Transfer Gossip

Why Ndiaye could be a great signing for West Ham

I haven’t written on here for several months, sorry about that…

According to a handful of reports, we’re about to get the deal done on the Senegalese midfielder Papa Alioune Ndiaye (apparently, according to and from Turkish outfit Osmanlispor for around 8-9m.

Yep. I don’t think I’d heard of them either, my avid following of the Turkish Super League has waned of late.

Sky Sports also leading on the rumour of the deal, which of course means its going to happen…

However, if this is true, we might be in for another solid competition for places in midfield. Not the marquee signings we’ve all been promised – I’d agree somewhat with Hamburg Hammers post there, although I still hold out hope for a massive striker signing…

Lets look at Ndiaye then.

26 years old. Excellent and solid pass rate (80% success rate last season), 47% shot accuracy – doesn’t sound amazing, but compare him with some of our recent campaign stats…

Andy Carroll – 50% shot accuracy
Manuel Lanzini – 39%
Andre Ayew – 50%
Jonny Calleri (God bless him) – 33% (yes I was surprised too, although I think he only had 3 shots, one was that tap in)
Michail Antonio – 41%

And even Kouyate is only on 24% shot accuracy – who looking at how Ndiaye plays (only going on YouTube) he feels a similar player to me, drives forwards, fast, not afraid of running at players. Looks a potential good signing.

Not one to want to bring up sore wounds, but Ndiaye’s stats bear a slight resemblance to he who shall not be named before he left for Marseille…
Both 80% pass accuracy rate, both 47% shot accuracy, both got 17m average pass distance (one of the largest in the team last year) 56% duels won for Papa, only 47% for DP.

So clearly this lad can pick a pass…

But its more that just shot accuracy and pass rate.

In comparison to some of our other players – the excellent Antonio, and the Jewel… lets take a look…

stats source:

As you can see – even compared to two of our most attacking midfielders his stats stands up.

One to watch… he might fit in well…

Talking Point

We must become more United, West Ham.

OK, most my posts so far have been as a reaction to an awful defeat… So here we go again. apologies in advance. I’ll try and end it well… 

We conceded 4 goals in 14 minutes against Arsenal at the start of December.
We conceded 4 goals in 17 minutes against Manchester City in the FA Cup.
We’ve conceded 35 goals in the league so far, scoring 23. 

Our manager looks depressed and seems to have run out of ideas. 

So who (or what) is to blame?

Slaven blamed the players. 
Someone blamed the coaching staff
Half the West Ham faithful blame the stadium move. 
Some of us blame Slaven. 
Many of us blame the board (most of us?)
Lots of us blame summer signing flops …

Noone has talked about the new training facilities. Slaven wanted that to feel like a home, where players could feel comfortable, bring their families, who could stay. Maybe thats part of this attitude issue – we’re too comfotable and not pushed in training. Maybe we’ve become a social club…

I’d say its a bit of all of the above, but I don’t want to get into a blame game. That just makes me write even more negatively!

I wrote a post some time ago about our passion on the pitch which seems to still be non existent apart from a handful of players (Reid should keep that Captain’s armband in my opinion), which was followed by several other posts of a similar frustration.

Mike Ireson’s post here sums up many of my frustrations after Manchester City in the FA cup too. 
We lose a goal, heads go down, we lose another 3 in 17 minutes. 

Against Arsenal, 1–0 down at half time, still in the match, then Sanchez makes light work of us, 11 passes, runs round the defence and we’re 2–0 down, heads down, lucky goal by Carrol later, but 5–1 down 14 minutes later. 

Where to turn next?
SJ wrote a recent article on the importance of the January transfer window. It really is vital. We need to do better business. But so far we’re a laughing stock. Twitter, Four Four Two, even Buzzfeed are mocking us in articles and galleries of ‘players we tried to (apparently) get’. 

We’re a football club that feels like we’ve lost our way somewhat. Fans are disillusioned with what the vision is. The board are playing at being a bigshot board, and losing. Players are hot and cold on performance. Ms Brady has “ended the Insider column” on the official site. Let’s be honest Karen, that’s the least of our problems right now. 

We need to resolve this attitude and passion issue on the pitch, and in my opinion, it’s vital we get in a solid rightback with premier league experience and someone who can actually finish in front of goal. Someone (sorry I couldn’t find it) wrote in a recent article on WHTID asking why can all the fans see lots of the problems, but Slaven and coaching staff seem oblivious to them. That does worry me too, he admits we have problems, but seems to carry on experimenting and nothing seems to be getting done.

