Transfer Gossip

Are We In For a Tense Finale to the Transfer Window?

The answer to the question posed is, in all probability, yes, we are! With the club right up against its proscribed player salary cap, and an additional player or two still needed, we will have to sell before we can buy. In that respect, Henderson, McCartney, Taylor and Vaz Te are obvious candidates for outgoing transfer business. The issue, however, is whether we can actually sell them and if the accrued savings on their salaries are sufficient to facilitate us bring in players of the class of Quagliarella or Ba? If not then we may be forced to sell one or two other members of the squad. If we find ourselves in that territory, then names such as Diarra and Maiga could come in to the equation.

Personally, I find it difficult to understand how we have got ourselves in to this uncomfortable position. I can understand the emphasis being upon incoming signings, but the club must have known some time ago that we were approaching the salary cap and could have made plans to move out one or two fringe players. We know that Sam Allardyce began warning against the possible adverse impact of the new Fair Play rules, on our transfer dealings, back in May. We also know that Stephen Henderson was marginal for virtually the whole all of last season. So, why did we not move to quickly sell him when the signing of Adrian was confirmed weeks ago? Similarly, it was a strong proposition that we needed to trade up on players such as Taylor and Vaz Te as a pre-requisite for progressing as a club this summer. So, why not seek to sell them earlier in the transfer window? I hope that I am not being unduly unfair to the club, but surely our current transfer hiatus is at least partially a result of some poor planning.

Do not get me wrong, I think that we have made some very good acquisitions this summer. Securing Andy Carroll’s services on a permanent deal was a landmark piece of business; while Razvan Rat, Adrian and Stuart Downing are all excellent signings that improve the quality of the squad. And all due credit to the club for transacting that business. However, we knew that signing a quality, second striker was always the top priority, once Carroll was on board. Yet, we find ourselves entering the final two weeks of the window and that key signing has still not been secured. And, to compound the situation, our room for manoeuvre is severely restricted by this salary cap obstacle. Arguably, the club should have anticipated this potential problem arising and taken prompt action to circumvent it. I always strive to be fair and view an issue from all possible angles, but that is an inescapable conclusion in my book.

So, time is beginning to run down rapidly and the club have to do some pretty slick business to achieve their objectives before the deadline at 11pm, on 2 September 2013. As stated, it is a possibility that players like Diarra and Maiga may have to be sacrificed to facilitate a deal(s) for a class striker(s). That is a shame because both Diarra and Maiga have shown quality in pre-season. Diarra is exactly the type of defensive midfield anchor that we will need in some of the tougher away matches this season. He is also a very useful as a player to put on to help ‘close up shop’ and protect a lead. While I would have liked to have seen Maiga get another chance to prove himself in the PL. His ability to play both as a central striker and out wide is also useful to retain in the squad. But if one or both players need to be sacrificed for the greater good of our season then so be it.

One proposed move that I am, however, totally opposed to is the sale of James Tomkins, especially for a fee in the region of £6m! I believe that with Reid, Collins and Tomkins we have good cover in central defence. Add the highly promising Leo Chambers in to that mix and the situation looks even better. But what is the value of weakening our central defence to strengthen our attack? That is arguably a classic case of ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul.’ I also do not rate our chances of signing a centre-back as good as Tomkins, nor do I believe the rumour that we will sign the likes of Christopher Samba. As such, if Reid or Collins are injured or suspended we could find ourselves with defensive problems. I continue to believe in Tomkins’ ability and the likelihood that he and Reid will recommence their promising defensive partnership sooner rather than later. Lets hope that David Gold remains consistent in his prior view that Tomkins will not be sold because he represents the future of the club.

So it is my expectation that we could be in for a nerve racking finale to the transfer window. However, there is always the hope that this interpretation is unduly pessimistic and the club manages to complete any remaining transfer business quickly and well before the window closes. We are one PL match in to the new season and the really encouraging thing is that we are solid in defence and scoring goals from midfield. Allied to that, we now have pace and skill on the flanks. These are all very positive developments and if we can just secure a greater cutting edge up front, then the indicative signs are pointing towards another very good PL campaign and a possible cup run.

SJ. Chandos.


Player Analysis

Reasons for Andy Carroll to be Cheerful...

Highest crossers in the Premier League

I was reading through this interview with Matt Jarvis on the Sky Sports website and came across this incredible graphic. (see above). Adam Bate comments…

Downing is one of only two men to fire in more than 200 crosses since the 2010/11 season. Jarvis is that other man, having achieved the feat in each of the last three campaigns. As such, it is easy to imagine Allardyce licking his not inconsiderable chops at the prospect of his wingers loading the box for the hulking figure of Andy Carroll with the canny Kevin Nolan latching onto the knockdowns.

I suspect it’s not just Big Sam licking his chops. Andy Carroll ought to be licking his lips. His own, not Sam’s.

You can follow Adam Bate on Twitter @Ghostgoal


Academy & Under 18s

U18 Premier League Format Explained

This season, West Ham United under 18s will be competing in the Barclays U18 Premier League.

The Barclays U18 Premier League replaced the Premier Academy League at the start of last season because of the league aiming to enhance youth development and help transition players between academy and the first team.

Little Heath

Overall, there will be 22 clubs competing in the Barclays U18 Premier League this season, after all the clubs applied for ‘Category One’ status in the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP). 16 of the clubs competing this season are from the Barclays Premier League, five from the SkyBet Championship and one from the SkyBet League One.

The clubs have been split into two 11 team groups based on regional location; north and south. This is a new format that has been introduced this season.

