I f, as the song suggests, they didn’t understand about Dimitri Payet before, then aft er his FA Cup masterclass against Blackburn last month, it is safe to say the footballing world does now. As opportunities to enjoy the Boleyn Ground are reduced week by week, many West Ham fans may have settled for a draw and another night under the lights in east London.
But such was the nature of the drubbing that no one can have had any complaints about everything being done and dusted at the first time of asking. And it’s no surprise that it was West Ham’s No.27 who was at the heart of the action. Although Payet has been at West Ham less than one season, he has done enough to justify a heft y contract rewrite and become this generation’s Paolo Di Canio – and there can be few compliments higher.
Not only is Payet a player dripping with talent, but his presence and the security and confidence that gives his team-mates inspires them and lift s their games. Payet was a class above anyone else against Blackburn and drew team-mates into his orbit with one of his most dominant displays yet in a West Ham shirt. It was Payet who put the visitors ahead from a perfectly placed freekick.
Cheikhou Kouyate thought he had made it 3-1 aft er a beautiful string of passes – the Payet effect again – only to be denied by a debatable off side flag, but within minutes Emmanuel Emenike, who brought a refreshing directness and willingness to shoot, obliged with the third. Th e Nigerian could easily have ended the afternoon with a hatful himself but had to settle for just the two – his second setup, inevitably, by Payet. Th e Frenchman then rounded off a dazzling personal performance with a brilliant solo effort in injury time, running from his own half.
West Ham are certainly not a one-man team, but Payet is unquestionably its inspiration. It is no coincidence that fellow midfielder Mark Noble has risen into England contention playing alongside him, with his joy at doing so clear for all to see. West Ham have done all they can to stage manage the Boleyn’s last hurrah, but in Payet they have someone whose class means he makes by his own rules and writes his own scripts. Th at may turn out to to be the season’s crowning glory.