WHO Poll
Q: 2020/2021 Where will we finish up this season?
a. Top Four, Champions League here we come
b. 5th-7th Europa League is well within our grasp
c. 8th to 14th anywhere in mid table is about right
d. We're in a dog fight before a ball has been kicked and we'll do well to finish 17th or just above
e. GSB have derailed our season before a ball has been kicked, the Championship beckons

Saturday newspapers (includes West Ham)
Alan 2:05 Sat Feb 1
Other articles by Alan ...


Southampton and England striker Danny Ings, 27, was the subject of an approach by Manchester United in January. (Telegraph)

United have instead agreed a loan deal which will see them pay a third of 30-year-old Nigeria striker Odion Ighalo's £300,000-a-week wages from parent club Shanghai Shenhua. (Mail)

Manchester United also considered a bid for Norwich and Finland forward Teemu Pukki, 29. (Independent)

Meanwhile, Juventus want to bolster their midfield by bringing in Manchester United's France international Paul Pogba, 26, and Brescia's Sandro Tonali, 19, in the summer. (Calciomercato - in Italian)

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy travelled to Spain for talks with Real Madrid president Florentino Perez in a bid to bring Wales forward Gareth Bale, 30, back to Spurs. (Times)

Leicester City are keen on Southampton's Danish midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, 24, whose contract runs out in 18 months' time. (Ekstra Bladet - via Leicester Mercury)

Manchester United's Serbian midfielder Nemanja Matic, 31, has rejected offers to leave and is willing to extend his contract should the club decide to open talks. (Telegraph)

England's 34-year-old defender Ashley Young, who joined Inter Milan in January, says Antonio Conte tried to sign him when he was Chelsea manager. (Sky Sports)

Carlo Ancelotti says Everton will find it easy to resist offers for Richarlison if bids are made for the forward in the future. The 22-year-old Brazilian was linked with a move to Barcelona during the transfer window. (Liverpool Echo)

Crystal Palace missed out on two deadline day moves. Forward Jarrod Bowen, 23, joined West Ham from Hull while 19-year-old full-back Nathan Ferguson remained at West Brom. (Mail)

Former Arsenal manager Unai Emery says Gunners fans "threw him out" of the club. (Marca - in Spanish)

Jose Mourinho says Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy delivered a "fantastic" deal in the sale of Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen, 27, to Inter Milan for £17m. (Evening Standard)

Manchester City's German winger Leroy Sane, 24, is keeping the club waiting on a long-standing contract offer, says manager Pep Guardiola. (Guardian)

Manchester United failed in their bid to sign Birmingham City's 16-year-old midfielder Jude Bellingham. (Mail)

The Red Devils made contact with Argentine club San Lorenzo over a move for striker Adolfo Gaich, 20, before the transfer deadline. (Fox Sports Argentina - via Express)

Manchester City want to sign Coritiba's 17-year-old full-back Yan Couto with Barcelona pulling out of the race to sign the Brazilian. (Goal)

Former Arsenal and France winger Robert Pires says Liverpool will win the Premier League title through "luck", adding the Gunners' 'Invincibles' had it "much, much harder". (France Football - in French)

Real Madrid are keen to sign Ajax's Dutch forward Brian Brobbey, 17. (Mundo Deportivo - in Spanish)

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has dismissed talk of Egyptian striker Mohamed Salah, 27, moving away from Anfield at the end of the season. (Liverpool Echo)


'This is hurting me bad but I will be back': Jack Wilshere posts defiant message after injury-hit West Ham star underwent hernia operation

Jack Wilshere shared a defiant message after undergoing a hernia operation
The injury-plagued West Ham midfielder is adamant he will return to action
Wilshere has played just 16 games since joining the club on a free transfer
But West Ham are reportedly hopeful Wilshere will not be out for a long period

By Daniel Davis

Jack Wilshere has shared a defiant social media message with followers after the West Ham star underwent a hernia operation.

The 28-year-old, who joined on a free transfer in 2018, has seen his time at the east London club blighted by a string of setbacks - and has made just 16 appearances.

And although his injury woes continued after requiring surgery, Wilshere is adamant he will bounce back to feature for the Hammers again.

The former Arsenal youngster, reportedly earning £100,000 a week, posted on Instagram: 'Laugh at me, but remember I am a human being who only wants to get my boots on and play football, the one thing I love.

'And my body at the moment is not allowing me to. This is hurting me bad, but I will be back.'

The injury-plagued star also shared photos after his operation, stating that 'tough times don't last'.

Wilshere has recorded only a single goal and assist after leaving the Emirates, with the ex-England international's injury record once again blighting his career.

Despite being labelled as a '£100million' player when fully fit by former manager Manuel Pellegrini, Wilshere missed the majority of the last campaign after surgery on his troublesome ankle.

The former Bournemouth loanee is yet to take part in a first-team session under David Moyes, although could return to full training after his recovery.

The Evening Standard believe there is no expected date of return in place for the midfielder, although West Ham are hopeful Wilshere will not be absent for a long period.


How West Ham's bubbles burst: An inflated wage bill, a woefully unbalanced squad and a muddled transfer strategy has left the Hammers in danger of relegation and financial ruin after decade of decline

West Ham fans have rightly questioned decisions made by the club's owners
Fans are still unhappy with the club's move to the Olympic Stadium in 2016
West Ham have wasted money on transfer fees and wages with little reward
David Moyes faces huge job to turn the club's season around and clinch survival

By Riath Al-Samarrai

It could be noted with a degree of dark humour this week that the fear and loathing at West Ham might be easing.

The reason being that a banner which caught the cameras at the London Stadium only called for Karren Brady and David Sullivan to take their 'lies' elsewhere, so maybe David Gold has won over a few hearts.

