West Ham supporters will be devastated to see former Hammer and star-player Dimitri Payet flying high since his controversial move back to former club Marseille.
Payet left the London Stadium in January of last year, returning to his former side for a fee, reported by BBC Sport, to be in the region of £25 million.
The attacker immediately reminded Hammers supporters of his talents when he scored on his debut in a 2-0 home win over Guingamp on February 8th last year.
The 31-year-old was also named Marseille captain at the beginning of the season and has since helped secure a top-four finish for the French outfit while seeing them all the way to the Europa League final.
Despite failing to hit the mark early on for Les Phocéens, due to a hamstring injury, he has since flourished and is hitting the heights that saw him as one of the best players in the Premier League just two years ago.
The Marseille captain has made more open play key passes per 90 (2.48) than anyone in Ligue 1, and a European final could see him be the first captain to lift silverware at the club in over six years.
Payet’s success comes as a cruel reminder to West Ham fans just how far they’ve fallen since they recorded a top-six finish in 2016, when Payet also nominated for the PFA Player of the Year accolade.
Since the Frenchman’s departure, chaos has surrounded the club, with fans directing their frustration at the West Ham board.
The departure of Payet is by no means the fundamental issue that has led to the Hammers downfall. However, the manner in which he left represents the problems could see unfolding in East London.
The transfer has worked on all fronts for Payet and, if the French midfielder keeps up his impressive form, there’s no doubt West Ham supporters will be watching him star for France at the summer’s World Cup.
Mark Lawrenson believes West Ham could struggle this season
The Hammers will need to improve significantly on last week’s performance.
The Hammers host Bournemouth at the London Stadium this weekend, Pellegrini’s first home match in charge, and a much more positive result is expected despite the fact the Cherries won 2-0 against Cardiff City on the opening weekend.
Despite being carved apart by Jurgen Klopp’s side, the general consensus from pundits Paul Merson, Michael Owen and Mark Lawrenson is that West Ham will enjoy much better fortunes this weekend and will pick up points.
However, Lawrenson did not hold back in his predictions for the BBC and warned the Hammers they could be set for another tough season if they do not improve their game defensively after being ‘far too open’ against the Reds last time out.
“I was at Anfield on Sunday to see West Ham’s 4-0 defeat by Liverpool, and they were far too open. If they are going to keep leaving the back door open like that all season, they are going to be in trouble.”
While West Ham fans may not like to admit it after an exciting summer, Lawrenson does have a point as the Hammers business caught the eye in attacking recruits but defensively the business has felt rather sub-par.
Pellegrini is relying on Issa Diop and Fabian Balbuena to immediately adjust to the rigours of Premier League football, which is never an easy task, while there is a lack of depth in defensive midfield for the Hammers to choose from.
It seems that West Ham’s approach to this season will be to play attacking football and hope to be a high-scoring side that manages to edge their opponents but that could be a costly decision, particularly in matches where the Hammers are away from home.
A team that had the joint-worst defensive record in the Premier League last season, alongside relegated Stoke City, should certainly have placed more focus on restructuring that defensive line and it could come back to haunt Pellegrini in the coming months.
Former Arsenal defender Paul Merson was also critical of West Ham’s defence last week, stating to Sky Sports they were ‘all over the place’, but supporters will be thrilled by the superb observational skills shown by Merson as he rightly said they will not face Liverpool every week. Cheers Paul.
There are more positive angles to West Ham though as last weekend was never really going to be a game where Pellegrini could show what his side are truly going to be about this season as Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool stripped the Hammers of any signs of displaying their attacking edge.
Michael Owen also made a very wise point in his predictions for BetVictor, correctly stating it would be extremely unwise to write the Hammers off after just one match – despite the performance being incredibly mediocre.
A home match against Bournemouth is the ideal opportunity for West Ham’s newly-assembled side to click into rhythm before a gruelling campaign that lies ahead, although the early signs suggest a return to European football could be too much to ask for in Pellegrini’s first year with the club.
Three key takeaways from Pellegrini’s West Ham press conference
The Hammers are looking for a result after defeat last weekend.
The east London side were dismantled by Liverpool on the opening weekend, suffering a 4-0 defeat to Liverpool that left the heavy-spenders rooted to the bottom of the Premier League at the very, very early stage of the campaign.