I honestly don’t think a new manager will help, but where we or Slaven turn next who knows.

But more positively…
Now, on a more positive angle, lets forget the FA Cup. Who needs that distraction anyway. :-). What we must remember is that football really can change so quickly, as we’ll hopefully see in the league over the coming weeks. We’re currently 13th in the league, playing relatively poorly and inconsistently, but still scraping some lucky results…but we’re 13th! Could be top 10 in a few weeks. Some comparison stats for you for this stage last season and now.

comparison stats for league game 20, 2015/16 - 2016/17

The most interesting one I felt on this was that we’ve had almost half as many goals from set pieces this time last year than this season. When I first came across this I was confused – but Payet… surely he scored more. Surely he was our saviour last year from set pieces and that surely couldn’t be beaten this year in our current state?

Then I remembered Antonio. And it’s not just about Payet…

Can the fans help?
Now, of course we’re not to blame for the current fortunes, but we’re a huge part of a great club, and it’s as much our job to get behind the great club we all love as it is to criticise it, slate the manager, get on the players backs and cringe at the ridiculous ways that we become a joke every transfer window (my post summed up there). 

But its also our responsibility to stand with them when its going so bad, to stay to the end, not just to the 50th minute, no matter how hard it is to watch goal after goal fly in.
Yes we’re shocking at the back way too regularly at the moment, but we must get behind our team. I was gutted when so many white seats appeared so early against Manchester City. I hate watching us lose as much as the next, but we must stand with them. Protest, get your banners out, create more chants like "you’re nothing special, we lose every week’ to make light of it on a cold wet night under the lights, but lets get behind them. We All Love West Ham.

Whether Sullivan and Gold believe it or not, West Ham IS about the fans. The heart and soul of West Ham United FC, is about the dads and sons, mums and daughters, grandads, brothers, sisters and mates, passionate about the claret and blue. Back at Upton Park when we rose up in noise it was incredible, and I too am yet to feel that same feeling at the LS. I don’t know if I will. But we’ve moved now, and whilst many of us still can’t get heads round it or don’t want to be there, WE are West Ham and we must stand up and be counted (although probably you might have to sit, as the stewards will tell you off).

Slaven said in his press conference after the FA Cup defeat ’Its hard to feel positive". Yes it really is, but we have to dig deep. As fans and as a team. Together. West Ham. United.


I just want to play football

After the Arsenal game, I went out for dinner. Driving back home I had The Late Tackle on from Talk Sport, listening to an interesting interview with Olivier Bernard, former Newcastle and France defender. He was being interviewed as someone who’s investing his time in grass roots football up in Durham. (He bought non league Durham City back in 2013, and has been passionately developing the teams, both youth and adults for 3 years).

But it wasn’t the main subject of the interview that caught my attention. It was something that came up about his time making his mark into the Newcastle first team in early 2000s. He was asked about how he felt from starting life at Newcastle as a winger to then being moved to play at left back after several games. His answer: “I just wanted to play football, I was happy wherever the gaffer felt I should play”. (unofficially quoted…it was the car radio, I couldn’t write it down…)

When asked how he was able to adapt, or did he find that difficult from effectively an attacker to a defender his reaction was similar. He loved playing, and just wanted to play football. Just wanted to help his team win. And win they did… Bobby Robson era… finished fourth, third and fifth as well as knockout rounds of the Champions League and the semi-final of the UEFA Cup…

Olivier Bernard

“One of the biggest things we’re missing right now, is passion, drive, determination. I mentioned this loosely in my first guest post.

It’s been mentioned and noted significantly this past week by many both on here, in the media and even by Slaven himself.

Now, the phrase “I just want to play football” could be a bit of a throwaway one. It could mean very little. But lets have a think for a minute.

Imagine a 9 year old with dreams of scoring every game, they cannot wait for the day to come, dreams of being scouted by the local professional team, or even bigger teams. For me, that kid’s dreams centre around one huge statement. They just want to play football. Get better, win games, score goals, make amazing saves, play football.

The same is throughout grass roots football, of all ages, from the 9 year old’s school friendly, to the adults Sunday league pub team. We love the game. We love the excitement of pulling on our boots on a Sunday morning. We love (weirdly) the smell of deep heat around the dressing room, bits of tape wrapped around your ankles and the top of your socks, downing Lucozade sport and running around on Wanstead flats, Hackney Marshes or your local park, wondering if that amazing player from last time you played this lot is still on their team…

We just love playing football. That’s what Olivier meant. That’s what helped him adapt. That’s what allowed him to contribute to the team and be part of such a success in the mid-2000s with the Magpies.

