Sunday, July 23

Farewell Darren Randolph

Best of luck to Darren Randolph who is moving to Middlesbrough for £5 million following the arrival of Joe Hart. He's a good keeper, if sometimes a little inconsistent. In his first season he did really well in the Cup games and also when called upon to deputise for Adrian, such as a fine performance in the 3-0 win at Liverpool. A long run in the first team found the pressure getting to him a little bit last season and he was dropped after a couple of mistakes at Sunderland — although in fairness he was playing behind a very shaky defence. But Randolph could also produce brilliant saves, not least a spectacular tip-over from Jordan Henderson's rocket at Anfield, which is being shown on the club's website tribute. Thanks for a productive two seasons, Darren.

Friday, July 21

Hernandez knows where the net is

We're having a much better transfer window this summer, opting for proven PL quality rather than numbers. With West Ham agreeing a £16m deal for Javier Hernandez, subject to his medical, the Irons have a proven goalscorer. Hernandez has a great goals to game ratio; he scored 59 goals in 156 appearances (quite a few of these as a sub) for Man United and 39 times in 76 games for Bayern Leverkusen and 7 in 23 while on loan at Real Madrid. Not to mention 48 strikes for Mexico. Interestingly, Jose Mourinho was openly critical of David Moyes for allowing Henandez to leave Man United. Yes, he's a little old at 29, but should have a good few years left.

Javier's also the third player with a title medal to join his summer. That doesn't guarantee anything of course, QPR signed title winners Park Ji Sung, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Jose Bosingwa only to end up relegated. But our players look more solid characters and we should now have a mentality for grinding out results. Hernandez will also be the first West Ham player to be nicknamed Chicharito ('Little Pea') which makes a change from Nobes and Ginge.

Thursday, July 20

What is West Ham's strongest side?

With three new signings (and possibly a new striker in Javier Hernandez) it's interesting to speculate on just what will be the first choice West Ham X1. It would probably be something like this: 

Hart; Zabaleta, Reid, Ogbonna, Cresswell;  Kouyate, Obiang, Lanzini; Antonio, Carroll (or a new striker), Arnautovic. 

While the subs would come from the likes of Fonte, Collins, Noble, Ayew, Snodgrass, Feghouli, Fernandes, Sakho, Byram and Masuaku. Though Fonte or Ginge could also come into the side to make a back five. It certainly looks a lot stronger than last season's line-up. Any views on this? Though this is all hypothetical as as I'm sure the obligatory WHU injury-crisis will soon hit…

Wednesday, July 19

Stoke fans gutted to see Arnautovic go — a good sign for West Ham

More transfer progress. The Irons have signed Marko Arnautovic from Stoke City for £24 million. That's a lot of money, but in this inflated market, when Swansea's Sigurdsson, a great player but not a genius, is valued at £50 million, it's what you need to pay. 

Looking at the Oatcake fanzine online, most Stoke fans seem gutted to see him go and are complaining about Stoke's lack of ambition, which is encouraging for us, though one fan does warn that, "he's only up for it three out of ten games." My cousin Dave, a Potters fan, messages: "With Arnie you have a match winner, just never sure if he is going to turn up." He also points out that Arnie's agent is his brother Daniel, so the family will have done quite well out of this move. 

Arnie seems to have all the ability but not the consistency —  though if Bilic can coach him into performing well regularly he should certainly add something to the side on the left. With Hart, Zabaleta and Arnautovic signed I'm starting to feel more optimistic about next season.

Tuesday, July 18

Hart stopper

Joe Hart has passed his West Ham medical, even if the loan move is taking an awfully long time to finalise. The Sun claims that Man City will still be paying Hart £55,000 a week not to play, which says a lot about modern football, while West Ham will make up the other £120,000 a week of Hart's salary. 

It's a little tough on Adrian, who had a fine end to the season, but if Hart can get back to anything like his best then we have a top class goalkeeper. Crucially, Joe is also a shouter and organiser, something West Ham have long needed at the back. Added to the experience of Zabaleta at right back, West Ham's defence looks a lot more solid than last season, when we often had to score three goals to win a game. Hart will also bring a winning mentality having won two league titles, two League Cups and one FA Cup. And he's got a point to prove to Pep Guardiola, which is no bad thing.

Certainly the 30-year-old Hart has had a worrying dip in form in the last two seasons, so the success of the move may well depend on Bilic's man management. But if Hart can be made to feel wanted again and regain his confidence we will still have a great keeper. Just checked out some of his greatest saves on YouTube and it's hard not to feel a little excited about him guarding our onion sack.

