Transfer Gossip

Transfer Deadline Day Rolling Blog

This blog will be continually updated during the day with all the rumours, gossip and the occasional fact…

22.36 In depressing non-transfer related news, our Under-23s have lost 7-2 to Tottenham in the Premier League International Cup. West Ham were awarded four penalties in the match – Toni Martinez scored one and saw one saved, while Anthony Scully converted another and Joe Powell’s spot-kick was also saved. (DC)
20.11 No sign of a pram devoid of toys outside Diafra Sakho’s house. It can only be a matter of time though.
20.10 Exciting news. Former West Ham youth player Emmanuel Onariase has left Brentford for Rotherham United. So now you know.
19.24 There was a time when the Telegraph employed subeditors. Not now. This article seems to think Sakho was at Cheltenham, rather than Chelmsford racecourse.
19.00 I hate to tell you this but a source close to the club tells me nothing is now going to happen. No Cavalho. No Gomes. No Wilshere, and Sakho can do one and will be staying whether he likes it or not. There was a loan bid for Kevin Mirallas this morning but it was rejected. So that appears to be it. What an exciting day. Not.
18.45 West Ham and Watford are being linked with Atletico Madrid player Nicolas Gaitan. Nope. Me neither.
17.16 Gomes heading for Tottenham according to the Mail. Hope he likes splinters on his arse. Because he’ll be on the bench most of the time.
16.42 I promise you I haven’t gone to sleep. Yet.
15.57 Looks like Wilshere will be the fallback option if the Gomes loan fails.
15.56 The Express say the Cavalho deal could still be done, but West Ham will need to up their bid. Unlikely, don’t you think?
14.46 Latest on Jack Wilshere… Harry Redknapp wants him…
14.01 It’s Oh So Quiet…

13.37 In the event that we do sell Sakho today, our net outlay in this transfer window will have been £4.5 million. Think on that.
13.32 Sakho is delaying any meeting with West Ham because he’s going to the races at Chelmsford first. Seriously.
12.55 The silence surrounding Cavalho grows more deafening by the minute.
12.53 Alex Song on his way to … guess where… Harry Redknapp in Birmingham!
12.45 Claret & Hugh has the latest on the Sakho situation. He’s back this afternoon and wants to meet Sullivan & Gold. Bit difficult as DS isn’t in the country…
11.22 Diafra Sakho appears to be on strike and has not turned up for training today. Nice.
10.56 It’s being reported that if we sign Gomes on loan we have to guarantee he will play 70% of our games. IMHO that is unacceptable.
10.26 The Mirror report Crystal Palace want rid of six players today. I wonder if James Tomkins is among them. I’d have him back without a second thought.
09.50 Loic Remy is on his way out of Chelsea to Las Palmas. Always liked him.
09.36 Morning reports suggest West Ham and Tottenham are involved in a deadline day tug-of-war over Barcelona midfielder Andre Gomes, with the Hammers making an audacious loan move for the 24-year-old. The Portuguese international is open to a Premier League move. Barcelona want an expensive loan fee but the Irons have dealt with the Catalan giants before when orchestrating a similar switch for Alex Song. (DC)
09.11 Crystal Palace have made no move for Jose Fonte yet. They are targetting Manchester City’s Mangala instead.
09.05 Benfica’s Raul Jiminez could make a deadline day move to Upton Park according to talkSport. He plays alongside Javier Hernandez in the Mexican national team.
09.03 A loan bid to take Kevin Mirallas from Everton has been rejected according to Sky Sports.
09.01 Domingos Quina may be on his way to Sheffield United on a season long loan.
07.50 The Sun reports that if we don’t get Cavalho we’ll look to take Jack Wilshire on a season long loan. I’ve always been a Wilshere fan, and more to the point he is apparently a West Ham fan. Personally. I’d take him even if we do get Cavalho. I’d also buy him outright if we could get him for £10 million.
07.25 Claret & Hugh report on the speculation that we are on the hunt for Alexandre Mlinde, who has been scoring for fun in the French amateur leagues. Consider me somewhat underwhelmed.

