There can be little doubt that the departure of Dimitri Payet in January could represent a huge loss to West Ham United.
His actions prior to his departure were reprehensible but he was our number one creator in chief, a league leader in chances created and assists. Payet was our dead ball expert and the player whose dribbling and skill not only got the team out of tight spots but also got us out of our seats. For all his faults off the pitch, he leaves a void on it.
Th e shrewd capture of Robert Snodgrass from Hull, however, could go a long way to filling that void. Th e Scottish international has many of the same attributes possessed by Payet. Prior to him signing for us, he was in fine form for Hull and his stats stack up favourably with many in the league – not least the player whose boots we are hoping he can fill.
Th e 29-year-old had a pass completion of 85 percent, a take on completion of 60 per cent, created 40 chances and laid on two assists for his fellow Tigers teammates whilst also registering seven goals in 19 league appearances. Th at’s a great contribution for a man playing in a team that is oft en bereft of ideas and struggling to get a foothold in their games. Snodgrass, who started his career at Livingston, has already shown us he is an attack-minded midfielder who likes to take on defenders and put the ball into the danger areas.
He is capable of playing down either fl ank and has shown during his career that he is equally adept at playing down the middle, running straight at the heart of a defence. We’ve also been able to see why the Glasgow-born winger has also built a reputation as a deadball expert. And whilst it may be fair to say that Snodgrass does not operate at quite the same ‘world class’ level as our former number 27, it is possible that his overall contribution to the team could be greater
What he lacks in subtlety and swagger, he more than makes up for in work rate and team spirit. An understanding of the need for hard work and team togetherness are the result of promotion drives and relegation scraps with Leeds, Norwich and Hull, and this has been evident already in the appearances he has made in Claret and Blue.
When he made his debut in the 4-0 defeat to Manchester City, the game was already lost before he stepped on the pitch but it didn’t stop the new boy demanding more from his teammates, willing young Sam Byram on and telling him to keep his head up. It tells you all you need to know about the make-up of the man. His next appearance was in the 3-1 away win at St. Mary’s, where he operated predominantly from the left flank, and whilst he didn’t score or assist any of the goals, he was always willing to take the ball from a teammate and relieve pressure.
He got up and down and helped Cresswell deal with Southampton’s wide men, securing a first away win down on the coast in years. But what really caught the eye following that performance was his response to Andy Carroll’s lovely goal from Obiang’s through ball: ‘I didn’t know he had a right foot’. Less than a week at the club and already part of the banter. There was a feeling that Payet was in some ways above the team, Snodgrass is very much one of the boys.
His performance in his third game for us saw him put in another all action display against West Brom, which further highlighted the qualities he offers the team. He occupied both the right and left channels as well as taking over Antonio’s role at the point of attack during certain periods of the game, he also showed he likes a tackle too.
His versatility and willingness to do whatever job the team requires of him will stand us in good stead. As will his wicked crossing ability which yielded little against the Baggies in the absence of Andy Carroll, but when the big man is back should bear fruit. So whilst we lost a Ballon D’or nominee, we may have replaced him with a man who gives us the stomach for a fight.