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Ngakia’s new club makes it formal

Pic via Watford FC website

Jeremy Ngakia is to join Watford just as we exclusively revealed in Claretandhugh on July 31.

The former Hammer’s arrival at Vicarage Road was announced formally on the Hornets website  where  a statement read:

The Hornets are pleased to confirm the signature of teenage right-back Jeremy Ngakia.

The West Ham United academy product made five Premier League starts last season.

With his contract having expired this summer at London Stadium, the 19-year-old has signed a permanent deal with the Hornets and will join up with the squad for pre-season training next week.”

The former Hammer rejected various offers to remain at the London Stadium after his breakthrough and even refused – presumably on the advice of agents – to see out the extended season with the squad.

There’s an irony in his decision to join Watford given that it was their defeat by the Hammers which went a long way towards putting them into the Championship where the teenager will now be playing his football,

In a personal Instagram message he later thanked West Ham  and the players for  the help he had received which went down like a lead balloon with many fans.



West Ham’s financial meltdown – the reasons why

West Ham’s current financial crisis is not just about the global pandemic.

The Hammers were already on target to lose £40m last season before COVID hit and those losses increased to £50m primarily due to loss of ticket and retail revenue after lock-down.

The club spent more than they could afford under Manuel Pellegrini with over £200m committed in transfers and a wage bill of £136m at its peak.  West Ham still owe over £87m of that  to other clubs at a rate of over £5m per month.

The board and the club’s senior management must take their share of the blame as it was them signing the cheques and agreeing to those levels of spending under the ambitious Pellegrini project.

West Ham earned £123m from broadcasters in the 2018/2019 season and budgeted to improve on that in the 2019/2020 season. In fact they dropped £13m to £110m for last season after finishing sixteenth and will receive less for the next two seasons in the Premier League as part of a £330m rebate to broadcasters split by all clubs.

Panicked by the possibility of relegation the board spent a further £45m of committed spending  in January this year on Jarrod Bowen, Tomas Soucek and Darren Randolph.

In July the shareholders injected £30m of cash into the club via a rights issue followed by another loan from Media Rights and Funding in August likely to be in excess of £40m.

But stories still persist that the £5.4m instalment for Haller remains unpaid at the beginning of the week with the Soucek first instalment due this summer to Slavia Prague.

What will happen to the £4.5m received from Celtic remains to be seen but transfer activity is likely be limited this summer as the board and the manager desperately attempt to balance the books on wages and transfer budget.


“Realistic” Antonio knows what’s needed ahead of new deal

Michail Antonio”s sensational end to the season was a massive achievement but talk of him getting a big time new contract as a result would be wildly optimistic.

There have even been suggestions that he could hit the £100,00 a week mark but the Irons will take a very close look at his form and fitness before making the sort of offers which have plunged them into trouble in the past.

The club are deeply aware that the lengthy deals they agreed with the likes of Cresswell, Masuaku and Lanzini in the past have come back ad bit them hard since Covid.

And although there is no danger of Antonio leaving the club with the Hammers holding a two year option on his future, he certainly wont be catapulted to the top of the club’s earner ahead of his 31st birthday next March.

Claretandhugh was told by a well placed source; “Michael has been brilliant for the club since he joined for £7 million nearly six years ago.

“We hold a two year option on him and we know he is happy and a lad who will be sensible about finances in what is could  be his last deal with us.

“He knows his injury track record and that he needs to show the sort of form he demonstrated towards the end of the campaign over a few months. We are all confident he will finish his career here.

“Michail is a very professional and realistic professional – he knows what’s required.”

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Double header aims to improve match fitness

David Moyes will split his squad into two teams to allow more West Ham players to get minutes on the pitch in a shorter than normal pre season training period.

The whole first team squad will undergo CoVid testing and health screening this Sunday at Rush Green with fitness testing, blood tests, cardiac screening and weighing continuing on Monday before they travel to Scotland on Tuesday for a five day intensive training camp.

The manager wants to ensure as many squad players get minutes on the pitch by sending one team to newly-promoted Championship side Wycombe Wanderers and the other team to League One Ipswich Town for their first tests. Both matches will kick-off simultaneously at 2pm with backroom staff split across the two locations to keep a beady eye on the players in action.

Both games will be video taped allowing the manager to review the performance of the game he could not attend in person. All pre-season matches will be played without supporters present, continuing to follow the behind closed doors protocols.

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West Ham head to Scottish training camp

West Ham United will kick-off their preparations for the 2020/21 Premier League season next week by heading to Scotland for a training camp, before returning home to begin a series of pre-season friendlies.

