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Is this the starting X1 for opening day?

It maybe very early days – and as is widely recognised  there’s a lot of improvement required – but a likely first X1 for the match against City may be starting to shape up.

The arrival of the two new boys fixes two places whilst one of two others appear to carry the the ‘taken’ sign.

Most will be a tad concerned that we have fewer decent strong defensive options than may be desirable against Pep Guardiola’s outfit.

But whether it fits your criteria or not, Pelle is an attack minded guy who is bringing back memories of the West Ham Way days with something of a vengeance.

There remains time for several players to make a claim but as things stand there seems no way that either Seb Haller or Pablo Fornals will not be included along with the stand out pre-season performer so far – Jack Wilshere.

The left back position is something of a puzzle where I see Aaron Cresswell missing out completely with Arthur Masuaku probably getting the shout although impressive youngster Ben Johnson cannot be ruled out.

I can find no role for either Chicharito of Antonio apart from the bench and see the boss adopting a 4-1-3-1-1 formation.

On what we’ve seen and know of the new signings so far here’s how I see it – and we would welcome your teams!

Fabianski; Fredericks, Diop, Balbuena, Masuaku or Johnson; Rice; Wilshere, Fornals, Anderson; Lanzini; Haller

Bench: Roberto, Ogbonna, Zaba, Noble Snodgrass, Antonio Yarmolenko

Should I have got it right in leaving Nobes out it leaves the team without  captain and my choice would be either Fabianski or Balbuena.



POLL:How important are pre-season results

With the pre-season friendlies underway and two defeats in the Asia Cup behind us our poll today asks just how much importance should be attached to results.



Anderson looks for much improvement

Felipe Anderson has been talking up the Hammers squad whilst admitting whilst admitting they all now they need to “improve a lot” from where we are right now.

The Brazilian has looked in pretty good nick over the opening three games with what attacking intent there has been generally going through him.

But with just one win – when two goals were conceded – behind us there’s little question that the team needs to up its game  and we – like him – will be looking for a win against Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday.

We are likely to see both Pablo Fornals and Sen Haller playing a part for the first time and their contributions are likely to make significant viewing as we watch their input.

The squad are currently flying back from China today before  having a day off on Monday and linking up with the new boys plus Fabien Balbuena and Arthur Masuaku at Rush Green on Tuesday.

Speaking at https://www.whufc.com/news/articles/2019/july/21-july/felipe-anderson-west-ham-have-players-go-far Anderson said: We gave a good effort, unfortunately we couldn’t win and we have to keep on working.

“We have a competitive team, we have the players to go far, and good signings have arrived as well. We are working well, we know we have to improve a lot, but we have a great team and there is still a lot of time left ”

He added: “We have to start winning soon, we have 20 days to start the season, we are working well and I hope we win the next game” he concluded.


Newcastle could offer lifeline to former Hammer

Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce is interested in bringing back Andy Carroll to St James’ Park on a free transfer according to the Newcastle Chronicle.

The Chronicle claims Bruce is a big admirer of Carroll but wants him to prove his fitness first. The newly appointed head coach has already made checks on Carroll’s fitness status with the big striker still recovering from an ankle operation. Carroll has not made a decision on his future yet but has had offers from abroad including China Super League and the US MLS.

Andy Caroll continues to train at Rush Green with permission of Manual Pellegrini under the supervision of a private consultant in an effort to get match fit.

The big boyhood Toon fan and former season ticket holder is said to be interested for a chance to finish his career at his home town but wants to keep his options open until he has recovered from his illness.


Our Hammers pre-season ratings so far

It’s  too early to be too hard and fast about anything and these ratings are as much for general interest rather than as true critical assessments.

There have been one or two highlights as the Hammers continue on their get fit regime which Manuel Pellegrini has made his priority rather than results.

Here’s what we have seen so far.

