Fans' Opinion

Is Snodgrass Finally Delivering?

Author: . Published: at 10:39pm

Written by : @Benfleet_Hammer

As aside: I’d like to take this opportunity to send my condolences and thoughts to all those at Leicester City. As many have said already, the post-match events of Sunday evening are another example of the kind of thing which must always transcend football. It’s important to reflect on that, before we throw ourselves whole-heartedly back into a significant passion in our lives: supporting a football club.

Cast your mind back to January 2017, a tumultuous time for West Ham in a manic season. International superstar Dimitri Payet broke West Ham fans’ hearts by making it clear that he didn’t want to stay at the club any longer. It may have dragged on, but eventually we had to resign ourselves to losing a man who had elevated the club to new heights – and been a driving force in producing the best season a whole generation of Hammers fans had ever seen.

To offset the loss of our star player (and a world class player too), Bilic and the club secured the signature of Robert Snodgrass from Hull City. Payet had contributed two goals and six assists by the time he left the club, while Snodgrass had contributed seven goals and three assists for a struggling Hull side. Although it may not have been admitted at the time, it has since been publicly stated by senior figures at the club that we signed Snodgrass to replace Payet.

Cue the inevitable disappointment. Almost instantly, Snodgrass was written off and dismissed after a series of underwhelming performances. When he left the club on loan to go to Aston Villa, many felt it was the end of his West Ham career and good riddance to him!

Despite a productive loan spell at Villa, it came as a shock to most fans when he was retained by Pellegrini over the summer. However, not only has Pellegrini kept him in the squad, he is also now starting to give him more game time and he is earning widespread recognition for his contribution to the team. While it could be argued that he is only now getting an extended run in the team due to injuries, it has been made very clear by Pellegrini that he would have used him frequently throughout the season regardless. Snodgrass appears to be staging a u-turn in his West Ham career, but how has it happened?

Snodgrass is delivering in his performances, specifically through his excellent work rate and exemplary attitude. His positive contribution to the squad and the atmosphere in the first team is now widely accepted, and has been praised by Pellegrini and others associated with the club. Fans are warming to a player who seems to influence others by setting the right example. Undoubtedly, there is still a lot of room for improvement. A midfielder at this level needs to exert his influence on the game. We are beginning to see signs of the excellent technique Snodgrass possesses – particularly from set pieces – but he is yet to achieve the consistency and end product that he had previously shown he is capable of at Hull. At his current rate of improvement, it is only a matter of time before he starts producing.

Snodgrass is beginning to impress, but he is still light years away from having the impact that Payet had. My question is, was it ever fair or realistic to expect that? Snodgrass did not arrive with a reputation for the moments of magic Payet produced in every game he played. Even at his peak form, he didn’t go on mazy runs through defences and produce inspired pieces of skill to embarrass defenders and lift crowds off their seats.

Whether they intended to or not, the fans were led to believe Snodgrass was going to replace Payet. In reality, he was a one-of-a-kind player who could not be replaced. There is not a player in the world quite like Payet, and those that are in his league are not going to be pitching up at West Ham anytime soon. Snodgrass was immediately burdened with unfair expectation.

Perhaps it was that expectation, perhaps it was the disarray surrounding the club and our first season in the new stadium, perhaps it was something personal to him which we will never know. Whatever the reason, Snodgrass performed well below his potential in those first few months. Even the hard work and energy which was a guarantee throughout his career, did not materialise.

A betting man would have said he was destined to leave West Ham and join a staggering list of transfer flops, but he has taken great strides towards proving the doubters wrong.

We are finally seeing the true qualities of Snodgrass this season. The disappointment of his early West Ham career has brought fans back to reality and given him the chance to show what he can do without unfair comparisons being made. He is smashing the basics – those qualities all fans argue must be delivered week in, week out by a player at this level, but so rarely are. Injuries and loss of form have presented him with the opportunity to show us he is more than a workhorse and a motivator, and it’s an opportunity I would not be at all surprised to see him take with both hands.

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