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Hammers deeply concerned: “We simply can’t go down”

CandH Exclusive by Hughie Southon

West Ham remain deeply concerned at the return they are seeing on the near £200 million they spent in the summer.

David Moyes and Rob Newman brought in eight players yet find themselves in 16th place with the R word again being mentioned regularly.

And club insiders have again made it clear to ClaretandHugh that the situation, as mentioned in a previous story here, is because clauses against relegation and/or pay cuts will kick in should the club go down.

We had revealed several weeks ago that whilst David Moyes will be given time to get things sorted big worries remain.

We were told by a top source when we asked about the manager’s position today: “We cannot go down – that’s unthinkable in these circumstances – balancing the books given the money spent is the most obvious of the issues.”

The board appears to be doing things the right way in giving him time but that could  run out quickly if points don’t start appearing on the board after the Qata break.


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Irons PL position sees new contract talks put on hold

CandH Exclusive By Hughie Southon

West Ham have put a halt on contract talks with Ben Johnson’s representatives given the defender’s current form.

The two sides have been unable to come to an agreement on a new deal in previous negotiations this year.

And such has been the player’s performance levels over this season’s games that there are no certainties on his and other players new deals Claret and Hugh has been told.

The 22-year-old has been used in just seven Premier League games this season playing back- up to both Philo Kehrer and Vladi Coufal.

It was thought the player was nailed on for a new deal before he comes out of contract but no further negotiations are planned beyond those already concluded along with other players.

A key London Road source added that the league position was very worrying and made the renewal of contracts very difficult.

That is code for the threat of relegation with our source saying: ” He and others haven’t been in great form and we ’ll review in due course.

Where we are in the table makes creates a big problem and makes it very difficult to do any new contracts, but we have to stay up.”


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Top Irons prospect deserves PL chance

Divin Mubama 2022/23

By Hughie Southon

My fingers are well and truly crossed for West Ham after the Qata thing,

But surely everything will need to change in a big way if the Irons are to find a way out of their present troubles.

And some big questions will be asked of £30 million signing Nayef Aguerd, record signing Lucas Paqueta and Gianluca Scamacca .

With Kurt Zouma possibly missing for several weeks, the former Rennes player needs to be in his best form which is a big ask following injury. However, it needs to happen should only him and Craig Dawson be available

Hopefully Paqueta will be used in the position he plays for Brazil – central midfield – and can link well with Scamacca who has declared that he is developing a good relationship with the player.

But there is one other striker of whom I want to see a lot more following his fine performance against FCSB and that’s Divin Mubana.

We know the Conference opposition has been weak but the boy looked a natural as he got in behind the defence and was indeed unfortunate to be denied a strike which was given as an own goal.

He has been scoring for fun and loked serious business in the under 21s and hopefully the manager will come back refreshed and ready to change a system and players who looked to have been found out before the break.

I’m not holding my breath but for me Mubama looked like a breath of fresh air given the form of the first team duo. He deserves minutes.

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Ashby hopes raised

By Dave Langton

Harrison Ashby’s hopes have been raised that he may get a West Ham reprieve before the January transfer window.

The expectation at the club has consistently been that Ashby will leave once the January window opens, with Newcastle and Leeds both sniffing around.

The right-back has struggled immensely for minutes at the London Stadium and remains on just seven first-team appearances.

Ashby played 90 minutes against Viborg in the Europa Conference League qualifiers this season, and was later limited to a substitute appearance against FCSB in the group stages.

He has not played a minute of Premier League football this season.

But the injury sustained by Kurt Zouma, for which he needed surgery, has led to the likelihood of Thilo Kehrer being moved back to centre-back.

That opens a spot at right-back, and Ashby will be hopeful that David Moyes shows his faith in him by giving him the opportunity to play.

Of course, Vlad Coufal and Ben Johnson are also options, but Ashby will be banging on the door to  be given a chance at the London Stadium.

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Moyes sets his World Cup “visit” straight

Shock on the way for Moyes?

Reports that David Moyes has spent part of the unofficial winter break in Qatar is incorrect.

Moyes in choosing to set the record straight on various reports that he intended to take in time at the event has told his latest column in The Times what he is up to at the moment.

And it has nothing to do with watching Hammers players or possible future signings.

Instead, he watched last night’s dreary England performance game against the USA from Florida where he is spending his holiday before returning to the east end to work with the squad ahead of the Premier League restart.

Moyes revealed after the defeat by Leicester City that he and the players had earned a break from the action and he has been as good as his word.

Apart from watching the shameful Qatastrophe on Tv it seems he is taking in the warmth of the American climate.

He said before last night;s fame: “I am in Florida at the moment and the scale of World Cup coverage here is a sign of how football continues to grow in the United States.

“USA v England is getting a big build-up on television and is a game of huge significance for a country where its own MLS is fast developing, and where Premier League football gets more popular every year.”


Declan and England have a night to forget

Declan Rice and England had a night to forget against the USA.

The Three Lions drew the game 0-0, in what was a dour, dismal game of football.

So many clashes in Qatar have been exactly like this, with each team failing to find a way through the other.

Rice looked completely overwhelmed in midfield, to the point that Gareth Southgate had to bring Jordan Henderson off the bench to regain some control of the middle of the pitch.

