Take your mind back to January 2017. Dimitri Payet had just walked out on us and left us angry and confused. The man we all worshipped had betrayed us and with a relegation battle staring us firmly in the face, we needed a replacement.
The club moved for their man and almost everyone was livid. Dimitri Payet’s replacement was Hull City’s Robert Snodgrass. To be fair to the midfielder, it was always going to be difficult for him, arriving at a club tasked with filling Payet’s boots.
He didn’t have the easiest starts and so no one was really surprised to see him shipped out on loan to Aston Villa the following summer after 15 Premier League appearances and zero goals to his name. His West Ham career looked over. Manuel Pellegrini’s arrival in the summer, on the face of it, wasn’t expected to work in Snodgrass’ favour.
What would the new West Ham manager see in Snodgrass that would convince him he could play an important role in this exciting new era. Fast forward to the present day and we’ve just witnessed Snodgrass score his first Premier League goal for the club in a 3-2 home over Crystal Palace, his third goal in all competitions before the turn of the year.
Now, the Scotland international isn’t just an important member of Manuel Pellegrini’s team, he is now a huge fan favourite. After his goal against Palace, fans took to Twitter to describe their love for a man whose West Ham career looked dead and buried just six months earlier.
‘Snodaldinho,’ wrote one fan, ‘What a beast! Snodmonster,’ wrote another.
One fan went one further and renamed him ‘Lionel Snodgrass’. Some praise for someone who couldn’t catch a break in the not too distant past. And all this praise is very well deserved. Snodgrass returned to the club in the summer knowing full well that he had another chance to prove he can make a difference in east London.
It was a fresh start for him after failing to impress Slaven Bilic, and now he had an opportunity to show a Premier League winning manager what he was capable of. Since then, we’ve seen nothing but 120 per cent effort and commitment from Snodgrass. He’s never put in a sub-standard shift and has arguably been our player of the season so far, if you remove the talismanic performances and goals from the likes of Marko Arnautovic and Felipe Anderson.
After 18 appearances in all competitions this season, Snodgrass has three goals and seven assists to his name, four assists more than anyone else in the West Ham squad. So not only has he been putting in the effort whenever called upon, he’s also making a huge impact on the success of the team. He is just as important to us as Arnie and Felipe Anderson right now, which is pretty incredible when you consider the past.
It is no secret that we love a trier at West Ham. Us Hammers aren’t for calling out players for a lack of talent if we can clearly see they’re trying hard. We have many players on the cult hero list as a result, and Robert Snodgrass can now be added to that list as a result of what he has done so far this season. However, the difference with Snodgrass is that he does have talent to go with his hard work and commitment. We’ve seen that already.
What happened in the early stages of his West Ham career wasn’t his fault — his position in the West Ham squad was a poisoned chalice given the boots he was replacing and the general toxic atmosphere surrounding the club at the time. Either way, he just couldn’t win. Now though, we’ve got ourselves a gem. Thousands of fans owe Snoddy an apology.
He’s earned cult hero status and now could be in the running for Hammer of the Year. If that’s not the commitment, professionalism and hard work you want to rub off on to the younger players in the squad, I don’t know what is.