Lee joins Blackpool on loan
Striker Elliot Lee has joined Blackpool on loan from West Ham United until 3 January.
The 20-year-old, who worked with Neil McDonald during his time at Upton Park, joins in time for Saturday’s clash with Fleetwood Town.
Lee is the son of former Newcastle United midfielder Rob and has played six times for The Hamm
ers’ senior side, netting in the Europa League during the summer.
He has previous Football League experience from loans spells with Colchester United, Southend United and Luton Town.
Lee provides another striking option after Kwame Thomas returned to Derby County and will wear the number 38 shirt for The Seasiders.
Josh Cullen keen to build on promising start
Highly rated teenage midfielder Josh Cullen said he is ready to grab the next first team opportunity with both hands as he aims to establish himself at his boyhood club.
The Southend-on-Sea native caught the eye during the Hammers’ Europa League run before making his Premier League bow in the historic 3-0 win over Liverpool at Anfield.
Reflecting on a promising start to the season, Cullen said: “It’s been a good start to the season, I knew I wouldn’t break into the squad immediately, we’ve got a great squad now, so it’ll be tough but I’ll keep on plugging away in the U21s and when I go away with Ireland, I’ll always try and do as well as I can.”
Modest off the pitch, he is certainly doing more than ‘plugging away’ on it. With Slaven Bilic said to be impressed with the youngsters exploits in training, he is also an integral player for the Development Squad.
Often captaining the side, the midfielder has helped inspire the Dev Squad to three wins in their last four games by scoring crucial goals in consecutive games: “We had a tough start to the season, people outside the Club probably thought we were a bad team, but that wasn’t case.
“We knew we were a good side but we lost to a few sloppy goals or late goals. We’ve got two on the bounce now so hopefully we can carry that on.”
However, with the Club aiming for a top half finish, if not higher, Cullen knows it’ll be a tough challenge ahead: “With the way the Club wants to go it’ll be tough. We want to be a top six club and the quality of the players here is about as good as it’s ever been, certainly that I can remember.
“It’s a challenge, but one I look forward too, you can always learn from the players that are here as well, that’s a good positive. You can always take tips from them and that helps to prove to people that I am good enough to play in the first team.”
Another positive for the all-action midfielder, is the fact he has taken his Club form with him when representing the Republic of Ireland.
Having made the step up from the U19s to the U21s, Cullen scored on his debut in a 4-1 win over Qatar U23.
He continued: “I’m very pleased to be playing for Ireland and doing well, I enjoy going away with them. To get that feedback and recognition is always nice, now it’s about me kicking on and trying to get into the first team here.”
Gokhan Tore linked again
According to the Mirror, Slaven Bilic is eyeing a reunion with Gokhan Tore to leave West Ham outcast Michail Antonio fighting for his future.
The Hammers’ boss is a big fan of the 23-year-old Besiktas winger, who was on Chelsea’s books as a teenager, and could raid his previous employers for the Turk in January.
That will leave forgotten man Antonio vulnerable – just months after arriving at Upton Park.
The £7million deadline day signing was an ever-present at the City Ground for Nottingham Forest last season but has made just one sub appearance so far for West Ham in the league.
The lack of appearances for the Hammers this season may see Derby renew their interest in the winger.
The Rams were interested in signing Antonio in the summer, but arch-rivals Forest were reluctant to do business.
West Ham interested in Torino defender Maksimovic
Tottenham and West Ham United are both keen on Serbian defender Nikola Maksimovic, according to Italian newspaper Tuttosport on Thursday. The two clubs are joined by interest from the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal, although those three seem to be linked with every half available player in Italy at the moment.
Maksimovic is a 24 year central defender and Tuttosport say that interest from some clubs has carried on despite him being out since the beginning of September with an injury. The defender isn’t expected to return until January but interest is still claimed.
Torino have Maksimovic on a contract until June 2018 and he earns €300,000 per year after tax. Interest from other clubs is motivating Torino to offer the young defender a new contract, and try and keep him for a little longer before eventually cashing in.
There’s not only claimed interest from the Premier League, Tuttosport say Serie A’s Napoli have bid €18m for the player but been informed Torino aren’t interested in a sale.
Considering Maksimovic is injured, he’s doing pretty well on the interest front.
