As England head into the knockout stages of the World Cup, I catch up with ExWHUEmployee to discuss the latest goings on at West Ham.

Ex, our captain Declan Rice made some comments regarding his ambitions to play Champions League football in the week whilst away in Qatar. What did you make of what he said? 

In fairness to Declan it is nothing he hasn’t said before or anything I haven’t. These ambitions and desires have been well documented and like all players of his standard he should want to play in the Champions League and want to win things.

Declan was asked the question: Would you like to play in the Champions League which he answered in truth in the style we have all so praised him for before in interviews. He wasn’t asked “Would you like to leave West Ham?” and he responded like that. If that was the case I could understand the meltdown over twitter but the question was different and one he wouldn’t have had any knowledge was coming.

Yes, with the benefit of hindsight he may have wished to word it a different way but ultimately you get asked a question on the spot and he answered in truth and didn’t say anything we didn’t know.

The likelihood is he will leave in the summer but this doesn’t meant he isn’t committed to the club whilst he is here and he certainly shouldn’t be stripped of the captaincy. The players have nothing but respect for him so they wouldn’t want him to lose the band and I don’t believe he should. We should enjoy the time he is still with us and hope he can lead the rest of the team to a much better position.

It was reported that Kurt Zouma required an operation, what can you tell us on his recovery and expected return? 

To be honest the club still haven’t put a date on it. I know that before the operation I was told he should be available for Arsenal. After a bit of recovery work, it was decided a “minor” operation would be needed to clear up some issues that had been bothering him all season.

Zouma was photographed returning to training on the Thursday with the rest of the non international playing lads and seemed to be walking fairly easily. I wouldn’t like to guess without facts (as I have never done so in 12 years) but it would seem that suggestions of him being out for up to 6 months seem very inaccurate.

Another player who seems to have been out for a long time now is Max Cornet. Is he close to returning? 

Yes, he has resumed training and is looking like he will be available for the Arsenal game assuming there are no further set backs between now and then.

Remember the club has 3 friendlies to play before then so I guess things could change but assuming they don’t then it will be great to have him back!

Ex, you mentioned on The West Ham Way Podcast this week that Daniel Kretinsky could be looking to increase his shares in the club. Can you shed more light on the situation?

Since he bought shares in the club, I believe that Kretinsky has always wanted to increase his overall share further and will explore opportunities to do so.

There has been some previous suggestions that David Gold could be prepared to sell some more of his shares and I think talks could happen. There has been nothing confirmed on this but 2023 should be an interesting year to watch in terms of the ownership of our great club.

Finally I have to ask about how you’re feeling about the return of West Ham on Boxing Day. Have you missed us playing and also when can we expect the next Pre-Match Event? 

Yes and no. I have really really enjoyed the break from reporting much West Ham news and the pressure that comes with that. As a result trolling has been far less and therefore my mental health has been the best it has been for a long time.

That said I do really miss going to the games. I actually went to Leyton Orient’s 3-0 win over Mark Hughes’ Bradford City yesterday and it was a great game. I really enjoyed getting down there and this made me look forward to the return of West Ham. I have enjoyed the World Cup however especially this last week with all the group deciders.

Our next Pre-Match Event will be at home to Everton. 11am-2pm at O’Neil’s in Leytonstone on Saturday 21st January. The guest is yet to be confirmed but we are in talks with some exciting ones so people should look out for tickets when they go on sale and keep the date free!