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Marko Arnautovic has become West Ham’s talisman under David Moyes

Martyn Cooke

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Marko Arnautovic
Photo: Getty Images

To say that Marko Arnautovic has had a rollercoaster season in his debut campaign with West Ham United would be something of an understatement.

The Austrian international arrived at the London Stadium in the summer after securing a £20 million transfer from Premier League rivals Stoke City, becoming the club’s record signing in the process.

He had been a central figure in the Potteries throughout the previous three years and had become a firm fan’s favourite due to his technical brilliance, creativity and egotistical swagger.

However, Arnautovic endured a difficult start to life with the Hammers.

His debut came in a limp performance against Manchester United in a four-goal defeat on the opening day of the season and he was sent off in the following game against Southampton.

West Ham’s campaign continued to embark on a dramatic downward spiral that saw the club linger on the periphery of the relegation zone and Arnautovic’s noticeably struggled to find his feet.

In October, he was jeered by his own supporters after he was substituted in a heavy defeat against Brighton at the London Stadium and was subsequently accused by Gary Neville of thinking that ‘he is better than he really is’, during his live analysis on Sky Sports.

He was underperforming, failing to meet the expectations that came with his price tag and was being rounded on by his own supporters and the media alike.

What a difference six months can make.

On Sunday, Arnautovic continued to lay his old reputation to rest as he produced another prominent display as West Ham came from behind to secure a vital point at Stamford Bridge.

The Austrian had to be content to plough a lone furrow as a central striker but produced a moment of exquisite quality to set up Javier Hernandez for the equalising goal.

There has been a direct correlation between David Moyes’ appointment, a dramatic upturn in Arnautovic’s performances and West Ham’s recent climb up the table.

Under Slaven Bilic, the Austrian failed to score or provide any assists. Whereas, under Moyes, he has scored 10 goals in 17 starts.

Once labelled as a lazy, multi-million flop, Arnautovic has emerged as West Ham’s talismanic figure in the second half of the season.

He is a reformed maverick and his recent performances have helped to put to bed the negative reputation that he carried around with him in the opening months of the campaign.

As Stoke supporters will tell you, the 28-year-old has always been a somewhat-erratic, though undoubtedly talented, individual who possesses the pace, power and technical ability to win matches on his own.

However, Moyes has been able to get the very best out of Arnautovic in recent months and his performances have been a key element in West Ham’s revival.

The Austrian has always been considered to be a winger, yet he has thrived as a central striker in Moyes’ new-look side where he has been given more freedom and has limited defensive responsibilities.

Arnautovic appears to have rediscovered his confidence and he is a completely different player to the one that was booed by his own supporters back in October.

That is testament both to the managerial quality of Moyes and the willingness of the player himself to persist, knuckle down and make a success out of his move to London.

Arnautovic’s recent contributions have ensured that West Ham’s Premier League status has all but been secured, barring a late-season collapse.

Ironically, his next appearance will come against Stoke on Monday evening and he will have an opportunity to push his former club one step closer to The Championship.

Arnautovic was once accused of being a £20 million flop but, under the stewardship of Moyes, the Austrian has begun to live up to his hefty price tag.

Martyn is currently a PTA and Research Assistant in the Department of Exercise Science at the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). In addition to his teaching role he is also undertaking a PhD in Sports History that is exploring the origins and development of football in Staffordshire. Prior to working at MMU, Martyn spent a decade operating in the sport and leisure industry in a variety of roles including as a Sports Development Officers, PE Teacher, Football Coach and Operation Manager.

West Ham United

Three things West Ham fans will demand from Manuel Pellegrini

Josh Kerr

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Manuel Pellegrini
Photo: Getty Images

David Moyes left his position as West Ham manager after achieving the job at hand and ensuring the Hammers remained in the Premier League, guiding them to a 13th place finish.

Manuel Pellegrini has since been given the keys to the Olympic Stadium after the London outfit appointed the former Premier League manager on Tuesday.

Securing a manager for the long-term was of upmost importance for the Hammers this summer and Pellegrini will be fully aware of what is expected now he has taken over the reigns.

So, what three things should be of paramount priority to the new man in charge?

(Photo by Paul Ellis/Getty Images)

Moving certain players on

West Ham have had their fair share of dead weight this season, and if the Hammers are to move in the right direction then a summer clear-out is definitely needed.

Andy Carroll is one of those who has endured a fairly miserable campaign, scoring only three times in all competitions and the Englishman has failed to hit double figures in a single season since his permanent move from Liverpool in 2013.

Cheikhou Kouyate is another player that West Hams fans would happily see leave the club. The 28-year-old, who earns £60,000-a-week, has frustrated supporters all season with no-one actually knowing what position the Senegal international is best suited to.

These two names represent, arguably, those who are most likely to leave East London. However, there will be plenty more shown the door once the new Hammers boss has found his feet.

(Photo by Glyn Kirk/Getty Images)

Improve the defence 

It doesn’t take a genius to say that West Ham’s defence is in urgent need of a reshuffle after the Hammers back four conceded the most goals in the Premier League this season, alongside Stoke.

