Haller’s Waiting in the Wings
Author: Emily Pulham. Published: 26 September 2020 at 5:14pm
Written by Harry Fitzpatrick
Sebastian Haller joined West Ham for £45million in July last year. He was the man brought in to help us kick on from our tenth placed finish the previous season and push us into a Europa League position. After a promising start with three goals in his first three league games, we looked to have found our man. However with four goals in his next 24 league appearances before Project Restart, many fans were left underwhelmed and angry with his performances. This paved the way for Antonio to come into the starting eleven and score eight goals in the last 10 games of the season, including a sensational four goal haul against Norwich in a relegation six-pointer. Haller was restricted to substitute appearances at best, not what was expected of him 12 months prior.
It would have been tough to argue against Antonio starting the new season leading the line, and he opened his account last Saturday in the 2-1 loss at Arsenal. Haller, meanwhile, was brought on in the 88th minute. However ,Haller has had his chances, albeit in the early stages of the Carabao Cup. He has netted four goals and created another in two appearances against League One opposition. It isn’t the same level of opposition he was scoring for fun against with Frankfurt, but he can only score against who he plays, and he has certainly done that. This has led to calls from fans to give Haller a chance in the league games. After all, what more can he do?
There are two stumbling blocks for Haller, one being Antonio’s undroppable form and the other being Moyes’ reluctance to play two strikers. Antonio has more than earned his place in the team. Even when he doesn’t score, his work rate is phenomenal and ExWHUemployee has previously said Moyes prefers Antonio because he works harder. Hammers fans love a hard working player, and Haller doesn’t come across like one on the pitch. That’s not to say he doesn’t care, but his body language tells a different story to Antonio.
Haller spent his time at Frankfurt in partnership with Luka Jovic, and together they fired Frankfurt to a Europa League Semi-Final which they lost on penalties to Chelsea in the 18/19 season. Despite clearly being better with someone to partner him up top, Haller has been starved of this at West Ham. Haller was a Pellegrini signing so it is understandable if he doesn’t fit Moyes’ preferred way of playing, but with no transfer budget the management may have to alter their tactics to suit the players they have. If Haller and Antonio can manage to work together, it could be one of the Premier League’s most devastating striker partnerships. When was the last time a team was relegated with two 15 goal a season strikers?
Overall, it is unlikely Moyes reverts to two up top any time soon, especially with the lack of backup options should we suffer an injury. Should we sign a back up striker in the last few weeks of the transfer window it’s possible Moyes may give it a go, but he only just tried a three at the back in our last outing and with the good performance that brought he is unlikely to mess about with it too much. Ultimately, Haller will likely have to sit out a while longer until Antonio’s form drops away and make the most of the scraps of game time he is getting. The issue there is he is the most expensive man on an already pricey bench and he holds a large share of the club’s wages; so will Moyes sell or will Haller want out first?