugal in September 2003.

Tristan was released in the summer of 2006 alongside Lionel Scaloni, who had just completed a loan move at West Ham. Tristan returned to Mallorca but was released midway through the 2006/07 season having not scored a goal in his second spell with the club. He moved to Italy in the summer of 2007, signing for Serie A side Livorno but scored only once as the club were relegated to Serie B.

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Following a two-week trial, free agent Tristan signed for Gianfranco Zola’s West Ham United in October 2008. The 32-year-old striker made his debut as a substitute in a 2-0 home defeat to Tottenham on 8th December 2008 and scored his first goal for the Hammers on 28th December 2008, the winner in a 2-1 home victory over Stoke. Employed mainly from the bench, Tristan had to wait until his ninth appearance to make his first start in claret and blue, this coming in the 1-1 draw at Blackburn in March 2009. He scored a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Aston Villa on 18th April 2009, diverting Kieron Dyer’s wayward shot into the net with his head. His final goal for the Hammers was a sublime free-kick in a 1-0 win at Stoke on 2nd May 2009, with his final appearance for the club coming as a substitute in the 2-1 home win over Middlesbrough on the final day of the 2008/09 season. Diego Tristan made 17 appearances for the Hammers, scoring three goals, two of which can be seen in my video below.

Tristan returned to Spain in the summer of 2009, signing for Cadiz in the second tier – this marked a return to his native Andalusia after 14 years. He scored eight goals in 30 appearances but the club were relegated at the end of the 2009/10 campaign. Tristan retired from football at the age of 34. Now 42, Tristan scored 193 goals in 513 appearances in domestic football in Spain, Italy and England.

Alvaro Arbeloa

Alvaro Arbeloa was born on 17th January 1983 in Salamanca, Spain. He progressed from Real Madrid’s C team in 2002 to their B team (Castilla) in 2003 before making a couple of appearances for the first team in 2004/05. He joined Deportivo La Coruna in the summer of 2006 but moved to Liverpool in January 2007. Mainly operating at right-back but also able to fill in on the left, Arbeloa was a Champions League runner-up with the Reds in 2007 and made his debut for Spain in 2008; he was in the winning Spain squad for the 2008 European Championships.

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Arbeloa returned to Real Madrid in the summer of 2009 and won the World Cup with Spain in 2010. He won his second European Championships with his country in 2012 and won 56 caps for his country in total, without scoring. He also won the Champions League in 2014 and 2016, La Liga in 2012, the Copa del Rey in 2011 and 2014, the Supercopa de Espana in 2012, the FIFA Club World Cup in 2014 and the UEFA Super Cup in 2014.

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Having been released by Real Madrid, the 33-year-old Arbeloa signed for West Ham United on a free transfer. Arbeloa made four appearances for the Hammers, making his debut in a 1-0 League Cup third round win over Accrington Stanley on 21st September 2016. He started the 3-0 home defeat to Southampton four days later He also made substitute appearances in a 1-1 home draw with Middlesbrough and in his final game, a 5-1 home defeat to Arsenal on 3rd December 2016. Now 35, Arbeloa retired in the summer of 2017.

Toni Martinez

Toni Martinez was born on 30th June 1997 in Barrio del Progreso, Murcia, Spain and began his career with hometown outfit Murcia before moving to Valencia. He played for Valencia’s B team in the Spanish third tier, scoring two goals in 16 games, before signing for West Ham for a fee of £2.4m in July 2016. He had a spell on loan at League One Oxford, scoring three goals in 17 games. He also helped West Ham’s Under-23 side earn promotion to the top tier of the Premier League 2 competition.

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The 20-year-old Martinez made his Hammers first team debut as a substitute in a 0-0 FA Cup third round draw at Shrewsbury on 7th January 2018. The centre-forward helped the Irons to a 1-0 win in the replay, setting up Reece Burke’s winner. His third and most recent West Ham appearance came in the 2-0 FA Cup fourth round defeat at Wigan on 27th January this year.

Martinez joined Spanish second tier side Real Valladolid on loan for the second half of the 2017/18 campaign, scoring one goal in 11 appearances. Martinez, now 21, is currently on a season-long loan back in the Spanish second tier at Rayo Majadahonda – he has scored one goal in seven appearances for his latest club.

Lucas Perez

Lucas Perez was born on 10th September 1988 in A Coruna, Galicia, Spain and began his career in Atletico Madrid’s youth system before moving to Rayo Vallecano. He joined Ukrainian club Karpaty Lviv in 2011 and also had a spell on loan at Dynamo Kiev, where he failed to make an appearance. He moved to Greek side PAOK in 2013 but joined Deportivo La Coruna on loan for the 2014/15 season. He made the move permanent in the summer of 2015 but was on the move again in August 2016, signing for Arsenal. After just a season at the Emirates, Perez returned to Deportivo La Coruna on loan for the 2017/18 campaign.

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Perez signed for Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham for a reported fee of £4m in August this year. He made his Hammers debut as a substitute in a 2-1 home defeat to Bournemouth on 18th August this year. He has made six appearances to date for West Ham, scoring one goal in the 8-0 League Cup third round win over Macclesfield on 26th September 2018.

Book Review

Interviewing Kevin Keegan (And Would He Succeed Karren Brady?)

Over the years, I’ve got to interview quite a few major league celebrities, who have been vague heroes of mine. Joan Rivers is one that springs to mind. Joan Rivers is another. I tried not to be too much of a fan boy, and by and large succeeded. Or at least, I think I did!

Having started the new Iain Dale Book Club podcast I’m now interviewing another batch of people I never thought I’d get to meet. This week Giles and Mary from Gogglebox came into the studio and were as delightful as I hoped they would be. They were totally the same in real life as they are on screen, and even called each other ‘Nutty’!

I also interviewed Kevin Keegan this week, and the podcast went live on Friday morning.

I feel I grew up with Kevin Keegan. One of my first football memories was of Kevin Keegan joining Liverpool from Scunthorpe. I remember him playing in the first England match I ever saw at Wembley – a 2-2 draw with Argentina in May 1974. I remember watching in shock as he and Billy Bremner were sent off for fighting in the Charity Shield in August 1974. So many other memories too.

I’d have loved it, absolutely loved it, if he’d ever played for West Ham, or indeed managed us. I loved the type of football his teams played.

Above all, Kevin is a transparently nice person. He wears his heart on his sleeve, which is a great character trait, even if it has led him into some difficult and counterproductive situations.

So when I saw he was publishing his autobiography this month I decided to try my best to lure him onto the podcast. Slightly to my surprise I succeeded. Let’s face it, LBC doesn’t really do sport… But if it did…

Meeting your heroes, sporting or otherwise, can sometimes be a bit of a disappointment. I’d love to name a few names, but I’d better not. Meeting Kevin was all I hoped it would be, and so was the interview. It was honest, revealing and laced with great anecdotes. he loved pulling my leg about West Ham, and when I asked if he might be interested in succeeding Karren Brady, well, you’ll have to listen to find out the answer. And his comments on Trevor Brooking are ones that will warm the cockles of every Hammer’s heart.

To listen to the interview just search for Iain Dale Book Club on whichever podcast platform you use, and if you use iTunes, all the details are HERE.

And do buy the book HERE. It’s one of the best football books I’ve read in years.

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