Following their next round of COVID-19 testing this Sunday. Moyes, his staff and the first-team squad will depart for Scotland on Tuesday 18th August. There, the Hammers will be put through an intense five-day training camp before returning to London.

David Moyes’ men will begin their programme of pre-season friendlies on Tuesday 25th August with a double header of away matches against EFL sides.

Moyes will split his squad with one team travelling to newly-promoted Championship side Wycombe Wanderers and one to League One Ipswich Town for their first tests. Both matches will kick-off simultaneously at 2pm.

Further pre-season friendly matches will follow and will be confirmed in due course on whufc.com.

All pre-season matches will be played without supporters present, continuing to follow the behind closed doors protocols.


Long term player deals come back to haunt Irons

West Ham’ decision to hand out long term contracts to various players is coming back to haunt them in a big way.

The club needs desperately to unload certain individuals but the decision to give them improved deals over a number of years to protect their values in the market has fallen flat on its face given Covid19.

There was huge surprise among some fans  when both Arthur Masuaku and Aaron Cresswell received new deals which took them to 2024 and 2023 respectively.

That was done to ensure the Hammers received decent offers but in reality  it has meant the club has made a rod for its own back.

For those two – along with Manu Lanzini whose contract runs out in 2023 – will be reluctant to move on should offers come in given they will have to take pay cuts in the current circumstances of anything up to 30 per cent on likely earnings of around £60k a week plus.

Injury stricken Winston Reid is another who is in contract until 2023 and with the problems he has experienced unlikely to ever see first team action again or able to join a club on anything like the salary he now commands.

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PL fixtures due within a week

The Premier League fixtures for the new season will be announced no later than August 21.

The new campaign will start on the weekend of Saturday, September 12, and will finish on Sunday, May 23.

The full fixture schedule, detailing all 380 Premier League matches, will be released no later than Friday, August 21, while the dates across the EFL will be released at 9am on August 21.
Hammers fans will be hoping for a start to the season similar to that of last year when apart from an opener at Manchester City their games included Brighton, Villa, Watford and Bournemouth.
It begins to feel – with the 20/21 games being announced so soon -as if football has never been away and with the players returning to training imminently we can prepare for another and hopefully much improved campaign.
Whether David Moyes manages to make additions to his squad ahead of the new campaign or starts with the same personnel as finished the last is the other big question we wait to be answered.
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Report: Ajeti took significant pay cut to join Celtic

Former Hammer Ablian Ajeti is claimed to have taken a significant pay cut from his £60,000-a-week wages to complete his transfer to Celtic according to a Sky Sports report

Yesterday Celtic completed the permanent signing of West Ham forward Albian Ajeti for a fee of around £4.5m with £1.5m of add-ons plus a 15% sell-on clause. The Parkhead side confirmed the signing of the Switzerland international after he agreed on terms on a four-year deal with the Scottish champions.

The report if true is symptomatic of the massive wages offered to players under the Manuel Pellegrini era which saw the annual wage bill soar to £136m in the 2018/2019 season. The wage bill is thought to have reduced last season but is still in excess of what the club receives from broadcasters.

A number of players including Sebastien Haller, Jack Wilshere and Manuel Lanzini are thought to be on six-figure weekly wages making it difficult to find them new clubs outside the Premier League.

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Football fans start to return next month

Football fans will finally begin returning to stadiums next month in trials after further easing of lockdown have been announced by the government yesterday. Capacity will be strictly capped and all fans will likely be urged not to chant or shout for fear of spreading the virus.

The new Premier League season starts on September 12th . Trials of allowing some fans back in stadiums will be tested later that month ahead of a planned full rollout in October.

Spectators will be made to sign up to a new code of behaviour. It will make them take full responsibility for themselves and others by not attending if they have Covid symptoms or have been exposed to anyone with them.

And strict crowd management plans will be enforced with one-way entry and exit and staggered arrival times. Seating will be socially distanced and hand washing and sanitiser stations set up. But no trials are scheduled for the North West, which remains under stricter control.


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West Ham back room staff member tests positive

West Ham have postponed a youth pre-season friendly on Sunday after one of their backroom staff tested positive for Covid-19. The Hammers Under 23 development squad had been due to play against Ipswich but the match has now been shelved. The development squad are preparing for the new Premier League 2 season in division one after promotion as champions.

The unnamed member of coaching staff member at the club’s academy returned a positive result as a part of routine testing procedures in place for all clubs.

The first-team are due to report back for testing and health screening at Rush Green on Sunday ahead of pre-season training on Monday.

A West Ham spokesperson said: “We can confirm that a member of our backroom staff within the Academy has tested positive for Covid-19. The individual, whose identity will remain private due to medical confidentiality, is asymptomatic and currently self-isolating in line with guidance.”