The cooler king and the tunnel too short! Published 02/04/18 on Hammers Chat
All eyes turned to one man on Saturday to save fortunes for a season unblessed and triumphs in limited supply. Whilst many of the players showed industry and passion…there could be only one terminator to end West Ham fan’s pain and lift them onto exalted pew. Shoulder to shoulder, the masses glared, hoping for opening to thrive, opportunity to exploit and firings to ripple the translucent quilt separating field from fan.
This was the moment everyone in claret and blue had waited for, had hoped and were banking on…it was time for Arnautovic to shine. In the week he had shown an eye for goal whilst dancing in Austrian colours, now his attentions had turned to his loyal and loving following, who begged and cajoled, pushed and pulled, cheered and sang…whilst he pranced through Southampton wards, ignoring their sick and infirm…he made headway to claim his glory.
The team as a whole were on top form, playing with much improved desire and determination. The formation whilst suspect prior to the game, seemed well balanced and fluid…Masuaku enabled the left hand flank to be challenged and exploited, whilst Kouyate showed industry not seen since the game at Huddersfield and all seemed gloriously capable of delivering an accurate and timely cross into the danger areas.
Arnautovic had come off a three goal tally whilst on international duty and the expectation was that he would fire again at the London Stadium. That rationale was tested in a couple of early shots that were saved or missed the target, but he soon retaliated after a saved header to get off the mark, then followed up with a truly wonderful right foot drive that outwitted a stranded Southampton keeper.
Mark Hughes, now Southampton manager, may have rued the day he fell out of favour with Arnautovic whilst at the helm at Stoke City, as this was demonstrated after his first goal. Arnautovic initially ran towards the corner flag to celebrate then turned on heel to run towards the Southampton manager with only one purpose…to show his colours, his crossed arms of allegiance to the club and fans that had embraced him…he proved his point whilst being stopped from going overboard by fellow players.
Since Moyes arrived, Arnautovic has been the outstanding player in a West Ham shirt and has consistently run down opportunities or created his own. It is not so much a one man team now, however if he doesn’t play then most hope simply fades as he is the catalyst for all fervent endeavour. Give the ball to him, cross it to his feet or head, or support any play he makes…and there is a good chance that a goal scoring opportunity will follow.
Fans have recently been debating the Hammer of the Year nominations and although he had an awful start under Bilic…under Moyes he has been revitalised and may indeed be the one player that scores the goals that keeps West Ham in the Premier League’s good graces. Some fans have already nailed their colours to the mast, whilst others would defer judgement until the season ends, however regardless of team performance…there would be few players that would play with greater purpose, guile and determination than he would.
The Austrian marvel has taken the club and the fans to his heart and he wears that on his sleeve in every outing. At times he may appear to saunter around without a care in the world, but will uncoil and spring into life for any opportunity to create havoc for opposition defences. He is the one player that any West Ham fan could depend on, before any match to deliver a great performance, turn on the style, entertain and come closest to scoring…is that enough to earn the club medal? I should cocoa!
However, whilst all fans would sing his praises and would pray for him to remain fit for each and every upcoming game…it is inevitable that the better his performances, the more likely he will attract admirers from other clubs with deeper pockets and greater ambitions. Would the club sell? Would he be enticed to leave? That remains to be seen but surely a talent such as his would be wasted in the Championship, if that is to be the club’s fate next season, regardless if any West Ham fan would sell their proverbial souls to keep him at the club.
Arnautovic is the wayward talent that West Ham fans love to admire, and whilst his temperament has been muted since his arrival, therein still lurks a churlish demon that would surface if given opportunity. Moyes has somehow managed to be nurturer and disciplinarian since their partnership started and values his talents but recognises the frailties in his personality too. As long as they are managed and the player is kept content, then all would seem rosy for the rest of the season, but the summer may be another story indeed.
In the meantime, all West Ham fans can hope for is an on fire Arnie in every match. He is the one player that all opponents fear as he is unconventional in style…mixing his winger traits with newly adopted striker poses. He does not simply wait to be fed, like other strikers…he sits down to dinner and if no one is serving…he’ll get up and serve himself. He is self sufficient, resourceful and enigmatic.
Arnautovic has proven himself to be the Hammer of the Year and worthy to take seat upon the throne of fan’s choice. He is the embodied spirit of the club and he remains the greatest attraction in a season that many West Ham fans would rather forget. He may have helped the club to the great escape, he may have even shone the light in a tunnel that was too short for salvation…but he is the cooler king amongst the prisoners of war and he will always be a club hero.