Transfer Gossip

Transfer Deadline Day West Ham Preview

It so happens that I am holiday this week, so tomorrow I’ll be able to run the usual deadline day blog. In advance of that I thought I’d set out what we may be looking at tomorrow.

Having been praised for an exemplary transfer window, West Ham have reverted to type over the last few weeks. The William Cavaho saga has been oh so typical of the chaos that often surrounds our transport dealings. Will we get him tomorrow? Well, stranger things have happened but I wouldn’t bet my life on it. Rumour is that we are lining up Barcelona midfielder Andre Gomes in case the Cavalho deal falls through. He signed for Barca from Valencia a year ago but only made 17 appearances last season (30 in all, scoring 3 goals). He’s made 25 appearances for Portugal.

Earlier today it looked like Diafra Sakho was on his way to Rennes for £9 million. He (miraculously) passed a medical. And then Crystal Palace threw in a curveball and apparently bid £10 million. West Ham seem to have been taken by surprise by this and immediately said he would be going nowhere (courtesy of Jack Sullivan) as we wouldn’t have time to recruit a replacement. At the same time, reports came in that a 25 year old Ghanaian striker called Abdul Majeed Waris (nope, me neither) had flown into London to sign for West Ham from Lorient. Looking at his scoring record he’s not exactly proven. One goal in 15 for Spartak Moscow, none in 18 for Trabzonspur and finally 19 in 51 for Lorient.

There are also moves by Inter Milan to sign Angelo Ogbonna, who want to offer Croatian midfielder Marcelo Brozovic in exchange. I can’t see that happening, although he does seem to have an impressive record judging by his Wikipedia page.

Palace are also said to be interested in acquiring Jose Fonte (swap deal with Tomkins?). He’s one player I’d happily see the back of.

It seems to me that we are short of a centre back and a striker.

So all in all it may be a busy day at the London Stadium tomorrow.

Or it could be one where nothing happens.

The GoatyGav Column

Close before the window close

Working in sales since leaving school, and with a Saturday job at Dixons Macclesfield beforehand, I’ve learned one thing above many others. A deal’s not done ‘til it’s signed.

‘Close the deal’ became the mantra of many a sales professional during the ’80’s. The phrase became widespread – branching across to become a euphemism for conquests in many areas of life.

Leaked image of Arnoutovic holding the shirt

The only time I’ve done this recently was when pictures of Arnie were leaked holding the shirt

So the signing of a football player, to me, hasn’t happened until the paperwork has got the signature of all parties, is ratified by the various organisations and is officially announced by the club. I avoid getting involved in the speculation of this player or that player being ‘spotted’ in a taxi heading East from Heathrow or South from Stanstead. There’s so much of it about that it’s difficult to keep up but I never buy in to, or get involved in discussion about, the next player who’s going to sign until after it’s become official. The only time I’ve done this recently was when pictures of Arnie were leaked holding the shirt which, pretty much, constituted comment. Hardly speculation really Please don’t get me wrong – it’s a personal thing. I have no truck with anyone who wants to discuss it. Knock yourselves out. I just don’t particularly want to get involved myself. I’ll happily watch the rumours and maintain radio silence whilst those ITK share their words of wisdom with us.

Transfers are a complex process depending on many factors. There’s a medical. There’s the official player registration. There’s often work permits involved. There’s eligibility for various competitions (as we learned in the quarter final of the 1995 League Cup when Manny Omoyinmi took the field as a sub). There’s player terms. There’s the sale price and terms between the clubs. Then there’s also those agent’s fees. Those sales people who hold so many of the cards when it comes to deals getting done.

Lately there’s been a great deal of media coverage regarding the Transfer Window in the UK. Many Premier League clubs have got together to put forward proposals about the introduction of a new, club self imposed, window that will not interfere with the start of each new season. Going back to our friends the agents (who, incidentally, I personally believe are partly responsible for football becoming beyond the means of the average working class family to properly follow) for a second it appears that the current set-up is geared towards their maximising opportunity to move players around. When players move they make their money. Ok – they also make money when their ‘clients’ sign new contracts with existing clubs but some less scrupulous agents have certainly ‘engineered’ moves in the past.

