Adrián is settling nicely into his West Ham goalkeeper jersey. It was a slightly shaky start in pre-season, but his performances have come to make him an almost overnight hero for us.
To match his on pitch skills, he appears to have the character that the fans and maybe even the dressing room needs. There is no doubt that some of his saves helped us to a point at Stamford Bridge two weeks ago and this was encapsulated at the end of the game when his teammates flocked to congratulate Adrián on another top class performance between the sticks .
I loved seeing that. A sense of togetherness that we often question the presence of. The ‘keeper seems to be someone who is uniting players in celebration when the good times come, and yelling out instructions when things aren’t going right. What I liked the most about the post-Chelsea scenes were his celebrations. I’ve noticed this about Adrián – he celebrates good results and goals (when they come), and I love that in a goalkeeper .
So often we see them left out and feeling a little far away, but we seem to have a man here who enjoys playing, winning and putting in a noticeable performance. Watching Adrián’s reaction to the Chelsea draw after a heap of pressure from the home side, made me think of how his interaction with West Ham fans is a great testament to his personality. To have settled in so quickly despite not having a guaranteed starting position, and to already be a fan favourite is quite something
I watched his pre-season performance at Cork City. I was at the other end of the pitch when he was on for the second half, and at the time I wasn’t aware that Jaaskelainen had been substituted. I was concerned that Jussi was having a dodgy second half and flapping around a bit, until I was told it was Adrián. That was my first impression of him.
He understandably got a few cup games under his belt, that’s expected from a second choice goalkeeper. Then on December 21st, I was in my kitchen. I heard Jeff Stelling ask his Soccer Saturday panel: “Are you surprised that Adrián is starting of Jaaskelainen today?” Out loud, I remarked: “What?!”
I was on my own in the kitchen, so no one answered me, but I stopped chopping to look at the telly and listen to the comments. I was so surprised and I hadn’t seen this move coming. It is very rare that ‘keepers are changed, and when they are it’s normally to the embarrassment of the former man because he’s made a few howlers.
To gauge the general consensus of this decision I turned to Twitter. It seemed as though most others were less surprised than me and thought it was a good move, with Adrián being backed on his better distribution and general shot stopping ability. I remained sceptical but trusted that there was good reason to replace Jaaskelainen. So up to now, his ability as a goalkeeper is proven. We have had enough opportunity to see him play and although results haven’t been great, he’s not been to blame.
But in his few games, his personality has been what has won me over. His prematch tunnel smiles are a welcome addition to a nervy starting 11. I attend more away matches than home ones these days, and the presence of a charismatic goalkeeper is great for travelling fans. When we’re on the attack at the other opposite end of the field (but not looking too promising), or if it’s a bit of a dull midfield tussle, we need a bit of light entertainment, and goalkeepers are often our source of fun
Rob Green was undoubtedly the best for this. He used to react to the fans, make us laugh and give us generous applause at the final whistle. Some of my fondest away day memories involve ‘Greeno’ with whom there was never a dull moment.Jaaskelainen warmed up to his away fan duties eventually. Whilst not as entertaining as Green to the fans behind him, he gave the odd wave and I loved his belly laugh reaction to one fan yelling “Finland’s number one” at the top of his voice.
Adrián strikes me as someone who will be a favourite with away fans, and will give them the antics that they desire, whilst also giving a solid performance with 100% effort. If he plays his cards right, he can gain a relationship with the crowd that will give him a buzz that he won’t want to give up. They’re already singing his name as we saw at Chelsea, and following the win over Cardiff, Adrián told whufc.com: “For me, the support is the best support in the country, away and home. I am really feeling close to them.” That’s what we like to hear!
It’s also worth checking out his Twitter page. I know footballers on Twitter is a bit of a contentious issue, but his positive outlook on life shines through in his post-match tweets, and there’s been a few good images of him and his happy team-mates posted up. Adrián looks like a man who plays with smile on his face and his heart on his sleeve. I like that, and I’ve certainly warmed to him. Long may his infectious happiness continue!