Following on from my last blog id like to go back to my HOTY, Pablo Zabaletta. I had high hopes for him but no expectations. We have had our fair share of players who were top class in there day but in reality completely past it by the time they finally make their way to us for one last pay day.

Zabaletta was someone I didn’t think would play too much, at best I thought we’d see him smash a few people, play with his heart on his sleeve and we would think at the end of the season that we would see as a squad player. According to all the pundits last season he was now “past it” .Maybe I let the pessimist in me get the better of me because despite only seeing him play for Man City I couldn’t help but love him and I didn’t want him to come to us and taint an image I had of him in my head. Arbeloa, a top player in his day. All I remember now is him getting torn a new one against Arsenal. I feared a similar fate for someone I was such a big fan of.

Pablo is the type of player I love to see, heart on his sleeve, 100% effort and if he’s not happy with a teammate they get told and we the fans are also pretty aware of the situation. I’ve also been surprised by how technically good he has been. This was epitomised by the fact that when the squad was at its most depleted and looking at the team I had no idea who was where,it seemed like we had 1 keeper 8 defenders with noble and Arnie ahead of them. Zabaletta played in midfield and gave one of the most composed midfield displays I think I have seen this season. He was a joy to watch, he just kept back and every time someone looked like they might open our defence he popped up and the attack was over. He did his job perfectly, and he smashed a few opposition players too so that always helps.
 

Just last week Arnoutovic said he was one of the players you don’t mess with and those players are important, especially in seasons that have had the troubles on the pitch we have. Without the likes of him, Nobes and Collins I think we would be pretty much down and out by now.
 

So after watching him this season, but only now he is ours, I love him even more. If I got my hopes up when we signed him and raved about how good he ‘could’ be. I would not have been disappointed, he has been a brilliant signing for us. I thought Byram would be featuring a lot more and hoped he could be learning from Zabaletta day in day out but clearly that hasn’t been able to happen. I hope we can see Zabaletta at the London Stadium for a minimum of 2 more years, but we MUST get in someone to compete with/learn from him. We have got one of the best right backs to have played in the premier league and at 33 that gives us a few years to give someone the chance to really benefit from having someone such as Zabaletta to watch and learn from.

I don’t think Byram will be that man as he has been a bit hit and miss but mainly he can’t keep fit. He has saved us a few times don’t get me wrong he may well be our right back for many years to come, id love him to get fit and really kick on. I even thought under the current system he could get a good run as I think it would suit him. With Zabaletta playing on the right of the back 3, talking to Byram helping him out ,being the only wide man would take its toll in terms of the energy required towards the ned of your career. But that hasn’t been the case and Pablo has done really well getting up and down. The fact he wasn’t the fastest has maybe helped as he hasn’t had much pace to lose.

If it was up to me I’d send Byram out on loan in the hope he can keep fit and get some gametime, while signing someone who isn’t quite the finished article but with  a bit of good man management can establish themselves in the premier league for man seasons to come. They can then watch and learn from one of the best, then when Zabaletta moves on we have a player ready to be our 1st choice for a prolonged period of time. Not a stop gap, a Pantsil or a Demel. I don’t know much about him but the Fulham rightback seems to be the right type of player to fit the profile I would look for. But I would really consider Carl Jenkinson if we could get him back. When he first came to us in that first season he grew with confidence the more he played. If we could get him back and reinstall his belief he could be a 1st choice player for years to come.

 

Whatever happens Pablo Zabaletta will be a player that I will always admire and he has already made sure that he is a player I will always remember fondly in the Claret & Blue.

 

By Jack | @myWHUopinion

Jon Pope

By Jon Pope

Use to sit in the BML for 10 years, been a West Ham fan all my life, and my great grandfather was a founder member of the TIW. I also help run the Hammer Chat website.

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