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I wouldn’t say no if I were Neimar’s agent

It’s not a jealousy thing. All the best to them. I wouldn’t say no if I were Neimar’s agent. There are certainly some good ones out there. Many of them have genuinely got the interests of their player’s at heart but their fees are certainly not contributing to bringing down the price of season tickets and that, in a nutshell, is how they affect fans themselves.

Despite these acts of self interest by the less scrupulous agents the window does play a part. Deals get done. Without a window the opportunity to put a timescale on ‘closing the deal’ disappears. Working in sales I can appreciate that. Frankly I believe the windows are helpful but the Premier League clubs desire to move the window back a few weeks would, undoubtedly, shift the power a little more in their favour.

A quick word on Reece Oxford’s progress (or lack of). No game-time for him in the 2-2 draw at Augsburg unfortunately. I try to keep an eye on how things develop with our higher profile loans and it looked to me like Borissia could have done with him. After a promising start to his time with the German club, with a goal against Malaga in pre-season none the less, he’s yet to break through and make an impact. Would be a shame for him to warm the bench again like he did under Stam at Reading last season. Good luck to the lad – hope he enjoys the experience and returns an improved player.

After a promising start to his time with the German club, with a goal against Malaga

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A few words describe my feelings whilst watching the shameful display last weekend

Lastly a word on Saturday’s horror show. In life you feel what you feel. Nothing anyone says or does can change that and nobody should ever feel unjustified in their feelings. If you state how you feel about something nobody has the right to tell you that you should ‘feel’ differently. A few words describe my feelings whilst watching the shameful display last weekend. Anger is up there. Frustration is probably the over-riding one. Candidly speaking I was disgusted. The fact that I raised a few eyebrows in the Costa del Sol bar with my rantings at their TV didn’t register with me at all. As I downed my San Miguel and turned my back before the inevitable third goal, which I didn’t even watch, all I could muster was a ‘Gracias’ and a small tip for them putting up with me, the grumpy Englishman, shouting abuse in their hostelry. I love West Ham. I’m a big supporter of Slaven’s but he’s got a helluva lot of work to do with this defence. I agree wholeheartedly with Dan Coker’s comments about the manager being given plenty more time to sort things out. I said so myself in my ’They’ll be a while’ piece but a couple more losses and we’re up the proverbial creek.

Internationals this week then. Hope our lads who are on duty do well.

COYI! West Ham 4 the Cup!

Guest Post

On the road again ...

Guest post written by Voice of Reason

The Infirm City Firm have set the alarm clock, recharged the SatNav, checked the tyres, oil and water, stocked up on Werthers Originals and ventured forth once more into the great outdoors.

A new season, new hope (but not too much) and off we go.

The Infirm City Firm were active early with a substantial presence at pre-season games starting with the kids’ game at Dagenham & Redbridge where BSB (plus his son), Safehands, Russ, Nigel and myself saw a 2-1 win for the boys against a pretty experienced D&R outfit. A special mention to Mrs BSB who went to the Pipe Major pub near the ground before the game finished, reserved a table for all of us and even pre-ordered the drinks. What a trooper!

This was followed by the splinter group of Russ and BSB travelling incognito to Germany to meet their handler, the mysterious man known only as HH, and to watch the two Werder Bremen games. Most of their time on the continent is a subject of rumour but we have ascertained that they were bowled over by the German policewomen and eventually tunnelled their way back to Blighty. They also reported that they were presented with the largest dinner this side of the Urals. It was a sharing platter ordered personally by Herr Hammer of Hamburg (a man with an infamous gargantuan appetite) who took away what couldn’t be eaten in a hired pick-up truck.