Saturday, July 15

He only cost ten grand…

Just another everyday story of cocaine, booze, burglary and treasure hunting. Ex-Hammer Shaun Newton has been spared jail after burgling a flat in Mitcham, because while high on cocaine and alcohol he thought he was on a treasure hunt. Newton hadn't slept for two days and had apparently been celebrating his 40th birthday for a year, as you do. As nothing was taken from the flat Newton received 100 hours community service rather than a spell inside. 

Newton's defence counsel explained: "He has not found his feet after leaving football. He now lives a hand-to-mouth existence." So we shouldn't really laugh, though a lot of people are on twitter. Many comments suggest that whatever Shaun was on we could all do with some as it appears to be good stuff. While James Brown, author of Above Head Height, quips: "Between 1990 and 1997 it was one long treasure hunt."

Friday, July 14

Boleyn up for auction

Just donated a signed copy of Goodbye to Boleyn to the Newham Bookshop's raffle and auction for the Grenfell Tower residents. Boleyn is sitting proudly alongside a signed copy of Bruce Springsteen's Born To Run memoir, a signed dvd of Ken Loach's I, Daniel Blake and a signed copy of J K Rowling's The Casual Vacancy. Place your bid by email to info@newhambooks.co.uk or by Twitter to @NewhamBookshop, mentioning the item and your contact details. Full details on the Newham Bookshop's website. All proceeds go to the Kensington and Chelsea Foundation charity.

Thursday, July 13

This is the Enner

Enner Valencia has joined Mexican side Tigres for a fee thought to be around £6 million. He had his moments, but for a £12 million striker he never scored enough goals and often seemed too fragile for he Premier League and more at home on the wing. 

Valencia started really well in 2014-15, scoring a 30-yard screamer at Hull and making many of Sakho's goals, as under Sam Allardyce the Irons reached 4th position at Christmas. But then Enner managed to injure himself stepping on a broken teacup, as you do, and on his return was often forced to play alone up front as injuries hit. The Hammers slumped to 12th. He only scored four league goals that season and just another four in the first Bilic season, though they were noticeable braces against Bournemouth and Manchester City. 

He scored three times while on loan at Everton last season, but sadly his stay in England will be best remembered for Enner escaping on an ambulance cart while being chased by the Ecuador rozzers in pursuit of child maintenance money. 

He seemed to score virtually every game on international duty for Ecuador, but he's yet another example of how buying a player who has a good World Cup (as he did in 2014) can often be a mistake.

Tuesday, July 11

Will Arnie say 'hasta la vista' to Stoke?

Some action at last. West Ham have had a £15 million offer for Stoke's Marco Arnautovic rejected and the player has apparently asked for a transfer. Though just as it seems someone actually wants to join us, Arnie's got injured in a pre-season friendly for the Potters. The Stoke winger come striker would be an interesting signing. He's netted quite a few screamers for Stoke, but doesn't seem to score enough tap-ins (he scored seven goals last season). So there's room for improvement, but the City fans seem to like him and the big Austrian is a proven performer in the Premier League with his own "Arnie!" chant. He'd certainly add a bit of size and skill to our forward line. And the latest news is that the Hammers are in for 'keeper Joe Hart as well…

Monday, July 10

Boleyn on the beach

Thanks to reader Ryan Andrews who tweeted this picture of his holiday reading. For those who still wish to remember a stadium where a motorised stretcher car wasn't necessary, Goodbye to Boleyn is available from Amazon (see panel to the right) and all good bookshops. Lay back on the beach, ponder how we managed to win at Man City, Liverpool and Arsenal and reminisce about the days when Andy Carroll was fit and Ken's Cafe was packed. And then wonder if we'll ever sign anyone again.

Saturday, July 8

Bilic opts out of £25m Iheanacho deal

According to last night's Evening Standard Slaven Bilic has opted out of a deal for Manchester City's Kelechi Iheanacho, deciding that £25million is too much to pay for a player with lots of potential but limited experience. He's made just 46 league appearances, many of those as a sub. Now it looks like Leicester are going to nab him. 

It seems like David Sullivan had got quite a way with setting up this deal, though you can see Slaven's point. £20 million might have been a fairer price for the young striker, but £25 million is a hell of a lot for a kid who has thrived as an impact sub with a Champions League team but might not be so effective if he was the main striker in a mid-ranking team. Really it comes down to just how much potential Tony Henry and Slaven Bilic felt the kid had. But let's hope there's another option lined up quickly or once again WHU will look desperate and end up with a Zaza-type panic signing.