Watching us today was awful, painful even. It was the peak of what we’ve seen of the past few games.

We’re making poor mistakes, simple footballing strategy is non existent. Not tracking back, not playing as a unit, no strategy, no evident game plan, or if there is, we’re forgetting it the minute we get past the white line and the whistle goes. I can’t see the Olivier Bernard vibe anywhere in the team at the moment, apart from Fletcher. He’s grabbing his opportunity. I bet if you asked him, one of his replies would be “I just want to play football”. Reid, occasionally Obiang and a bit with Lanzini are the only others I think of who seem to have flashes of passion.

A bunch of grapes

The other problem we need to find is the consistent shape of how we play moves. In American Football they create tactics and plays in a playbook…maybe we need to think a little more like that.

Back in October I watched my daughter play her first school game, brand new girls team for the school, only one girl had ever played before? – it was all new to the rest of them. First game of the season they literally all ran like headless chickens at the ball, following it round the pitch wherever it went.
Their teacher kept shouting “stop bunching girls!” “Remember we’re not grapes, girls!”

They lost 7-0.

In recent weeks, a few of the Dads and a couple of the teachers have tried to unpack to the girls some basic tactics, positioning, set plays, general understanding of core tactics of the game. Since their 7-0 drubbing they’ve gone on to be unbeaten in 6 and come joint 2nd in a district 5-a-side tournament.

Today, in mid week, last weekend, and multiple previous games this season, I’ve been so appalled at the lack of shape in play. Even my daughter who watched the game with me on BT Sport against The Gooners said “Daddy, they’re bunching up like we used to aren’t they”.

The 3 at the back worked as we created options, chances, but it worked against teams who weren’t set up to play against it, plus with Cresswell back and Antonio able to fly forward without the absolute requirement to get back to defend, it allowed us to use more space.

Against Manchester United in the league, we were kept a bit quiet, and similar in the cup, but lets just park the midweek game in the past. One of the things we must crack is a strong backbone through the team, we need leadership on the pitch. Reid could be an answer there? – he’s solid. I’m a huge fan of Noble over the years but I’m missing his leadership at the moment? – I can’t find it.

Errors leading to goals

Defensive errors, or is it the style of play?

Defence starts in attack, not on the 18 yard line. We all know that. We have had some bad defensive injuries and throughout the season, and too many of them across the team, plus there’s been some interesting decisions on our right back from Slav, as well as interesting additions who whilst they’ve had moments, they haven’t consistently performed at the level we need/expect.

A lot has been made this past two weeks, and again today, of defensive issues at West Ham, particularly issues where defensive mistakes have led to goals. The problem is, this isn’t a new issue for us.

So far this season, we’re top of the worst performers, with 6 defensive errors leading to a goal. Thats 50% more than both Crystal Palace and Liverpool on 3.

The reality is though we ended last season top of that same table, despite a 7th position finish and one of our most exciting seasons for years in terms of quality of football and great results. Last season we finished in that table with 14 defensive errors leading to a goal, just one more than Aston Villa, and we all know what happened to them…

Interestingly, the pre-Slaven era, looking at data from the same tables, we only had 6,6 and 4 defensive errors leading to goals respectively for 2014–15, 13–14 and 12–13 years. Not that tells us too much, but could suggest the style of play over the past 2 years has been too geared towards attacking that we’ve ignored building from the back.
However, I don’t believe this is a defensive problem at its core – its a bigger problem around the overall shape of the team, the passion to play football and the vision of what style of play Slaven is wanting us to play. I like the vision, but its got to have the right balance.

Last year we setup as a very attacking team. And we bought more in those areas over the summer, Ayew, Feghouli, Fletcher, Lanzini, Fernandes. The only defensive purchase over the summer was Masuaku, and the Arbeloa August addition, both of the latter more in reaction to losing players than a visionary purchase.

I honestly don’t have an opinion on what we need to do next, but we need to do something that solidifies our shape, finds ways of plugging the gaps that we have throughout the team and reignites the desire “to want to play football”. I do believe we need to find someone to get us 15–20 goals a season… That might be a post for another time.

Is this a defensive issue at its core? Or is it a wider team-shape problem?

What do you all think?

Copyright © 2018 Iain Dale Limited. Terms and conditions. Cookies.
Website by Russell Brown.