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ITK Ex on Declan’s Montenegro display


Top ITK EXWHUemployee writes exclusively in ClaretandHugh on how he rated  Declan Rice’s performance against Montenegro and includes an invitation to what looks an excellent pre-match event ahead of the Everton game on Saturday evening


Following Declan Rice’s first start for England I felt compelled to write about how I felt he got on and how he has handled recent events in his short career.

Whilst the majority of people could see that it was a very assured performance and he did probably everything that was asked of him by Southgate, a few people were criticizing his game.

I find this baffling and it lead me to asking whether they had watched the game or whether there was a hidden bias to their opinions. Yes, there are things Declan could have done that perhaps he didn’t and I have seen him have even better games than this but this is only because he has set the benchmark so high.

Yesterday, he still delivered a brilliant performance.

By trade a defensive midfielder’s job is to break up the play by tackling or intercepting retrieve the ball and give it to the more creative midfielders/wingers in the team and his match stats suggest this is exactly what he did.

Some argued he could have been more creative and I am sure he can be but when the team is playing away in tough conditions he was more than likely instructed to be defensive and give the attacking players their chance to create. We won the game 5-1 away against decent opposition so by that stat alone it is fair to say he did his job well.

It seems like it is going to be a long time before Declan will shake all this talk of his time at Ireland and once more the recent media attention puts a lot of pressure on a young and down to earth lad’s shoulders.

What makes this harder is that the decision to choose between his grandparent’s nation and his parents and country of birth was one that he didn’t take lightly. As he is stated I am sure that he was very proud to represent Ireland and is now equally as proud to represent England. It is a shame that he will be made to feel like he shouldn’t be proud of his Irish career.

I just hope that as the months go by he will be judged on his football and that alone. This football ability has already shown clear signs that in a few year’s time, don’t forget his only 20, we will be talking about a genuine World Class player.

This weekend we are delighted to welcome Mad Dog Martin Allen and Kenny Brown Jnr to our prematch event hosted by Mark Ward. The event starts at 1:30pm and finishes at 4:30pm and is just two stops by Tube from Stratford.

You can drink as much as you want for that price, meet and have photos with the players, watch classic West Ham footage and listen to match day tunes too. These events have created many solid groups of friends and really should not be missed. Please get your tickets here: https://www.tickettailor.com/events/thewesthamwayevents/248181

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Andy Carroll on the move

West Ham striker Andy Carroll has reportedly purchased Sir Rod Stewart’s mansion in Epping suggesting he plans to stay in the area after his contract with the Hammers ends this summer.

Rock star Stewart’s Copped Hall has been up for sale for some time having an original asking price of £7.5m but this has still dropped to a guide price of £4.725m. The house features a full-size football pitch, swimming pool, tennis court and stables set in formal gardens.

Estate agents Savills confirmed it recently sold in March but refused to reveal the identity of the buyer.

The Copped Hall online sales brochure on Savills website can be viewed HERE

Carroll put his Chigwell house up for sale with an asking price of £5m in January which is still marked for sale on Rightmove.co.uk

Carroll had been rumoured to a move to American MLS league or a return to Newcastle but a move to Epping suggest his family wants to stay in the South.

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Lanzini international absence explained

West Ham have assured fans that Manu Lanzini’s absence from the Argentina friendly international against Venezuala last Friday was pre-arranged between themselves and his nation.

Fears had arisen that the Hammers midfielder could have again been injured in training as had been the case ahead of the World Cup.

But in fact the club and Argentine FA had an agreement in place ahead of the match – which ended in a 3-1 defeat for Lanzini’s international colleagues -that the player could train but would not take part in the game.

After such a devastating injury that was the condition that allowed him to travel for a game and assure him that he was still very much in the Argentine frame.

Explaining the situation to CandH a top Hammers insider told us: “Due to his recent very severe long term injury, it was agreed in advance that he’d train, but not play. So it went as expected.”

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Hammers make top three in attendances

West Ham have the third highest average attendance in the Premier League this season with 57,904 tickets sold on average for each game and that could soon improve.

1st Man Utd: 74,503 2nd Arsenal: 59,888 3rd West Ham: 57,904 4th Man City: 54,120 5th Liverpool: 52,899 6th Tottenham: 52,584 7th Newcastle: 50,936 8th Chelsea: 40,531 9th Everton: 38,982 10th Leicester: 31,823

With the increase in capacity at the London Stadium to 60,000 this January, the average attendance is likely to increase further next season.

Official attendances since the capacity increase have been Brighton 59,870 Arsenal 59,946 Liverpool 59,903 Fulham 59,950 Newcastle 59,910 and Huddlesfield 59,931.

At that rate, the average attendance since January in Premier League games is 59,918 which enough to leapfrog Arsenal into second place in the Premier League attendance table.

We all know that Official attendances are the number of tickets sold and not the real attendances but it is the only metric published by all Premier League clubs and all clubs have an element of non-attendance from season ticket holders.



Rice stats defy his England critics

Declan Rice’s stats from last night’s international in Montenegro defy the critics who have been tearing into his performance on Twitter.

One comment claimed that he was poor man’s Scott Parker’s whilst others wrote off his display as less than average.

And on the BBC website – under a player ratings article – he scored 4.12 which is the lowest of any England starter last night and the fourth lowest rating of any player on the pitch.

There are others who claim that “bigging up ” players, as has been the case with Rice this, site doesn’t help them although the avalanche of praise from players, managers, pundits and fans from everywhere this season doesn’t seem to have harmed the defensive midfielder’s progress to full international status.

