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

Alan 12:34 Mon Mar 15
Monday newspapers (includes West Ham)

Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo, 36, represents the "future" of Juventus, according to the Serie A side's director, Fabio Paratici. (ESPN)

Barcelona are closing in on a deal to sign Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero but the 32-year-old's free-transfer arrival in the summer could depend on whether the Nou Camp club can convince his fellow Argentine forward Lionel Messi, 33, to stay with them. (AS)

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could look to offload 28-year-old England midfielder Jesse Lingard, 32-year-old Spain forward Juan Mata, 21-year-old Portuguese defender Diogo Dalot and English defender Phil Jones, 29, to add to his £80m summer budget. (Metro)

Wolves will receive £12m from Liverpool this summer as part of the deal which saw Portugal forward Diogo Jota, 24, join the Anfield club in September. (Telegraph - subscription only)

American midfielder Christian Pulisic, 22, linked with Manchester United and Liverpool, wants to fight for his place at Chelsea. (Fabrizio Romano via Express)

Borussia Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc says the club are prioritising achieving a Champions League place through the Bundesliga as they try to keep Norway striker Erling Braut Haaland, 20, for "as long as possible". (Welt am Sonntag, via Goal)

Manchester City have approached Sporting Lisbon about defender Nuno Mendes as they look to move ahead of Real Madrid in trying to sign the 18-year-old Portuguese. (AS, via Mail)

Arsenal are interested in Eintracht Frankfurt's French defender Evan N'Dicka, 21, and have also asked to be kept informed about 24-year-old Brighton and Mali midfielder Yves Bissouma's situation. (Express)

Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez, 23, is confident of signing a new deal with the club, despite what the Argentine described as "a bit of financial difficulty" at the Italian side. (Sky Sports Italia, via Goal)

Denmark playmaker Christian Eriksen was linked with leaving Inter Milan in January but the 29-year-old says he is now happy at the Serie A side. (Sky Sports Italia, via Football Italia)

Chelsea want at least 20m euros (£17m) for Italy defender Emerson Palmieri, with Inter Milan and Napoli interested in signing the 26-year-old. (Calciomercato, via Football Italia)

Barcelona teenager Ilaix Moriba's father said he cancelled his son's flight to Manchester when the 18-year-old Spaniard was close to joining Manchester City in 2019. (Sport)

Pay-per-view games could stay, with the EFL in talks to continue offering fans the chance to watch their team's home matches online even after supporters return to grounds. (Mail)


Craig Dawson own goal enough for Manchester United to sink West Ham

Jamie Jackson at Old Trafford

Manchester United are doing what is required: winning to ensure those chasing do not gain ground, this edgy victory following that of third-place Leicester’s earlier on Sunday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side were hardly a whirr of irresistible football but they will not care. In squeezing Craig Dawson into heading past his own goalkeeper, Lukasz Fabianski, for the winner, the home side also kept the Hammers nine points behind them in fifth in the challenge for a Champions League berth.

The manager characterised this week as “massive” due to the match being followed by Thursday’s trip to Milan for the Europa League last-16 second leg – the tie is poised at 1-1 – and Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final at Leicester. “We are starting to build some momentum - have opened the gap further to West Ham which was important,” Solskjaer said.

“We want to improve on last season – finish second, reach a final, so this week was always going to be massive.” Manchester United are unbeaten in 13 games and have allowed only one goal in their last six. “If you have clean sheets you have a good foundation,” the manager said.

He was able to select Marcus Rashford after he had been an injury concern, while David Moyes was unable to call on in-form Jesse Lingard against the player’s parent club. Moyes will have been pleased with the opening as his side applied pressure. It culminated in a corner won by Michail Antonio. Mark Noble swung this in to the far post, Aaron Wan-Bissaka fell, as did Dawson, in a mini-pileup of players, but the referee, Martin Atkinson, saw nothing foul.

This was about as good as West Ham were going forward as Solksjær’s side dominated. First came a measured sequence in which Rashford moved along a right channel and fed Mason Greenwood and when he tapped inside, Luke Shaw received it, rolled over a cross, and there was Greenwood to attempt a backheel.

