Are we starting to see the most of our record signing? Or does Andrew Ayew’s future in claret and blue look uncertain? It’s fair to say that the Ghanaian international had a mixed start to his Hammers career. He faced a lengthy lay-off aft er his first appearance in claret and blue before jetting off for the Africa Cup of Nations in January
But despite a lack of appearances, he’s still netted four times, three of which have come in four games. Unfortunately, only one of those saw us claim three points. Th at’s not to blame Ayew for the team’s misfortune because, I believe, he has the potential to become a match-winner in east London. Ayew fits nicely into current debates about Slaven Bilic’s team selections and positional decisions.
He’s a relatively versatile player, but maybe his most effective position is yet to be established in the boss’ plans. Whilst he might not be the elusive ‘20-goal per season’ striker we’re looking for, his ability in the air and keen eye for goal make him a decent striking option in hard times. Aft er watching his recent displays, his willingness to head forwards is a great asset to the Hammers.
At the age of 27, he has good experience and the ability to influence his teammates if they seem a little unsure as to what attacking options to take. He’s the one with his hand up or pointing forwards, using his pace to find space and gain time. Th ere’s no doubt that his leadership skills in this way are a useful tool. As shown with Ghana, he’s able to lead the line and keep a cool head at the highest level.
Maybe this could work well for him in partnership with Mark Noble; he can take a bit of pressure off the captain in the middle of the field, whilst searching for those spaces and making vital runs. At Swansea, he was effective as part of a forward three, something that Bilic has also trialed for his big-money summer signing.
From the wing he can create chances, assist goals and make useful runs into the box. His footballing brain is evident, so to have him in a position where that can be utilised could be key in Bilic’s plans. Whilst Ayew could sit back behind Carroll and use his experience to guide the team forwards, he could be a little wasted in terms of crossing options and surges from the wing. Th at’s not to say that he can’t do that if circumstances necessitate.
Despite losing a friend in east London in Payet, Ayew has got his head firmly fixed on the job in hand. Just a small run of goals has shown that he’s taking responsibility for keeping West Ham focused on securing as high a league position as possible. Let’s not forget that it wasn’t all plain sailing for Andre with the Swans.
Th e Welsh side was on the crest of a wave when he joined in the summer of 2015, but things looked rocky from then on. Ayew himself had a positive start, scoring three in his first three appearances and making a clear impact. But he had to dig in and get his head down to ensure that the side didn’t crash and burn. Garry Monk was sacked following a poor run of form, but Ayew continued to make his mark with 12 goals in his solo season in south Wales.
Some Swansea fans had criticised him for not being able to effectively play on the wing or as a central striker, but other fans were sorry to see the hard-working player leave aft er such a short stay following his contributions.
Signs point to his efforts continuing under Bilic, a manager who is satisfied that the club’s record signing will live up to his price tag. Following his rude interruption to the season through injury, Slaven heaped praise on the 27-year-old and his determination to get fit and to continue scoring goals. Is that the clue as to where the boss wants Ayew to fit into his squad?
Will he be an impact sub? Or will he fill in for Andy Carroll if, and when, he’s facing time on the sidelines? I, for one, hope that the fans get to see the most of Andre Ayew, whether it be in a purely forward role or to see him bossing the wing. Th e pessimist in me sees an uncertain future, though, in a time when the club is struggling to settle into any kind of pattern in a new home, with new players and tactics.