What the Haller has happened to Sebastien? Nothing if you ask me. It was just poor recruitment.
That’s not Haller’s fault. Nor is it David Moyes’ who wasn’t in charge when he was signed.
Before the defeat at Liverpool, West Ham legend Tony Cottee told our We Are West Ham podcast he suspects Moyes has serious doubts over Haller’s suitability.
But anyone with two eyes in their head – and certainly someone professing to know how to sign football players – should have been able to see Haller was not going to fit at West Ham.
Prior to his £45million arrival – and since – the Hammers have played one up front.
Marko Arnautovic and now Michail Antonio have fulfilled the role with the necessary all-action vigour with both being 7/10 in the air, 7/10 running the channels, 7/10 finishing and 7/10 at closing down defenders. Proper all-rounders.
That is not Haller. He is 9/10 in the air, a 9/10 finisher and four or five out of 10 at everything else.
But that’s nothing new. That’s what he was like at Eintracht Frankfurt where he was playing in a 4-3-3 alongside Luka Jovic – good enough to earn a move to Real Madrid – and Ante Rebic – now at AC Milan.
Haller has 12 goals and three assists from 43 West Ham appearances so far which isn’t great considering his price tag. But the players around him are nowhere near as good as he had in Germany and Moyes’ system does not play to his strengths.
Only a total playing style overhaul is going to improve his return and given Moyes’ men recent good form, that is simply not going to happen.
Reports suggest the board could have accepted a bid of £25-30million for Haller in the summer but there was ‘no interest’.
However believable you find such statements, I hope the club aren’t too proud to cut their losses on the Frenchman – either in January or next summer.
I’d take £20m and put it down to a bad job. There’s no shame (well not too much) in successful European strikers not cutting in the Premier League.
Roberto Soldado, Alvaro Morata and Simone Zaza spring to mind. But the key now is to avoid flogging a dead horse for too long, source an appropriate replacement and move on.
I for one won’t bear Haller any grudges if he does leave. And to those expecting him to just change his style and turn into an Antonio or an Arnautovic in the blink of an eye… poppycock.
That’s not how the game works, players are what they are. Only legends like Ian Pearce can switch from centre-back to a striker in a heartbeat and he – sadly – is from an era long ago.
Anyway, I’ll let a man who scored 148 goals for West Ham – so perhaps might just know a thing or two more than me about it – tell you his thoughts.
Tony Cottee told the We Are West Ham podcast: ‘I think there’s no doubt Moyes has got reservations about Haller because if he was a fan he would find a way to accommodate him in the team.
‘However, since he’s been at the club, at times the service hasn’t been brilliant. He hasn’t really had a partner up front and I’m still a fan of playing two up front in whatever system.
‘There’s always room for two forwards and I like to see it because it causes more problems for the opposing defence.
‘And Haller really needs a smaller type of player alongside him but obviously those sort of poacher striker days seem to be gone.
‘I think Moyes has a real dilemma. It wouldn’t surprise me [going forward] if he doesn’t play Haller, keeps him as sub, pushes Jarrod Bowen up as striker – where he played for Hull – and brings Said Benrahma on in that No 10 role.
‘If we are struggling in the last 20 minutes or whatever then you can bring Haller on and launch the ball forward.
‘But it will tell him everything won’t it. If he doesn’t get picked [now Michail Antonio is out], he will know the writing is on the wall. He’ll know what the manager feels.
‘Different managers bring in different players and a new manager comes in and says ‘he might be a good player but he’s not really my type of footballer for the way I want to play the game’.
‘So if I’m Haller, I’m thinking “come on, Antonio has done really well but this is my time, I want to be in the team”. And if he’s not in the team, that’s going to tell him everything.’
It might be pretty gloomy for Haller but TC did have a message of hope about the club’s attacking prospects behind the strikers.
Cottee added: ‘For all those West Ham fans who haven’t seen a lot of Benrahma, trust me this boy is a top player.
‘We haven’t really replaced Dimitri Payet since he left. We all know how good Payet was and I don’t want to put too much pressure on Benrahma but this boy could potentially be as good as Payet.
‘I’ve seen enough of him to know he’s got skills. Good feet, creative and makes things happen.
‘Would it be better if Antonio was playing up front with him? Of course it would.‘But when this boy gets a chance, as long as he is fit and ready to go, West Ham fans are in for a real treat.’