So it has been a long time since I wrote one of these but this week due to our interview with Paul Konchesky on the radio we didn’t run my news section so I thought I would make a return to the old school and write a column again. Here is the interview if you missed it. Paul shared some great information and stories from his time at the club and picked his all-time eleven that he had played with. It is well worth a listen http://www.phoenixfm.com/2017/03/08/the-west-ham-way-show-32/
So onto all things West Ham. We are looking strong for the weekend with no reported injuries. As Bilic confirmed in his interview Andy Carroll needed stiches and Winston Reid and Jose Fonte picked up slight injuries although both should be back in the frame for Saturday. Sakho is still on the road to recovery having been involved in running sessions at training, following a closer look by experts in France, he should be back in full training by April. He is looking to feature over the Easter period. Monday’s result was disappointing although I thought the performance against the champions elect was good and we just conceded silly goals. This week the team has set up many training sessions with Sam Byram at right back so it will be interesting to see if they bring him in, stick with Kouyate or play Noble there as Claret and Hugh was reporting (I would be extremely surprised if that was the case). Sam Byram hasn’t kicked on as much as was hoped for him this year and Bilic doesn’t appear to trust him.
A right back in the next window is the top priority. Arbeloa’s contract will run out in the summer and this will not be renewed and it is thought if a top right back could be brought in Byram could be allowed to leave on loan or possibly permanently if the right price comes in. I hope he gets his chance this season to prove his worth. There are a number of right backs who are of interest. Sagna of Manchester City is a target as he is available on a free and is said to want to return to the capital. He is still a current French international and could be a decent option for a year or so having played quite well for Manchester City this year. His City team mate Zabaleta is also available on a free and being a year younger and having leadership qualities it could be this right back that we turn to. There are others on the radar too. The top target in January was Trippier of Spurs and whilst we know it is near impossible for us to trade with our North London rivals should he become available we would certainly move for him. We are also looking at St Etienne full back Kevin Malcuit but we would be looking at a deal for over £10m if we were to persuade him to join.
The other position is upfront. I think we need to sign at least two forwards and the club do too and possible three depending on Andy Carroll’s situation. There was interest from China for Andy in the January window but the club turned down the offer because at the time he was bang in form and there were no other options. Since then he has got injured with a couple of injuries, one of which-due to the nature of it, has frustrated the club and we could consider entertaining offers in the summer. Whether we sell depends on how much we get and what Carroll does from now and until the end of the season. Andy is also very settled in the area with a child and an ex “Towie personality” as his partner so he may not wish to go, although I think the Chinese wages may be able to persuade him.
In terms of targets that we are after it is a little bit like Déjà vu. Bathsuayi of Chelsea is apparently very unhappy with the amount of football he has got this year and would like to move. A loan or even a permanent deal could be on the cards. It is said that he would be keen on a move to us and we have been long term admirers. If Sunderland go down Defoe will be available to sign because he has a relegation release clause and we would try to activate this and bring him into finish his career at the club where it all started. Lacazette wants to leave Lyon, I would imagine bigger clubs will be in for him but if initial enquiries show we have a chance we would go for him. Looking domestically Andre Gray of Burnley has been a long term target as well, Wilson of Bournemouth too but his injuries may put us off him. The relegation situation could be important in deciding who we go for; Crystal Palace and we could move for Benteke, Leicester (although unlikely) Vardy and Swansea Llorente. Another top target of ours from Swansea is Icelandic midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson. We enquired about him in January but we were told £25m but should they go down the value could decrease. We have also been scouting abroad too and the net is being cast wide to bring in the goalscorer we have all been craving. If Carroll goes, target men like Gignac, Yilmaz and Negredo could be explored but I think these moves will depend on the Geordie forwards whereabouts.
So Payet has now declared that he left West Ham because he was “bored of the defensive approach” and disappointed by the transfers that we brought in during the summer window. He stated then in August that he wanted to leave, according to him, but then said it was due to the fact that we hadn’t signed anyone of note-which he wouldn’t have known at that point because the window wouldn’t have closed. The club wouldn’t let him leave, something I stated for a while rather than the popular believe that we tried to engineer a move for him. He was also states that he was worried that his career was going to go backwards-even though we had just qualified for Europe and had one of our most successful seasons. The whole quotes from him contradict his previous ones. According to another ITK when I reported that Payet had been playing up for a while (which he did; countless missed training sessions, constant strops, eating on his own in the canteen etc.) I was directly quoted and told to be talking rubbish. Payet today and other players previously have confirmed this to be true. He was determined to leave and his performances, attitude and demands reflected this. It is good to finally be confirmed as speaking the truth and that Payet was really the character I had portrayed him as. I hope that now, finally, this is the end of the saga and that we can move on and not have to speak of him again.
The club is planning to offer new contracts to Bilic (unless results take a terrible turn), Antonio, Ogbonna (who is recovering well from his injury), Obiang (to put off any interest from Liverpool) and are considering triggering the automatic two year renewal that Adrian has in his contract. Other players who could leave us though are likely to be Arbeloa, Byram (possibly), Tore, Nordtveit, Calleri, Fletcher (on loan) and James Collins. Whilst this isn’t confirmed and they have until the end of the season to prove their worth they are the likely candidates.
We will also be continuing our youth policy of scouting promising youngster from across the world and bringing them to the academy. It is felt that next year the likes of Cullen, Quina, Martinez, Burke and Oxford will be regular features of the match day squad and that others like Rice and Dobson may have a chance too. There are a couple of youngsters from Arsenal and Chelsea’s academies that we have looked at to bring over.
At the West Ham Way we are continually looking for people to help with the site. We really need advertisers to keep the brand going particularly with our YouTube channel and site. We need people to help with the YouTube channel being regular contributors and building up your own line profile as well as helping getting people chatting to us on the day. I am also keen to get new writers, who do the fundamental thing and write regularly. Previous attempts at doing this have been very frustrating with writers coming in, doing one article and then not having time to write again. Committed writers who want to build up a portfolio are encouraged to apply.
Finally tickets for our West Ham way events have been selling brilliantly and the last one with John Moncur was a sell-out. We are on track to match that with Phil Parkes before the Leicester game next week. Not only is Phil and Mark Ward there to take all your questions, Sammy McNess will be appearing on stage and talking about his next fight and selling tickets. There will be a raffle draw with signed shirts, Phil Parkes signed items, books, posters and a free copy of Bubbles Fanzine for each visitor. We have a memorabilia stall selling great items and great prices. Not to mention the unlimited drink, West Ham films and shirts and great atmosphere. Everyone who attends loves it so get your tickets here. bit.ly/TWHWTICKET6
I shall be going to the Bournemouth game tomorrow and filming on the Snap Chat channel. I hope to see many of you down there! Come on you Irons!