Russ, BSB and myself also went to another kids’ game, at Billericay which ended in a 3-1 loss but attracted 4,000 fans so a great night for the small town club.

Then the season started properly with the first league game of the season, away to Manchester United at Old Trafford. There won’t be too much detail about the games here as everyone knows what has happened so far but we were well beaten, 4-0, by a very strong and powerful team. This was the day when Nigel was granted full membership of the Infirm City Firm for his services to Flag Design. Credit to Safehands as well.

Unfortunately we were unable to take the flag into Old Trafford as it was 6 inches too long to meet their regulations! This is the same bunch of oiks who wouldn’t let me take a Kindle in a couple of years ago – probably because they were scared I would read them to death. Excellent catering was provided by Mrs BSB in the luxury in-car cool box supplemented by smoked salmon rolls courtesy of Safehands, very daintily prepared by someone with hands like shovels. Roadworks on the bloody M6 meant a long and late journey home. I really hate those 4pm Sunday kick-offs.

Next stop Southampton, the second of three successive away league games due to some blokes and girls running around our running track. Safehands, Russ, BSB and myself had the pleasure of welcoming Liddy into our company and, following an executive breakfast in an a la carte caff somewhere in Kent, we met Tom in Southampton as well and also had the enormous pleasure of the company of Ooh, ooh, Barney Magrew who made his own way there and was entrenched in the pub by the time we arrived. Now, this was the day when we became suspicious of BSB’s claims that he has spent years as a London Cabbie. The way he slapped the butter on the rolls he brought would indicate that he is probably a plasterer – and a pretty poor one at that! His catering skills, whilst well meaning, are nowhere near Mrs BSB’s. This time we couldn’t take the flag into the ground because it didn’t have a fire safety certificate! Yes, honestly.

Breaking News: Next week the ICF flag applies for a passport and has a CRB check.

A 3-2 loss but plenty to be encouraged about from the second half performance.

I made a solo appearance at the League, or EFL, or Carabao Cup tie at Cheltenham where I went as a guest of a friend who has a couple of season tickets there. A competent performance against a fired up lower league team. Job done. It was strange, however, that there were around 800 empty seats for a game that was officially sold out.

The third away league game on the bounce was the long and winding road to Newcastle to watch a pretty abject performance. Ending in a 3-0 loss. My original plan to stay over on Saturday night was curtailed by my mate having to pull out at the last minute, so I travelled up with Russ, BSB and Barney who, after a lengthy absence, turns up two games in a row. We didn’t even try to get the flag into the ground as the view was that, at the height the away fans are, it probably would be visible to anyone apart from a passing satellite.

We did, however, get a photo with a passing Newcastle fan (on the left) who then took us to the bar he uses before games and introduced us to some of his friends. What a nice chap, although, to be fair, I have known him for getting on for 20 years. It was also good to meet Dan Coker and his wife at the bar before Mrs Coker departed to spend all of Dan’s money in the City Centre. There was also something new to be learnt on this trip (well, for some of us at least). Apparently, Barney is a bit of a dab hand at interior design.
So much so that he is known, in some circles, as Laurence Llewellyn Barney, or LLB.

Public Service Announcement: The Infirm City Firm support the LLB Community.

Coming back down the A1 we were obviously disappointed with the way the game had turned out. But disappointment is really all it is, not the wailing and gnashing of teeth that seemed to be foremost on the internet. Although there was some anger amongst the fans at the game, their reaction always seems more balanced than many who don’t actually attend. I really don’t know why this should be but the poll that was conducted on C&H which delivered a 70% plus vote in favour of Slaven Bilic being sacked was, I think, done on Saturday night so most of the participants were probably keyboard warriors as those who went to Newcastle would have still been on the A1.

I guess if there is to be a change of manager it may just have happened before this is published. Personally I hope not. We are probably all grateful that we have a home game next although waiting 2 weeks, due to the international break, is frustrating. 3 points against Huddersfield is a must.