Declan did pass the ball well but he looked overawed defensively and was guilty of a dire performance, much like many of his team-mates.

Gareth Southgate’s side were too turgid and failed to truly stretch their opponents, in what was a remarkable turnaround from the vibrant football involved in beating Iran 6-2.

This was a woeful game, and England will now need to avoid a heavy defeat by Wales to guarantee qualification to the knockout stages of the World Cup.


Tinkerman Moyes playing record signing out of position



Gonzo asks if Moyes is wasting £50 million?


‘The Tinkerman’ was a moniker originally used to describe former Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri.

It was coined by a journalist during a pre-match press conference when he was accused of rotating his team too frequently during the 2002/2003 Premier League season.

Whilst our own David Moyes could never be charged with not having an established starting XI he does have a penchant for a tinker when it comes to player positions.

We’ve seen Marco Arnautovic and Michail Antonio converted from wingers to forwards, whilst Aaron Cresswell often performs admirably at left centre half. Not every ‘tinker’ is successful however and it’s starting to look like the rule rather than the exception with half the team sometimes playing in alien positions.

The manager’s deployment of Vladimir Coufal at wing back, Fornals as a winger, Downes as an attacking midfielder and more recently Kehrer in a wide marauding defensive role have not been successful experiments.

Poor Ben Johnson’s latest mandate is to learn the role of centre half in a back three AND a fourman defence which will mean he’s been asked to play in a whopping SEVEN positions under David Moyes (RB, RWB, LB, LWB, CM, LCB, RCB).

Probably the most damning of all is the turning of rampaging box to box goal scoring machine Tomas Soucek into a holding defensive midfielder.

Unfortunately it gets worse. In my naivety and lack of international football knowledge I had assumed that Lucas Paqueta was an attacking midfielder or No 10.

West Ham had forked out over £50m for an established Brazilian international and the thought never occurred to me that we’d spend so much money on a player then not utilise him correctly.

Out of pure curiosity I tuned into the Brazil v Serbia match on TV and to my horror there was our record signing playing on the left of central midfield. I hurriedly did some research just in case this was a ‘one-off’ but it appears that Lucas Paqueta is a bona fide central midfielder.

No wonder the poor bloke looks impotent for the Hammers. It’s difficult enough moving to a new country and learning a new language without have to adapt to a new position and system too.

Throughout Brazil’s World Cup opener Paqueta had at least four players in front of him to pass to whereas at West Ham he’s charged with supplying the often isolated Scamacca (we’re also not playing to his strengths but that’s a story for another day).

Armed with £50m and a position to fill I’m completely at a loss why David Moyes would not just buy an attacking midfielder if that’s what he wanted. When West Ham break their transfer record it has to be for the finished article.

It’s one thing buying £9m Flynn Downes from Swansea and tweaking his position. But to sign a Brazilan superstar and not play him in the position where he’s most effective is a tinker too far.


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Coufal may get second chance

Vlad Coufal’s proposed move away from the Hammers in January may have had the brakes slammed on!

The injury to Kurt Zouma, and his surgery, has left the Irons in need of a defensive fix.

That means Thilo Kehrer may be forced back into centre-back, instead of playing at right-back, and that would open up a slot at full-back.

Coufal is the obvious man to fill the gap and add his experience and drive to the backline.

There are also the options of Ben Johnson and Harrison Ashby, of course, but Coufal would likely feel that he is the player most likely to get the nod.

Most reporting has suggested the Hammers would be happy to sell the Czechia international in January but that may no longer be the case, especially given just how short the Irons would look if they were to suffer one more injury.

Coufal looks likely to be staying until the summer at least at this rate.

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Moyes – it looks like loans only

David Moyes will have to make do with loans in the January transfer window if he wants to strengthen the Hammers squad.

The Irons have been rocked by the news of Kurt Zouma’s surgery, leaving him out for an unspecified period of time.

However, the Hammers spent big in the summer, with a particular focus on the defence, and there is no indication at the club that big money will be made available to Moyes in January.

The Irons are hopeful of progressing with the squad that they currently have and Moyes has consistently pleaded for patience when it comes to his summer buys, for better or for worse.

As a result, he will be shopping in the loan market if he does decide to seek reinforcements in January.

It is a notoriously difficult month in which to do business, as very few players are actually on the market.

Moyes has rarely dipped into the market in the winter but he may see a hole that needs filling with Zouma’s injury.

Still, there is no expectation of a multi-million pound signing.

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Hammers forced to play Zouma waiting game

By Hughie Southon

West Ham are unable to give a serious indication as to when Kurt Zouma may be ready to return to first team action.

The player has undergone surgery on the knee in which he has suffered ruptured ligaments six years ago but at this stage it is impossible to put any timetable on his return.

The official site in announcing that he has received surgery failed to do so and a key Claretandhugh insider was unable to throw any further light on that aspect.

However, he did reveal that the 28-year-old had only had a small operation so hopefully he will be back sooner later than later.

We were told: ” We have no way of knowing how long he will be out at the moment. It’s his bad knee and he’s had a small operation on it. Nobody has an answer at the moment – it’s too early to say.”