It’s been a rather drab season for a West Ham United side who looked to have finally signed players with some promise. Unfortunately for the Hammers, a mixture of injuries and players failing to gel has seen them battling for a top half finish rather than for a place in Europe.
West Ham never seem to have much luck when it comes to signing players, in particular strikers, and it is something that manager Manuel Pellegrini will be desperate to sort out over the summer. But that isn’t the only issue facing Pellegrini over the summer if West Ham want to be in contention for the Europa League outright odds in the near future.
There have been rumours around the transfer budget Pellegrini will have during the summer break, and for Hammers fans, it’s not good news. Reports have surfaced that the Chilean will be given just £30 million to spend on new players this summer, which with today’s prices, might get you one decent player.
Pellegrini will be allowed to reinvest money from player sales, but there are serious question marks as to whether this will be anywhere near enough to provide Pellegrini with enough to further strengthen the squad.
Selling the deadwood
Part of the problem for the current West Ham side is that it is full of mediocrity. They’ve got some decent players, but these players won’t push them beyond where they currently are. Players like Samir Nasri and Jack Wilshere come with an impressive CV, but have shown very little in the way of quality since turning out in claret and blue.
Players like Robert Snodgrass, Lucas Perez, Pedro Obiang, Javier Hernandez, Arthur Masuaku, Carlos Sanchez, Jordan Hugill and Sam Byram are all likely to be offered out to clubs over the summer, but whether anyone will take them and if so, for how much, creates a lot of uncertainty for the club.
If the club are lucky, they could raise £50 million in player sales, but recent form from the club in the transfer market suggests they are more likely to get just £20 million, making it harder for Pellegrini to build a strong squad.
AS Roma striker Edin Dzeko, formerly of Manchester City, has been linked with a return to the Premier League, and with his contract expiring at the end of the season, West Ham would only need to worry about wages in order to reunite the Bosnian striker with Pellegrini.
Maxi Gomez was linked with a move to the Hammers during the January transfer window, but his £42 million buyout clause will prove to be a stumbling block given the current budget. The Hammers will have to pray that Celta Vigo, currently just three points above the relegation zone, fall into the second division, as his price fall with it. Relegation will see his release clause drop by £20 million and while it still wouldn’t leave much left in the coffers, at least Pellegrini can hope to find a bargain.
West Ham will be desperate not to lose star players Felipe Anderson and Declan Rice, but should they do so, they might receive adequate funds to strengthen the squad as a whole. First and foremost though, the owners need to have a word with themselves and decide if they really are ambitious and want to see the club push on, or whether they’re happy just to linger in mid-table mediocrity.
It was definitely one of the more surprising signings in the January transfer window, but Crystal Palace’s capture of Michy Batshuayi will speak volumes come the end of the season. The Belgian striker made the deadline day switch from Chelsea, as Roy Hodgson’s side beat a whole host of clubs to sign the 25-year-old on loan until the end of the season.
According to The Independent, Palace held off stiff competition from Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United, Everton and Real Betis to sign Batshuayi, and the move already looks to be paying dividends. The former Marseille striker came off the bench and made an instant impact on his debut against Fulham, providing fans with a potential glimpse of what’s to come.
Revitalise Palace’s attack
Traditionally, the Eagles have struggled for goals since they returned to the Premier League in 2013. In those six seasons, they have only scored 50 goals or more in just one of those campaigns and Batshuayi will be keen to boost such stats.
What will become apparent is Batshuayi’s enthusiasm and commitment to the cause, and his cameo debut performance demonstrated plenty more positives are to come. Hodgson would have been more than pleased with Batshuayi’s start and the former England manager will be keen to get him firing on all cylinders with Christian Benteke.
Palace’s record signing struggled badly last season and has failed to get off the mark in this campaign, so Batshuayi’s inclusion could be just the tonic for both players to thrive and start hitting the back of the net. It’s been long overdue, but the Belgian duo could be just what’s needed to revitalise a previously toothless attack.
Top-half aspirations can be realised
The victory over Fulham and last week’s draw with West Ham moved Palace three points away from the relegation zone in 13th position, and it’s imperative the south Londoners continue to look up the table and not down. Although Palace are closer to the bottom three than Leicester City in 12th, an on-song Batshuayi can certainly help the Eagles climb the table.
Last season, Batshuayi enjoyed a fine loan spell with Borussia Dortmund whereby he scored nine goals in 14 appearances, including a brace on his Bundesliga debut which goes to show just the type of quality player Palace have on their hands.