Roberto: Looks a decent back up to Fab and like the way he stands tall until the last moment 6

Martin: No rating

Fabianski: Looked to have continued where he finished against Newcastle 7

Fredericks: Huge pace and will be a real threat down the right side 7

Zaba: Says this will be his last PL season but still looks better than many in his position at this level 7

Diop: Once again looking business 7

Cresswell: Unimpressive 4

Rice: Has admitted he needs to get better – maybe –  but looking as good as ever 7

Ogbonna: Okay but still has those worrying moments of uncertainty 5

Reid: Calm and composed as is his way- steady improvement on cards 5

Johnson: A revelation – big future awaits on strength of what we’ve seen so far 7

Sanchez: Worrying 3

Noble: Done little wrong but no serious impact yet 5

Obiang: Looks to be waiting for his move 4

Cullen: Wholehearted but competing in the toughest and most competitive area in the squad 4

Snodgrass: Looking fit, energetic and high energy 6

Yarmolenko: Looking decent after injury but a way to go 5

Lanzini: Very quick over the first five yards – still waiting for fireworks 5

Wilshere: Pick of the bunch thus far – creative and controlling midfield whenever on the pitch 8

Anderson: Lots going through him and looking the part 7

Diangana:  Needs to break through this season – looks more mature in decision making 5

Antonio: Not yet up to full speed as he adjusts to an out and out striker role 5

Chicharito: Not too much to report at this point 4

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Report: Spurs wanted Haller

German media have suggested Mauricio Pochettino wanted Haller as a second-choice to his talisman Harry Kane not so long ago.

Spurs are said to have scouted him during Haller’s days in the Netherlands with Utrecht.

The report by Get Football News Germany gives an insight to French striker explaining ‘Haller is a fighter. He loves a tackle. He loves to get stuck into a challenge as if it is his last. He competed for 14.1 challenges per game this past season and won 8.3 of them per game. A monstrous statistic. That proves why former Eagles’ boss Niko Kovac described Haller as a man ‘even a bulldozer can’t move’. He also made more tackles per game than any striker in the Bundesliga and also made more interceptions per game than any of them.

Another key part of Haller’s play is his intelligence. Playing in a front three that is free-flowing and plays quick football requires the players to know where to pop up at the right time. Haller has the brains to know when to drop into deeper areas to drag defenders out of positions, allowing the other attacking players to make runs in behind.

Haller is adept at using deft flick-ons to find teammates and that became a very important part of his approach at Frankfurt. From playing 1 key pass per game in the 2017/18 season, Haller played 1.3 key passes per game this season. That development in his game has seen him become a striker who got nine goals in his first Bundesliga season to becoming one of the most complete strikers in Europe.


Morelos hat-trick sparks new speculation

Hammers-linked Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos made his presence felt in a big way as the transfer window countdown continued when grabbing a hat-trick against St Joseph’s in a Europa League qualifier.

It came on Thursday night amid speculation that the Irons are possibly set to make a bid along – ironically – with Frankfurt after losing Seb Haller to us.

Despite his bad boy reputation, the Colombian, the 22 year old is a real goal machine having now scored four in the two legged affair against St Joseph’s following his 30 in 51 games for Rangers last season.

He admits he wants Premier League football saying recently in an interview with El Tiempo ” There are a lot of people watching me from other clubs, but now I’m only thinking about Rangers and the national team, I’m focused on that, 

“I’m only 22 but in five years who knows if I’ll be in a much bigger team. Hopefully, it will be in the Premier League because I have a lot of ambition, but if I have to go to another league I enjoy it.”

With his price set at around £15 million it seem unlikely that the Hammers will be involved in a move and Manuel Pellegrini admitted yesterday that he is happy with his options.

It’s a big leap from the Scottish Premier to the English but this is a player whose record suggests he is more than capable of making the jump.

The Hammers boss hasn’t entirely ruled out more transfer business but essentially gives the impression he is happy with what he has available.

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Haller reveals fans and stadium helped decision

Seb Haller has admitted the Hammers fans and the “beautiful stadium” played a big part in his decision to join West

The Frenchman has admitted taking his time to make the move but knows now he has made the right decision declaring: “The thought of playing in front of 60,000 [at London Stadium] was a big attraction

Speaking at  https://www.whufc.com/news/articles/2019/july/20-july/haller-i-cant-wait-feel-support-60000-west-ham-fans he said: “It’s the thing that can push you to give 10% more every game. When I spoke to the manager he said West Ham is an ambitious club, a nice club, a nice city and nice fans too.

“They said I will feel great here. Of course I tried to find some information about the club and they gave me the confidence to sign.

“I’ve only been once to London before and it’s a really great city. I will take time to explore the city but the stadium is great. It’s beautiful and I’m just looking forward to playing inside it with a lot of fans.”

