West Ham: Antonio on England boss; Striker compared to Bergkamp; stadium violence probe
Against Middlesbrough on Saturday top scorer Michail Antonio was trialled as a central striker for 45 minutes, though it had little effect and will have been disappointing for the winger who would have been desperate to impress as he hopes to retain his place in the England squad having been called up, but not played by Sam Allardyce. He told the Mirror he was sad to see the former West Ham boss go:
“He gave me my first opportunity so I’m definitely sad but you’ve just got to move on, that’s how it is in football… I feel like he was a good manager, the way things have happened, it was 67 days into his job, at least he’s leaving with a 100 per cent record, but I think things have ended prematurely for him.”
And Antonio offered his take of who the next England boss should be:
“The manager I really like and who’s done well over the years, I’d say Alan Pardew, I was with him at Southampton and I think he’s a quality manager, I think he’d do well as England manager. I wouldn’t say it’s important the England manager is English, [but] it would be a nice feel to it and it would be easier to get things put across to the players.”
Pardew is of course one of the favourites for the job as one of the leading English candidates available, despite increasing speculation that the job may go to a foreign manager. He was once the Hammers boss though in a three year spell between 2003 and 2006 as he took the Irons from the Championship to the UEFA Cup via an FA Cup final and a ninth place Premier League finish, only narrowly missing out a memorable FA Cup win courtesy of Steven Gerrard’s heroics in 2006.
Antonio was replaced in the role by Italian striker Simone Zaza, who continues to go on a goal drought as he struggles to adapt to life in London having completed a late loan switch to the London Stadium from Juventus in the summer. However, Slaven Bilic remains confident that Zaza will come good, as he told Sky Sports:
“He is definitely a good player who came from a big club to a new country… New players need time. If we go back and think about Bergkamp, who needed – I don’t know – a year? The problem now is, and it is quite common with even the best players from abroad, they need time. Plus he wasn’t a regular at Juventus and didn’t have match fitness. It takes time sometimes, and unfortunately we don’t have that time.”
Fans remain unconvinced by the Euro 2016 flop, with many claiming he was a last minute panic buy given the club’s injury crisis up front. There has also been speculation that West Ham will send him back to Juventus early so that they can avoid having to pay a £24 million fee to sign him permanently in the summer.
The club is also busy as it has begun yet another probe into fan violence which saw three fans arrested after attacks on Middlesbrough fans outside the London Stadium on Saturday, claim Sky Sports.
The Metropolitan police also attended an incident inside the stadium, though no arrests were made and no injuries were recorded. It marks a continuing pattern of violence amongst the West Ham fan base which the club and the vast majority of fans are desperate to stamp out and eradicate as quickly as possible.
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