His form in Germany was always going to make him an attractive option for a top-flight team looking to boost their goal tally, and with the likes of Wilfred Zaha and Andros Townsend providing the ammunition, you envisage a fruitful relationship for Batshuayi and Palace.
Blossoming relationship with Chelsea
If you think Batshuayi’s move to Selhurst Park was something of a fluke, then think again. Last season, Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek made the temporary switch to SE19 and was nothing short of magnificent.
The attacking midfielder quickly installed himself as a fans’ favourite and Hodgson was more than keen to buy him, but such was Loftus-Cheek’s great impression the Blues were never going to tolerate negotiations.
Nonetheless, the success of Loftus-Cheek made it easy for Chelsea to send another fringe player out on loan to a trusted source. It could become the start of a blossoming relationship between the two London neighbours, and will serve Batshuayi well in the process. As long as he provides a healthy goal and can add a new attacking dimension to Palace’s style of play, Batshuayi will be exactly what the Eagles are looking for. The Eagles take on Leicester City in their next league game, and you can check out all the latest Premier League markets via Betfair.
A stunning, limited-edition West Ham United FC timepiece has been introduced by the nation’s leading memorabilia and commemorative firm, The Bradford Exchange.
Limited to just 4,999 editions and individually numbered, this exclusive, officially-licensed West Ham United FC Chronograph means you can keep best West Ham United time, wearing your pride in the Hammers every day with this eye-catching men’s watch.
The striking West Ham United FC timepiece has everything the stylish Hammers fan would want: the unique qualities of this handcrafted watch beings with a precision quartz movement with a stop/start function and a claret enamel crown, along with a gold-plated watch case and buckle adding an enviably luxurious feel.
Three chronograph dials contain claret and blue stripes, the instantly recognisable crossed hammers and the date the club was founded. ‘Come On You Irons’ is engraved on the bezel, while reinforcing West Ham United FC’s stirring motto, on the rear of the casing is the inspiring West Ham United insignia: ‘Come On You Irons’.
Combined, these capture the spirit of the club and celebrate some of its finest achievements for you to wear proudly every day.
This is a unique opportunity to show your colours and wear with pride West Ham United FC on your wrist, making you the envy of your fellow Hammers.
The quality of this exclusive, limited edition West Ham United FC Men’s Chronograph, means these watches can be passed through the generations, from one ardent West Ham United FC fan to the next.
Imagine the joy it would bring Hammers children to know one day they might own their Father’s favourite team watch!
This handsome, handcrafted watch, an officially licensed West Ham United FC Chronograph, is exclusive to The Bradford Exchange and limited worldwide to just 4,999 editions.
It is engraved on the reverse with the individual edition number and is accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity and the Bradford Exchange famous 120-day guarantee.
To find out more and to make sure you don’t miss out, please click here.
West Ham United have not started the season very well – that we all know – and David Moyes has been brought in to try and steer the club to safety, hopefully sooner rather than later. His arrival at the club could be the best thing to happen to Andy Carroll in a long time; could it be enough to get him on the plane to Russia next summer?
West Ham are currently in the relegation zone, and lost 2-0 against Watford in Moyes’ first game in charge. They have been extremely disappointing this season and now Moyes is at the club, things have to change. One thing that he will do over the coming games is adopt a simpler, more direct approach to the games. That is going to play right into the hands of Andy Carroll.
Now is not the time for fancy football, as much as the fans would love to see that. Now is the time for digging deep, coming together as a club and finding a way to pick up points on a regular basis.
When Carroll has been fit enough to play, he has contributed to the attacking play of West Ham; he scored seven goals from 18 Premier Leagues games last season and nine from 27 the season before. That sort of contribution will be a great help to West Ham right now, and would also be a help to England next summer.
Up next is Leicester, a team West Ham are 8/5 to win per the online betting bookmakers. They have a team capable of beating Leicester, and with a new approach from a new manager, they could improve over the next few weeks and start to pick up points. New boss David Moyes would love to get a win in his first game at home and, if he does, that would go a long way to easing the worries that some fans had when he was appointed.
The next ten games are extremely important for Moyes, and equally as important for Carroll, who will be desperate to impress his new boss as well as England boss Gareth Southgate. If England are looking for a different kind of weapon next summer then Carroll would certainly fit the bill. He often proves a handful for the English defenders who know him well, so is sure to surprise the continental defenders who he goes up against.