“I am not afraid to travel because I know it is part of the job,” he explained. “I think football is a chance to travel like that, to see a lot of countries, a lot of cultures and to learn about people.

“Now it’s England and I’m really excited to start.

“[I’m coming into the] best years of my career and this is why I came here. I want to succeed, I want to perform a lot for the club and help this club get a lot of success.”

ClaretandHugh says: It still seems remarkable that Haller has landed at the club. Just a couple of weeks ago the position up front looked extraordinarily worrying with the news that Maxi Gomez had turned us down, Few realistically believed we could attract a guy who appeared to have to have the world at his feet according to those who know his game well. That he should now be here, and clearly excited about it, after what in real terms was a pretty quick negotiating process, is brilliant news. It is reasonable that there are reservations about the fact that we now only have two other front men but it also seems clear that Pellegrini will be expecting midfield to weight in with its share where last season Anderson scored 10 and Fornals five for Villareal. We would love to see a back up striker arrive but Haller is a seriously good buy and assuming he remains fit looks a top buy and we expect the manager to develop a system to cover what some possibly worrying deficiencies up front.


Pellegrini plants signing poser

Manuel Pellegrini made an almost throwaway remark towards the end of his post match press conference today after the Newcastle match was probably as important as anything he has said in pre-season.

As is his style, he left it hanging there tantalisingly allowing us to make as much or little of it as we want whilst he remained as calm and laid back as ever.

It almost lined up with what we have been hearing regularly from inside the club since the club following the arrival of record signing Seb Haller …but not quite.

The script appears to be that we have finished buying  and given that Pelle is not a great believer in loans that may well be it for this summer.

However, the manager left the door very slightly ajar although frankly it really would come as a big surprise were another striker to appear.

The manager probably didn’t need mean to tease but his words are likely to be examined very closely indeed by those looking for clues.

He said: “In this moment, we have Sebastien Haller who just arrived at the club and we also have Javier Hernandez and Antonio, who are two players who can also play as a striker.

“Until the last day or the last hour of the transfer market, you can make changes but I think, in this moment, with those players we have good options.”

Sounds to me as though he believes – in these circumstances – he  has his squad but Pellegrini is probably the most enigmatic manager in the game.

Your thoughts?

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Declan admits he must improve

Back in the days when he was academy chief I remember Terry Westley telling me that Declan Rice showed all the hallmarks of a top professional because he is never happy with his game.

He added that all he wants to do is learn and he would sooner do it in West Ham’s first team than as a squad player at one of the top six clubs.

It was as much that philosophy that led him to sign a six year deal with the Irons as anything else and it hasn’t taken the 20 year old to admit that he needs to get a lot better at various elements of his game.

Such a rapid rise to the top of the game could leave many of his age with ego problems but Declan is made of different stuff and more than ready to explain what needs to be added to his game.

Speaking to the official site he said: You need to improve. I don’t think you can be happy and content with how I played last season. I’m certainly not. I know I can get better for sure.

“There is so much of my game I need to get better at, maybe going forward a bit more; sometimes in my position, I’m just there to sit there and keep things ticking; my tactical side of the game; when to drop in as a centre-half and when to push up – there are so many things.

“I’m still only 20 years old. I’m enjoying playing every week, I’m learning and I’m trying to get better.”

And despite results going against the team in China he believes the trip was an important exercise saying: “It’s been really tough. “We knew what we were getting when we were coming out to China – hot weather, humidity and two good tests in Newcastle and Manchester City.

“Overall, it’s been a good trip. We didn’t manage to win either of the games, but I don’t think that matters too much as long as we gel as a team and we’re getting back into the swing of things and getting fitter so we’re ready for the new season. It’s been good and we’ll learn from it.

“The conditions were hard to play in, especially on Saturday when we played at five o’clock and it was really hot and sticky. Against Man City it was a bit easier as it was cooler but, like I said, we knew what were getting into when the manager decided to come here.

“It’s a great tournament and it’s tough, but we’re going to get fitter and it stands us in good stead for when we go back.”

“Last season was a disastrous start, but we have been with the manager a year now and we all know what we want and the players have been around each other long enough.

“There are no excuses for how we started last season, but this season we’re getting ready, we’re building, we’re getting physically better and come Manchester City in the first [Premier League] game, we’re going to be ready.”