His stats from last night tell the full story of his game and speak louder than any words from journalists or fans whose opinions are of little value alongside the numbers.

The bare stats above need a few words of explanation and here they are:

Pass completion 96% (highest in England’s starting XI)
Tackles 6 (most for England)
Interceptions 2 (most for England)
Blocks 3

Defensive midfielders aren’t always the most appreciated among some!

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Chicharito v Arnie – and the winner is…..

West Ham fans would sooner Javier Hernandez left the club were the choice to be between him and Marko Arnautovic.

Both strikers have had plenty of criticism this season over form and in Hernandez’s case on pitch behaviour.

There are of course those who would sooner they both left the club in the summer.

But even though Arnautovic’s winter hopes of moving to China and the ill will that went with it have left a sour taste in the mouths of the fans, the majority would keep him over the Mexican in the latest ClaretandHugh poll.

Given the circumstances surrounding the pair we posed the question: “Given a choice between the two which striker would you keep if you could only keep one?”

A total of 845 voted to keep Arnie giving him a 58.16 per cent of the vote whilst Chicharito picked up 608 votes which gave him 41.84 per cent share of the vote.

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Maxi Gomez update




West Ham summer target Maxi Gomez last night grabbed his first ever international goal for Uruguay against Thailand to round off a 4-o win over Thailand in the China Cup final.

The Celta Vigo striker scored in the 88th minute and it was not among the most spectacular he will ever manage. His touch on the edge of the box took a big deflection before finding the net.

However, that was of no consequence to the front man who celebrated on Twtter afterwards before returning to Spain for a crucial game against Villareal at the weekend.

Gomez’s release clause with his club reduces to £22 million should they be relegated and Vigo are currently locked into the relegation zone – being third off bottom.

They are now four points behind Saturday’s visitors and defeat at home would make a Great Escape increasingly difficult with just nine games of the season left after the clash.

That can only be of benefit to the Hammers who continue to track the club’s situation with understandable interest given the possible financial advantages on offer should they be relegated.

With injured Andy Carroll now looking certain to leave at the end of the campaign, Gomez has been the most discussed of the Hammers striker targets although there has been plenty of what the club believe is “agent talk” about other interest in recent weeks.


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Pelle mulls over midfielder move

Jonjo Shelvey – regularly linked with the Irons over the last couple of years – could finally emerge as a realistic target for the Hammers this summer.

Manuel Pellegrini is understood  to like the player but after his injury issues this season he is tempering his  interest with some caution.

The manager is keen to strengthen midfield where Pedro Obiang looks certain to get his long awaited move back to Italy.

Shelvey has fallen down the Newcastle pecking order this season as younger Toon midfield stars have emerged sparking fresh speculation over the Romford born player’s future.

We understand that Pellegrini and director of football Mario Husillos have a list of players who interest them and whilst Shelvey is among them he is not anymore a target than several others at this stage.

Meanwhile the Newcastle Chronicle claim that a £20 million offer was made for Shelvey in the winter but haven’t made it clear where from.

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Hammers in exciting pre-season tournament

The Nanjing Olympic Sports Centre

West Ham United  have this morning confirmed they will be competing for the Premier League Asia Trophy in China this summer.

Given the winter circumstances surrounding Marko Arnautovic that could be greeted with some irony but it’s an ambitious move by the club who will join Manchester City, Newcastle United and Wolverhampton Wanderers in the tournament this July.

CandH brought news of the tour a couple of weeks back and sadly we understand there is a particularly difficult hurdle in reaching the final already as we have been drawn as Manchester City’s first opponents.

The pre-season could hardly be more different to last term when the team played a series of UK friendlies against the likes of Villa Wycombe Wanderers, Preston North End and Ipswich Town.

Although pre-season is about getting fitness levels and pattern of play right it is good to be testing ourselves against similar opposition to that we will meet in the season and this is also a chance to spread the club’s name globally.

The four teams will feature in a double-header at Nanjing Olympic Sports Centre on Wednesday 17 July, before heading to Shanghai’s Hongkou Stadium on Saturday 20 July for the third/fourth place play-off and final.

It will be the first time the biennial tournament takes place in two different locations.

Premier League Interim Chief Executive Richard Masters said: “We are delighted to be bringing the Premier League Asia Trophy to China this summer.  In Manchester City, we have the reigning Premier League champions competing for the trophy, along with three other excellent clubs in Newcastle United, West Ham United and Wolverhampton Wanderers. ”

The official site declares that ticket information and on-sale dates will be confirmed in due course.

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West Ham Podcast: London Stadium 2019

Episode twenty-seven of season eight of the popular West Ham podcast Moore Than Just A Podcast is now available to listen online or download.  Claret and Hugh Associate editor Sean Whetstone with fellow presenter Nigel Kahn discusses the 2019 London Stadium Survey filled out by nearly 4,440 match going supporters showing improvements in every single area compared to twelve months ago.

We also discuss the season ticket renewal deadline moving and briefly touch on Declan Rice and his England performances as well as answer questions from Facebook and Twitter sent in by listeners on this one hour and twenty six special during the International break.

Download or listen online at www.moorethanjustapodcast.co.uk

The podcast was recorded on Monday evening of 25th March. It is available on all popular platforms to listen online or download including Acast, TunedIn, Player.FM and ITunes

Now also on Spotify too at MOORETHANJUSTAPODCAST

Join the discussion on the MTJAP Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/moorethanjustapodcast/