What Carroll needs right now is game time and a team to play to his strengths, and luckily for him, that is exactly what he has right now. David Moyes will want to play a simple game and if Andy Carroll can take his chances then he may just have a shot at making the plane to Russia next summer.
You can’t beat great company and great pizza and the team at Blowing Bubbles have joined forces with Pizza Express to offer you the chance to win tickets and experience a fantastic night with two former Hammers legends.
Tony Cottee and Tony Gale will be appearing at the new PizzaExpress Live venue at Holborn and the evening will be hosted by Sky Sports presented Bianca Westwood on Tuesday, October 24.
The former players will talk about their time with the club, their exploits on and off the pitch and the second half will give audience members the chance to take part in a question and answer session.
Blowing Bubbles has teamed-up with Pizza Express to offer four tickets to the evening as a great prize in a very special competition. Two winners will each receive a pair of tickets to get up close and personal with the duo at the new and intimate venue.
“This should be a brilliant event and one that no West Ham fan will want to miss and we know the competition will be well-supported,” said Blowing Bubbles editor David Blackmore. “The competition will be run via our Twitter account so entrants need to be following us @WestHamMagazine to get the details."
Tony Cottee began his career at West Ham at the age of 17 and made his professional debut on January 1 1983 against Spurs. He was voted PFA Young Player of the Year in 1986 and it was during this spell that he crossed paths with Tony Gale.
By the end of 1988 season a 23-year-old Cottee had played 212 league games and scored 92 goals for the Hammers - a record which made him the most expensive player to be signed by a British club when he left for Everton in August 1988 in a £2.2 million deal.
Tickets for the event are £35 and further details can be found at: www.pizzaexpresslive.com/whats-on/tony-cottee-and-tony-gale
Joe Hart has been enduring the toughest period of his career to date in recent seasons, while he now finds himself at West Ham United.
The England number one goalkeeper previously fell out of favour at Manchester City and the arrival of Spanish manager Pep Guardiola signalled the end of his time at the Etihad. The former Barcelona boss saw no room for Hart within his setup and opted to sign the likes of Claudio Bravo instead, while Ederson has since taken over the main spot between the posts at the club.
After seeing his Sky Blues career come to an end under Man City's newest tactician, the English shot-stopper was sent out on a surprise loan move to Italy, where he linked up with Serie A's Torino.
Such a switch was supposed to kickstart his club career and help him continue England duties, while also attracting the interest from other sides back in the Premier League. It looked as if that was never going to occur when he made several high-profile mistakes in Turin surroundings.
Even the Torino club president saw fit to slam the efforts of Hart between the sticks during his loan stint there, criticism which only added to Hart's growing frustration. Despite such underwhelming performances on his Italian ventures, though, he was still able to attract another potential buyer.
Starting off with yet another loan spell, Hart was snapped up by West Ham United this past summer, as Croatian boss Slaven Bilic looked to bolster his squad with experience at the back. Hart has also managed to retain his place as his country's number one goal guard, in spite of a lack of strong form at club level.
Hart was regarded as a great acquisition in the summer by the east London outfit, but his stuttering performances have continued into the new campaign as he looks under pressure and without confidence at times.
It may take until the latter stages of the current campaign for Hart to properly showcase his worth to the Hammers, as they attempt to recover from a slow start to proceedings under Bilic. The Irons find themselves dauntingly sitting at the wrong end of the Premier League table at this point in the season and they are seen at an outsider 6/1 with Paddy Power in the current West Ham betting odds to face a devastating relegation next year.
Perhaps it's the pressure of having to battle for a permanent signing at a club after so many loan spells, but Hart will need to improve in order to secure such a deal at the Olympic Stadium beyond next summer. It's clear that the goalie still has plenty to offer in the English top flight, and his experience at the top level, including winning the Premier League before, could be invaluable at tough times.
The England international stopper will need to be in top form for the remainder of the term if West Ham are to revive their fortunes throughout their upcoming clashes to gain vital points.
But he has the experience needed in order to bounce back for his current club, as Bilic aims to avoid seeing their bubbles burst completely before next May.
Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez arrived in the summer as West Ham sought to add pace and precision to their attacking line. Very much regarded as a ‘fox in the box’ kind of striker, the 29-year-old is renowned for the quality of his movement off the ball and timing inside the area, always ready to pounce on chances that come his way.
Considering how difficult the start to the 2017/18 Premier League campaign has been, the Mexican international has already made a healthy contribution, individually scoring three of the seven goals scored by the team in their opening seven encounters of the season.
