September gave us the chance to have a good look at all our summer signings in action and I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen so far
But there’s one player we’ve not really seen much of yet and that’s Michail Antonio. He was the summer signing I was most excited about seeing in and West Ham shirt and I am convinced he will get his chance and then we’ll all see his unquestionable talent. I saw him play a lot in the Championship for Nottingham Forest and as Forest fan John Payne said in his piece for Blowing Bubbles last month, he is a really good signing.
He is powerful, has got bags of pace and can play on the wing or just behind the striker. Even when Nottingham Forest lost, I was always reporting for Soccer Saturday that he was Forest’s best player. The Forest fans that I’ve spoken to recently have said he wasn’t consistent enough for them but then again Forest haven’t exactly been pulling up any trees either – no pun intended! It’s still, of course, early days in the season and as I say, he will get his chance.
There is going to be a stage of the season where Victor Moses, for one reason or another, will make way for Antonio and he is more than capable of stepping up from what I’ve seen. I’m very excited about seeing his potential become a reality at West Ham and in the Premier League. The good news is with players like Antonio, we’ve got real depth in the squad as well as quality which we will really need. Just remember how we dropped off after our good start last season and how it all went pearshaped – this season we’ve got good calibre players to step in if those on the pitch aren’t performing at their best.
As I say the most likely player Antonio will step in for is Victor Moses who has already shown why Chelsea haven’t just sold him off and tied him down to a new contract. He is a quality player. He has got pace to burn and gives us an edge – something Matt Jarvis never really gave to us. Having said that, he was never really given enough of a chance. He Lot to offer: Michail Antonio will get his chance in the team was always brilliant at Wolves and I hope he does well at Norwich. Turning to Dimitri Payet now and he is the player we are all talking about – as are fans of other teams.
He has got vision and flair, and he can read the game beautifully, which is something we haven’t seen at West Ham for a long time. He has got a Teddy Sheringham-style football brain but with a bit of pace and acceleration thrown in! He performed brilliantly in France last season and I’m still surprised that one of the bigger Premier League sides didn’t go after him. I guess it came down to the fact he had just the one superior season and there would have been questions about whether or not he could replicate this for another season and in another country.
Do I think he can do it for West Ham this season? I certainly think so and from what I’ve seen, I’m sure he can keep up this form for the whole season. He seems to have that hunger and swagger which I really like and I’m sure he is going to be West Ham favourite. The other summer signing that has caught my eye is Manuel Lanzini. I really like the look of him because he has a sparkle about him – probably why his nickname is the jewel!
He is the type of player that would have been lost in a team managed by Sam Allardyce but Bilic has seen that little bit of magic he has. He has ingenuity and I think Sakho, and Valencia, when he returns from injury, will thrive on his through balls. He isn’t the biggest of players but he does have strength on the ball and I think he is a really exciting player. Against Sunderland, I think he had the most touches of all the players and that’s exactly what we need our creative players to do. We need them on the ball, dictating the play and pulling the strings.
It’s going to be interesting to see what Slaven does when we’ve got all our players back from injury and fully fit, like Alex Song. Still I’m sure he’ll appreciate the dilemma of having such a plethora of quality midfield players, especially Payet and Lanzini who are scintillating to watch at times and are helping West Ham play the football we’ve been crying out for. Having said this, it doesn’t matter how good a few individuals are if we continue to start poorly in games.
We started slowly against Bournemouth, Leicester, Norwich and Sunderland and we were punished. We can’t just rely on playing well in the second half every week. We need to begin brighter and start on the front foot. When I spoke to Slaven Bilic recently he told me that there were individual errors in these games and these can’t be legislated for.
He has got a point because, in truth, you can’t but there has to be an element of concentration in there too. The bottom line is we can’t continue to go two goals down every week and expect us to come back every time, it’s just not possible. We need to attack games from the first moment.