Improvements are needed for the hosting of Bournemouth, who beat Cardiff City last weekend, and we have identified three key takeaways from Pellegrini’s pre-match press conference.
West Ham need all the good news they can get their hands on after last week’s mauling at the hands of Liverpool and Manuel Pellegrini has provided that. While his comments are as you expect, naming the three long-term absentees, it’s what he doesn’t say that is interesting.
Fans will notice that Aaron Cresswell is not mentioned, suggesting that the experienced full-back will be available for selection after not being risked for the defeat to Liverpool due to fitness concerns – and he could therefore come into the side to replace Arthur Masuaku.
“We have no new injury news. The same three players – Andy Carroll, Winston Reid, Manuel Lanzini are still out, but all the others are OK.”
Eddie Howe became the darling of English football after he led Bournemouth to the Premier League and kept the Cherries in the top-flight. While that love affair may have come to a close, with the club crashing back down to earth, he still earns plenty of praise.
Pellegrini has spoken highly of his competitor ahead of the hosting of Bournemouth and he may need to be careful, as Howe is the sort of manager West Ham should probably look towards if things do not work out well under the Chilean boss.
“Eddie Howe has done very well. He’s a very good manager and keeping them in the Premier League in that first season was a very good job. They have been there a number of years now and he’s doing very well.”
Asking fans to be patient is usually the kiss of depth and Manuel Pellegrini avoided using those specific words during his pre-match press conference. However, he did make it clear that it will take time for the dust to settle after a frantic summer window.
Fans will want a positive result at the London Stadium this weekend but the Hammers enter the match with a newly assembled squad still learning the ropes, many of whom are in the Premier League for the first time, while the majority of Bournemouth’s squad is well accustomed to the rigours of English football – many of whom have been with the club for a while.
“I hope our fans can understand that this is our first game at home but we are continuing to work with the squad. I don’t think we will have any problem with the fans.”
West Ham round-up: Carroll update, Silva shines & Spurs stadium share
A selection of news and gossip from West Ham.
In an update that cues the most obvious pun in the history of football, Claret & Hugh state that forgotten striker Andy Carroll is expected to return to first-team action before the festive season – ahead of defender Winston Reid.
Carroll’s latest injury setback may have seen him tumble down the pecking order at the club as Manuel Pellegrini moved to sign Felipe Anderson and Lucas Perez in the transfer window, both of whom could play centrally as an alternative to Javier Hernandez.
It is positive for the Hammers though, as Carroll returning before January means there is a chance he could be offloaded in the mid-season window.
Spurs at the London Stadium
In what could be the most least popular pieces of news to ever break in east London, WestHamFans.org understand that Tottenham Hotspur have requested to play their clash against Manchester City on 28th October at West Ham‘s stadium.
The Lilywhites’ planned move to a new stadium has proven to be a shambles, with delays meaning that Spurs will have to remain at Wembley for longer than initially planned – with home clashes against Liverpool and Cardiff City being moved to the home of English football, as well as the NFL game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Oakland Raiders.
Given all the technicalities in West Ham’s agreement with the stadium, they do not actually own the ground and it is not their decision on what happens with Spurs. However, they would at least have to give their consent.
With all the summer deals that went on concerning West Ham, one that slipped under the radar for many was the capture of 21-year-old Portuguese striker Xande Silva – who has proven to be an instant hit in east London.
Making his debut for the U23 side this week, Silva netted a six-minute hat-trick to overturn a 1-0 deficit against Tottenham and helped his side secure a 3-1 win. That has naturally led to plenty of praise for the young forward, including from academy chief Terry Westley.
“He is a very powerful striker and he will be given the season to settle in – it’s down to him what sort of impact he can make at the higher level but he has made a seriously good start. Fair to say we really like the look of him!”
Eyes on Azah
The transfer window may be closed but that does not mean West Ham’s activity in the market is over, as the Hammers are named as one of many sides interested in the services of Irish youngster Elvis Azah by The Daily Mail.
Azah caught the eye after spending pre-season with Cardiff City, scoring in a U18 match against West Ham, and is also being chased by Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool after earning Irish citizenship – enabling him to move to England.
Born in Ghana, the 17-year-old winger is capable of playing on either flank or in a more advanced central role.
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