Guest Post

Should I stay or should I go?

Guest Post by Safehands

I’m caught between a rock and a hard place … do I renew my season ticket for something for which I’m growing more and more disillusioned or do I stop my time and financial commitment to my football team, a team that I have supported since, well since forever?

Look, I love my football – perhaps I mean my West Ham football as I don’t sit and watch any football that’s on, I watch primarily West Ham … okay, except when we lose – I care too much. When I started going my friend and I were in the queue at 11.15 in the morning so we could get our spot on the wall – we were always second and never ever got in front of the other group (damn them). I’ve been in every section of Upton Park from where I’ve seen some memorable games although thinking about it, most of them weren’t but it didn’t dampen my ardour or the need to go for my Saturday afternoon fix. I just had to be there.

I rarely miss a game and if I do, it’s not because we’re playing badly and I can’t face it but because I’m on holiday, ill or at some friend’s party which has been inconveniently arranged on a home match day. When Sky took over the TV rights and the games started shifting, I still turned up. I confess I did on occasion leave 5 mins before the end … look, I was time poor and leaving just that little bit earlier meant I could save at least 1 hour on my journey (sometimes 1.5 hours).

In our last foray into the Championship, please forgive me but I actually didn’t mind it once the season started. I never wanted us to be relegated and wasn’t too happy playing a contingent of sides of whom I knew nothing. However, I actually enjoyed going to the games as for once, unlike when playing in the Premier League, not only were we the front runners and the team to beat but the crowds at Upton Park were good and full of ‘proper’ supporters, you know, those that wanted to see West Ham and not the opposition (like quite a few do now). We then had the Olympic Stadium kerfuffle – I appreciate a lot think it’s great but to me, it’s not what I was sold – I’m too far from the pitch and feel detached from the game. A few seasons ago a few of us WHTIDers started going to away games and the singing/standing brought home just how much the supporters had lost in the modern game and how away games are so much like it used to be. I understand why all-seater stadiums were introduced, but we’ve moved on from that, haven’t we?

I’ve put all of the above purely because I wanted to place where I am as a supporter, how much West Ham means to mean me and that I’m well and truly stuck. The disparity between football and its fans has been growing, all the more so in the past few years with the latest £squillion poured into the clubs. Also, it’s the power imbalance between a club and its players, money-grabbing agents (and clubs engagement with the system), clubs interaction with (or should I say disregard of) their supporters, an ineffectual antiquated FA, domineering PL, TV companies’ control and, lastly but no means least, football’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. I’m not just talking about wage cuts or furlough but it’s all about the game’s money money money plus the Government’s need to get the game up and running again as they want the distraction to keep supporters ‘happy’ as soooo many of us it seems aren’t able cope with the lack of football. Well as far as I’m concerned, tough – we’re talking about people’s lives here. (Hmmm, I would say it’d put an already creaking NHS under even more pressure but they’ve all got private health care havent they?) Where did that moral compass go?

I was already wondering whether to renew my season ticket which really really wasn’t helped when I read an email the club has sent me last week saying that they anticipate the season will recommence without fans in attendance, so I can either have a refund for the five home games or a pro rata credit towards my 2020-21 Season Ticket which "will be an easy and convenient way for you to guarantee your seat for next season and in doing so also lock in a price freeze for your 2020-21 Season Ticket [depending on which league we’re in], as well as, of course, helping to support your Club through these testing times”. My reaction to that was ‘FFS, me support you? Really? What, support you financially? Morally? Do you know what’s going on in the world? AND it looks like you’re going to put up my season ticket!!! WTF &!/!’.

Football has sold its soul for money – do I want to continue to be a part of it … I still don’t know, should I stay or should I go?


Tony Hanna's Musings

This season; Continue or null and void?

I guess this article’s topic will be a bit like Brexit – for many it will be a black and white answer whilst a few in the middle may not care less. But for those either side of the divide I am sure you can put your arguments forward on here on what is the best final outcome in your opinion. So, when the Premier League season starts again should it be a continuance of the current 2019/20 season, or should that season be declared null and void and a new season started? I guess the answer would be a lot easier to answer if we actually knew what date football would be allowed to start up again. One thing I think we can assume is that when games do commence they will be initially played behind closed doors with no crowds. A few days ago the Dutch decided to call their Eredivisie null and void with Ajax, (or indeed AZ Alkmaar), denied the title with just nine games to go with no teams relegated from their top league. Ajax abstained from the vote and their next response was to claim they are going to help other clubs suffering financially because of coronavirus.

