Player News

Reece Oxford Heads to Germany

It’s been confirmed that Reece Oxford is heading to German Bundesliga side Borussia Moenchengladbach for a season long loan. I have mixed feelings about this. If he gets a full season in the first team it’s obvious that will help his development, and that’s to be welcomed. However, when he went to Reading last season he only made five appearances. I struggled to understand this as he ought to have been head and shoulders over what Reading already had, but Jaap Stamm had other thoughts.

When Reece made that amazing debut against Arsenal in August 2015, where he dominated the match, I think we all thought we had found the next Rio Ferdinand. Since then, he’s only made six further appearances, something which leaves us all scratching our heads. It’s not as if we haven’t been beset by injury in the positions he plays in, yet he’s barely been given a chance. The club obviously rate him, otherwise why would he already be on £45k a week, but if he returns from Germany at the end of the season having barely played, you just wonder where he goes from there.

For me, he and Reece Burke could be real stars of the future, but they need game time. I’d be gutted if Burke went out on loan again. He looks ready to challenge for a first team place and should be given the chance to shine.


Nice Easy Start for the Hammers... Fixtures Released for 2017-18

August 2017
Saturday 12 August 15:00 Manchester United v West Ham United
Saturday 19 August 15:00 West Ham United v Southampton*
Saturday 26 August 15:00 Newcastle United v West Ham United

September 2017
Saturday 9 September 15:00 West Ham United v Huddersfield Town
Saturday 16 September 15:00 West Bromwich Albion v West Ham United
Saturday 23 September 15:00 West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur
Saturday 30 September 15:00 West Ham United v Swansea City

October 2017
Saturday 14 October 15:00 Burnley v West Ham United
Saturday 21 October 15:00 West Ham United v Brighton & Hove Albion
Saturday 28 October 15:00 Crystal Palace v West Ham United

November 2017
Saturday 4 November 15:00 West Ham United v Liverpool
Saturday 18 November 15:00 Watford v West Ham United
Saturday 25 November 15:00 West Ham United v Leicester City
Wednesday 29 November 19:45 Everton v West Ham United

December 2017
Saturday 2 December 15:00 Manchester City v West Ham United
Saturday 9 December 15:00 West Ham United v Chelsea
Tuesday 12 December 19:45 West Ham United v Arsenal
Saturday 16 December 15:00 Stoke City v West Ham United
Saturday 23 December 15:00 West Ham United v Newcastle United
Tuesday 26 December 15:00 AFC Bournemouth v West Ham United
Saturday 30 December 15:00 Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham United

January 2018
Monday 1 January 15:00 West Ham United v West Bromwich Albion
Saturday 13 January 15:00 Huddersfield Town v West Ham United
Saturday 20 January 15:00 West Ham United v AFC Bournemouth
Tuesday 30 January 19:45 West Ham United v Crystal Palace

February 2018
Saturday 3 February 15:00 Brighton & Hove Albion v West Ham United
Saturday 10 February 15:00 West Ham United v Watford
Saturday 24 February 15:00 Liverpool v West Ham United

March 2018
Saturday 3 March 15:00 Swansea City v West Ham United
Saturday 10 March 15:00 West Ham United v Burnley
Saturday 17 March 15:00 West Ham United v Manchester United
Saturday 31 March 15:00 Southampton v West Ham United

April 2018
Saturday 7 April 15:00 Chelsea v West Ham United
Saturday 14 April 15:00 West Ham United v Stoke City
Saturday 21 April 15:00 Arsenal v West Ham United
Saturday 28 April 15:00 West Ham United v Manchester City

May 2018
Saturday 5 May 15:00 Leicester City v West Ham United
Sunday 13 May 15:00 West Ham United v Everton

Talking Point

Follow the Leader

Guest Post by Rugby Irons

Back to the footy and one of the areas that I felt contributed positively and negatively last season. And that’s having leaders on the field. We seem to have two captains at the club, Noble and Reid, but in terms of leaders it seems to be Noble and Collins.

A lot has been said about the quality of Mark Noble’s performances this season and in particular his negativity in going backwards and sidewards but as the captain there can be little argument he makes a difference to the others. I’ll leave you to decide if individual poorer play, but better output from your teammates justifies his inclusion. But before you decide you have to consider when he’s not been there. I accept I don’t have the facts (cue Paul Smith) of when Reid is captain but I have seen little to suggest he is leading the team. His own performances have been fine but when called upon to be the leader has he actually done this? For me on a par with Noble the answer has to be no. And then there is the Ginger factor. I don’t think anyone would argue he was our best and most influential player in the run in. His tackles, blocks, headers and commitment have forced the others to get stuck in too. For me he was the catalyst for the Spurs win. He and Noble set the tone on the night and they just couldn’t handle us. Now I think the other player to surprise in the tackle was Lanzini. He certainly doesn’t shirk a tackle and chasing back for a skinny guy and has made us more competitive in the middle third.