Three straight league defeats was hardly an inspiring start, but although form has since improved steadily with Slaven Bilic tightening things up defensively, at odds of 11/2 in the football betting forecasts for relegation, West Ham must also improve offensively if they’re to keep afloat.
Without a doubt, Chicharito remaining sharp in front of goal will be vital for the cause, but like any striker, he is reliant on consistent and quality service from his teammates. Boasting a ratio of 1.9 shots per goal from his first seven matches, the Mexican has shown a good level of efficiency in and around the area, maximising his chances in a team that has only managed an average of 3.4 shots on target per game.
Should Chicharito continue producing similar numbers throughout the course of the season, he will certainly justify the fee of £16 million that West Ham reportedly paid Bundesliga outfit, Bayer Leverkusen. However, barely months after his arrival in London, there are worrying signs his stay might only be temporary.
According to reports doing the rounds in Spain at the start of October, Chicharito may already be planning his West Ham exit, targeting Sevilla and Valencia as possible La Liga destinations. Despite seeming outwardly content with life in London and at the club, his relationship with Spanish actress Andrea Duro appears to be the motivation. Beyond the football pitch, matters of the heart could be the deciding factor.
If the decision is already made in the mind of the player, then West Ham will be faced with a big problem to resolve ahead of the January transfer window. Do they insist that he stays until the end of the season, at the very least, or do they get ready to negotiate and begin scouring the market for potential replacements?
Even if the agents of Chicharito have already generated enough genuine interest from Sevilla or Valencia, it’s hard to imagine either of the Spanish clubs offering West Ham a way to recoup their summer outlay. More likely, given the ‘Financial Fair Play’ restrictions in La Liga, would be an initial loan offer with an option to buy clause attached.
As if Slaven Bilic didn’t have enough on his plate, given the ongoing speculation regarding his own future and even with the apparent backing of the board, the Croatian coach must now contend with the prospect that his key striker might not be with the club beyond December.
Whichever way you look at it, August was a forgettable month as the 2017/18 Premier League campaign began for West Ham. Three defeats, ten goals conceded and with just two in reply, already the clouds of doubt were gathering quickly over the immediate future of Slaven Bilic. That's nothing new for the Croatian, given the speculation surrounding his position for a year now.
After guiding the team to seventh and 11th-position finishes over the last two seasons, now in the third and final year of his three-year contract with the club, Bilic arguably faces the most difficult campaign of his tenure thus far.
Indeed, when looking at Oddschecker to compare bookmaker offers and odds for the Premier League ‘sack race’, Bilic is considered amongst the favourites to lose his job and second only to under-fire Everton boss, Ronald Koeman. Likewise, most bookmakers still have West Ham at odds as little as 6/1 or even 5/1 for relegation.
Despite what the bookmakers think, it appears that at least for now, Bilic still has the backing of the West Ham board, with suggestions he will remain in charge until the end of the season, even with speculating linking Carlo Ancelotti as a possible replacement, following the Italian’s departure from Bayern Munich. Clearly, a lot may happen between now and then, but improved results and positive form in September will have undoubtedly strengthened his position.
Much of that improved form appears to have come through a willingness to adapt and change, due in no small part to Bilic tinkering with the defence to good effect. Aside from the home defeat against Tottenham, three clean sheets in the other games against Huddersfield, West Brom, then Swansea, produced a return of seven points from a possible 12. Add the clean sheet against Bolton in the Carabao Cup, and things are looking far more positive.
Playing three at the back and utilising deeper central midfielders has helped the team defend more stoutly as a unit, significantly reducing the amount of chances opponents can create. Stronger displays as a team have also brought improved individual performances, with defensive players now amongst the highest rated for performance within the squad.
The challenge now is building on this solid defensive platform and individual form, to pick up more precious points throughout October. On paper at the very least and looking at the fixture list, the matches against Burnley, Brighton, then an absolutely dire Crystal Palace side, are all games from which West Ham should be gaining positive results.
If the team heads into November nestled comfortably in the top half of the table, the dynamic changes completely. Important ahead of a November and December schedule featuring some very difficult games to navigate, but with other encounters that are entirely winnable if the signs of improvement continue.
If West Ham conclude the year with a comfortable enough buffer zone between themselves and the relegation zone, talk of Bilic being sacked will be a thing of the past, because rocking the managerial boat just wouldn’t make sense. Add to that the prospect that his cause could also be aided with a signing or two in the January transfer window, the season as a whole may bring less suffering and far more to cheer about than the start of the campaign would have suggested.