Each club will play opposing clubs in their own regional group twice, both home and away. Also, clubs will face each opposing club in the other regional group once, either home or away. The season will last for 31 games.

At the end of the season, the top two teams in each regional division will progress onto the semi finals, with the winner of the north group facing the runner up in the south group and vice versa.

Every players taking part in league matches must be from within the U18 age category. Any player over that age category is not permitted to be fielded, with one exception being the goalkeeper who can be from the U19 age category.

West Ham United U18 will take part in the south group alongside Arsenal, Aston Villa, Chelsea, Fulham, Leicester City, Norwich City, Reading, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur and West Bromwich Albion.

The 11 clubs competing in the north group are Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Newcastle United, Sunderland, Stoke City and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

PLEASE NOTE: West Ham U18 home matches will kick-off at 11am at the West Ham United Academy, Little Heath, Hainault Road, Romford, Essex, RM6 5RX unless otherwise stated on the official West Ham website.

Keep an eye on my website, Tommy Wathen – Sports Journalist, for latest news about the West Ham United U18.


Transfer Gossip

Is Quagliarella On His Way to Upton Park?

Fabio Quagliarella

Various reports, including THIS ONE suggest West Ham have reached ana greement on personal terms with 30 year old Juventus striker Fabio Quaglierella. Crucially, though, terms haven’t been agreed with Juventus. I know videos only ever show the best bits, but this video of Quagliarella’s 20 greatest goals certainly gets your mouth watering.

He’s certainly much travelled, having played for 8 Italian clubs, but his goalscoring record at all of them has been very consistent – 1 goal every 3 games. For Juventus he struck 22 goals in 67 appearances. He’s also scored 6 in 25 international games for Italy. While I’d prefer Demba Ba, I think Quagliarella would be a very good second best option.


Nostalgia

The West Ham Team of the 1990s

Ludek Miklosko: Hammers hero

It’s just a bit of fun, but I thought I would spend an hour dreaming up my West Ham team of the 1990s. I first had a season ticket in 1992, so I saw most of the players we had in the 1990s. It’s funny how we all remember certain players who we thought could have really become big stars if only they had been given the chance or seized the opportunity when it came along. There were quite a few in the 1990s. Matthew Rush is one that immediately springs to mind. He had everything – an athletic build, loads of skill, the ability to score spectacular goals and speed. But he lacked application and mental will to drive himself on. He ended up spending a few seasons in the lower leagues before becoming a PE teacher. He won’t make my team of the 1990s, but he could have. So, here we go. To qualify for the team, a player must have played at least one game during the 1990s, starting the the 1990-91 season and finishing with the 1998-99 season.

Goalkeeper

Can we really look beyond Ludek Miklosko? No, of course not. In my view neither Craig Forrest nor Shaka Hislop were in the same league as Ludo.

Left Back

Similarly, Julian Dicks had a bit of competition from David Burrows, David Unsworth and Stuart Pearce, bur clearly Dicksy gets the nod.

Steve Potts: Loyal Servant

Right Back

Right back was a tricky position once Tim Breacker left and Steve Potts retired. Breacker was a fantastic player for West Ham, but my nod goes to Steve Potts who wasn’t just an excellent right back, but was brilliant in central defence.

Central Defenders

Here’s where it gets difficult. How on earth do you pick two from Alvin Martin, Tony Gale, Marc Rieper, Slaven Bilic and Rio Ferdinand. I can’t believe I am leaving out Alvin Martin, but I am going to plump for Slaven Bilic, who may have been a mercenary, but he was a brilliant, brilliant defender. And Rio Ferdinand looked the real deal from the moment he made his first team debut.

John Moncur Central Midfield

If anything, this was our weakest position in the 1990s. If you think about it, few of the likes of Don Hutchinson, John Moncur, Martin Allen, Ian Bishop, Danny Williamson, Steve Lomas or Frank Lampard in his early days, were likely to strike fear into the hearts of the opposition. Eyal Berkovic, on the other hand, was a different kettle of fish. Playing behind the front two, he was a brilliant playmaker, and formed a superb understanding with John Hartson (apart from when Hartson was kicking him in the head). So it’s Eyal Berkovic and John Moncur for me. Moncur was a tenacious midfielder with a good tackle and a powerful shot. I’d like to have gone for Ian Bishop, but if it’s 4-4-2 with two wingers you need a tackling midfielder in there, putting it about a bit.

Tricky Trevor Sinclair

Wingers

We also had a nice line in tricky wingers. Stuart Slater, Mark Robson, Kevin Keen, Matty Holmes, Michael Hughes, Stan Laziridis, Hugo Porfirio, Trevor Sinclair and Joe Cole are the leading candidates. Laziridis was always a favourite of mine, possibly because he was the first footballer I ever interviewed. In the end I’ll go for Trevor Sinclair on the right and Joe Cole on the left. Hugo Porfirio was another one of those players who came, made an impact, thought he was better than us and left for oblivion. If he had stayed I believe he could have become a great player for us.

John Hartson

Strikers

Despite a rich vein of goalscorers including Tony Cottee, Trevor Morley, Jimmy Quinn, Clive Allen and Paul Kitson, the two obvious picks for me are Paolo di Canio and John Hartson. Hartson, together with Kitson, saved us from relegation and Di Canio remains the greatest player I have ever seen in a West Ham shirt.

So here’s my team: Miklosko, Potts, Dicks, Ferdinand, Bilic, Cole, Sinclair, Moncur, Berkovic, Hartson, Di Canio. And on the subs bench: Hislop, Rieper, Morley, Cottee, Bishop.

Feel free to disagree!


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