When football does start again it will need around three to four weeks of preseason to get players fit again. If this is not done properly then I am sure there will be a plethora of injuries. With just nine or ten games to go of the 2019/20 season this is an unprecedented event and should this season be continued there would be some hurdles to overcome. With it seemingly very unlikely that any start would now be before the end of May another factor that will come into play is the amount of players who will come off contract to their clubs at what should have been the end of their season. What will happen here? There are many factors to take into account for voiding the current season, or indeed to continue it in what would be a very different environment. Would playing away, especially at the big clubs like Liverpool, be as big a task than playing them with a full stadium – something many of your rivals may not have had to before the closure? Would clubs with nearly fully fit squads to start a season of nine games be seen to have got an unfair advantage from the enforced break, compared to what their resources were when the season was stopped. For instance we would have been due to play Spurs without Kane and Son, a team on the decline and struggling, a fresh start would see them with their stars back and fully rejuvenated. Having injuries to players does involve luck and whether your own team plays others at full strength or not during a season is a variable that no one can plan for, but this factor is not one to be taken lightly. Another consideration is what happens should one or more teams have a K19 outbreak on resumption? Do we stop the league again?

On the other hand if the season was to be declared null and void is that fair on Liverpool, some 25 points clear with a first Premier League title in their grasp? If the season should be voided but current positions in the table be declared final then the title will go to Anfield. If not it would seem like an injustice to Leicester on the cusp of CL football again, and Sheffield United who were on the verge of European football despite the odds. At the other end of the table Villa have a game in hand which if they won they would move out of the bottom three and would it be fair that they, Bournemouth and Norwich be relegated? We were in a very dicey position as far as relegation was concerned but our form was looking up when the season was cancelled. I guess the games authorities have to look at all the legalities but in the end whatever decision they come up with it should be accepted without dispute. What happens to the FA Cup and the other Champions league spots are other things that will need to be sorted. Should football in England start in September or October the decisions made on this topic may be very different to ones made should the season not be able to start until early next year. If Football can’t resume until say next February it would perhaps be an easy decision just to commence again where we left off? Whatever decision is made and even if the Premier league of 2019/20 does get to be finished I personally would be most surprised if any teams were relegated. Teams from lower divisions may be promoted with extra teams relegated to balance the leagues the following season but I do doubt any will be relegated this season.

One fan I was chatting with recently expressed their view about the mental side of the game and that it is impossible to finish this season fairly as it won’t reflect the true outcome of what would have happened without this interruption. On the flip side I have seen comments already on this site that not finishing would affect the integrity of the game. Not sure exactly what is meant by that other than that not finishing a season that is already three quarters completed would perhaps erase everything from this current season?

For me, I am in the null and void camp. The Dutch league has made this decision and it appears their clubs have accepted it with grace. Some of you may not care less what with all that is happening in our World at the moment so stay safe everyone. Things will get better.


Tony Hanna's Musings

Fashion, Football and Freedom in the 60's and 70's

BSB’s excellent recent article inspired me to lift my head above the pulpit again and put pen to paper, or more realistically finger to laptop. The generations that grew up in the few decades following WW2 would know only too well just how different and how much things have changed compared to today. Back in the 60’s like many of you we had no home phone let alone a mobile one. To make a call it was a half mile jog down to the local public phone booth all the while hoping it had not been vandalised or someone was already using it and in for a long chat. There were no automatic washing machines, clothes dryers, dishwashers, microwaves, computers and the TV was black and white and only had two channels. But this was a time when we did have one thing, perhaps the most important thing that no other future generation may have – almost total freedom. Mums and dads didn’t want six or seven kids in their tiny homes when it was light. “Go out and play and make sure you are home by dark” was the golden rule. Kids would play football in the street, down the fields or just about any space where you could put two jumpers down for goal posts. These were the Baby Boom times and large families were the norm. Money was tight and not many kids got pocket money. Many of the clothes we wore were hand me downs from older brothers and sisters. To get any money most kids would do odd jobs. In the 60’s I was a bucket boy for a local window cleaner and in the 70’s I had a Thursday night Littlewoods Pools collection round. It had to be done every week whether it be summer, snowing or raining – if not I would be out of the job.