Twice when Greenwood received the ball, loose distribution gave it away – a fault later repeated by Wan-Bissaka, moving Harry Maguire, the captain, to inform his side in colourful diction to “tidy up”. Of this, Solskjær said: “They all needed it. Either digging out or calming down. Maybe it was more calming down because the attitude was there.”

This had become a contest of home attack versus visiting defence. Greenwood’s footwork split the latter and a menacing cross deserved a finish from a teammate that was absent as Dawson and Fabianski cleaned up. Next, Rashford flipped a pass behind Dawson that put Shaw in close to goal on the byline. Again West Ham escaped, but here was further encouragement that banked resistance could be broken down.

Greenwood is impossible to handle when racing in as he did after being fed by Bruno Fernandes. The centre-forward’s twist-then-shot was heading for Fabianski’s right-hand corner before the goalkeeper tipped it on to the post.

Greenwood was distraught, yet West Ham were wobbling. Lacking was a killer touch, as when Daniel James fired in a ball at the second half’s opening that had no teammate to turn home. Copious possession means nothing if it fails to yield goals and there is also the danger of being sucker-punched on the counterattack, though West Ham’s lack of ambition tempered this.

Given their position, Moyes may have plotted for a draw but if so he soon required a rethink. After Greenwood’s cross was left by Dawson it was stabbed out by Vladimir Coufal. Now, Dawson paid for the error: Fernandes pinged in the corner from the left, Scott McTominay rose, as did the centre-back, who was closely attended by Maguire: Dawson’s header was a classic own goal, coming as he tried to clear but contriving only to beat Fabianski with unwanted ease.

West Ham’s riposte came via a penalty shout when Tomas Soucek was challenged by Maguire, but Atkinson awarded a goal-kick. At the other end Fernandes’s 20-yard effort was kept out by a strong Fabianski palm. West Ham probed but Greenwood went close to a second when he hit Fabianski’s right post.

“Mason deserved a goal - he was excellent tonight, ” said Solskjær, who will have reinforcements for Milan. “It is very likely that Edinson [Cavani] and Anthony [Martial] are fit, Donny [van de Beek] hopefully as well. Paul [Pogba] even might make the trip and David [de Gea] is back from isolation.”

Solskjær was asked if he’s in discussions regarding a new contract. “My thoughts are on doing my job as well as I can,” he said. Moyes said: “[I’m] disappointed that we have lost but parts of the game we played OK and other parts we didn’t.”


Manchester United get crucial week off to successful start with victory over West Ham

James Ducker

This was always going to be a week where there was little margin for error for Manchester United so Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will have been as pleased as he was doubtless relieved that it got off on the right footing. West Ham had the opportunity to close the gap on United to three points but a lack of ambition narrowed that window here and enabled Solskjaer’s side to take another significant step towards Champions League qualification while dealing at setback to their opponents’ own top four hopes.

Nine points now separates United, in second, from West Ham, in fifth, and while this was not a performance that will live long in the memory, and goals are still proving hard to come by, Solskjaer will not be too concerned about anything but results during a potential make or break week before the international break.

United travel to Italy to face AC Milan in the second leg of their Europa League Round of 16 tie on Thursday, following a 1-1 draw in the first game and, three days later, visit Leicester City in the FA Cup quarter-finals. After losing four semi-finals over the past year, Solskjaer is desperate to get his hands on a trophy, and with Manchester City boasting a 14-point lead at the top of the Premier League and doubtless out of reach, the Milan and Leicester games are vital if United are to have any hope of avoiding a fourth successive season without silverware.

Their prospects should certainly be boosted by the news that Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial and Donny van de Beek are all likely to return from injury and possibly Paul Pogba, too, while David De Gea will also be available after a short period of self-isolation.

“We want to improve on last season, we want to get to a final, we want move up the table. This week was always going be massive,” Solskjaer said. “The reaction to the disappointment after the late goal Milan scored [last Thursday] was really good. You never know how that can affect you and it looked like everyone wanted to show what they could do.”