Dimitri Payet voted ahead of De Bruyne and Martial as best summer import
Dimitri Payet has been voted ahead of Kevin De Bruyne and Anthony Martial as the Premier League’s best foreign import from the summer.
Topping a 90min poll answered by 69,460 fans from all Premier League clubs, Payet received more than a third (36%) of the total vote.
Until his recent injury, the Frenchman had been a revelation for West Ham. He has five goals and three assists to his name from 12 Premier League appearances, but it was his early impact on his team as a whole which really made him stand out above other successful foreign signings.
He played an integral role in the brilliant wins over Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City and was lauded for the way he always looked to play positively and forward. The fact that there are now grave concerns about how the Hammers will cope without him while he nurses an ankle injury until February only highlights his importance further.
Joint second in the poll standings were expensive Manchester-based duo De Bruyne and Martial with 27% each.
De Bruyne was a club record signing for City when he joined for £55million from Wolfsburg, while Martial became the world’s most expensive teenager when his £36million move from Monaco to United was finalised. Both have already made significant impacts at their respective new clubs.
De Bruyne had a point to prove in England after failing to impress Jose Mourinho at Chelsea and has had a direct hand in seven goals in his first nine Premier League games.
Having drawn lofty comparisons with French legend Thierry Henry, Martial quickly delivered on his potential with a goal on his United debut, against fierce rivals Liverpool no less, and has given his team a much needed extra dimension up front, all at just 19 years of age.
A smaller number of fans who responded to the poll saw the merits of Andre Ayew’s free summer transfer to Swansea. The Ghanaian, who commanded 9% of the vote, has already scored six times since moving to Wales, including one against reigning champions Chelsea on the opening day of 2015-16.
Just 2% of people felt that Newcastle’s Georginio Wijnaldum has been the most impressive foreign import of the season so far. The £14.5million Dutchman has been a rare shining light at St James’ Park over the last three months, while his four-goal haul against Norwich was nothing short of spectacular.
Boleyn memories – Alan Devonshire
Alan Devonshire will always be regarded as one of the biggest legends in West Ham United’s history and is considered one of the greatest midfielders to have ever put on a claret and blue shirt.
The talented midfielder made 448 appearances for the Hammers scoring 32 goals during his memorable 14-year spell in east London.
Devonshire has many magical memories playing at the Boleyn Ground and says he will never forget the unique atmosphere that was created by the supporters.
Devonshire said: “I remember the atmosphere in the tunnel and it was unbelievable. It used to make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. The night games at the Boleyn Ground were magnificent occasions.
“Bonzo was great to play alongside and I played with the best keeper I have ever seen in Phil Parkes. He should have got more caps for England.
“The 1985/86 season was one of the standout memories and we came so close to winning the league. If we had not had a backlog of games I am sure we would have won the title. I have spoken to people from Liverpool and Everton and they said we were the best team that season.
“I always had a great rapport with the fans and they are the best for me. They stood with me when I had a knee injury and I had to change my game, but they always got behind me and I will always be thankful for that.”
Adrian San Miguel interview with TalkSport Magazine
His Seville accent remains pronounced, but Adrian San Miguel del Castillo’s grasp of English has developed impressively since he joined West Ham in June 2013. In 15 minutes of lucid conversation with Sport, only one word causes the rangy goalkeeper to consult his patient translator.
“It’s a…” Adrian begins, before breaking off and leaning right. “Como se dice ‘anécdota’?”
The translator grins: “Anecdote. It’s just the same.”
Slaven Bilic’s preferred shot-stopper, a mainstay of the Hammers’ early-season surge into the Premier League’s top six – interrupted slightly by last Sunday’s battering at the hands of Tottenham – had been explaining why he chooses to wear 13 on his back.
“It is a long reason,” he says. “From playing in the academy at Real Betis, I always had number 13. When my contract finished there, I had been at the same club for almost 16 years.
“I also wore a yellow jersey with Betis. In Spain, 13 is an unlucky number and yellow is an unlucky colour. Both together should be really unlucky, but not for me. My last season went very well.
“When I arrived at West Ham, they asked me if I wanted number one because Jussi Jaaskelainen had 22. I replied: ‘No, I’d like 13.’ Everybody said ‘wow’.
