The John Lyall Gates at the entrance to the Boleyn Ground

If there was ever a time for the best of the best to stand up and be counted, then surely that time is now. For most of the season, many of the West Ham faithful have wondered what happened to the creative maestro in midfield and would he ever shine again? Lanzini has had limited highlights this season, certainly by his high standards…but he may well be the key to the club remaining in the league.

“Those who really desire to attain an independence, have only to set their minds upon it, and adopt the proper means, as they do in regard to any other object which they wish to accomplish, and the thing is easily done.” – P.T. Barnum

His season started reasonably well, then suffered a dip in form which coincided with his suspension for a diving offence. When he returned, he had failed to gather any momentum and consistency whilst also being hampered by injury along the way. He has suffered along with most of the squad this season and whilst there continues to be the quality that should produce results…it rarely does!

Apart from his outstanding performance alongside Arnautovic against Huddersfield Town and his goal against Liverpool, Lanzini has not produced anywhere near what one would expect of a club playmaker nor indeed has he delivered a fair return in netted goals…so what has gone wrong this season and can it ever improve?

It has been a frustrating time for all concerned with the club this season and Lanzini is not an island in that regard, however there are mitigating circumstances that would aid in explanation. His suspension did little for the team, nor himself in terms of consistency and cohesion…and his injury came at exactly the wrong time for us all, just as the team seemed to be gaining traction.

Last summer there were rumours of other clubs who might register an interest in his services, whilst in the January transfer window there was much talk in the shadows about a possible move away from West Ham to Liverpool. The deal never quite materialised however there is speculation that his head has been turned and this may have affected his performances since returning from injury.

Of course this is lacking any shred of evidence to support such a claim, but there is a seeming convenience about the whole affair and certainly for many he has not seemed at the races for some time.

He returned to be thrown in at the deep end once again against Liverpool some three weeks ago. He seemed lethargic and not on the same wavelength as some of the other players and was largely outplayed for the whole game. It seemed as if he had returned a game too early and I did wonder if he may have forced his return just to prove his worth to new would-be employers come the summer.

Against Swansea, once again I thought he lacked purpose and direction whilst still being off the pace, however it would be cruel to isolate him in that fiasco of a team performance, as the whole team were truly awful. In the first half against Burnley, he had some sporadic successes and was linking well with Antonio but seemed to favour the left hand channels and opposed to forcing any successful link up play with Arnautovic or even exploring the right hand flanks as Zabaleta made numerous runs in that direction…only to stand alone and out of the game.

We all know that on his day, Lanzini can indeed be the game changer we so long for, the player that would turn our fortunes around and be the club hero we all think he should be. However he has struggled to grab hold of the creative lead in the club since Payet left and his inconsistency has belittled the team’s chances in creating attacking opportunities.

Since Moyes arrived, he has focused on the defensive formations and to stop the leak of goals. That worked for a while until the floodgates finally broke, and now the team is conceding goals with abandon, whilst any counter attacks or offensive displays are too easily defended or the lacking quality has prevented much success going forward.

Arnautovic has largely been successful in spite of the rest of the team and has been a credit to himself since Moyes started to work with him. His start to the season was littered with failures however he has grown to be the player worthy of his summer dealings price tag. He has led the line and most importantly has generated opportunities along the way…which most of the other players have not been able to do so.

Lanzini has struggled to link up with a decent partner in crime for the whole season and more so since his return from injury. In the Huddersfield Town match it appeared that he had finally found that spark with Arnautovic, but injury to both soon cut short any blossoming relationship. Whilst Lanzini is certainly more the team player, Arnautovic is still largely the selfish offensive monger…and many of the West Ham fans will be wanting for these two especially to deliver on their potential.

For Lanzini alone can meander all over the pitch, receive from his defence and carve out paths in midfield too. His defensive capability has improved somewhat too, albeit he has been known to concede the odd free kick from time to time and collect a few cautions along the way too. He must now find accuracy and consistency between moving the ball from midfield into attack, to find his man or even to offer some much needed superior quality in the dead ball situations.

As he and the rest of the team returned from the Miami training sessions, he soon left to join his Argentinian compatriots for their international friendlies. Whilst this is excellent news for him and presumably for the Argentina team, it does little for the wellbeing of West Ham. Just as many of the other internationals will leave to play for their countries, West Ham will fail to build on what has been gleaned in training and any momentum will stutter before the first ball is kicked against Southampton.

Our last true and best hopes now lie with Lanzini and we need him to deliver on performances he has largely failed to do so all season. If he can find his way, he may indeed be our greatest showman in the circus of sideshow freaks and will see us remain in the big top show for at least another season


By Gonzo

West Ham fan for as long as I can remember. I was flukey enough to watch The Irons beat Bury 10-0 in my first ever game . . . True to form, West Ham then went out and signed their central defender 😬

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