Thursday, July 6

West Ham sell out

West Ham announced today that the club has sold all 52,000 season tickets at the London Stadium. Whatever the merits of the new ground, it's proved successful in terms of bums on seats so far and proves just how loyal West Ham fans are. There's only going to be 5000 tickets that aren't season tickets and around half of those will be for away fans. So the revenue's in and there's even less excuse for dithering in the transfer market…

Wednesday, July 5

Striker light: are West Ham pursuing the wrong kind of striker?

West Ham spent much of last summer pursuing strikers who were always unlikely to sign, such as Carlos Bacca, Alexandre Lazazette and Michy Batyshuayi. A similar pattern is emerging this summer. The Daily Telegraph reported that the Irons had record £20 million-plus bids rejected for Cologne's Anthony Modeste (not the first time West Ham would have fielded a Modeste strike force) and Villareal's Cedric Bakumbu. There are also rumours of interest in ex-Man United forward Javier Hernandez and Arsenal's Olivier Giroud — though again Everton look likely to below West Ham out of the River Lea on that one. 

It seems West Ham are still trying to buy established star strikers when we can't even offer European football. Surely a better approach would be to go for up and coming talent from Europe or the Championship or younger PL strikers from smaller teams such as Joshua King or Andre Gray. The most successful WHU purchase of a striker in recent years, until injury struck, was that of Diafra Sakho who cost £3 million and was relatively unknown. We've had all last season to formulate a clear plan but it still seems that West Ham are going scattergun for any big names who might to be on the market.

Thursday, June 29

Lack of signings so far means West Ham risk falling behind likes of Everton

There seems to radio silence around West Ham at the moment, with no transfer activity following the signing of Pablo Zabaleta on a free. It's early days yet, but it's still rather worrying that clubs like Everton (who finished seventh and should be the sort of club we'e competing with) have strengthened quickly. 

Admittedly the Toffees are likely to sell Lukaku and Barkley so will have a lot of money coming in. But they've already signed keeper Jordan Pickford for £30 million, midfielder Davy Klaassen for £23.6 million and look set to sign strikers Sandro Ramirez from Malaga for £5m and Henry Onyekuru from KAS Eupen for £7million. While they're also rumoured to be about to buy Michael Keane from Burnley. You'd like to think West Ham have some big signings lined up for July and August, because our competitors are not standing still. 

Monday, June 26

Walcott unlikely to be the answer for West Ham

Latest speculation in the tabloids (so it's probably rubbish) is that West Ham might be about to launch a bid for Arsenal's Theo Walcott. He's a good player who's never quite fulfilled his potential, but I'm not sure he'd be the answer for West Ham. The last thing WHU need is another player where no-one is quite sure what his best position is. Walcott might be a striker or he might be a winger, which all sounds rather like Andre Ayew. Walcott had a good season last time out, scoring ten goals in 24 games. He has pace, but at 28 he's not young and he's quite injury-prone. If we sign a striker he has to be someone who is a specialist and can adopt the Andy Carroll role when AC gets his inevitable injuries.

Friday, June 23

If the kits are United

The new 2017-18 West Ham home kit is a pretty decent traditional shirt. Personally I prefer the all-blue sleeves with claret body of last season rather than a splash of light blue on the shoulder, but we can live with this. There's also a little splash of blue on the collar which makes it look a little as if our lads have mistakenly put a tee-shirt on under their shirt, but never mind. 

What's also encouraging is that Andy Carroll appears to have made the photo-shoot without getting injured slipping over on a West Ham United coaster or de-luxe bathroom gift set. Could this be the season he finally makes it beyond September? Though worse news for Andy is that according to my Guardian the man-bun is going out of fashion…

Wednesday, June 21

So farewell Havard

The departure of Havard Nordtveit gets five lines in today's Guardian. The Norway midfielder has signed for Hoffenheim for an undisclosed fee. Havard was mainly played as an emergency right-back and never looked comfortable there, while Obiang and Kouyate were much better options in midfield. 

Nordtveit actually had a decent game in the must-win game against Swansea when he was played in his proper midfield position, but he was always an odd signing. A squad player when what WHU needed was quality. Now Bilic is clearing out the dead Norwegian wood. Nordtveit seemed to be a good pro and he came into a chaotic side, but he was one of the players we needed to sell to free up wages for a (hopefully) quality signing.

