The GoatyGav Column
You just know when you miss certain players. Something about their play makes such a significant contribution that, when it’s not there, there’s a vital ingredient absent from the mix. That little bit of ‘magic’ that sparks the team. In the case of Michail Antonio I’m of the genuine belief that he’s a player who affects West Ham to that degree.
In the last three games, where many of us held little hope of West Ham putting any points on the board, Antonio has been an outlet to take pressure off our defence. So often he turns defence in to attack with his driving runs that he has become a target for the ‘out ball’ when needed. Perhaps lacking the finesse of Manu Lanzini Michail is so effective when in possession of the ball, with his pace, power and positivity, it really does, more than, make up for any lack of artistry in his play.
Down the years we’ve had a few talisman players of note. At the time, and whilst not gaining legendary status in my opinion, Carlos Tevez was a talisman whose late season form made a huge contribution to the team’s Premier League survival. Another in more recent times was Paulo DiCanio. When Paulo was ‘on it’, which was very consistent for a player of that type, he often ‘pulled’ his team-mates up a level or two. I could go further back in time and name many others but the last example of a talisman I’d like to name, to illustrate a point, is that of Scott Parker. There may be something to the argument that Super Scotty stifled other midfielders a little but there’s no denying that his work ethic was second to none. Of course there was more to his game than graft but he lead by example in his time at our club and the effect that had on the other players can’t be underestimated.
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So many have had varying qualities in the club’s history. Michail gives you some of these but one of the reasons his impact on the team is so constructive is that he runs himself ragged for the cause. On the subject of work-rate I feel that Mark Noble’s contribution to our win against Chelsea and Arsenal has gone a little under the radar. Nobes seems to get his fair share of criticism from fans, which he deals with manfully, so when he does play well he deserves all the plaudits. Personally I feel that he’s come through a period of poor form but is now hitting a purple patch – long may it continue.
Back to Michail Antonio his character is another big contributor to my opinion that he’s becoming a talisman. His goal celebrations suggest he still loves the game. The way he handles himself could be a model for many in terms of PR and, you get the feeling, he’s simply ‘good to have around’ in a team environment. The fact that my nephews went to school with him, the younger of which played at Tooting and Mitcham at the same time as Michail, although not in the same team, the older having been in the same year as him, and speak so highly of him may have contributed to my opinion however I’d like to think I’d have come to the same conclusion without that link.
Apologies for the short post this week. Mrs Goatygav took a bad fall on the ice on Tuesday and, after 5 hours at Wycombe A&E, is now incapacitated with her arm in a sling meaning I’m running around tying up shoe laces and other tasks she’s unable to undertake. Last night’s performance against Arsenal has gone quite a way to compensating for my expanding to do list. A win against the Stokies this weekend would more than make up for it all.
COYI! West Ham 4 The Cup!