With my team languishing in the bottom half of the Blowing Bubbles fantasy league, my opinions on who should start for West Ham, and the formation we should play, shouldn’t be taken too seriously.
But while I was very pleased with our personnel in our win against Huddersfield and draw at West Brom - despite how dire the game at the Hawthorns was - I couldn’t help but think Bilic was making one mistake.
Javier Hernandez is not a winger. He needs to be played up top. If Carroll is fit, we should play with two up front and when - not if - Carroll is injured, we can adopt the formation that is serving us well at the moment with Chicharito leading the line.
Slaven Bilic took a big risk against Huddersfield in the Hammers’ recent 2-0 victory at the London Stadium over Huddersfield as he opted for a 3-5-2 formation for the first time this season, which not only ensured he kept his job but also gave the team a big lift after their slow start. It’s been a tough opening to the campaign for the Hammers, something that has not been helped by the fact they had to play their first three games away from home. The new season got off to the worst start possible when they went down 4-0 at Old Trafford to Manchester United before Southampton won a five-goal thriller at St Mary’s. Bilic’s men then had no success at the SportsDirect-sponsored St James’s Park, where they lost 3-0 to Newcastle.
Bilic played Fonte, Reid and Collins across the back line against the Terriers. The 2015 Blowing Bubbles Player of the Season Cresswell and Zabaleta were in wing-back roles, which meant they were able to advance much further up the field than they were used to. Zabaleta, in particular, had plenty of success getting to the byline and was able to put in some good deliveries into the box. In the heart of the pitch, Kouyate, Obiang and Antonio started the game and caused lots of problems. Antonio was given more of a free role and he took full advantage of that as he was all over the pitch on a wet night in East London.
Andy Carroll proved more than a handful during his time in the game and West Ham fans should be encouraged by what they saw in his partnership with summer signing Chicharito as that could prove a fantastic combination for Bilic this season. The Hammers had 19 shots in the game, despite the fact they only had 43% of possession.
Will Bilic Stick With The Formation For The Rest Of The Season?
It is difficult seeing Bilic changing a winning formula after the success against Huddersfield in what was their first clean sheet in four games.The three centre-backs were solid on the evening so Joe Hart had little to worry about between the sticks as he only had two shots which were on target to deal with. Last season, the switch to 3-5-2 really helped Chelsea go on a winning run to the title. From October they went on a 13-game winning stretch that was ended whey lost away to Tottenham. The Blues made a slow start to their season but, after changing to the formation, they were tough to beat as their players bought into the tactics and delivered the plan to perfection. Bilic is likely to stick to the 3-5-2 formation as long as he has the personnel to fill the roles. Injuries were a big problem last season and have already impacted who he has been able to start in the 2017/18 campaign.
There will be times away from home, though, that Bilic might prefer to play a traditional back four and possibly one striker up front, which will allow him to start more bodies in midfield. Sakho, who scored 21 goals in 59 appearances for West Ham, will be pushing for a return to the side after failing to pick up a move in the summer transfer window. The Senegal international had a medical at Nantes but West Ham were unable to agree on terms with the French club. According to a recent interview with super agent Jon Smith on the Betway website, transfers take on average around three months to complete; therefore, he left it too late to depart the club. Bilic will also be pleased with how Ayew looked when he came off the bench against the Terriers, while Mark Noble, who had his career testimonial for the club in 2016, is set to return soon from injury.
How Will Formation Fair Against Big Boys?
According to the BBC's Premier League fixtures page, Over the next couple of month, West Ham have to face Tottenham, Liverpool and Everton is three tough encounters. If Bilic does stick with the 3-5-2 formation, it will come under serious examination against the big teams. The three centre-halves are likely going to have stay really firm, especially against Liverpool who have the likes of Firminho, Salah and Mane in their front line and have scored eight goals in their opening four Premier League ties. The pressure will be on the wing-backs to drop back as much as possible, while at the same time ensuring the team still have plenty of width when going forward.
As long as Carroll and Chicharito are scoring goals, they should be competitive against any team in the league. Chicharito scored 39 goals in 76 appearances for Bayer Leverkusen Hopefully, the new formation will see the strikers step up their goal return this season and the Hammers can push towards their initial goal of finishing in the top half of the table at the end of the campaign. If it doesn’t, it could lead to Bilic’s exit which, like Big Sam’s dismissal, is likely to divide opinion amongst West Ham fans.
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