According to Football.London, David Moyes made it clear he wanted to sign at least two defenders this window, if he remained in the job, and Pellegrini will also be very likely to do the same.

The emergence of Declan Rice will likely confirm his future under Pellegrini, and Angelo Ogbonna has improved since January which could save his West Ham career.

However, the club will likely still want to see fresh faces come in and challenge for those central defensive positions.

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Earn a top-half finish

Despite being a formidable force with Slaven Bilic in his first season, the club will not ask for too much from their new boss after the disarray the experienced over the last year.

The fans just want stability and a top-half finish will surely be enough to evidence that.

Moyes steered the club to 13th this season despite taking over when the club were third from bottom.

However, with a full season under Pellegrini, then a top-half finish is more than achievable with a strengthened squad.

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West Ham United

Reuniting Marko Arnautovic and Xherdan Shaqiri could lead West Ham to top half finish

Josh Kerr

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Xherdan Shaqiri
Photo: Getty Images

The 2017/18 season represents one of the most bizarre for West Ham supporters as, despite finishing 13th, the club will see their third managerial appointment in just seven months, with Manuel Pellegrini the latest manager to take the reigns in East London.

One of the biggest tasks for the Chilean tactician will be getting the summer transfer window right. This will involve strengthening in key areas if the club are to meet fans’ expectations and achieve a top-half finish next season.

The previous window for the Hammers initially looked promising, with some proven Premier League stars joining the London Stadium, including the likes of Javier Hernandez, Pablo Zabaleta and Joe Hart.

However, Hernandez has endured most of his time on the bench, while Joe Hart’s terrible form has seen him axed from Gareth Southgate’s England squad. Pablo Zabaleta can hold his head high with the Argentine already considered a fan favourite.

Marko Arnautovic was undoubtedly the star arrival of the summer window and, despite the club paying a record £20 million for the Austrian international, his form under David Moyes justified such a high fee.

The 29-year-old finished the season for the Hammers with 11 goals and six assists in 31 league games, also securing the club’s Player of the Year award.  

Arnautovic will have a huge role to play next season and getting him the perfect strike partner will be crucial in whether Pellegrini is considered a success or not.

One man who could prove to be the ideal foil for the West Ham star next season, is his former teammate and Stoke City forward Xherdan Shaqiri.

According to reports from The Sun, the Switzerland international is available for as little as £12 million, giving West Ham little reason not to swoop for the former Bayern Munich prodigy.

The speedy trickster finished the 2017/18 campaign with an impressive tally of eight goals and seven assists in 36 Premier League appearances but couldn’t help Stoke fight off relegation.

Under a manager like Pellegrini, who likes to play an attacking brand of football, the 26-year-old star could flourish to a great extent. His pace, skills and eye for goal are qualities that Hammers fans should not overlook.

Shaqiri has what it takes to make a difference for the Hammers next season and, having already played alongside Arnautovic for two seasons at Stoke, the duo will know each other’s game very well.

They could form a partnership that helps fire West Ham to a top half finish next term.

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Manuel Pellegrini should target reunion with Ignacio Camacho this summer

The new West Ham boss managed Camacho at Malaga.

Mathew Coull

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West Ham United have appointed Manuel Pellegrini as their new manager and the Chilean is set to be handed a big transfer kitty to try and turn things around at the London Stadium. But where should he look to bring in improvements? As so many managers do, Pellegrini might go to his past. He has already been linked with former goalkeeper Willy Caballero and midfield maestro Yaya Toure. But if West Ham really want to look at some of his former players, one excellent option is Spanish midfielder, Ignacio Camacho.

The 28-year-old midfielder was a pivotal figure in Pellegrini’s midfield during his time at Malaga. The orchestrator of the side from the centre of the park it was during his time at Malaga that he received his one and only cap for Spain.

Often linked with a move to the Premier League, with the likes of Liverpool, West Brom and Watford mentioned over the years, Camacho finally did leave Malaga last summer.

(Photo credit should read CLAUDIO REYES/AFP/Getty Images)

He joined Bundesliga side Wolfsburg, taking over the captaincy at the club, and was supposed to lead them back into European football.

That certainly did not happen.

In the end, Wolfsburg only survived relegation by the skin of their teeth. Camacho, however, is fairly blameless. He underwent ankle surgery in October that saw his appearances diminish. He is now fully fit and played in both legs of Wolfsburg’s successful relegation play-off clash with Kiel.

West Ham, however, could surely try and lure him to England. The presence of his former boss Pellegrini would be a massive attraction for the player, who cost Wolfsburg a fee reported by ESPN to be in the region of €10 million (£8.8 million).

(Photo credit should read GUENTER SCHIFFMANN/AFP/Getty Images)

The Hammers need another central midfielder and Camacho’s ability to play in a back three also makes him a double threat.

His vision, passing ability and leadership qualities would all be greatly received at West Ham where Pellegrini would hopefully get the best out of him once again.

If City are going to look at former Pellegrini players this summer, then Camacho should top that list.

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