West Ham fans may wonder where a little more adventure might have got them on Sunday. It is no secret that United have struggled at home to break down a compact low block but West Ham’s determination to keep it tight seemed to come at the expense of any attacking intent and, with Jesse Lingard ineligible to face his parent club, they lacked an outlet on the break. It was not until they fell behind after Craig Dawson turned Bruno Fernandes’ corner into his own net and David Moyes dispensed with his back three and introduced Manuel Lanzini and Said Benrahma that they began to ask more questions.

After a frustrating first period when United were mostly too static to disrupt West Ham’s deep defence and the sight of an angry Harry Maguire telling his team-mates to “f------ tidy up and stop giving the f------ ball away” was telling, the goal was well timed for United. From a corner, Fernandes dropped the ball right into that danger area in the six-yard box where Dawson, under pressure from Maguire, headed into his own net.

He had a good game Maguire and, alongside the lively Mason Greenwood and Luke Shaw, was United’s best performer.

He made two vital blocks in the second half when West Ham had finally thrown off the shackles to thwart first Jared Bowen and then Tomas Soucek and Michail Antonio, a handful for most centre-halves, barely got a sniff against the United captain.

Greenwood, too, threw his heart into this and the only thing lacking was a goal, even if, naturally, that will be a concern for a striker who last found the net in the Premier League in the corresponding fixture against West Ham in early December. United, generally, are struggling for goals, though. They may have kept five clean sheets in their past six outings but they have only scored four goals in that time. Still, Greenwood did not look like a player short of confidence.

In the absence of Cavani and Martial, the 19-year-old led the line with industry and intelligence, creating chances for others and unlucky not to score himself. A patched up Rashford, who looked unfit after being rushed back from an ankle injury, made a complete hash of a close range header after Greenwood had picked him out with a splendid cross midway through a largely attritional first period. And then only a superb save from Lukasz Fabianski 12 minutes later denied him that elusive goal, the West Ham goalkeeper tipping Greenwood’s low curling shot just wide of a post from Fernandes’s through ball.

With West Ham desperate to find a route back into the game in the final half an hour, United had more space in which to work on the break and Greenwood must have thought his drought was finally about to end only for the post to cruelly deny the teenager after another positive surge forward. “His performance was really good, he deserved a goal,” Solskjaer said. “He linked the play for us, held it up, kept switching it, had the two great chances and he kept creating chances for others.”


West Ham in battle for Sevilla midfielder Joan Jordan

By Jordan Harris

West Ham United are battling a number of European sides to sign Joan Jordan from Sevilla this summer, according to a report from El Gol Digital.

The Hammers are putting themselves in a fantastic position to secure European football next season.

(Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)

And it appears that they may have their eye on some exciting names ahead of the summer. According to El Gol Digital, the Irons are one of several clubs monitoring Jordan’s situation with the La Liga side.

It is claimed that AC Milan, Inter, Roma and Napoli are all keen to take the 26-year-old to Italy.

The Sun reported in January that Jordan’s contract includes a £55 million buyout clause with Arsenal an admirer of the box-to-box midfielder.

It remains to be seen if Arsenal reignite their interest. West Ham may feel that they already have enough rivals for his signature.

Jordan is a well-rounded option in the middle of the park. As shown by FBRef, no midfielder in Sevilla’s squad has covered more distance with his progressive passing.

He also tops their assist charts this term with six in the top flight.

Defensively meanwhile, no Sevilla player has pressed more often than Jordan. So he would fit extremely well in a side that works incredibly hard to regain possession.

West Ham’s hopes of agreeing a good price for Jordan however, will not be helped by the amount of interest in him.

And of course, much may now depend on how strongly the Irons finish the campaign.


Hammers investment in the transfer market

Football finance expert Swiss Ramble has given his summary on West Ham’s financial accounts released last week.
West Ham’s player amortisation, the annual charge to expense transfer fees over a player’s contract, rose from £3m (4%) to £60m, which means this has nearly tripled in the last 5 years from £22m in 2015. It puts them mid-table in Premier League, still less than half of the big-spending clubs like Chelsea, Man City and Manchester United.

However, West Ham have been no slouches in the transfer market, making £108m player purchases in 2019/20, the same as the previous season. This was mainly in the form of Haller, Fornals, Bowen, Ajeti and Randolph. In addition, Soucek arrived on loan with the purchase completed in the 2020/21 season.

