Service Please! Haller In Need of help
Author: Emily Pulham. Published: 29 October 2019 at 10:25am
Written by: Graham Keeffe
When it was announced that Sébastien Haller was set to join West Ham from Eintracht Frankfurt during the summer, a sense of delirium overcame East London. Finally, a proven striker who was capable of consistent scoring. Arriving with a sizeable price tag of £45 million, Haller was expected to bring a new dynamic to the West Ham attack and become the clinical hitman that Irons fans have been crying out for. Nine games into his Premier League career and Haller has amassed four goals, which isn’t necessarily a bad return. However many feel the figure should be higher, including Manuel Pellegrini who stated that the Frenchman “must make more movements inside the box.” While this may be true to some extent Haller cannot score unless he is provided with adequate service from both flanks and the midfield, something that has most definitely been lacking in recent games.
With a broad frame and standing at nearly 6 foot 3”, Haller is a physically imposing centre-forward. As seen from his time in the Bundesliga, he’s very good at dropping off and holding up the ball to release the wingers. To an extent, we’ve seen him do this with both Yarmolenko and Anderson, it just hasn’t been as successful. The reason for this may arguably be down to the current system Pellegrini is deploying. At Frankfurt, Haller played up front as part of a two with Luka Jović. The two terrorised Bundesliga defences with their link-up play and their unselfishness towards one another allowed them both to rack up a multitude of goals. At West Ham, Haller is operating as the lone front man, something he does not appear to be used to. Oftentimes this season he has cut an isolated and frustrated figure, having to come deep to receive a pass, leaving the opposition box empty. He simply cannot play the role of two frontmen. Simply put, he is missing the Nolan to his Carroll.
After the 1-1 draw with Sheffield on Saturday, many fans are calling for a switch-up to Pellegrini’s system and he is certainly not without options. There is scope for Ajeti to be brought in as a strike partner. The young Swiss international has yet to catch a break in the first team. Felipe Anderson could be deployed as a central attacking midfielder, his preferred position, which would allow for Haller to push further forward. Pellegrini could also move Yarmolenko to centre-forward. Full of flicks and tricks, the Ukrainian could be utilised to play Haller in from central positions. This may well be the most viable option, particularly given that the ever-reliable EXWHUemployee recently stated on the West Ham Way podcast that Michail Antonio is ahead of schedule in his efforts to return from injury. Pace on the right wing is something that has certainly been lacking this season.
The attacking capabilities of Lanzini and Fornals shouldn’t go unmentioned. Both have been struggling for form this season, particularly Fornals who has yet to really settle in the Premier League. More speed and decisiveness is needed in the Spaniard’s play. As for his Argentinian counterpart, Hammers fans will be all too aware of what a fully fit and in-form Lanzini can do. Both are more than capable of providing Haller with the service he needs to rattle the net.
Haller is a team player and more than willing to play his teammates in, but like all strikers he’s hungry for goals. Under the current system he isn’t being utilised adequately. With a stubborn Newcastle side coming to town next week, proper service to Haller will be an essential element to picking up three points.