Tuesday, June 20

How West Ham made it into Doctor Who's Planet of the Ood…

Thanks to my fellow season ticket holder Michael the (Possible) Whovian and pal Charlie Ross for a great joint birthday bash on Saturday that included a host of Doctor Who luminaries. This resulted in a world exclusive revelation about the only-ever mention of West Ham in Doctor Who.

In Planet of the Ood David Tennant's Doctor asks Catherine Tate's Donna where she learned to whistle like that. Donna replies, "up West Ham!" As the writer of Planet of the Ood Keith Temple was present at the party I was able to ask him directly how this came about. 

Temple revealed that he didn't actually write this line, it was added in by script editor Lindsey Alford. Could Ms Alford be a Hammers fan? Told that this was the only ever mention of the Irons in Doctor Who Andrew laughed and said his home-town team of Newcastle have never got any mentions at all. The only other team to be mentioned in Doctor Who is Charlton Athletic, who got a name-check from Sophie Aldred's Ace in 1988's Silver Nemesis. Not a lot of people know that.

Monday, June 19

Reece Oxford off to Borussia on loan

Reece Oxford has signed for a season-long loan at Borussia Munchengladbach. It will be good experience for him, though I'm still not sure what Slaven's policy with Reece is. It seemed that we sold James Tomkins to give Oxford more games last season, only to then loan Oxford to Reading as West Ham struggled at the back and bought Jose Fonte. If the 18-year-old really is a future England and West Ham captain, as some claim, then shouldn't he be getting some experience in with games for West Ham? If you're good enough you're old enough and all that. Or has Bilic decided he might not make it with WHU after all?

Saturday, June 17

Traore set to join the Hammers?

The Evening Standard claims that West Ham are close to signing Middlesbrough's Spanish winger Adama Traore. He certainly has pace and usually caused problems when he came on, often as a sub, for Boro last season, although their then gaffer Karanka never seemed to trust him to start. At 21 Adama's clearly a player of potential, though he would have to provide more end result to his game. 

More worrying is that he has played for two teams in succession that have been relegated, in Aston Villa and Boro, though he started out with Barcelona. Having already got Feghouli and Snodgrass, West Ham don't need another mid-list winger — we have to hope that Traore is a potential top talent that Bilic can get the best from.

Thursday, June 15

Chim chim Giroud?

Arsenal's Olivier Giroud is the latest striker West Ham have been linked with. He might not have great pace, but I've always rated the Gunners striker who invariably scores great goals again West Ham (but then again most players score against us). 

There's a chance he might join WHU if Arsenal signed another striker, as he's not getting full games and wants to stay in London, though there would presumably be a lot of other suitors. Giroud is 30, so if he was added to the possible signing of 30-year-old Joe Hart and 32-year-old Zabaleta, along with 33-year-old Jose Fonte, we'd have a pretty old team. And it could be a case of Sullivan and co mentioning big names to impress the fans, as per last summer.

But Giroud is great in the air and a proven international striker for France (27 goals in 64 games). An Andy Carroll who keeps fit. He's scored 69 goals in 164 games for Arsenal (including that scorpion kick) which is a very respectable rate, and he'd be an upgrade on what we have.

Wednesday, June 14

Easy opener at Man United…

So the fixtures are out and West Ham kick off with an away future at Old Trafford followed by another away trip to Newcastle. Two pretty difficult matches early on, complicated by the fact that the Southampton home game on August 19 will have to be rescheduled as the London Stadium will be transitioning from athletics into football mode. At least we get to see the new navy blue away kit early doors. So the first home game will be against Huddersfield Town on September 9. Up against a team of newly-promoted, over-achieving, plucky underdogs bought for the price of Andy Carroll's plantar fascia. What could possibly go wrong?

Tuesday, June 13

Would Joe Hart be a good signing for West Ham?

Joe Hart is now back at Manchester City after his season-long loan at Torino and is still unwanted by Pep Guardiola. West Ham are said to betraying to sign him, although is Hart he player he used to be? The two free kicks Leigh Griffiths scored for Scotland raised further questions about whether Hart should remain England's number one ahead of Butland and Forster. They were great efforts, but should a top keeper have been beaten twice on different sides from that range? Hart was also at fault last summer for Iceland's winner against England in the Euros and Guardiola clearly doesn't rate him, which is worrying. 

But Hart can't suddenly have turned into a bad goalkeeper. He's capable of brilliant saves and has won the title twice at Manchester City, plus two League Cups and one FA Cup. At 30 Hart is a good age for a goalkeeper and should have another eight years left at the top. He's learned his trade the hard way at Shrewsbury Town and had a very successful loan season at Birmingham. He doesn't look the sort of character to turn into a Fancy Dan and his attitude should still be sound. 