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That Pools round earned me ten bob a week. Coincidently, that was the same amount of money my West Ham match day experience would cost me. Tube from Loughton to Upton Park, entrance into the North Bank, a program and a bag of monkey nuts. At first I went on my own on the premise I was going with a friend and his dad, this was even for night games. You would be amazed at the amount of kids that were doing the same thing though! After a while I started going with different mates, home and away, but game days were always intoxicating. The walk down Green Street was awash with vendors selling scarves, hats, badges, rosettes and programs whilst the smell of the hot dog and hamburger stalls enhanced the senses even further. When you got into the ground the singing would normally start about an hour and a half before the game and it was tribal. You were part of the tribe and this was like a weekly fix for your habit.

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As we moved into the seventies the skin head gangs evolved on the streets and in football grounds. The modern day all-seater stadiums have certainly created a safer and more comfortable football experience but to be honest I think today’s fans are missing out on what a truly incredible fever pitch a football game can deliver consistently. The upside is that attending a football game nowadays is relatively safe and the facilities are a World apart, unlike in the days of skin heads, firms and soccer hooliganism. The truth is that following West Ham home and away in the seventies, you would be watching football shrouded in a threatening atmosphere that tended to hang over games like a dark cloud, ready to burst.

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Back in the seventies we did have fashion and not all was too expensive. I didn’t have much money so was decked out mainly in Dockers trousers, a Donkey jacket and monkey boots. If you were comparing my fashion look to a hotel rating I guess I was about a one or two star! A Ben Sherman or Brutus shirt was always a must. For those with a bit more dosh they may have had a sheepskin or Crombie coat, Doc Marten Boots and Levi jeans. Other items of popular clothing were Brogues, Loafers, Harrington jackets, Prince of Wales trousers and tonics. Perhaps some of you with a better fashion sense or memory than me can recall other popular fashion items from that era?

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My dad only took me the once and I watched from his shoulders in the West Stand for my first ever game. He passed away in 1996. My first WHTID get together in 2015 included staying overnight at the West Ham hotel – the revamped corporate boxes in the West Stand. When my wife and I went back to our room that night I opened the curtains to look over the pitch which still had floodlights shining on it. I was disappointed that our room was not more central until I realised it was virtually in the exact same spot my dad and I had stood for that match against Burnley in 1967. Emotions were hard to hold back – especially as the game we had seen earlier that day was against –you guessed it – Burnley. That was the last match I was to attend at the old ground. On the 18th of this month we should have been playing Burnley at home again but of course it has had to be postponed for obvious reasons. Stay safe everyone.


Tony Hanna's Musings

Farewell and a Tribute to Bobby Moore

On the 21st August 2013 I wrote my first article for WHTID. Nine days later I wrote my 6th as Sean Whetstone and myself were trying to keep an article a day up for the site, working in tandem due to lack of writers. Different authors have been and gone over the years and after five years I have decided it is time for me to hang up my laptop and say goodbye as this will be my 195th and last article for the site. In the early years I mainly focused on nostalgia, more often than not based on my own experiences following the Hammers in the mid sixties and seventies. When those memories were exhausted I progressed to day to day views and in the transfer windows I put forward the bookies transfer market odds which I translated to perceived chances of players signing for or leaving West Ham. The journey has been one that has seen me make new friendships along the way with meet ups over the years – highlighted by the one at the Upton Park ground hotel that was simply special. It’s been fun writing for you lot, well most of the time lol, and I hope to see some of you again when I am next over, hopefully in 2019. Cheers

I was chatting to a fellow supporter recently who had told me about his reservations about VAR and how he might not attend games anymore should it be introduced to the PL. I reminded him about the times we first started to watch West Ham in the mid 60’s early 70’s. At that time there were only a couple of “divers” in the English game – the rest saw falling over in a tackle as weak in what was a hard man’s game at the time. The limited amount of German football we saw on TV in this era saw this possession game where they passed the ball around for ages without getting anywhere. My thoughts were if we ended up like that in England it would ruin the game. Then we saw the Italian and Spanish football on TV, full of dives and cheating. My thoughts were if we ended up like that in England it would ruin the game. So here we are in today’s game where we see 50 passes between centre backs, more back passes than forward passes and players diving all over the place and over time we have accepted it as normal in the English game. For me VAR is a necessary evil and will be accepted as easily in time as all of the abhorrent parts of the modern game which we have copied in an effort to try and keep up with the rest of the World. For me, if it (VAR) holds up play for three minutes a game and 90% of the time I can go away from a game and know we weren’t “done” by an offside goal or a bad penalty call I think I will be happier than I have been for many a season.