Wishful thinking, perhaps, in a place where the wishes are increasingly desperate and the need for smart thinking has never been greater. Granted it was a better transfer window than most they have had of late, and the signing of Jarrod Bowen does permit a slither of optimism, but the fact Saturday's clash at home with Brighton looks so important says just about everything.

West Ham fans want answers from the club's board after a decade of decline under leadership

Except it doesn't, because as ever with this club there is so much that can be added. Plenty of which was said in that protest a fortnight ago in the Olympic Park, where 900 or so supporters vented on the 10-year anniversary of the ownership of the Davids, Gold and Sullivan.

In the land of claret and blue it has often tended to be distinctly black and white, even when the reality, as usual, is more nuanced.

What many fans see as a betrayal of heritage over the stadium move in 2016, others see paying £2.5million a year to rent a new stadium with no running costs as the bargain of this or any century. What numerous folk see as a scandal of self-interest, namely that Gold and Sullivan have taken £18.6m in interest payments on their £45m loan, supporters of several clubs will hold some envy for a net spend of £214.4m on players in four years.

If neglect is the biggest sin of a football owner, then it is possibly one charge that is hard to stick on Gold and Sullivan, even if you are among those who doubt the romanticism of their motivations. But good decisions? Spending wisely? The installation of sound structures? They have an awful lot to answer in those regards.

This week has been especially revealing to that purpose, courtesy of the release of the 2018-19 financial results. They showed a pre-tax loss of £28.2m despite raised turnover, and warned of the dire consequences of relegation. We also learnt that Brady, the vice-chair, took a £238,000 bonus and her latest annual earnings were £1.136m.

While that figure sits uncomfortably next to the club's recent fortunes, it is the explanation for the wider losses that really get you thinking. They derive from the 2018 push for a 'world-class manager' in Manuel Pellegrini, an expansion plan that saw him spend £108m on players that season and an explosion of the wage bill, which grew by almost £30m to £135.8 and upped their wages-to-turnover ratio to a potential red zone above 70 per cent.

When wondering about what it actually bought, it is necessary to call to mind the situation of Mark Noble, the club legend who, at 32, is known to have remarked privately that he is at an age when his position in the team should be under constant threat and yet it isn't.

Where, among the incoming faces, of which most were midfielders, is the challenge to his place? How could the recruitment operation, such as it is, get it all so wrong?

One tale told about their work centres on the signing of Jack Wilshere.

The club are said to have favoured a one-year deal in 2018 for a midfielder with such a lengthy service history but Wilshere wanted three and Pellegrini made it clear that the player was needed. He has made just 16 appearances and this week underwent a hernia operation.

Sources around the club have questioned if the ownership were too quick to bend on such matters to their former manager, and whether they were blinded by his former glories.

It is certainly a tempting thought of a man who worked at Real Madrid and Manchester City, but whose previous assignment before West Ham was in China. Not that Pellegrini has often been mistaken for an inferno of intensity in the past decade, but at West Ham there was barely a dull glow.

Finishing 10th last season was no disgrace, but equally it was no surprise when he was sacked after Christmas with his team 17th in the table.

In the reshuffle we saw the continuation of a trend of disjointed thinking – from Sam Allardyce to Slaven Billic to David Moyes to Pellegrini to Moyes again, there has been no overlap in style. If it sounds like muddled thought it is because it is, which tallies with what we have seen from the transfer strategy.

Of that 2018 season of excess, beyond Wilshere, Carlos Sanchez flopped, Lucas Perez left after four league starts and Andriy Yarmolenko has been crippled by injury.

The 2019 influx included a goalkeeper in Roberto who has already left on loan after a genre-defining spell of bad form and £45m record signing Sebastien Haller, a striker who is on a six-game run without a goal. Somehow, for all the investment, Moyes inherited a badly unbalanced squad.

The departure of Tony Henry from the head of recruitment post in 2018 – after comments about African players that were revealed by Sportsmail – has doubtless had an impact. But further alarm comes from the suggestion that the club has been operating with a tiny scouting team and, as of December, no director of football following the sacking of Mario Husillos. Sullivan has been accused of having too much influence on signings – something he plays down - and likewise that the club are overly reliant on a couple of agents.

But it is presumably for a reason that they have a mixed reputation in the market.

One anecdote from a recent window goes that a player tempted by less than £20,000 a week by a Premier League rival ended up on in excess of £50,000 at West Ham. Not vastly uncommon, granted, but it plays to the widespread view that the operation could be sharper.

Time will tell how the signings of this window get on. Joe Cole said last week that players had been going to West Ham for a 'holiday' and Moyes has been championing a sea change, with his desire for younger, hungrier, fitter recruits over the more established sorts they had been signing to such limited success. It is notable that his right back search is understood to have included Joakim Maehle (22), Rasmus Kristensen (22) and 21-year-old Moussa Wague of Barcelona.

It feels a sensible step, as are moves the manager is understood to be planning in respect of improvements to sports science and nutrition, with an eye on reducing the injury situation.

On the pitch, it would be wrong to talk about an uplift since his appointment – West Ham are winless in their past five in all competitions. But the defence has tightened and performance levels are creeping up.

That is something but you sense far more is needed, both on the surface and beneath it, where the greater problems lie.

Replies - Newest Posts First (Show In Chronological Order)

Mex Martillo 4:46 Sat Feb 1
Re: Saturday newspapers (includes West Ham)
The Stoat 4:25 Sat Feb 1
“ But the defence has tightened and performance levels are creeping up.”

The Stoat 4:25 Sat Feb 1
Re: Saturday newspapers (includes West Ham)
Thanks Alan 2:20 Sat Feb 1

Thanks Alan 2:20 Sat Feb 1
Re: Saturday newspapers (includes West Ham)
Thanks Alan

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