Perhaps his recent problems are more about confidence and he simply needs to feel wanted. It could be that with a supportive manager in Bilic and less expectation at West Ham he'd become the country's top keeper again. Yes, there's a case of going for a younger keeper like Sunderland's Pickford, but Hart would be an upgrade on Adrian and Randolph. He is used to winning trophies and is a strong character who can organise a defence so it's probably a gamble worth taking. Though with the reservations about his recent form, perhaps a loan deal for an initial season with an option to buy might be the ideal scenario.

Monday, June 12

Mayday Mayday…

Losing an unassailable lead. Failing to turn up on the big occasion. Hopelessly underestimating your opponent and blowing it at the death. Starting off strong and stable with a sound defence policy but ending up weak and wobbly. Just a thought, but has Theresa May ever considered supporting West Ham?

Thursday, June 8

Seven London Stadium questions…


Well, the popcorn has settled on the first season at the London Stadium and according to the club, most season ticket holders have renewed. We all know about the initial problems, although to some extent the segregation and stewarding issues have improved. At times the stadium could seem like a bland soulless bowl when we were getting thrashed at home, though when we beat Chelsea, Palace and Spurs we all tended to forget where we were and it seemed like Upton Park again. It’s now being put back into athletics mode after a series of concerts and we’ve got another 99 years of our lease to try and get it right. A few questions still on my mind are:

1. RETRACTABLE STANDS
Has a satisfactory new company been found to move the retractable stands? The previous company went bankrupt and there was talk of it costing the landlords £8m a year to move the stands.

2. CLOSER TO THE PITCH?
Is there any way of redesigning/recalibrating the retractable stands so they can come forward a few more feet? That would make the ground seem more enclosed.

3. HALFWAY LINE SEATS
The biggest distance from the pitch is the seats at the halfway line. Would it be possible to fit a few more rows of temporary seats around the halfway line to reduce the bowl effect?

4. HOARDINGS
Would it be possible to rearrange the advertising hoardings so they were in a square shape? Psychologically that might male the ground feel more like a traditional stadium.

5. TECHNICAL AREAS
Could the subs and coaches benches be moved close to the managers’ technical areas so that Slaven looks less isolated?

6. PITCH LEVEL
In the long term is there any prospect of lowering the pitch and getting some more seats in if the club offered to help pay for this? And is there a problem with toxic waste if this is done?

7. REFRESHMENTS

With so much TV money coming into football now, how about knocking £1 off all stadium refreshment prices so the fans feel the club is on their side?

Sunday, June 4

Irons make £5m loss in final season at the Boleyn

West Ham made a loss of £5 million from the final season at the Boleyn Ground. There's a good round-up of all the Premier League clubs' accounts from David Conn in the Guardian. In 2015-16 West Ham's turnover was £142 million, while the wage bill was £85 million, the joint eighth highest in the division (the club finished seventh so slightly overachieved). Wages as a percentage of turnover were a fairly sustainable 60% however, which is better than 14 other clubs in the league. A £31 million bank loan taken out in 2013 has been paid off and the club has debts of £67 million, most of which is owed to David Sullivan and David Gold. 

The finances of the club are looking much healthier than in the Eggert years and it could be a lot worse when you consider that in the same season Sunderland lost £33 million and Aston Villa a whopping £81 million. The accounts for the first season at the London Stadium should show a huge increase in turnover and match receipts, so it will be interesting to see just how rich we've become. Click on the link to read the full article.

Thursday, June 1

Let's get physio

Interesting to see that West Ham have appointed former Arsenal and England physio Gary Lewin as the new head of medical services. This suggests the board and Bilic were clearly not happy about the club's injury record last season and have opted for a new approach. Was there something in the way the Hammers trained or recovered that affected the injury list? The move from Chadwell Heath to Rush Green doesn't seem to have helped. 

At various times we lost Cresswell, Carroll, Ayew, Tore, Arbeloa, Obiang, Ogbonna, Byram, Reid and Antonio with medium to long-term injuries and Mark Noble ended the season with a hernia. The 53-year-old Lewin comes with a lot of experience and if he can get anything close to a full season out of Andy Carroll he'll really be earning his wages. 

Wednesday, May 31

Absolutely Pablo: a good start to WHU recruitment

Finally it seems West Ham have solved the right-back problem by signing Pablo Zabelata. Assuming he can avoid Alvaro Arbeloa-like fitness problems, the likeable Argentine seems to be the strong character the defence requires. He's already made a good start verbally, mentioning the 2006 FA Cup Final and suggesting that West Ham need to adopt a new mentality in order to win trophies.