Finally, a couple of points – well three actually:

  • The rest of us are really grateful to both BSB and Russ for all of the driving they do to these away games.
  • As a non-contributor to the in-flight catering I am grateful for those who feed and water me on these journeys.
  • And finally, the Infirm City Firm Flag (which is planning to make its official debut at West Brom, now has its own Twitter account. Please visit @infirmcityfirm and follow the flag.

Talking Point

Slaven Bilic: The Case For The Defence

After attending the match at Newcastle on Saturday, I’ve kept in touch with comments on WHTID over the Bank Holiday weekend. I spent the weekend in Northumberland as part of the trip up north for the game and have been surprised and saddened at the strength of the response from the posts and comments since – I do, however, respect each and every one of those views and know they come, in all cases, from a love of West Ham United.

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Regular readers of the comments section will know I’m a huge supporter of Slaven Bilic. I make no apologies for that and I recognise this piece flies in the face of the majority of comments but I felt someone had to stick their head above the parapet.

I wanted Slaven to take charge of West Ham United a year before he did. I was delighted when he did and the wonderful last season at the Boleyn is a testament to Slaven’s transfer priorities (Payet, Lanzini and Ogbonna) and relationship with the fans which made that final Upton Park season such a joyous journey. Last season was a tough campaign and reasons have been discussed at length previously – poor signings, a lack of full support from the board (to be discussed later) and a new stadium which is the polar opposite of Upton Park in terms of atmosphere and opposition intimidation. In this article, I will seek to outline why Slaven deserves (a lot) longer in his post as West Ham manager.

1. The New Signings

I think most would agree we have had a decent transfer window. New players take time to gel though and there would be little point in allowing Slaven to sign his first choices in various positions if he was not given time to get it right with those players. Signing Chicharito means a big shift in our style of play. We are trying to play the ball on the floor at the start of moves but, at present, this is slow and methodical, ends up going backwards to the defence or Joe Hart and then the long ball is played anyway. Our play through midfield needs to be sharper and perhaps that is why Slaven has highlighted William Carvalho as a key component to that play – someone who can get the ball from the defence and play it quickly to Manuel Lanzini and get us looking threatening in advanced positions. At Newcastle, we lacked cohesion in our play moving forward and, consequently, devoid of ideas.

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Slaven also broke the club’s transfer record to sign Marko Arnautovic. The Austrian is clearly a key part of the manager’s thinking this season yet, through the forward’s own idiocy, has only been available for less than a game-and-a-half of the campaign thus far. Ironically, I was not a fan of signing Arnautovic but Slav has placed significant faith in him and deserves the opportunity to try and embed him into the side, alongside a fit Lanzini – he has not had the chance to pair the two together in the same side as yet.

Many supporters were vociferous throughout last season in the need for us to sign a right-back. We have now signed an orthodox right-back and the same supporters now don’t want us to play with a right-back and instead revert to a back three and wing-backs. Pablo Zabaleta is not a right-sided centre-half, nor a right wing-back. He is, however, a right-back which people were screaming blue murder for last season. I am sure there will be occasions when we play three at the back this season, and the formation does suit Sam Byram and Aaron Cresswell, but the board and manager delivered on what many asked for so why ask for a change in formation and push Zabaleta into being a square peg in a round hole?

In essence, Slaven signed these players on what he thought (rightly or wrongly) the club needed after 2016/17. He deserves the opportunity to try to build a team around these new players.

2. Returning Players

If you asked any supporter who are our best centre-half, central midfielder and creative player, I’m sure the vast majority will come back to you and say Winston Reid, Cheikhou Kouyate and Manuel Lanzini. Slaven has been denied the services of Reid for two of our three opening league games, while Kouyate has not completed a half of football in the opening month and Lanzini has only played 45 minutes. Reid, Kouyate and Lanzini are critical figures to the spine of the team and, again, Slaven deserves the opportunity to team them with the new signings over a period of time.