Finally, my favourite player of all time was Bobby Moore. As we all dream of another World Cup win it is fitting that my last piece will be dedicated to our wonderful legend.

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Born on the 12th April 1941 and passing away on the 24th February 1993, Bobby Moore made 646 appearances for the Hammers after making his debut against Manchester United in September 1958. He made his last appearance for West Ham in a cup tie against Hereford in January 1974 before moving on to play for Fulham in the twilight of his career. The footballing career that unfolded over those 16 years was only equalled by the measure of respect he went on to earn throughout the game from his peers and by those who loved to watch him play. In their history, West Ham have been at their best when they have played fast attacking football. It is ironic that the best player to ever play for the club was a defender – but one who the great Pele cited as the best defender that he ever played against.

Bobby was born in Barking, Essex. In 1956 he joined West Ham and quickly advanced through the youth set up. Malcolm Allison was a great mentor to Bobby in the early years and it was his place in the side he took when he made his debut in 1958. Malcolm was suffering from tuberculosis at the time and he never regained his place in the side. Bobby always remembered one piece of advice from Malcolm – “know what you are going to do with the ball before you get it. Always keep a picture in your mind where everyone is, that way when you get the ball you don’t have to think what to do with it.” Those words must have been ringing in his head in the last moments of the World Cup final in 1966. Bobby hung on to those words like it was one of the ten commandments. The hours he spent after training in his formative years, chatting with Malcolm Allison, Noel Cantwell, Dave Sexton and John Bond (all of whom went on to be successful managers), listening to their theories and explanations on how the game should be played, together with his natural flair for leadership, moulded the Bobby Moore that was to lead West Ham and England to glory.

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In a World of uncompromising defenders, Bobby shone like a beacon with his reading of the game and the immaculate timing of his tackles. For a central defender Bobby was not great in the air and he certainly was not quick. But there was always a calmness in his play, it was like his brain was doing all the work. He established himself in West Ham’s first team and in 1960 was called up for the England U23 side. Just two years later he was on the plane to Chile for the World Cup. He was so impressive on his debut against Peru in a pre-tournament friendly that he kept his place in the side until England’s exit against Brazil in the quarter finals. One year later, aged just 22, he captained England for the first time when the incumbent Jimmy Armfield was injured. Bobby had become the youngest player ever to captain the National side and only on his 12th appearance for England.

The years between 1964 and 1966 were iconic for West Ham, England and Bobby Moore. In 1964 Bobby lifted West Ham’s first ever FA Cup and he also became the permanent captain of England. He also went on to win the Footballer of the Year in England. In 1965 he again lifted a trophy at Wembley – this time it was the European Cup Winners Cup with a 2-0 win against 1860 Munich. A match that many say was the greatest game of football ever played on the hallowed turf. A year later in 1966 he lifted the World Cup for England in a 4-2 win against West Germany. The third time that he walked up those stairs to receive a trophy at Wembley he became a National hero.

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The three years of Wembley triumphs between 1964 and 1966 were the pinnacle of Bobby Moore’s career. But he was to play on for another eight years at Upton Park. The same successes were never achieved but that is not to say that the rest of his footballing life was dull! Bobby Moore had been Hammer of the Year in 1961 and 1963 and he was to go on and win the honour again in 1968 and 1970. Not only did he win HOTY four times but he also came second four times.

During 1966 Bobby Moore won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year. He was the first footballer to win the award and he was also to go on and be honoured with an OBE in 1967. England manager Sir Alf Ramsey was to say of Bobby Moore; “My captain, my leader, my right hand man. He was the spirit and heartbeat of the team. A cool calculating footballer I could trust with my life. He was the supreme professional, the best I ever worked with. Without him England would never have won the World Cup.”

