Lucas Pacqueta and Antonio both scored twice last month but with attacking players finally seeming to hit top form, our international Italian number nine – Gianluca Scamacca – has been missing from the pitch and from the bench. April brought with it a shower of goals and optimism previously unseen in this season’s campaign with a definitive 4-0 win against Bournemouth, a 2-2 draw vs Arsenal, European victories and even a 1-2 battle with Liverpool, but fans are still left concerned about our main striker’s absence.
Reports have come back that Scamacca will be ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee surgery and ligament tear that will take a few months to recover from. This news alone would be disappointing to fans but coupled with the player’s lack of game time, rumors of dissatisfaction, and Moyes’ history with forwards – Gianluca may be another casualty in West Ham’s continuing striker struggle.
The last time Scamacca was seen was on the sidelines of London Stadium, warming up for a full 20 minutes only to be snubbed for a late Cornet sub. We were chasing a victory from a 1-1 draw, and Moyes subbed on Cornet leaving Scamacca hopelessly leaning on the advertisement hoardings in despair, then walking down the tunnel without interaction with any team or staff at the end of match in a disgruntled swagger.
After the match, Moyes made some damning remarks about Scamacca when questioned: ‘His link up play is very good. ‘We know that his physical data has got to be much better than it is but even today, Maxi Cornet, the thought was he could get in behind them and let’s be fair, we probably did and we nearly did three or four other times.
‘Even Maxi had a couple of half chances, whether he was onside or offside. We saw Maxi doing that more than Gianluca.’ Moyes even suggested that Scamacca wasn’t the grade he was expecting: ‘Gianluca has got to get himself back, as a manager, no manager wants to put out a bad team, you want to put out the players who you think are going to win for you, so you are always looking to put your best team out.’
These physical stats may be true, but our fans are often left with mistrust in Moyes, whose man-management skill is not stellar – with uncalled-for digs at Benrahma in the press and the unwavering support for Soucek, we know Moyes has favorites. They are the hard-working players who he and no one else has chosen.
If past managers, the owners, or the director of football have signed a player, the general opinion is that Moyes does not want to use them either due to trust issues or to prove a point. And our fans often have an insecurity around the relationship with their strikers, with so many leaving with a bitter taste in their mouth after not having seen playing time or success in east London.
Sebastian Haller was the most recent casualty, who before coming to and after leaving West Ham has been successful. We have been a place where strikers’ careers go to die, and that an Italian international was willing to choose West Ham over big Italian clubs and some Premier League sides made us extremely excited but insecure, desiring the relationship to work out.
When Scamacca left his agent Alessandro Lucci of the World Soccer Agency because ‘There was no longer the necessary trust for a healthy and professional relationship’, we assumed it was because he was unhappy that this agency put him with West Ham. This was not the full story, and there were alot of interpersonal money issues that our fans are not apprised of, but the feeling was there.
With Moyes never favouring an out-and-out classic striker or target man, we’re left wondering why Scamacca was even signed. If he’s constantly going to force players from the solo roving winger role that Arnautovic and Antonio thrived in, and every forward has to fit it whether it be a misplaced Haller or Scamacca, or a struggling winger like Cornet, what hope or right do we have to bring on a striker into the squad?
Any poacher, targetman, or striker who enjoys pairing is doomed to failure. With Danny Ings’ arrival, and Scamacca’s season-ending injury, we might as well expect not to see Scamacca in the claret and blue again as rumours are already suggesting Italian clubs are after him.
The only possibility would be that Scamacca heals up and outlives Moyes in his tenure at the club, with hopes that a new summer manager would make good use of him. But outlasting Moyes is a herculean task, as Moyes does what he does best – digs in and defends.
And who’s to say with a recent upswing in form that perhaps David Moyes might be right on his assessment of Scamacca?