The HamburgHammer Column

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Those of you who have watched the film “Mutiny on the Bounty” (one of its various versions over the years) will be familiar with the unpleasant practice of shanghaiing, also called crimping, in which unsuspecting folk were kidnapped by press gangs, straight from pubs, markets or street corners, in order to (against their will) serve on ships of the Royal Navy on the Seven Seas en route to faraway shores, hence the Shanghai reference.

The press gangs used trickery, intimidation, violence or the element of sheer surprise in order to reach their targets and it’s quite ironic that Marko Arnautovic is apparently going to play for Shanghai of all places next season, in this case reversing the shanghaiing tactics somewhat in order to force West Ham to sell him to China.

As I don’t intend to focus my entire article on Arnautovic, I’ll try to keep this short.Once again we are likely to lose one of our best players/goalscorers for nowhere near his true market value due to some incredibly selfish and gutless stance employed by Marko Arnautovic and his scheming agent/brother.
They managed to get a contract extension and a payrise out of West Ham just a few months ago which didn’t really improve the player’s desire to remain at West Ham though.
Players these days have basically all the power when it comes to switching clubs, if they want to move elsewhere, chances are they will.

But even in this day and age there are different ways how to engineer your dream move: You can play by the book and also show some respect and professionalism to your current employer, making sure the selling club gets a decent and fair fee out of the transfer.

Or you don’t give a hoot about anyone else and antagonise teammates, managers and fanbase to a degree that they want you out at almost all costs, thereby playing into the hands of the primadonna player. This is pretty much what happened with Arnautovic here and I agree that it’s certainly best for West Ham to get rid quickly.
It’ll be interesting in the near future to hear a few more honest comments on Arnautovic’s time as a Hammer from his team mates.

I think Mark Noble in his diplomatic way has already confirmed that Arnautovic wasn’t exactly a team-player in the dressing room when things didn’t go his way. I’m sure a local East End boy like Mark Noble would have chosen a few expletives if talking about the Austrian in a corner of a Plaistow pub rather than to the journo of a national media outlet.

Be that as it may, good riddance and time to move on – we are a bit low on strikers, so that’s where our transfer business needs to be focused now.

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Over the weekend several rumours unfortunately seem to have pointed towards our Number One target, Maxi Gomez, allegedly choosing Valencia over West Ham after all.
Apparently our offer was better in financial terms, however, the lure of CL football and playing under a sunny Valencia sky rather than an overcast version in Stratford seems to have done the trick. (Other rumours suggest we are willing to pay the full release fee, but would want to pay in instalments.
If and how this may change the player’s preference I don’t know. Other rumours late last evening also suggested that Gomez had decided to sign for West Ham, so all that follows may obviously be old news already when you read this.)

Of course Gomez not joining us would be disappointing on various levels. Both Pellegrini and Husillos were really keen on getting the lad into a West Ham shirt, being convinced he’d be the perfect forward for our footballing style next season. I have no doubt that Maxi Gomez is a very good striker. I am pretty certain he would do really well in England.

But I am even more convinced it’s better for him to play in Valencia if that is the club of his true personal choice. I don’t want players coming to West Ham only half-convinced of the job in hand or being lured/forced into signing for us reluctantly just because of a massive wage offer or because his greedy agent tells him to sign on the dotted line, earning himself a hefty commission fee in the process.

If Gomez does indeed sign for Valencia, Pellegrini and Husillos need to be quick on their feet and work down their list of transfer targets to sign an alternative or two.

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Surely we need new strikers in as, frankly, with Carroll, Arnautovic, Perez and possibly Hernandez gone, we do need reinforcements. At this point we still have Jordan Hugill (is he good enough even as No.3 or 4 striker at PL level ?) and young Xande Silva (is he ready yet ?). Not enough firepower.

I remember us playing the odd game in the recent past without a nominal striker in the starting XI, picking a winger like Antonio to play upfront or relying on one of the regular midfielders to score goals by going into more attacking positions during certain situations in the game.

Yarmolenko of course started out as a striker before being moved onto the wing later in his career.
So if push came to shove, not only would VAR most certainly give a penalty, but Yarmolenko could also surely play as a striker again, with passes being provided by Anderson, Lanzini and Fornals this might work really well actually.

Then again, I still trust that Pellegrini and Husillos will earn their corn and find us a few more decent signings yet.

Getting your Number One target is something that a club like ours cannot count on as a mere formality – we currently are still a midtable PL team, with no European football, nevermind CL, to offer. It seems we did push Valencia really hard for Gomez though – and they can offer CL football.

But we should be able to find and attract different options if need be – and while Pellegrini and Husillos may be disappointed with the Gomez deal not coming off (or will it, maybe ?), both are professional enough to have considered a possible negative outcome in advance.

I am not even going to try and guess who we might sign instead. It could be some under-the-radar signing like Fornals who nobody really expected to join us until the deal was practically announced in public. Don’t underestimate the network and expertise that Pellegrini and Husillos have in terms of Spanish and South American football.
If they sign a player from the Spanish League or maybe from Peru, Paraguay or Ecuador I would trust them to have done their homework and pick a good one.

Other mothers have beautiful daughters too…as they say in Germany…LOL

With the Arnautovic/Gomez developments, I’d expect our transfer business to pick up some pace this week, it should be exciting, annoying at times, maybe disappointing also, but ultimately still bring us a few more good players, putting on the claret and blue shirt with the crossed hammers…COYI!!!

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Hamburg football update: Not that much happening really. Saw the Cordi first team lose a preseason encounter 1:2 and the women’s team drawing their first test fixture by a 3:3 scoreline, albeit with several players away on vacation still or out injured. So a bit early really to draw conclusions how the new season is going to shape up for good old Concordia Hamburg…