Bobby Moore again captained the England side in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. They were considered an even stronger side than the one that had won the Cup four years earlier. However, the tournament was full of controversy and much was made of the fact that England were being dealt some bad cards. A fortnight before the game the England team were doing some shopping in Bogota, Columbia. Bobby was accused of stealing a bracelet and once the story leaked it was World wide news. The whole affair was most unsavoury and did little to help England’s cause. The incident appeared to have conspiracy written all over it. Bobby was arrested and then released but when England had returned back to Columbia after a game in Ecuador, he was arrested again and placed under four days house arrest. Eventually the case was dropped after no evidence was forthcoming. England eventually lost a two goal lead in the quarter final against West Germany and lost 3-2. Gordon Banks, the best keeper in the World at the time, had eaten a “dodgy lasagne” the night before the game and his replacement Peter Bonetti had a game to forget. Nevertheless, Bobby Moore had now missed the chance to lead England to successive World Cups.

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Controversy was to follow Bobby sooner rather than later. On returning to England from the World Cup, Bobby Moore received an anonymous threat to kidnap his wife Tina and hold her to a 10,000 pound ransom. He pulled out of the preseason friendlies but later in the year things took a brighter turn when West Ham rewarded him with a testimonial game against Celtic. However, in January 1971, Bobby was again embroiled in controversy. A late night drinking episode in Blackpool the night before a Cup game came to light a few days after a shock 3-0 defeat. Manager Ron Greenwood was not happy and wanted to sack all the players concerned, including Bobby Moore. The Board persuaded Greenwood that fines and suspensions should suffice. However, the relationship between manager and player had been cool for some time and now it became distinctly frosty.

A year later Bobby was to make the headlines yet again during a League Cup semi-final replay against Stoke at Old Trafford. When Hammers keeper Bobby Ferguson was kicked in the head and had to go off the field, Bobby Moore took his place in goal. Shortly after, Stoke were awarded a penalty and Moore had the audacity to save Bernard’s spot kick. Unfortunately for Bobby and West Ham, Bernard hammered in the rebound. A 3-2 defeat saw Bobby miss out on another chance of Wembley glory. Gee, it was bloody wet that night!

In 1973 against Italy, Bobby Moore won his 108th and last England cap. It was a record number of caps and he also equalled Billy Wrights 90 appearances as captain. Bobby played every minute of every match in those 108 matches. The following year Bobby Moore played his last game for West Ham.

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When Bobby Moore was sold to Fulham in 1974 I doubt many fans would have thought that he would be playing against his former club in a Wembley Cup Final the following year? Of course the Hammers won by two goals to nil, but Bobby had an excellent game. It was his last appearance at Wembley. He went on to play over 100 games for the Cottagers before ending his career in the North American leagues. Bobby had a less distinguished career after his playing days. He managed Southend United from 1984 until 1986 in what were financially difficult times for the club. This had followed short stints managing Eastern AA in Hong Kong and Oxford City. In 1986 he divorced his wife Tina and he married Stephanie Moore five years later in 1991.

It now seems absurd that the only Captain of England to ever lift the World Cup was commentating and analysing games for London radio station Capital Gold in 1990. Nowadays, players that could only dream of equalling Bobby’s stature in the game can earn fortunes in the media – post playing days. On the 14th February 1993 he publicly announced he was suffering from bowel and liver cancer. Ten days later on the 24th February 1993 Bobby Moore passed away aged just 51. Within hours the gates of Upton Park became a shrine as West Ham fans left scarves and memorabilia there as a mark of respect and remembrance. Shortly after his death, what was the old South Bank at West Ham was renamed the Bobby Moore stand as a tribute to our fallen hero.

In the years that have followed, the name Bobby Moore has become iconic once again in the lives of all West Ham fans. In 1993 The Bobby Moore Fund was formed by Bobby’s second wife Stephanie Moore. A charity to raise money for research into bowel cancer and to raise awareness of the disease. In 2002 Bobby was made an inaugural inductee of the English Football Hall of Fame. A year later Prince Andrew unveiled a sculpture of Bobby Moore holding the Jules Rimet trophy near the Boleyn ground at the junction of Green St and Barking Road. Bobby is shown on the shoulders of Geoff Hurst and Ray Wilson together with Martin Peters. In the same year he was selected by the FA as the Golden Player of England as their most outstanding player of the past 50 years. In 2007 a statue of Bobby was unveiled outside of the new Wembley, looking down Wembley Way. Dubbed the “Colossus of Wembley” the statue contains a moving inscription. “Immaculate footballer, Imperial defender, Immortal hero of 1966, First Englishman to raise the World Cup aloft, National Treasure, Master of Wembley, Lord of the game, Captain extraordinary, Gentleman for all time” As a mark of respect the following year West Ham retired the number six shirt that Bobby made had made his own for 16 years. The last official number six shirt was given to Stephanie Moore.

