January isn’t an exciting month. The transfer window is disappointing, the weather is miserable and to add to matters in 2021, we were mostly staring at the same four walls at home.
We’ve turned to football for some interest and comfort. So I think when we tuned in to watch the Hammers face West Brom at the London Stadium, we pricked up our ears when Big Sam mumbled that an ‘agreement’ between the two clubs meant that Robert Snodgrass wouldn’t play.
Tuesday night football had suddenly turned into a soap opera, with Sam Allardyce, West Ham’s owners and Snodgrass involved in some ‘hush-hush’ dealings. Someone just forgot to tell Sam not to open his mouth to the rolling cameras.
Snodgrass joined West Brom on a permanent basis at the beginning of January. He had signed for West Ham four years earlier, spending the 2017/18 season on loan at Aston Villa.
Slaven Bilic successfully signed Snodders from Hull after a couple of attempts. He was signed at a time when fans weren’t really sure of who was making the signings though – was it the manager, the owners or the scouts?
Snodgrass didn’t exactly hit the ground running and did come under a lot of criticism from fans who questioned why we had signed him if he didn’t fit into our system.
Bilic was quick to defend his player, stating that often new signings do take a dip in form.
He was adamant that Snodgrass and Antonio were two of the hardest workers on and off the pitch.
His time at the London Stadium was turbulent, but he did something that not many players can do – he made the West Ham fans change their minds.
Before he went on loan to Villa, the general consensus was that he wasn’t good enough to start a game and that he wasn’t exactly the type of signing the fans had been promised.
We could see that he had potential to be brilliant for us, but it just didn’t quite happen.
The picture became a bit clearer when, following his loan move to Villa Park, the then 30-year-old spoke out against Slav for playing him in the wrong positions.
He told the press: ‘I was coming on against City and he said “where do you want to play, on the left or right?”
‘I thought “you have just signed me and I have played on the right or behind the striker at Hull City all season”.’
This probably answered the questions over who signed Snodgrass, then.
When he went on to score seven goals and set up a further 14 at Villa, we saw the potential for him to fit into the right system at West Ham.
On his return to London, he was playing under Manuel Pellegrini. After scoring two against Macclesfield in the FA Cup, he noted the support that the Hammers fans had shown him:
‘It was a very hard first year for me, but I feel as if this year is different as I’ve played and done well in stages.’
He went on to say: ‘I’ve got a connection with the West Ham fans because they were always there for me, showing me support and that sort of stuff and now they’re wishing me well again.’
It was the 2019/20 season when we really appreciated his efforts, first under Pellegrini and then under Moyes. Fans were able to notice his determination and commitment, and that he had the ability to run, assist and score.
In three and a half seasons playing at West Ham, the former Scotland international scored 11 goals in all competitions. Statistically speaking, he was about half as successful in east London as he was at Hull, when it comes to goals per game.
But that didn’t mean he wasn’t a fan favourite. By the time he was leaving for West Brom, we were genuinely sorry to see him go.
We’d got to know his style of play and his personality. We knew that his team-mates valued him as a great man to have in the dressing room and on the pitch.
We’d also got to know his charitable nature. He was a pivotal part of fundraising and driving awareness for Isla’s fight, to raise money for 4-year-old Isla Caton’s treatment for Neuroblastoma.
He donated £3,000 to the cause and, alongside Mark Noble, was active in visiting Isla and her family. He also put in a lot of effort to collect signed items from football clubs and players in order to auction them off.
It wasn’t just his financial donations that drew attention – it was his actions and the time he dedicated to the cause. He tweeted, posted videos, visited, and contacted people to make things happen.
Between his commitment to being an all-round good person and his footballing efforts on the pitch, Robert Snodgrass is a good signing for West Brom and they’re lucky to have him.
After a shaky start at West Ham, the fans really grew to like him which speaks volumes about his character – we’re not a forgiving bunch.
At the time of writing, it looks unlikely that either West Brom or West Ham will face serious sanctions for breaching rules on contract clauses. But at least for a couple of days it gave us something to talk about.
What it does say is that the Hammers – be it Moyes himself or those who sealed the deal – feared that Robert Snodgrass was good enough to hit the ground running at West Brom and score against West Ham immediately after signing. That, if anything, is a compliment.