What Now Marko? Arnautovic ‘return’ creates more problems than solutions
Author: Emily Pulham. Published: 31 January 2019 at 6:37pm
Written by : Joe Levy @levylife
The absolute circus that has come with the Marko Arnautovic saga this January has left a sour taste in the mouth of West Ham fans. Culminating in the announcement video that seemed to have been pulled from a parallel universe – where all of the events prior failed to take place – was the icing on the cake. Arnautovic’s claim that he was “back” was peculiar, baring in mind he hadn’t actually gone anywhere, and it made both the player and club look utterly foolish.
This proposes the question – what can he offer to the side now he has made his return from sabbatical, like a disappointing boy band reunion. Before the Wolves game one might of thought he would bring back the physical presence and finishing quality we had been missing upfront. Arnautovic also seemed to have the ability to galvanise the rest of the team, as seen against Brighton. However, on Tuesday night he might as well have not been playing. A lack of effort and impact in equal measure was evident. His body language was that of a figure who was disappointed to still be playing in claret and blue.
To top it all off, he left the Molineux with his foot in a protective boot. It it now known that it is only heavy bruising, and he should return in a few weeks. However, what sort of player will we get when he returns? His performance against Wolves and Arsenal left little to be desired and the common consensus is that he is off in the summer anyways. It begs the question why the club bent to his and his agent’s will and are now forking out more cash for a player who doesn’t want to be there.
In one of Arnautovic’s public messages he posted on Instagram he said that he wanted to stay at the club and help win the FA Cup. Instead, Pellegrini deemed him unable to play against Wimbledon and we crashed out in a humiliating defeat. If staying to win the FA Cup was one of Arnautovic’s main points for sticking around, that has gone out the window completely. This now leads to the question of whether his attitude and application will be the level required with little left to play for this season.
Arnautovic is still obviously the club’s best forward and as the transfer window looks to close without anymore reinforcements, he will be the man the fans look towards for scoring the goals. Andy Carroll’s miss from two yards against Bournemouth is surely the final nail in his coffin. Hernandez and Perez want out as soon as possible and Michael Antonio, for all his huffing and puffing, has been technically poor. The Austrian thrives on being the main man and he can return to this position post-injury. It must be said that even with the new contract, it seems like his future lies away from east London.
When he signed from Stoke in 2017, their fans gave foreboding warnings that Arnautovic would eventually act out in the same petulant manner to achieve a higher wage packet as he had done to become a Hammer. This prediction has obviously come to fruition and now the spectre of an impending transfer hangs over the whole club. Everyone recognises that Arnautovic wants the move and the fact he remains at the club, now on a bigger contract, is poor management. If he can return to his best form, the fans may begin to cheer his goals. But, if his performances continue in the same vein of the Wolves defeat, the fans’ chants may be similar to the negative ones echoing through the Black Country sky on Tuesday night.