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The club now use the “Moore than a football club” slogan in much of their advertising. The years since his passing still have us remembering each anniversary of his death. But at the same time it allows those of us lucky enough to have watched him in our younger days, remember the many great times watching Bobby in a West Ham or England shirt. In my first years of going to Upton Park I used to stand down behind the North Bank goal. I can still visualise him standing guard at the near post at corners, so near I could almost reach out and touch him. Always concentrating, always impeccable. Even the way he led the team out holding the ball in an imperious way over the top of his hip demonstrated the man was all class. The little jig he did with Jimmy Greaves after the two of them became entangled in the centre circle during a match against Spurs still makes me smile as I reminisce. Oh they were wonderful days – thank you Bobby.


Tony Hanna's Musings

Who to keep and who to sell?

If rumours are to be believed Manuel Pellegrini will get around a £65 million transfer kitty plus any incoming monies from player sales to spend on new arrivals. Some fans have called for a mass clear out within the squad but I doubt very much whether that will happen – at least to the degree some might wish for. Others, like myself, can see the validity of moving on a more manageable number of players and here are my thoughts on which ones we should keep and which ones we should move on. It is all hypothetical so feel free to agree or disagree. When the window shuts prior to the first game of the season I will follow up this article with one that critiques the present views.

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Goalkeepers

I would keep Adrian. It will depend on the full transfer kitty available whether there is value in paying 20-30m for a new keeper when there are much greater priorities with regard to strengthening the team. We will definitely have to spend some dosh on at least an understudy unless Pellegrini identifies a good loan or a free transfer move in the market. Despite Hart enjoying some of his best years under Pellegrini at City, it would be a huge surprise if his loan deal at the Hammers was renewed by his old boss. Youngster Trott will inevitably be kept as third choice.

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Defenders

Zabaletta still has one year to go on his contract. He is another player who played in Man City’s title win under Pellegrini. It makes little sense to sell at this point of time as even if the manager wants to sign a first choice right back, Zab would make a great back up – keep. I doubt any West Ham fan wants the club to sell Rice but there may be quite a few that would move Reid on given his injury record. However, with a lucrative long term contract in his pocket I doubt very much that he is going anywhere, but we did manage to move both Fonte and Ayew to pastures new in the last window so never say never! I would sell – if the opportunity arose. Players who have hamstring problems, especially later in their careers, will spend more time in “physio room” than on the pitch. Antonio, who will feature later in this article is another player who falls into this category. Ogbonna had an excellent season and will be a keep for me. There is a lot of sentiment for James Collins at the moment and quite rightly so. On a small contract with bonuses for appearances, I would – keep. Based on tweets from ex players in the past few days though, confirming Ginge was let go, I doubt he will be in the equation for next season. Cresswell is an interesting one. He has been poor at full back in recent times but can deliver a good cross and free kick. Since moving next to Ogbonna in a back three he has performed much better and he does seem to have built a good understanding with Masuaku. I am on the fence a bit with “Cressy” but I have my suspicions that the new boss may want to play four at the back and on that basis I would – sell. On to Masuaku and before his indiscretion at Wigan he was fast becoming a fan favourite. Arthur had been in most fans top three picks for HOTY at the time. We missed his drive forward for six matches but he is no left back either and if he is to remain a first team regular under Pellegrini it would probably be as a left sided midfielder – keep. Byram comes under the Reid and Antonio banner – sell.