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3. Contracts

There is something fundamentally wrong with our board’s approach to contracts. Dimitri Payet was made the club’s highest-paid player at the end of his first season with the club while Michail Antonio has signed three contracts in under two years at the club. Winston Reid, at 29, has just signed a six-year deal while Robert Snodgrass was brought in on what must have been a huge pay rise from his salary at Hull.

While new contracts are thrown around to players like confetti, our joint owner David Sullivan told the press that Slaven must prove he is not a ‘one-season wonder’. Now I appreciate some may say Mr Sullivan may have been proved right and it is certainly true that the club should protect their playing assets as they are the ones who, if signed long-term with the club, will bring in the most money if sold.

But what kind of message do comments like Sullivan’s and the contractual situation send to the players? It smacks of the players being looked after whatever their performance level while the manager is the one shunted forward to the firing line. In order to motivate the players, the manager must be seen to have the support of the board at all times and comments like Sullivan’s and the fact Slaven sweats on a new contract while the players get extensions and pay rises at the drop of a hat does not seem to be an effective way to run a football club.

4. The Board

Following on from their contractual decisions and media comments, the Board must do more to support their manager. I am more than happy to hold my hands up and say they have done a tremendous job in bringing in the players Slaven wanted this summer but they should support their manager rather than undermine him in an underhand fashion through social or fan media.

Furthermore, and despite the good work done in signing players so far this window, the net spend remains relatively low. Slaven even said in his press conference last week that Newcastle had outspent us in net terms. Slaven clearly believes that William Carvalho is a missing link in what he is trying to achieve this season – we shall see if the board can pull that one out of the hat as I personally do not believe the deal is dead.

It was also the board who took us to a stadium which cannot host a home Premier League game until a month into this season. Starting a season with three league games on the road is not easy for any football club – the fixture list for us pulled out a title contender, a side with a new manager and a newly-promoted club. Each of those scenarios will look to their early home games to lay a marker down for their season and their fans – we have arrived to those grounds as homeless lambs to the slaughter, regardless of who may or may not have the better squad.

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I travelled a 620-mile round trip to see us limply lose 3-0 at Newcastle – the Bank Holiday traffic saw me in my car for more than 15 hours there and back over the course of the weekend. Yet I still have faith in Slaven Bilic as the right man to lead our football club and hope sincerely that he is given the opportunity to do so. No other manager in our entire history has taken us to two top-11 finishes in his first two top-flight seasons. He is third out of nine in our Premier League win ratio table (see below). A lot of the early success can be attributed to the form of Payet but, after losing him mid-season last term, Bilic has set about building a new side and deserves the opportunity to make that side gel.

West Ham Managers’ Premier League Win %

Alan Curbishley – 37.1%
Alan Pardew – 36.36%
Slaven Bilic – 35.44%
Harry Redknapp – 34.94%
Glenn Roeder – 30.99%
Billy Bonds – 30.95%
Sam Allardyce – 30.7%
Gianfranco Zola – 27.78%
Avram Grant – 18.42%

Of course, we clearly have our problems. Despite my defence of Slav, I can see we are struggling to defend as a team, that we are making far too many individual errors and that we are finding it difficult to work the ball into threatening areas, regardless of which players are available. But I also know that Slaven shows courage in the face of adversity – see the 0-0 draws fought out when devoid of attacking personnel in his first season or the clean sheets when really needed last season. The players dig in for him when they have to, as at Southampton recently, although I recognise we need to lose the ‘when they have to’ from that statement moving forward.

The pressure is now on to perform at home, a pressure amplified by the results on the road. I have been saying for weeks that we would have a difficult start to the season and the knock-on effect will mean that Huddersfield at home will not simply turn our season around – things could even get worse before they get better as West Brom are no pushovers at The Hawthorns and Tottenham were last season’s runners-up. I have also, however, previously stated that our campaign will kickstart in October and November – form and confidence is temporary but class is permanent and we have very good players in our squad. Get them fit and playing together, get two or three wins to boost confidence and belief and I still firmly believe that we have what it takes in our squad – and our manager – to have a very decent 2017/18 season, despite the disastrous start.


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