It is clear from the accounts that West Ham have really ramped up their transfer activity “to provide funds for the new manager in line with his requirements to enhance the squad.” This contributed to gross spend rising to £411m in the last 5 years, compared to only £129m in the preceding 5-year period.

In the 5 years up to 2019, West Ham had the 7th highest net transfer spend in the Premier League with £209m, only below the Big Six and Everton though a fair way behind all of them. They were 8th highest in terms of gross spend, also below Leciester City.

West Ham gross debt up from £78m to £120m. Shareholder debt fell £1m to £54.5m after David Gold was repaid £1m, leaving £44m from Sullivan and Gold at 4% interest and £9.5m interest-free from J Albert Smith but external loans rose £42m to £66m (mainly Rights & Media Funding).

In August 2020 Rights & Media facility renewed at £55m and £20m overdraft agreed with Barclays, both expiring in July 2021. In addition, a new £120m 5-year loan provided by MSD Holdings in February 2021 to repay Season Ticket loans and cover cash shortfalls caused by the pandemic.

MSD Holdings Ltd is Michael Dell’s investment firm, which has already provided loans to other football clubs like Burnley, Derby County, Southampton and Sunderland. Some of those loans are at a high 9% interest rate, but the Hammers rate has not been divulged.

Following the increase, West Ham’s debt of £120m is 8th largest in the Premier League, though miles below Spurs £831m (stadium), Manchester United £526m (Glazer’s leveraged buy-out) and Aston Villa £218m (stadium). Everton’s £409m and Brighton’s £306m debt is very largely in the form of “friendly” owner loans.

The Hammers interest payment fell from £6.8m to £3.6m, but was still 4th largest in the top flight in 2019/20, including £1m paid to Sullivan and Gold in August 2019. The owners are not paid a salary or dividend.

In light of the pandemic, Sullivan and Gold deferred their £1.8m interest in 2020, but they have earned around £18m interest on their loans to date, which is in sharp contrast to other owners, who often provide loans interest-free and convert debt to equity.

West Ham’s player purchases have been partly funded by transfer debt, up from £87m to £111m, one of the highest in the Premier League. West Ham are owed £16m by other clubs, so the net transfer payable is £94m. The remaining Haller debt to Eintracht Frankfurt deferred to September 2022.

West Ham’s operating cash flow was just £1m, but they then spent £35m (net) on player purchases, £2m on infrastructure, £4m tax and £1m repayment of David Gold loan. This was funded by a net £43m increase in external loans, resulting in £2m cash inflow.

Since 2010 majority of cash has come from West Ham operations £217m, supplemented by £84m financing from shareholders (£58m loans and £26m share capital) plus £29m from Boleyn Ground sale. Most (£257m) was spent on new players, £44m on interest payments and £29m on CAPEX.

West Ham’s cash balance increased from £13m to £15m, but this was firmly in the bottom half of the table in the Premier League. However, since these accounts, the shareholders (mainly Sullivan and Gold) have invested £30m via a rights issue to support the club during the pandemic.

West Ham finances have been severely impacted by COVID, but they have taken steps to cover short-term requirements via the capital injection and new loan (albeit at a chunky interest rate). If they do manage to qualify for Europe, that would help improve the financial situation.

Replies - Newest Posts First (Show In Chronological Order)

Jasnik 7:20 Mon Mar 15
Re: Monday newspapers (includes West Ham)
£18m interest on their loans to date this says it all. 4% Id love to get 4%.

Jasnik 7:16 Mon Mar 15
Re: Monday newspapers (includes West Ham)
I bet his nickname is JJ

brabrook 2:49 Mon Mar 15
Re: Monday newspapers (includes West Ham)
bill green 12:58 Mon Mar 15

bill green 12:58 Mon Mar 15
Re: Monday newspapers (includes West Ham)
Thanks Alan 12:53 Mon Mar 15

Thanks Alan 12:53 Mon Mar 15
Re: Monday newspapers (includes West Ham)
ted fenton 12:49 Mon Mar 15

ted fenton 12:49 Mon Mar 15
Re: Monday newspapers (includes West Ham)
Thanks Alan.

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