As his sensational solo goal against Cardiff last season best illustrates, Morgan Amalfitano is capable of the extraordinary
After all, not many players can lob the goalkeeper from a full 35 yards out. So, then, it begs the question why did West Brom spurn the chance of signing him on a permanent basis after a year spent on loan? Homesickness and a change in manager – Steve Clarke brought him in before Pepe Mel usurped his position – are possible reasons.
But the most overriding explanation is, for all of the Frenchman’s skills and tricks, Amalfitano simply didn’t work hard enough for the team and it was arguably his laziness that proved decisive. West Ham have got a naturally gifted player on their hands, but indeed one who seldom tracks back and can drift in and out of games.
In truth, when Amalfitano arrived from Marseille in the summer a year ago, my knowledge of him was rather rudimentary. He was somewhat of an unknown quantity – and to an extent he still is – but he soon announced himself by scoring a collection of fantastic goals, most notably a jaw-dropping dink over David De Gea at Old Trafford. He started with a bang and looked a real find. But Amalfitano’s real downfall is his inconsistency, which West Ham supporters will soon discover for themselves.
As a right sided midfielder, he sometimes struggles to stamp his authority on matches, being left out wide while much of the play occurs in other areas. It could be argued that at his new club, with West Ham’s tendency to use the wide players, Amalfitano may get more involved. It is crucial that he does.
A certain positive to the midfielder’s game is his crossing ability. Without exaggerating, Amalfitano ranks as one of the very best I’ve seen in terms of crossing the ball from wide areas. He has this lovely technique and gets great curl; however, it rarely paid off at Albion as our strikers weren’t the tallest.
I think an effective formula could be created at West Ham where Amalfitano provides width and delivery and one of Carlton Cole or Andy Carroll connects. Furthermore, another important string to the 29-year-old’s bow is his dribbling and technical work. At Albion, Amalfitano’s touch was often one of the best and he could quite effortlessly manipulate the ball in tight situations. To conclude, I think the reported fee of £1million that West Ham have paid for Amalfitano’s services is shrewd business.
He can be frustrating in the way he lights up some games and disappears in others but he has the capacity to really hurt teams. Put him out wide right and working in tandem with a striker who can head the ball, and West Ham are onto something very promising indeed.