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Midfielders

Noble will not be sold but if Pellegrini spends big on two quality midfielders it could relegate Mark to becoming a fringe player. It will be interesting to see how this situation pans out. Kouyate was one of the first names on the team sheet a few seasons ago but since Payet’s departure his performances have become inconsistent and erratic. There is no doubt he still has the engine but whether he has the ball control and skills required in a Pellegrini midfield is doubtful. There is still a good fee to be had so – sell. Pellegrini’s arrival will almost certainly whet the appetite of fellow South American Lanzini. In an advanced role behind Arnautovic, and when fully fit, it is an exciting combination. Keep. Mario’s loan deal is now over and if we can get the player on another loan deal, or buy at around 20-25m I would – buy. Young Fernandes is another who missed much of the season with injury. We did see what a good player he could become in the match at home to Southampton, but there have been too many other games where he has not delivered. He still makes a good squad player – keep. Obiang is another who has had injury problems over the past two seasons. Fit and at his best he is ok, but is he really at the level we need to be if we want to become a top ten team? I doubt it –sell. Antonio is bordering on the midfield or the striker section. I was excited with his arrival from Forest after seeing his rampaging runs, tearing apart Championship defences. We have seen some cameos of the same at West Ham but too often he has been played out of position. Right back or right wing back exposes his defensive weaknesses and whilst he scares the death out of centre backs when he has played as a striker, his finishing and final ball options are often poor. He reminds me a bit of Ayew in that – ‘what really is his best position’ – and for me it is wide right of an attacking three and I doubt we will ever play that formation. Given he would command a good fee and taking into consideration his hamstring problems –sell. Robert Snodgrass has been on loan at Aston Villa and I would be surprised if West Ham knocked back any acceptable offer considering certain unwise twitter comments that were made public earlier on in the season. Sell.

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Forwards This will be interesting! Arnautovic, our top scorer and HOTY is an obvious keep. I doubt too many will disagree. Hugill is one of the strangest signings since Savio. Good judges I know who have actually seen him play more than late substitution roles tell me his control and first touch is to put it mildly, not that good. Perhaps he was a security blanket signing should we have got relegated, I don’t know. Whatever we can get for him – sell. Now to the two players who will probably cause the most disagreement between our readers. Andy Carroll. We all know his injury record and we all know how good he can be at his best. The much maligned striker only has one more year of what was initially a very lucrative contract to run. He will be a free agent after this next season and I would suggest any suiter’s would have to cough up around 10-15m should they want to buy during this summer window. This really is one I am on the fence with but at a push I would – keep. Hernandez is probably one that will divide opinions even more. Right from day one I was one of the few that doubted he would be a success at West Ham. I wrote the same in an article at the time and even made bets with fellow fans that he would not achieve goal targets. Yet some fans believe he is the best striker we have had in years and it was down to Moyes and Bilic not playing him in the right position or system that saw him have a season he would like to forget. In reality, in today’s PL is he ever going to be anything more than a super sub? That is what football is often all about – opinions. My opinion is –sell. I doubt either Carroll or Hernandez will be happy at the thought that they probably won’t be automatic starters next season. It was doubted that the latter would stay at the club because of this and he would push for a move but under Pellegrini I think it more likely that AC may be sold and Hernandez be assured of more game time. I watched a youtube clip of Pellegrini the other day and he stated that he believed that there were three things he needed to install in the players minds at clubs he managed. One of those things was to make all players in the squad realise and accept that they all had an important role in the team, even if they weren’t being selected. All the players need to believe in a common goal, where everyone feels important. The video is below.

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Youngsters Oxford and Burke are ones where I would grab any reasonable fee we can. The former’s attitude appears to be a problem and the latter needs to be moved on for the good of his own career in my opinion. Cullen, Haksabanovic, Browne and Quina will most likely be given more time as squad players and it will be interesting to see what lies ahead for Samuelson and Martinez. In my “sell” choices there are only two players who played regularly in the second half of the season, Cresswell and Kouyate and I would imagine we would get around 30m for the pair. Senior players who either spent too much time on the bench or in the physio room could command up to 65m. They were Reid, Obiang, Antonio and Hernandez. Out on loan player Snodgrass may fetch 10m. Fringe players and youngsters in Byram, Hugill, Oxford and Burke could possibly collect 25m. I doubt all those players mentioned would be moved on, but if they were Pellegrini’s 60m transfer kitty would be bolstered to around 190m to buy around eight or nine new players. Considering that I would imagine we would also still be looking for a few loan deals and possibly some “frees”, I reckon our new manager has got a good platform from which to work from.


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