It’s all gone a bit pear-shaped for West Ham , hasn’t it?
The move to the London Stadium was marred in controversy and fan violence, the season isn’t going well (to say the least), and the previously ‘Super’ Slaven Bilic is hanging by a thread.
A bold new signing was what he needed at the end of last season, so on the 22nd of July, in came Austrian winger, Marko Arnautovic – the club’s record signing for all of two days until Chicarito turned up.
Things haven’t gone well for the Austrian, culminating in lacklustre performances, a red card for violent conduct, and a severely unimpressed fan-base. Let’s take a look at why this signing isn’t working out.
But, before we do, it’s confession time; I have a vested interest here. I’m a Stoke fan and I’m still all bitter and twisted about the way he left, but amidst the anger and heartache I felt when he packed his bags, I do remember a simple thought crossing my mind – 24 million quid? That’s a lot, isn’t it?
On Friday, as West Ham were beaten at home by Brighton, my twitter feed went largely into the same joke of “Stoke fans thinking about the £24 million they made on Arnautovic” along with a super original gif of someone laughing. The fact we spent 18 of that 24 million on Kevin Wimmer takes away a lot of the glee that such a high number originally gave me, but that’s beside the point, as a Stoke fan, I had a front row seat to the rise of our once beloved, now despised, Arnie.
The truth is, he was always temperamental, he was always a bit petulant, and, as Carragher and Neville alluded to on Friday night, he’s always thought he was better than he is. But let’s not forget, for Stoke, Arnautovic had his moments of brilliance, and we loved him for it.
‘Bilic may well have made this signing after watching Match of the Day.’
But these were nowhere near as common as you’d believe if you only saw him on Match of the Day. For those of us who watched week in, week out, he was hot and cold. Put kindly, his attitude left a lot to be desired. Put bluntly, he’s way too big for his boots.
Match of the Day don’t tend to cover the amount of times wingers don’t seem bothered enough to make a forward run, do they? Neither do they cover how un-bothered they seem when it comes to their defensive duties. They focus on the goals, the moments of brilliance, the peak of the ice-burgs, and unfortunately for West Ham, so, it seems, did Bilic.
When Arnie left, I remember having a conversation in a pub about how we, as Stoke fans, put up with his nonsense, but that West Ham fans certainly would not. And we were pretty accurate. The afore mentioned twitter meltdown was not just Stoke fans, but many Hammers complaining at both his work-rate and his price tag.
A work-shy, arrogant and somewhat selfish winger for £2million from Werder Bremen is one thing. The same winger at the tail end of his career for £24million is quite another, and I genuinely sympathise with the West Ham fans.
“I don’t suppose he’s a player that will fit in anywhere, because he seems to think everything should fit around him”.
That’s some good analysis right there, perhaps the best summary of Marko Arnautovic I’ve heard. It’s not from a pundit, a former player or a coach, but from a Stoke fan that sat through all of his ups and downs, my dad. As we all know, fans are the best barometer of football, so in further search of answers, I asked more Stoke fans their opinion.
My friend Kieran expanded that he’s not necessarily struggling, he’s just not necessarily trying, either;
“It [signing for West Ham] was a side-ways step, he’s actually performing worse than he was for Stoke but for more money. No matter how he performs he gets 100k a week, even if he doesn’t play, he gets that 100k a week. Money is the man’s motive, not football, he say can ‘ambition’ and ‘bigger club’ all he wants, but he went for the money”.
This is perhaps what riles the Hammers faithful so much, and again, I sympathise. I’m not going to get bogged down in a ‘footballers get paid too much’ rant, and truthfully, if someone offered to double my wage and move from Stoke to London I’d do it as well. However, my new employer would expect a lot for doubling my wage packet, wouldn’t they?
For the money spent on him, Arnautovic should be flogging himself every Saturday to prove his worth, and as picked up on by Carragher and Neville on Friday, he spends a lot of time loitering on the wing doing a whole load of not much.
On a side note, if someone offered me 100k a week, there are very few things I wouldn’t do. Tracking back defensively seems like a fairly good bargain.
For Arnie, there seems to be none of the passion and desire that wins football games, but on his day, however few and far between they are, he’s a fantastically dangerous winger. How West Ham move forward, I’m not sure.
Maybe us Stokies are all just bitter, though.