During his nine years at City Pablo became a cult figure and seemed to understand what the fans wanted. He learned much about City's culture through playing pool with his wife and chatting to fans in the Barleycorn pub. So perhaps he'll pop in to Crate, the King Edward or the Railway… He described beating Man United in the FA Cup Semi-Final and winning the league though Aguero's goal "in a very City way" as his career highlights. 

City's owner has also suggested that Zabaleta will make a great manager one day and young Sam Byram will learn from training with him. The 32-year-old might be slowing a little, but he's surely the sort of committed tackler and experienced campaigner the fans will appreciate.

Friday, May 26

Calleri, Arbeloa and Tore released

A good start to clearing out some of the squad players. West Ham will save a lot in big wages for Arbeloa and Tore, both of whom hardly played, while Calleri never looked like a Premier League striker. Now the question is what do we do with that money?

Thursday, May 25

End-of-season West Ham player ratings


Regrets we've had a few, but not too few to mention…

ADRIAN: 6/10 Some erratic form saw him dropped for five months but returned looking solid and played a big part in survival.

DARREN RANDOLPH: 5/10 showed some good form after being given the number one spot but his confidence went after a number of unforced errors.

SAM BYRAM: 5/10 Still suspect defensively but dug in and looked more solid at the end, while always threatening on the overlap. Will benefit from this season’s experience.

ALVARO ARBELOA: 1/10. Always injured bar a disastrous appearance as a sub against Arsenal. We expected much more from a World Cup winner.

AARON CRESSWELL: 5/10 Lost half a season through injury and then a worrying dip in form.  Started to improve and get some trademark crosses in towards the end.

ARTHUR MASUAKU: 6/10 Had a ’mare at WBA but upon his return from injury looked really assured going forward and briefly kept Cresswell out of the side.

JAMES COLLINS: 6/10 His pace has faded but still inspired the side with his leadership qualities late on. And some impressive shirt-giving away at the end of games.

WINSTON REID: 6/10 Injury disrupted his season, but always committed and hopefully his operation will clear up a long-standing problem with his knee.

ANGELO OGBONNA: 6/10 Long-term injury curtailed his season and needs to play in a settled formation, but still a quality player.

JOSE FONTE: 5/10 Started poorly, but in a five-man defence looked much more solid and made some great blocks.

MARK NOBLE: 6/10 Not a great season, but played through the pain barrier with a hernia and produced when it mattered against Spurs and netted those vital pens against Hull and Burnley. Still Mr West Ham.

PEDRO OBIANG: 7/10 Made the defensive shield position his own before injury, won lots of tackles, made some goals and even scored at the Saints.

CHEIKHOU KOUYATE: 7/10 Played out of position most season but did a job wherever he was asked to play. Vital goals against Chelsea and Swansea.

HAVARD NORDTVEIT: 3/10 Not a right back, but looked better in his defensive midfield role at the end of the season. Still a major disappointment though.

MIKHAIL ANTONIO: 8/10 Was never a right-back either, but shone in a poor side and always gives maximum effort. Our top scorer, his highlight was making all three goals against Palace.

EDIMILSON FERNANDES: 6/10 Did well at wing-back and though at times bypassed against the bigger teams, looks promising in midfield.

DIMITRI PAYET: 0/10 Scored a superb goal against Boro and still made the most chances for WHU despite leaving in January. But can’t be forgiven for going on strike and playing at 80 per cent.

MANUEL LANZINI: 8/10 Made the playmaker position his own after Payet left. Scored some vital goals and always a pleasure to watch. Though if he gets injured we’re really stuck.

SOFIANE FEGHOULI: 6/10 His four goals suggest there’s something to build on. Still erratic, but on his day can make a difference with his crossing.

ROBERT SNODGRASS: 4/10 Hasn’t got going, despite impressing with Hull. Hopefully a good pre-season might help him thrive with the Hammers.

GOKHAN TORE: 1/10 Did make the first ever league goal at the London Stadium, but generally looked poor and then injured for the whole season.

ANDY CARROLL: 6/10 Great when he played, and scored an unbelievable goal against Palace. But as ever, he’s hardly ever fit. After four seasons of injuries we can’t rely on him anymore.

ANDRE AYEW: 6/10 Bad injury early doors, but now started to bag some goals though he still misses a lot of easy chances. Do we know what his best position is?

