Blowing Bubbles’ top writers settle down to put the world to rights

Going into 2016 how happy are you with the state West Ham are in?

Lucy Woolford: I have to say, I’m very happy. Happy with the players we’ve acquired and absolutely delighted to have Bilic in charge. We’ve had some great results this season to give us confidence and we’re sitting pretty in the top half of the table. The aim of the season was to stay up and we’re exceeding those plans easily. What’s to complain about?

David Meagher: Delighted and excited! I had high hopes for Slaven and he has exceeded them with his honest and forthright style. We have a strong squad and proper game plan that means we can match anyone when at full strength. The return of our missing stars over the next few weeks will allow us to make a real charge for the top six, something that was beyond us under Sam Allardyce. Financially, the board have worked tirelessly so that the days of selling on our best players appear well and truly behind us.

James Longman: I’m over the moon. Some outstanding wins, an exciting team to watch, and a squad and manager who are hungry and full of potential. If we can just keep players injury free, we could land a top six spot. Andrew Hosie: Very happy! This time 12 months ago we were on exactly the same points, same goals scored, same goals conceded but this season has a whole different outlook compared to last. Everything is positive again and it feels like we have weathered a bad run pretty well, with the troops now coming back from injury, and we’re not about to plunge into one long steady descent into tedium and despair like last year.

Drew Osborn: You have to give the club’s board a huge amount of credit for the state of the club compared to when they took over. We’re improving every season and are attracting top class players in their prime. You have to feel it is only the start of things to come with the new stadium on the horizon

Where would you like to see the club this time next year?

LW: That’s a tough one because it could be a rocky start to settle into our new home. This time next year we’ll still be new to the Olympic Stadium and it’s hard to say whether our set of players will have shaken off the nerves of playing in such a prestigious stadium with such high expectations. What would I like? To have started the same way as this season would be ideal. DM: In the top six and playing out of a packed and noisy Olympic Stadium. Leaving the Boleyn is hard but times change and it’s worth remembering that in order to become West Ham we had to move from Hermit Road to Upton Park.

JL: If we were in the same spot this time next year as we are now, I’d be happy. I’d like to see us constantly bothering the top six, and with a few squad additions, I think we can. AH: Let’s see what this year brings first. It’s amazing to think prior to Southampton we hadn’t won since we beat Chelsea but then win two in a row and we’ve bounced right back into Europa League contention. If we are not quite there this year, it should definitely be a key target for next year, so a couple more wins and a couple less draws would be ideal.

DO: Exactly the same as right now. The Olympic Stadium will hopefully take us to the next level but that won’t happen overnight. You will assume Chelsea will be back in the top four so if we can be in or around sixth place with 30 plus points going into the New Year that will still be good enough.

Who / what sort of player would you like to see West Ham bring in in the January transfer window?

LW: It’d be lovely to see players come in who are perfectly healthy and not prone to injury, but of course, there’s no such guarantee. Obviously, strikers have been at a premium this year, but with a fully fit squad that wouldn’t be a problem. A high quality back-up striker would be great — sort of what Jelavic was intended to be. Oh, and a little fella called Lanzini! Let’s get that done and dusted.

DM: We need another right back and, as always, a poacher up front. I am sceptical about the Tomkins experiment at right back as he is a cracking centre back and wasted out wide.

JL: I would love us to sign a quick, terrier-like forward, someone to play off Carroll. I like Sakho a lot but he is injury prone and doesn’t hit the net as much as I’d like – perhaps he will if he gets a good injury-free run. But just imagine if we had a Craig Bellamy or a Jamie Vardy. We need another option at full-back too.

AH: The club have said there is not a penny available to be spent unless players are shipped out first. Since that statement was made, Matt Jarvis has made his move to Norwich permanent so that’s bolstered the kitty a little and saved on the wages. Infact that kind of means we have half the transfer money for Sam Byram from Leeds United, who is being touted as a possible target. Could he be a ‘Cresswell Mark II’? It would be a good move and definitely bolster competition in our tricky right back area

DO: It is a toss-up between a right back and a centre forward. I feel James Tomkins is very uncomfortable in the full back position and doesn’t offer enough going forward, particularly at home. Top centre forwards don’t grow on trees though so hopefully Diafra Sakho can come back soon.

Would you let anyone leave?

LW: No, I don’t think I would. I think we’re in a great position where we have a squad that is capable of working together well. The likes of Payet and Lanzini, when fit, bring a whole new dimension and confidence to the players around them.

DM: Joey O’Brien’s time is probably up. Jelavic looks like a rare piece of bad business and is occupying a spot as back-up forward that I would have preferred to see Elliot Lee fill instead of his loan spell at Blackpool. Zarate is likely to fall down the pecking order once Payet, Moses and Lanzini are all back. Let’s hope his previous disciplinary issues don’t resurface but I think Slaven sent out a strong message in the Amalfitano affair. Behave or move on!

JL: Jarvis is gone, who knows where Joey O’Brien is, is Nigel Quashie still on our books? Happy to keep who we have. People talk about selling Carroll but that’s madness.

AH: We have to sell before we can buy but this is a tricky one as the only player that I’d be happy to let go would be Joey O’Brien. It’s unlikely he’ll see first team action again unless we have another monumental injury crisis. The only problem is he is injured so it’s highly unlikely he will go before the summer unless a mutual termination is discussed. Other than that, I wouldn’t be that concerned if Jelavic moved on.

Carl Jenkinson seems out of sorts this year. Why do you think this is and would you still like to see him make his loan move permanent in the summer?

LW: It’s one of life’s great mysteries — one season he was indispensable and the next he’s a bit of a liability. His return for a second season and his desire to stay speaks volumes and I think we all love that, but he’s come in for a lot of stick, which is never good for a player/ fan relationship and confidence. I think he might be worth the risk though as long as the price is right.

DM: Tough one. He has been unreliable in defence and after signing a five year contract with Arsenal, he seems distracted and unlikely to make the move East without a big fee. Whatever the reason for it his recent form definitely does not justify a £10m investment in the summer. This is an issue that certainly needs to be revisited in a few months when things hopefully settle down a bit.

JL: When Jenko gets on the ball, you can hear the crowd collectively hold their breath and almost see the confidence drain out of him. The Bournemouth match was a low and he hasn’t quite recovered. I’m not sure what the answer is but he comes across as a passionate, talented player. I just hope Bilic can sort him out

DO: I agree, Jenko is clearly a confidence player. We are in a healthy league position so I think we should keep playing him and hope his form and confidence returns in the second half of the season. If it does we should sign him up as I still believe he has a great future

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