Transfer Gossip

A Transfer Window Round Up

With less than a week left of the transfer window I think if we were to sum up whether it has been a successful window or not at this point we would all agree that it has and I am trying to not let yesterday’s cup game affect my judgement. It has been widely reported that the chairmen, especially Mr Sullivan, have taken a lot more active a role in the dealings and therefore should take a lot of the credit. The chairmen come under a lot of unfair stick in my opinion and they have continued to spend large amounts of money (see Sean Whetstone’s posts) on new players this window, having broken our transfer record in the two summer windows prior to this.

It is fair to say that they have brought in the type of player that we have all wanted to see at the club. Mauro Zarate’s performance at Crystal Palace was superb and he comes with the attacking creativity and flair that we have all been missing in recent seasons. Although it was disappointing to go out of the cup competition he also showed that he is prepared to put effort and fight into his performances during this game. Kevin Nolan will be out for around two months and I believe Zarate will be a more than adequate (this is an understatement) replacement. This signing was clearly one instigated by the chairmen as he was a player with them at Birmingham City and I know how much his two sons rave about him too.

I will predict now that Cheikhou Kouyate will be Hammer of the Year assuming he doesn’t get injured (which as we all know with our luck is quite possible). He has been an immense signing and I would agree with all that have likened him to Patrick Vieira. Of course it is extremely early days and you cannot judge on two games but if his pre-season performances are anything to go by too, we have ourselves a great player.

Both Enner Valencia and Diafra Sakho provide new attacking options. Both unproven in the premiership and both hard to judge as yet but both looked a handful in their recent substitute appearances and have had good seasons with their previous club and country. I thought that Sakho played well during the Cup game but unfortunately Valencia became a little lost after Sakho went off and obviously missed the crucial penalty. I still remain very positive about both purchases.

Carl Jenkinson has played for a top four club and always looked quite solid when I have watched the games and of course this was recognised by England too. I personally think Joey O’Brien gets a lot of unjustified stick for his performances and is in fact very underrated and may even keep the spot for now but if he doesn’t I think Carl will step in well.

Again you get the general positive theme here but I have also been impressed with Cresswell. A relative of mine is an Ipswich season ticket holder and he assured me that Cresswell did not ever have a bad game for them and offers loads going forward as well with excellent crossing and free kick tacking.

Diego Poyet is a great talent and one who was hot property at youth level. I think he will go on to be a brilliant acquisition and showed that this was possible when starting his first game yesterday. Of course we also have the returning Ravel Morrison (and summer gloves) of whose skills we are no strangers to. All in all the squad has a much better feel to it this season.

Another positive to emerge from this window is that we haven’t lost any first team regular players either. The departures of Joe Cole, Matt Taylor, George McCartney, Alou Diarra and Jack Collison has freed up much needed wages and the club have been desperate to get Maiga off the wage bill too. He has been offered a contract termination as well as being offered around for loan/permanent transfers. The club are prepared to pay a large percentage of his wages even if it reduce them by only a little bit to get him out on loan and this has finally been agreed with Metz where he will be Sakho’s direct replacement.

There has been strong talk of a supposed bid for Carlton Cole but I am led to believe that this had no substance. I wouldn’t sell him anyway certainly at least until January when we will know whether Andy Carroll has returned successfully. Carlton isn’t the player he was under Zola but I do believe he will play better with Zarate in the side.

The only other possible departure is that of Winston Reid. Winston has been offered a contract and has not accepted this as yet. The club and player appear to be quite far apart on what they consider an acceptable offer and Arsenal have been circulating and potentially turning the players head (see the IronViews article on this) and I felt this was shown during the Cup game where he looked half interested. I personally believe we should do all that we can to hold onto Winston. I think he and Tomkins can establish a centre back partnership that could serve us well for many a year going into the Olympic Stadium.