So the question going forward has to be can Zabaleta add leadership to the team? You have to hope that his undoubted quality will help bring on both our fullbacks but his influence may be more than just defending. This could possibly have us field three leaders, himself, Ginge and Reid in the back line, which might just tighten us a bit and turn draws into wins. In the middle Noble and Lanzini can compete well enough and I still feel that Ayew and Snodgrass have more to offer. Currently up top Carroll is a great leader of the line and he does commit the problem as always is how games will be play?

Now, and perhaps being a bit optimistic here, but if you add Rice, who is a clear leader, Burke, Holland and Dobson plus Martinez, all of these lads have a presence about them. Now the club are going to make two more ‘Quality’ signings , whatever that means but for me I hope they pick players with a bit about them and not just their ability . For example Benteke is a proven centre forward but when he’s crap he’s not worth being on the field. If you take our Ayew, who came with a big tag, you always get a good shift from him and once he got a run going he looked better each week. As there is no guarantee that AC will even with us next season, it’s a fair bet he won’t play much, and for me Sakho is a spent force, so this leaves us needing a quality centre forward. Now I’ve asked the question before of what is a centre forward in the Premiership these days and frankly I’m not sure. From the Carrol, Benteke mould, we now have all sorts of main strikers. Small, skilful, fast, gormless, and allsorts. For me I just want our striker to be primarily fit enough for long enough to lead the line. We have a lot of players who can score and as I certainly don’t see us signing a 20 goals a season player, then a more rounded player who can contribute to the whole team, rather than the attack focus may be a better option in the long run.

Now if you ask me who I am thinking off, quite frankly I don’t know. Our own Martinez has the attributes but perhaps not the experience, same for Iheanacho. If SB is looking at surplus top six players then is Giroud mobile enough? Sturridge isn’t fit enough, Rooney not good enough now, Bashuayi is probably the one good fit, and so we won’t get him! The relegated teams have nothing, which leaves the likes of Deeney, King, Long but I don’t think these can be counted in the ‘Marquee Quality ‘bracket.

So what’s my point? Well, with Zabaleta having joined us, we have two to come. I am hoping that the two that come can add to the team and not just for their ability. My feeling is the squad is better than it looks. Eleventh ultimately was excellent considering the shenanigans early doors and if the two to come can offer quality and leadership, even in their own way, then we may be the surprise team next season. The ability is there, it just needs guiding in the right direction. So for me I am hoping the two signings are what we really need.

Who they may be I leave you to guess on!

Transfer Gossip

Kelechi Iheanacho: Could He Be Our Best Signing of the Summer?

I wrote last week that the priority for West Ham in this transfer window is to only sign players who would add to the quality of the team and that it was quality we should be searching out rather than signing a whole host of average players like we did last year. Well we got off to a good start with the signing of Pablo Zabaleta, and if reports are to be believed we head the race to sign Kelechi Iheanacho, the Manchester City striker.

Iheanacho is only 20 years old, but looks to be a real star in the making. He’s made 46 appearances, scoring 12 goals, but most of those are substitute appearances. He’s also scored five goals in eight senior appearances for Nigeria. It’s worth looking at his Manchester City career in its totality. This is from Wikipedia…

In July 2015, Iheanacho was included in City’s pre-season tour team in Australia. On the tour, he set up the first goal for Raheem Sterling and scored the second goal in the win against Roma in the 2015 International Champions Cup. He also set up Sterling for the fourth goal in City’s 8–1 victory against the Vietnam national team. In City’s last pre-season game, against VfB Stuttgart, he came on as a substitute, scoring late on in a 4–2 defeat. Due to his impressive pre-season, Iheanacho was promoted to the Manchester City senior squad. On 10 August 2015, Iheanacho was included in a first-team matchday squad for the first time in a competitive fixture, however he remained an unused substitute in their 3–0 win at West Bromwich Albion in their first game of the Premier League season. Nineteen days later, he made his competitive debut, replacing Raheem Sterling for the final minute of a 2–0 win against Watford at the City of Manchester Stadium. He scored his first competitive goal on 12 September, replacing Wilfried Bony in the final minute in a match away to Crystal Palace and scoring the only goal of the game.

Iheanacho scored his first career hat-trick on 30 January 2016 against Aston Villa in the fourth round of the FA Cup, also setting up City’s fourth goal, scored by Raheem Sterling.The following month, he was put in City’s UEFA Champions League squad at the expense of the injured Samir Nasri.26 During February, Iheanacho scored against Tottenham Hostpur in a 2–1 home defeat for City.

Iheanacho’s next goals came on 23 April 2016, where he scored twice against Stoke City in a 4–0 victory.28 He followed this up with a Champions League semi-final substitute appearance on 26 April 2016. Five days later, on 1 May 2016, he scored two again, albeit in a 4–2 defeat at the hands of Southampton.

Iheanacho ended the 2015–16 season with eight Premier League goals and had the best goals-per-minute ratio of any player averaging, a goal every 93.9 minutes. In all competitions he finished with a record of 14 goals and 5 assists from 35 appearances, although he only started 11 of these games. His goals total also meant he ended the season as City’s third-highest scorer.

