‘Dinos has become one to watch but mainly through your fingers’

Two poor backpasses early in his Hammers career has cost us in the league and FA Cup

Mohammed Kudus (WHU) celebrates scoring the first West Ham goal (1-1) with Jarrod Bowen (WHU) at the Brentford v West Ham United EPL match, at The G-Tech Stadium, Brentford, London, UK on 4th November, 2023.

There’s a lot of certainties in life and football – death, taxes and the atrocity that is the standard of refereeing in the Premier League. One area of less certainty is the fans’ verdict on our summer signing, Konstantinos Mavropanos.

After joining in August 2023, the Greece international defender came in on a five year contract for a reported £18million. He joined from the Bundesliga club VfB Stuttgart to shore up our defence, a needed bolstering for a side that regularly misses out on Kurt Zouma, Nayef Aguerd, and Angelo Ogbonna; injuries, injuries, and age, respectively.

Since joining the Hammers, ‘Dinos’, as is his preferred nickname, has made just eight appearances (six starts) and played in 586 minutes of football. He’s also made incredibly foolish errors in a whopping 25% of those games, leaving fans wondering whether or not the 26-year-old defender is becoming something of a Greek tragedy in claret and blue.

It’s one thing when a player makes a serious individual error that leads to a goal. It happens. Everyone makes mistakes, but at the risk of sounding like a CEO on LinkedIn, it’s what we learn from those mistakes that’s important. Mavropanos is not learning from his mistakes.

He is making the same mistakes repeatedly, and has now given away two goals in two months from terrible back passes. You have to wonder how many more times he will sabotage West Ham’s not-terribly-sound goal difference – the teams above us in the league are +29, +25, +22, and +13 compared to our +3. 

It’s not a great look when googling ‘Mavropanos’ and ‘error’ that so many results come up, but in case you need a reminder of his individual errors, do read on. He first appeared as a potential calamity in the 53rd minute against Crystal Palace, when he attempted a no-look back pass, but it didn’t quite go the distance and was easily scooped up by Palace’s Odsonne Edouard. 

Edouard went on to score and Crystal Palace were level with a West Ham team that had up to then been fairly dominant. We couldn’t recover from the error, and three points were duly reduced to one. He decided to bring this error into the New Year against lower-league opposition Bristol City in the FA Cup. 

He yet again played a terrible back pass which completely caught Lukas Fabianski off guard as Bristol’s Tommy Conway put the ball in the back of the net. This back pass didn’t cost us points, per se – instead it knocked us out of the FA Cup. 

Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me et al, but this isn’t just the second time he’s done this. The man is a serial back-pass offender who should be in prison for his crimes against the back-pass.

He’s also done this same wild error a third time at a previous club, earning himself a league record in the process. In January 2023, while playing for VfB Stuttgart, Mavropanos sent a pass back to his goalkeeper from 48 metres out. 

Only he hit it quite firmly, in a position that sent the goalkeeper diving for the ball. The keeper was unable to get to it in time, and the ball went in the net for an own goal. 

This happened in the fourth minute of the game, from a Stuttgart throw in. We know the exact metreage of this, as it’s the furthest distance for an own goal ever scored in the German Football Federation. So that’s neat!

When he’s not throwing away goals, he can be quite a useful player to have on the pitch. According to West Ham’s website, he’s made 32 clearances this season and has a 62.5% success rate when it comes to tackles – both useful stats. 

He’s made 10 interceptions and – incredibly – has a fairly successful passing rate of 76.2%. He’s also managed to find the net for good, popping up to score a powerful header to beat Arsenal. He’s got a strong presence and rarely gets bullied off the ball. 

He’s got a lot of potential to do well, provided he can get his inner saboteur to stop insisting on passing backwards. To be fair to him, we are no strangers to poor individual errors costing us games. We’ve experienced this numerous times over the years, most recently against Aston Villa (4-1 drubbing in October) and Newcastle (5-1 routing in April), with Moyes saying, in May 2023, after a gutting loss to Man City, that there have been too many individual errors in West Ham’s games.

Eight games in is probably too soon to write off a player, particularly when he’s mostly playing in a team devoid of their brightest stars, but sadly Mavropanos has quickly become one to watch – and mainly from behind your hands.

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