SIMONE ZAZA: 3/10 Not helped by that silly buy-after-14 games clause, but never looked like scoring. Then left and scored a worldie against Real Madrid.

DIAFRA SAKHO: 2/10 Scored at Man United but apart from that missed the whole season with his back problem. Will he ever be the same player again? Our best striker when fit.

JONATHAN CALLERI: 3/10 Impressed with his work rate late on and played well against Spurs, but generally just doesn’t look like a natural finisher or a Premier League striker.

ASHLEY FLETCHER: 3/10 Signs of promise and scored at Man United in the League Cup. But only ever gets a few minutes here and there and has to get a goal during his cameos if he is to compete.


THE POST: 10/10 Had an amazing game against Hull and looked solid throughout the season.

Wednesday, May 24

Stop! Hammer Time

Appeared on the Stop! Hammer Time podcast last night with hosts Phil Whelans and Jim Grant and Wagner and Hammers blogger (possibly a niche market that) Don The Hammer. Click on the link to listen to our exclusive ramblings on Andy Carroll's groin, the Burnley Cricket Club invasion, Ayew's tribute to our player of the season The Post, Zabaleta, possible new strikers, Enner Valenica, Gary Breen and much more.

Big Sam drops out

So Big Sam is retiring from management to "savour life" and go travelling. Wonder if when he hits the hippy trail he'll come across the West Ham Way?

Sunday, May 21

We're top of the bottom half!

Burnley 1 West Ham 2

A welcome win at Turf Moor — and a surprising one given the eight players West Ham had out — which takes the Irons to 11th in the league, top of the bottom half. That's a fairly credible finish given the problems we've had this season. 

The side was down to Harry Redknapp's 'bare bones' and showed some character to bounce back from going behind to a softish Vokes goal. Feghouli will get some confidence from scoring the equaliser from Ayew's clever flick and Ayew could hardly miss his free header after Fernandes's shot was palmed on to the bar by Heaton. Andre now has six goals which is quite respectable from an injury-ravaged season, even if he has tended to miss as many as he scores. Nice to see Ogbonna return and Declan Rice get his debut in added time too. 

At the end of the season West Ham have only lost one in seven and it's that form that has kept us out of the relegation scrap — though interestingly there's only six points separating eighth to 17th places. It's been emotional. And now we go again next August…

West Ham fans' verdict in the Observer

My Fans' Verdict on West Ham is in the Observer today, gave them five out of ten. And apologies for the wildly optimistic pre-season prediction that West Ham would finish sixth… written at the height of Payet-mania post Euros. We had a genius midfielder and a new world-class striker in Zaza. What could possibly go wrong? Click on the link to read. Now all we have to do is win at Burnley without Antonio, Carroll, Obiang, Kouyate, Reid, Noble and Sakho.

Saturday, May 20

Ricardo Vaz Te — he scores when he wants!

Hard to believe that yesterday was five years since West Ham beat Blackpool in the Play-off Final to secure promotion. Back in the days when we always believed in Carlton Cole, Kevin Nolan was hitting thumping volleys against the bar, Ricardo Vaz Te was the scoring sensation of the Championship and Nigel got to dance to Hi Ho Silver Lining

Friday, May 19

IIheanacho would be a great West Ham signing — but would City sell him?

The Daily Mail claims that West Ham are considering a £20 million bid for Manchester City's Kelechi Iheanacho. While today Slaven Bilic has emphasised that we're after quality rather than squad players this summer. 

Iheanacho would be a great signing as he's only 20 and despite invariably coming off the bench, he always seems to find the net when he plays. The Nigerian international has  scored 12 in 42 appearances for City, though many of those appearances have been for only a few minutes. Indeed, he made Aguero's equaliser after coming on against West Ham last season. 

Though you can't really see City selling him, even if they do already have Aguero and Jesus up front. But it could be Guardiola brings in another Galactico and Iheanacho's deemed expendable, in which case he'd be a very good signing. Though presumably a lot of other clubs would be interested too. And surely he'd cost more than Andre Ayew?

Wednesday, May 17

Would Zabaleta solve West Ham's right back problem?

There's a lot of rumours that Pablo Zabaleta will be joining West Ham when he leaves Man City at the end of the season. He's had nine years at City and won the title twice plus the FA and League Cups and has been a great player for them. The Argentine defender also seems a nice bloke to judge from the interview after City Beat West Brom last night and he was given the bumps by his team-mates. 

