What a performance this weekend. It was such lovely football and so refreshing to see how we attacked Blackburn with such fluency. Payet obviously stole the show and got all the plaudits. The guy is seriously class and is so talented. Bilic and Payet seem to have a fantastic relationship. It was almost fate that had brought them together here. Bilic had tried to sign him in Turkey in previous years but wasn’t able to pull it off. We had been scouting him for a number of months and David Sullivan has close links to his agent and so we had pretty much set up the deal before Bilic arrived. There were some doubts from Payet whether he would stay in France or move to us but the appointment of Bilic persuaded Payet to move.
Emenike also showed his class during this game and as I said in last week’s column, will and now already has, proved the early doubters wrong. It does frustrate me that our fans are so quick to write off new players before they have even had a chance to settle in and produce their best form. This also happened with Randolph, sometimes it just takes some players slightly longer to settle than others and let’s be fair, Emenike was hardly given much of a chance. We have to accept now that the recruitment lead by Tony Henry and supported by very good scouts, reliable agents and David Sullivan’s own knowledge, have brought us many good players in recent years. It must also be said how brilliant I thought Antonio was, out of position at right back. The guy has a great attitude and has been brilliant since he broke into the team.
Today we were greeted by the West Ham Way Writer Jack Sullivan showing us photos of him wearing a Marseille shirt with Batshuayi on the back. I have mentioned a number of times in my articles and tweets that this is our number one striking target for the summer. We also have a number, and by that I mean about five players from them,that we would be tempted in. The quote I was told last week is that we will move “heaven and earth” to land Batshuayi and the club are really thinking outside the box because there are a number of clubs interested in him. Payet is also a close mate of his so things are well in our favour. I would be surprised if we didn’t sign him, although it is a long way from a done deal at this stage.
There are a few players that are close to triggering clauses within their contracts, on season milestones, which will change their terms of their deals. Many youth contracts are also being evaluated at the moment. I cannot say much more but these season milestones could prove to be quite significant to player retention and summer targets.
We have many players lined up for summer moves already and some of the names that I have seen are extremely exciting. For example if we do not land Batshuayi, which is unlikely, we have a number of other names in the frame. Including one very big name which people would say is “b4llsh5t” and not believe me on but he is just one of a number of options being considered. The club want to land a number of “marque” signings to celebrate the move to the stadium.
It looks like, due to either us or Man U being guaranteed to be in the semi-finals of the FA Cup, that the league game against Man U will now move to be the final game of the season at Upton Park. I am personally sad that it is going to be on a midweek evening because with most of us having work the next day and needing to travel home, it is not going to be quite the opportunity to party, like we could have at the weekend. This decision is however way out of the clubs hands and there isn’t anything we can do.
We should have Winston Reid back for the weekend and Carroll could also be involved. We will update you factually near the kick off time to what the team shall be.
The FA Cup was a tough draw but not one that we should fear. I think we can beat anyone on our day and some of my favourite away memories have been at Old Trafford and I hope this will be another.
The club plan to sit down with Bilic soon and negotiate a longer term deal for our brilliant manager. Everything feels so positive about the club at the moment and the chairmen are fully aware and excited by this. Slav has delivered everything that they wanted to and Sam didn’t manage to. So they want to reward him for this.
As for Sam, he obviously returns this weekend. Whilst there was many disappointing things about his spell as manager towards the end, I personally think we should respect what he achieved at the club during a difficult time. Whilst he certainly wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea we were certainly in a much better position when he left, than when he took over. We have now moved on to bigger and better things.
Evan Jones of the West Ham Way, will be filming outside the John Lyall gates at the match on Saturday and they should be easy to spot as they will be sporting new West Ham Way t-shirts (which you can buy if you are interested or win!). We will be interviewing the Sullivan’s again, the lads from Sex, Drugs and Carlton Cole and we want to hear from you, the fans, before and after the match. We want to know your thoughts on Big Sam, the match, Payet and anything else that you want to share! The best interview, as chosen by you lot, will win a prize so do come, stop and chat.