We have been after Micah Richards for a long time and this is still the case. Micah’s versatility across the back four is seen as a major plus and if we could secure him on a loan deal we would. Richards hasn’t really featured for City and his contract is up for renewal at the end of the season meaning City hope to cash in on him now. We have been working hard to get this deal to happen but at the moment City want to sell him and we would like to loan him on shared wages. I am hoping this will change and he can be brought in before the close of the window.

Other sites have heavily linked us with Toby Alderweireld the Belgium World Cup defender. I believe there is interest but there will be a lot of clubs in for him and I think we will struggle to persuade him to join us unfortunately. The Daily Mail has also reported yesterday that we are after Bayer Leverkusen defender Philipp Wollscheid as well a player who I know little about.

There has also been talk of another winger joining the club. We did allow the popular ex player Matthew Etherington to train with us to gain fitness after the best man at his wedding, James Collins, arranged it for him. During his time at the club Matty was an exciting player to watch. He has been apparently looking sharp (as David Gold tweeted) but at 33 and with a chequered past at the club he would have needed an extremely impressive trial at the club to be considered. We had looked at Morgan Amalfitano, who was on loan at WBA last season, but we couldn’t agree terms especially with his agent and so that transfer seems unlikely now as well.

I am pretty certain we will bring in an extra defensive player but that may be the end of our transfer window, if that is the case I think we will all agree it has been a successful one. Please keep following the site and my twitter for any transfer updates.

Match Report

West Ham 1 Sheffield United 1 - The View From the Press Box

As the West Ham press box was quieter than normal for the Carling Cup match against Sheffield United last night I managed to get an invite for the press box to cover the match for WHTID. I guess I will now need to pay for my supper of Pie and Chips I enjoyed in the press room before kick off by filing some kind of match report.

It was my first time in the West Ham press box for many years and I forgot how soulless the place is with total lack of atmosphere, you almost feel embarrassed clapping good play or celebrating a goal in their place of work. We are always led to believe the media is full of West Ham supporters. Well if they are they keep their emotions well in truly in check during the match. That is to expected, I suppose. They are there to work, after all

When the team sheets were given out, the team looked impressive on paper with a blend of talented youngsters, experienced first teamers and new signings which should have been enough to overcome Sheffield United.

The Sun newspaper billed the game as a £260m grudge match but this never really never materialised and the number of Tevez masks worn by fans could be counted on two hands. Songs of ”There is only one Carlos Tevez’ and ’Where’s your money gone? Wheres your money gone?’ quickly disappeared a few minutes after kick off .

We dominated possession in the first half and Sheffield United never really looked like scoring from open play last night. The biggest danger came from set pieces but our defence dealt with them too with Reece Burke having a tremendous game and certainly one name for the future. Danny Potts had a good game too while Demel delivered his normal steady performance. The shock to me was Winston Reid. He seemed off his game and was a strange choice as captain. He had a few lapses of concentration where he was dispossessed and ultimately his own goal cost us the game although I am not sure what he knew about it as it bounced off his ankle. For a guy who wants to play for a top six club and who turned down £60,000 per week I expected more to be honest. Maybe his mind was elsewhere or maybe it was just an off game.

In midfield Ricardo Vaz Te was his useful ineffective self and didn’t warrant being on the pitch. Inexplicably Sam left it until the 79th minute before replacing him with Mauro Zarate, who ran his socks off but couldn’t finish. That didn’t stop the fans singing his name for the closing stages of the game. Ravel Morrison was a disappointment too. He looked rusty and didn’t feature for the first 20 minutes. His one moment of glory was a curling free kick which well saved by Howard, but minutes later he was booked for diving and was missing for much of the remainder of the game. In true Rav style he wore gloves for the first half of the match (in August!) before they mysteriously disappeared for the second half. He was replaced by Mark Noble in the 8th minute of extra time but it was too late for him to have much effect. Diego Poyet showed he could mix it with the rest and looked an excellent prospect, although he was muscled off the ball too easily a couple of times.

