Plenty of rumours in the press that Stewart Downing might be sold, with Sunderland, Newcastle, and Leicester all interested and an apparent offer of £5m from Sunderland already turned down. Stewart might be keen on a return to the north-east for personal reasons, but it would surely be a mistake to sell him. Yes, Dimitri Payet might possibly take over his role as playmaker, but with the number of games West Ham are going to play this season Downing is still set to get a large number of games and can play in midfield, out wide and as an emergency left back. It might be tempting to get our money back for a 30-year-old, but with the amount of assists Downing made last season (eight) and his five goals we need to keep him.
West Ham have finally signed Dimitri Payet after a medical that seemed to take forever and the worrying news that Everton were trying to hijack the deal. But we've got him for £10 million plus on a five-year-deal. The downside is that he's 28 and won't have much resale value, but if he is the world class player David Sullivan promises then we may have someone who can propel us to the top eight. His departure has left some bitterness at Marseille and it sounds like his agent is the sort who will try to shift him on if he has a good season. But we've certainly missed a creator and it's intriguing to wonder where he'll fit into the side. He could play as a number ten behind Carroll or Sakho, as a midfielder perhaps replacing Downing in the diamond or out wide. And anyone who creates the number of goals he did last season — a whopping 21 plus seven himself — should be work watching. And all for the same price as Matt Jarvis.
Interesting piece on West Ham's pre-season in the Guardian today. It reveals that if we are to win the Europa League from the first qualifying round, which no team has ever done, West Ham will have to play an astounding 23 matches. There's a real danger of WHU getting into relegation trouble if that happens so the squad still needs more players. And we're so desperate for bodies that even Mauro Zarate — who fell out with Big Sam, Harry Redknapp and Chris Ramsey last season— has been welcomed back into the squad. Looks likes it will be mainly the kids and those returning from injury playing against the Andorrans, though the prices of £10 and £5 for kids are reasonable for the home leg. So here we go… who needs a close season anyway? Click on the link too read the full piece.
Get the Atlas out - we're going to FC Lusitans of Andorra in the qualifying round of the Europa League. Looks like the away leg will be on July 2 and the home leg on Thursday July 9, though this is not final. FC Lusitans have a capacity of all of 1000… Andorra is the sixth smallest nation in Europe and is on the French/Spanish border. Sounds easy on paper, but that's what West Ham once thought before playing Mansfield away in the FA Cup…
The Guardian reports that West Ham have offered £14 million for the Marseille striker Dimitri Payet, who has 15 caps for France. Sounds a versatile player who can play as an attacking midfielder/playmaker or winger and had the most assists (a very impressive 21) in the French league last season. Payet is 28, which means his resale value will be limited, but as a creator might well be the player we've been missing.
Impressed with the new kit. It's fitting that out final season at the Boleyn should be marked by something traditional-looking (indeed James Tomkins looks ready to play in the 1923 FA Cup Final). It was inspired by the first kit worn at Upton Park in 1904. You could also imagine Billy Bonds, Alan Taylor and Graham Paddon playing in this. Like the fact it's got the dates 1904-2016 on the badge too.
West Ham featured in the Evening Standard's poshness test this week (click on link to read). The quiz asked:
If asked what you will be doing during “the season” you say:
a) The usual, pitchside seats in the north stand at the Boleyn Ground, a pasty and a pint if the Hammers win, a right old dust-up if they lose.
b) Trying to pull some slappers in the Royal Enclosure on Ladies’ Day with your mates Biffo, Stinky and Trellis.
c) You’re looking forward to the Serpentine Gallery party and finally hearing Mozart’s Die Entfuhrung Aus Dem Serail at Glyndebourne, but the rest of the so-called season is so crowded and corporate these days, isn’t it?