When Blowing Bubbles editor David Blackmore sent an email asking me to compile a list of potential Hammer of the Year contenders, my initial reaction was: ‘A list? I can barely think of one player deserving of that award let alone a list!’
Th e sad truth is this season has been so uninspiring that this award could go to anyone as not one player has really shone through like most years. You look through the past winners, Dimitri Payet last season was head and shoulders above anyone in that team and rightly collected every award going last year.
Scott Parker, at times, was a one-man band bossing the midfi eld for the Irons year-on-year. You go back further in history and see legends of the club scooping this award on more than one occasion, the likes of Trevor Brooking, a four-time winner of the prestigious award, Geoff Hurst, a three-time winner, and lastly Billy Bonds, also a three-time winner. All of these names have gone down as club legends. Sadly a look down the squad list will tell you not many of the current crop will be household West Ham names of the future.
So a list seems somewhat optimistic aft er what has been a troubling season for West Ham United. A season that promised so much will go down as an instantly forgettable one. The standout contender for this year’s Hammer of the Year award has to be the only player in the current squad that makes you shift from the back of your seat to the edge of it.
It’s our little gem Manuel Lanzini. Manu has picked up the rather large mantle left by a certain Frenchman and has carried West Ham to a number of important points. Whilst the Argentine probably won’t go down in the history books at this club because he won’t be at the club long enough to do so, he has certainly become the first name on the team sheet and once you become that invaluable to the squad you usually are a shoo-in for this award.
Other noticeable players that stand a chance of scooping the award are Michail Antonio, who has impressed in his second season in a West Ham shirt. Although his form has dipped in the second half of the season mainly through injury, he will probably finish as our top scorer thanks to his early season goal-scoring form. Winston Reid is another man who could pick up the award in May for his defensive work, which seems odd given the fact we have leaked goals all season, but his presence in that back four makes us somewhat more solid.
He is one of the few leaders in the squad and you cannot doubt his importance to the side. Lastly, the player I will be voting for Hammer of the Year, Pedro Obiang. The Spaniard had gone under the radar a little last season and I, for one, was calling for him to play a bigger role in the side this year and he has shone through. He has the highest tackle success rate in the side and some of the best interception stats too.
He’s the man that makes everything tick in the middle of the park and his absence later on in this season has been massive. However, as I said earlier, this award could go to anyone such is the mediocrity of this squad’s performance as a whole this season.
It has been a tough year for the Irons, settling into their new home, teams working out how to play against a Slaven Bilic side, and other Premier League squads getting bigger and better. Let’s hope next year is better.