When Jordan Hugill signed for West Ham, it seemed like a bit of a joke to many.
With the club in dire need of a quality striker, David Moyes eventually targeted the man from his old stomping ground.
For some, the first insight they will have had into Hugill’s character was his reveal video. Well, that didn’t exactly do much to detract from the comedic factor: ‘I can’t wait to walk out with all the bubbles, come on you iron.’
From the line itself to the fact the video cut out before he had a chance to say ‘irons’, it didn’t exactly scream star striker. It was more like a bloke who had won a competition to walk out with the boys ahead of a game. He looked like he couldn’t believe his luck.
Still, at least there was enthusiasm in abundance, which is always good to see. However, there are times in life, with elite sport perhaps one of the most obvious examples, where enthusiasm – no matter how much of it you have – just isn’t enough.
That was the case for Hugill, as during the half-season after signing, the former Preston North End striker amassed just 22 minutes across three games: 10 against Brighton & Hove Albion, two against Watford and 10 against Southampton.
While he didn’t show a lot in this time, no matter how good a player is, they are going to struggle to make an impact of any kind, or settle in properly at their new club, with such limited opportunities.
However, that was to be his lot in claret and blue. Half a season in and he had been thrown on the scrap heap, already deemed surplus to requirements.
In this instance, the scrap heap comes in the form of a season-long loan to Middlesbrough. It was a decent move for Hugill, but he didn’t do anything that would encourage Manuel Pellegrini to reintegrate him into the squad, managing 20 league starts and 17 substitute appearances, scoring six goals.
If it wasn’t for a striker crisis, there would have been no hope of him sticking around for the 2019/20 campaign. Though, following the departure of Lucas Perez, Andy Carroll and Marko Arnautovic, there seemed a genuine chance that Hugill could stay and try to earn his chance to walk out with those bubbles.
It is perhaps a sign of just how little he was trusted that Pellegrini allowed him to join Queens Park Rangers on loan.
This was only accentuated when Javier Hernandez was sold, leaving Sebastien Haller and Albian Ajeti as the only out-and-our strikers – with Xande Silva joining them when he is fit.
Hugill approached the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium a man who had been mercilessly discarded and mocked, at the butt end of many a West Ham fan’s jokes from the moment the send button was clicked to release his announcement video.
Mark Warburton welcomed the striker and instantly spoke in the media about his new recruit’s hunger and ability, clearly looking to build him up.
A mix of the manager’s belief, a system that plays to his strengths and the building of momentum, have seen Hugill get into the goalscoring form of his life at QPR. After nine starts and two substitute appearances, he has already equalled his Middlesbrough tally – also getting halfway to his best ever goalscoring season.
It isn’t a question that will get very far among many, but for some, if he continues in this way, it could lead to the thoughts of whether Hugill should be given another chance to prove himself in claret and blue.
We have seen the turnaround of players in the past, such as when Robert Snodgrass came back from his loan spell with Aston Villa, going on to re-earn his spot in the team. This feels different though, as if there has been a point of no return for the 27-year-old.
From the price the club paid and the announcement video, to the calamitous performances and lack of game time, this has seemed like a bit of a joke to so many, that it is hard to see Hugill being taken seriously.
He would require plenty of time on the pitch to achieve this, which is not going to happen with Sebastien Haller around.
The form he has shown this season is brilliant, as it will likely give him a confidence boost, after what has likely been a very tough time for him since making the move to London Stadium. What is likely the best option for everybody involved is that he finds another club, either in January or the summer: West Ham get some of their money back, the buying club has a striker who has done well in the Championship before, but most importantly, Hugill gets to settle at a club be the main man again.