On the downside, he's coming towards the end of his career and will be 33 next January. And remember we signed a 33-year-old World Cup-winning right back in Alvaro Arbeloa at the start of his season, only for him to disappear down a black hole somewhere near Hackney Wick. 

Though to be fair, Zabaleta's played a good number of games for City in all his seasons and scored eight goals. He's also the sort of experienced defender whom Sam Byram might learn from and his presence might calm our jittery defence. Any views on his possible signing?

Monday, May 15

Quality of Mersey too much for lacklustre Hammers

West Ham United 0 Liverpool 4

Inside the Best Café Alison has my 1987 A-Z that she’s returning, perhaps a little tardily. The London Stadium site is covered by Stratford Marshes and a railway depot, while there’s a football stadium in E13. Scott is demolishing a big breakfast and possibly the plate too as he prepares for heavy lifting duties at work and I’m introducing my pal’s 14-year-old son Bruno, a Man United fan ripe for conversion, to egg chips and beans.

In other news Matt, Lisa, Michael and Nigel have returned to Ken's Café to greet Carol and have even been granted a rare appearance from Ken outside his inner sanctum. They take the bus to the game with young Billy and report that only half the main stand is now left standing, through Carol and Ken are getting some good trade from the building workers. Steve the Cornish postie makes it just after kick-off, having earlier seen Tony Cottee and Tony Gale having pre-match refreshments in Billericay.

West Ham start reasonably well and nearly take an early lead as Calleri does well to find Byram in the box, only for the defender to fire wastefully wide. Fernandes then has effort parked by Mignolet. But in the bright sun the game soon adopts an end-of-season feel as the Hammers seem content to be staying up and we miss the bite of Kouyate and Noble in midfield.

It takes a full 19 minutes before the gentleman behind us hollers, “get up you tart!” at a prostrate Liverpool player. Liverpool look more urgent and an early warning comes as the unmarked Matip heads against the bar from a corner.

Liverpool take the lead after 35 minutes as Coutinho plays a great through ball that dissects the Irons’ defence and Sturridge shimmies round Adrian to score and do his silly surf dancing celebration. It could be his last goal for Liverpool before he joins West Ham and gets injured… Byram has just about played Sturridge onside, but it’s not a goal we should concede with three centre backs.

MISS OF THE MILLENNIUM 
Still, a goal before half-time might change things. It should arrive as Lanzini’s corner fizzes across the area and Ayew arrives unmarked at the back post a yard out from goal. He swings at the ball with his left foot instead of his right and somehow hits the post, then falls over and prods the ball against the post again. Miss of the season from our £20 million striker.

Liverpool come out determined to finish West Ham off after the break. Adrian has to make three fine saves in succession during one move. It’s two as Wijnaldum wallops the bar and from the rebound the ball reaches Coutinho who skips past Nordtveit, Collins and Reid to shoot home from the edge of then box.

COALITION OF CHAOS 
Bilic takes off Fonte and reverts to a back four. Sub Feghouli at least looks hungry and starts to take men on, winning a corner. As his corner comes in Reid is smacked in the face by Wijnaldum’s elbow and the Liverpool man also handballs it. As the West Ham players appeal for a penalty they make the mistake of not playing to the whistle as ref Neil Swarbrick inexplicably ignores a player with a head injury and allows the Scousers to break. Coutinho waltzes round Collins to stroke home. It gets worse as more terrible defending from our coalition of chaos sees Adrian block Lallana’s shot and Origi nets the rebound. This should put off young Bruno for life.

“Oh well, we might have lost 4-0 but at least I’ve got an out-of-date A-Z,” I tell Alison.

We decline to stay for a lap of dishonour in front of an empty stadium. Better news is that my navigation successfully takes Fraser, Michael, Nigel, Bruno and myself to the Railway pub via Penney Brookes way (last time we ended up in Leyton). At least the Railway has Doom Bar, staff in West Ham shirts, Mrs Flipper’s burgers and lots of claret and blue branding.  After my departure Nigel moves on to the Cart and Horses in a bid to make this blog and is hugely impressed by the Iron Maiden memorabilia.

It’s been a long season and signings need to be made. The London Stadium has seen us concede five and four goals at home to Man City five against Arsenal and four against Liverpool. At least we’ve beaten Spurs, but this finale was horrible.


PLAYER RATINGS: Adrian 6, Byram 4, Fonte 4 (Fletcher 4), Collins 5, Reid 6, Cresswell 5; Fernandes 4, Nordtveit 4, Lanzini 5; Ayew 4 (Snodgrass 4), Calleri 5 (Feghouli 6).