On 10 September 2016, Iheanacho started in the Manchester Derby. He recorded an assist and his first goal of the season in the 2–1 win. Five days later, Iheanacho came off the bench to score the final goal in City’s 4–0 home win in the Champions League, against Borussia Mönchengladbach. This was his first European goal for Manchester City. Three days after the 4–0 win, Kelechi scored the second goal, also assisting the third, in City’s game against AFC Bournemouth. That goal took his tally in the Premier League to 10, allowing him to join an exclusive list of players to have scored 10 Premier League goals before the age of 20. This list includes players such as Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs, Nicolas Anelka, Michael Owen and Romelu Lukaku. In October 2016, Iheanacho was nominated for the FIFA Golden Boy award, which was eventually won by Bayern Munich’s midfielder Renato Sanches.

Iheanacho’s next goal would come in the Champions League, against Celtic, in a 1–1 home draw on 6 December 2016.

Iheanacho has represented Nigeria at youth levels from under-13 upwards. His first experience of a major international tournament was the 2013 African U-17 Championship in Morocco. For Iheanacho, the highlight was a hat-trick in a win against Botswana. He dedicated his goals to his mother, who died two months before the tournament. Nigeria reached the final of the competition, where they were defeated on penalties by the Ivory Coast.

Iheanacho played a significant role in the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup, where he won the Golden Ball award for player of the tournament. Nigeria won the competition, in which Iheanacho scored six times, including once in the final, and provided seven assists. In the run-up to the 2014 African Nations Championship, Iheanacho trained with the senior Nigeria squad but was released from the squad in order to travel to England to sign with Manchester City. He was part of the Nigeria squad for the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand, and featured in two matches.

He was selected by Nigeria for their 35-man provisional squad for the 2016 Summer Olympics, but failed to make the final 18. Iheanacho made his senior debut as a substitute in a 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Swaziland in which Nigeria drew 0–0. His first start for the senior team was on 25 March 2016, a 1–1 draw with Egypt in a 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match.

Kelechi Iheanacho was selected by Nigeria in friendly games against Mali and Luxembourg in May 2016. He scored in the two games providing an assist against Luxembourg. His performance in the friendly matches inspired further confidence within football circles in the nation and was invited to make his competitive debut against Egypt in an African cup of nations qualifying series where he provided an assist for Oghenekaro Etebo in the home game. Despite the change made in the coaching personnel in August this year, he distinguished himself again as one of the most important players in the team when he scored two super goals in the two matches against Tanzania in Uyo and Zambia in Ndola.

Well I don’t know about you, but that’s got me salivating. £24 million seems a reasonably fair price given his potential, but the stumbling block could be a buyback clause.


Transfer Gossip

Quality, Not Mediocrity Has to be West Ham's Recruitment Watchword

The priority for the West Ham recruitment team over the next few months is surely very simple. It is to recruit better players than we have already in a number of different positions. Sam Byram will be none to impressed that Pablo Zabaleta looks likely to be our first pre-season recruit, but can anyone really deny that he wouldn’t improve the quality of our first eleven. Hardly. And that’s what it’s all about.

So what other positions do we need to improve on? I’d say the goalkeeping position would be one, although it may not be the first priority. Excellent goalkeepers are hard to come by but if we could sign Begovic, Hart or Butland I’d certainly say they were better than either of our current goalkeepers. It’s good to see Adrian back in form, and he hasn’t really put too much of a foot wrong since his return, but given the choice of him or Begovic, I know which one I would go for. But any of the three keepers I have mentioned would cost relatively big money, so I am not holding my breath on that.

In central defence we certainly need to think about bringing in one top class defender. Jose Fonte has never looked the answer to our defensive problems and paying £8 million for a player his age looks to be verging on madness, given his performances since his arrival in January. Winston Reid continue to be injury prone and James Collins isn’t getting younger. Angelo Ogbonna has played really well but is also prone to injury. Reid has played 30 games, Collins 21 and Ogbonna 19. We have Reece Oxford and Reece Burke coming through and it’s surely time one of them became a key part of the squad. We also have Declan Rice who’s emerged this season. I still think we should be looking to bring in one top quality centre back.

At left back we are well covered with Cresswell and Masuaku, who to me has been a brilliant addition to the squad.

In central midfield we are also well served with Kouyate, Obiang, Noble and Fernandes. I suspect Nordtveit will be sold, but given Josh Cullen’s season at Bradford he is quite capable of stepping up to the plate.

Out wide it is certainly the truth that Feghouli, Snodgrass and Ayew have all been disappointments to one degree or another. Michaeil Antonio is rightly our player of the season and Lanzini has run him close, but again, a top quality wide player ought to be a must. If it were down to me I’d sell Feghouli, Snodgrass and Ayew and invest the money in one world class player.

Up front it all depends on who we sell. It would not surprise me if Carroll were sold to Newcastle and it may be that Sakho demands to go (again), but both their injury records are horrific. Hopefully we can offload Valencia, and Calleri has already gone. Ashley Fletcher hasn’t broken through, despite appearing very bright whenever he has come on. There’s no doubt we have been very short of quality up front and we certainly need one marquee striker to come in. Hopefully that will be Batshuayi, but I wouldn’t bet my mortgage on it.

So, a goalkeeper, a right back, a central defender, a winger and a striker (or two). I reckon we need to spend at least £80 million.

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