“They checked again when Darren [Randolph] came to the club. I said no again. I wanted to keep my number 13. The number on the back of the shirt doesn’t matter. It does not mean anything out on the pitch.”
The tale fits with Adrian’s intriguing backstory. This is a determined man who enjoys upsetting the odds. After seven seasons in the reserves at Real Betis, his progress stalled by a cruciate ligament injury, a La Liga debut came only three years ago as a substitute against Malaga, after a red card for first choice Casto. Down to ten men, Betis lost 4-0. Without a string of saves from man-of-the-match Adrian, they might have shipped eight.
Later in the same campaign, Sam Allardyce travelled to Spain and offered the out-of-contract Andalucian an opportunity to play at Upton Park. He had a decorated compatriot and former Premier League favourite on hand for advice.
“I talked with Pepe Reina before signing,” Adrian says. “He told me that if I had a chance to come here, to a historic club like West Ham, I shouldn’t think of anything else.
“Pepe told me the football was slightly different. As a goalkeeper, you need to be alert all the time for shots from long distance. Over here, players try to score from far out. In Spain, they try to work a position closer to the box.
“The other thing is aerial balls. In Spain, referees will blow for a free-kick if anyone touches you. Here, other players are given more of a chance. You need to be strong in your area.”
Speaking enthusiastically about his new life on these shores, Adrian cuts a contented figure. He married long-term girlfriend Tamara in the summer and signed a contract extension at the start of October. On committing his future to West Ham until 2017, the 28-year-old cited a “special relationship” with the fans as a significant factor.
Undeniably, the Hammers faithful have taken Adrian to heart. Performances are one reason – earlier this year Spain coach Vicente del Bosque asked assembled journalists: “Why is nobody asking me about West Ham’s goalkeeper?” – but passion also contributes to his popularity.
Adrian describes himself as a player who “enjoys every minute of every game, and shows it too”. Prolific on Twitter, switching between Spanish and English, he also maintains interaction with supporters away from the Boleyn Ground.
Above all, one night has etched his name into modern West Ham folklore. Back in January, an FA Cup third round replay against Everton ended 2-2 after extra-time and went to penalties. Adrian dived left to save from Steven Naismith, but Stewart Downing’s miss at 4-4 meant the goalkeepers were, after a host of further successful conversions, required to take spot-kicks.
Everton’s Joel Robles went for power. His shot cannoned off the bar. Adrian was up. He marked out a long approach; so long, in fact, that there was time to hurl his gloves to the ground during a shuffling run-up. Rather than blasting it, though, Adrian passed the ball into the left corner (above), sending his opposite man the wrong way and causing Upton Park to erupt.
“That is probably my best memory at West Ham; certainly the most famous,” he says now. “I enjoyed my save a lot, and then to score a winning penalty was unbelievable.
“I felt very confident in that moment, and took off my gloves. It was an instinctive movement, but I was thinking: ‘I have finished my job in goal, now I enjoy my strike like an outfield player.’ I will remember that moment for the whole of my career.”
Having featured in victories over Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea since August, Adrian is building an enviable portfolio. He is also in a prime position to pinpoint the change in approach Bilic has encouraged from the Allardyce days.
“The big difference is their mentality of football,” he explains. “Football is a big thing. There is not just one style. You can play however you want as long as you get results.
“With Sam, we were more direct – straight to the goal and crossing a lot. Now, with Slaven, we are different. We try to keep possession of the ball and play it out from the back.
“I didn’t know Slaven when he played here before and showed so much passion on the pitch. With us, he is quiet and calm. He tries hard to get across his ideas, and I think the team has adapted well to that.”
The team will need to adapt quickly to the absence of attacking talisman Dimitri Payet – out for three months with ankle ligament damage. Fixtures will come thick and fast over the festive period, but their goalkeeper is prepared to scrap for every point.
“I think there is a lot of motivation to play against big teams and beat them,” he says. “We have shown that in some great performances away from home. If there is one thing we need to improve, it is to take the same approach in the other games against teams level or below us.
“The league is long and you play against everyone. If we want to finish towards the top, we need to get results against everybody.”
Adrian takes great care over each sentence, which adds purpose to his final note. Fully adjusted to life on these shores, this adopted Londoner is fiercely proud to be representing his new home.