Up front our summer record signing Enner Valencia disappointed me. We have been told his contribution will be in short bursts but we expected his finishing would be clinical. He showed he could get into the right positions, but his final touch let him down and he shot too often at keeper Howard. I did find it strange that a player who was not yet match fit having previously played 7 minutes in a Hammers shier was allowed to play 120 minutes. It was therefore entirely predictable that Valencia would be the one to have his penalty saved and send us crashing out of the Carling Cup 5-4 on penalties.

Diafra Sakho on the other hand looked a right handful, showing great physical presence and skill.On most other nights Sakho’s goal would have been enough to see off the league one opposition. Sakho could be the bargain buy of the summer and I look forward to seeing more of him in action. The loss on penalties left many Hammers fans deflated but there is no need to panic just yet.

All of this having been said, the basic truth is that on the night the assembled cup team should still have been strong enough to overcome Sheffield United, but luck was not on our side. As the saying goes you make your own luck in life, so with poor luck with both Spurs and Sheffield United it must be own turn soon!

The attendance at Boleyn was announced as 28,930, which is impressive for a first round of the cup although many decided to turn up at the last minute, meaning long queues, which meant many missed kick off. I didn’t get home until 1am this morning having waited for the manager’s post match interviews back in the press room You can find clips from the press interviews below.

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Player News

Maiga leaves West Ham

Modibo Maiga has officially joined French Ligue 1 side FC Metz on an initial one season-long loan deal with the option to buy next summer thought to be around 3 million euros. The news was confirmed this morning by Metz official website followed shortly by West Ham.The out of favor Hammers striker could make his debut against Lyon this Sunday.

Maiga was loaned out to QPR at the half way point last season after Harry Redknapp came in late for him on transfer deadline day in January. QPR were believed to have paid half of his £30,000 per week wages as part of the six month deal. Despite scoring on his debut for the Hoops he failed to make any real impact after eight appearances and returned to the Hammers with his tail between his legs in the summer where he was unceremoniously relegated to the development squad to sit in humiliation on the bench as an unused sub. The 26-year-old forward previously played for Le Mans and Sochaux in France scoring a combined goal tally of 39 before joining West Ham but it didn’t quite happen for him in England.

West Ham signed Metz’s Senegal striker Diafra Sakho for an initial fee of £2.5m who made an immediate impact by scoring in last night’s Carling cup game. Maiga scored 6 goals for the Hammers from 37 appearances and has just under 2 years remaining on his contract. Metz are thought to paying just £6,000 per week of Maiga’s £30,000 per week wages but the thought is that something is better than nothing and if he gets his scoring boots back he could attract value in his remaining year of his contract. Maiga cost West Ham £4.7m when he joined in July 2012 plus another £5m in wages and employer costs.

Lets hope this brings a new start for him and let us not forget this goal he scored for us if nothing else!

Talking Point

Hammers let the grass grow under Spurs feet

Former Hammer Don Hutchison claims Brad Friedel told him that West Ham allowed the grass to grow at the Boleyn Ground for the season opener in a attempt to slow down Spurs passing ability.

Hutchison writing in the Newcastle Chronicle said:

“Little tricks still go on at all levels. I was working with Brad Friedel the other week and we were talking about Tottenham’s performance – or lack of one – at West Ham on the opening day of the season. I couldn’t believe how bad they were, having tipped them for top four. Brad’s response was really interesting. He told me Sam Allardyce had let the grass on Upton Park grow an extra six inches and the Spurs players knew it from the first moment they walked out before the game. They couldn’t pass the ball properly because the grass was that bit longer and it was getting held up in the turf. They struggled all game because of it and were bailed out at the end with a last-minute winner.It’s crazy what goes on in football that you don’t see on TV.”

The full article can be found here

I was told last night at the match that a complaint was made to the Premier League about the length of grass at the Boleyn Ground but the Premier League measured it and found it to be within regulation length. You couldn’t make this stuff up could you?

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