Author: Emily Pulham. Published: 9 October 2020 at 11:05am
Written by: Neil Shaw-Smith
You can’t help but feel sorry for Felipe Anderson. From arriving at West Ham in 2018 with a fanfare, the £36m record-signing for Pellegrini with the club on a huge wave of optimism and confidence, playing one-touch possession football. On such form he broke into the Brazil squad, echoes of ‘Payet who?’ could be heard around the London Stadium.
The flair and creativity had fans drooling at this combination with Lanzini for South American slickness that lesser teams could only dream of. A creative signing from the Italian league seemed worth every penny and had West Ham fans thinking they had the next Salah on their hands; now they can only be compared by having the same haircut.
Then he suddenly found himself in a team with a different manager and fighting relegation.
It seemed the departure of Pellegrini made him fall to pieces quicker than a dropped puzzle. In a completely a different system and made to graft more defensively, it seemed like this curbed his freedom. No longer the driving force forward, he had so much more to think about now than when given the free licence to just push forward, it looked like he had left his handbrake on. Nothing seemed to be coming off (except himself, as a substitute).
The frustrating thing for the fans, was that they knew he could be the key to get in behind a back line, they’d seen it, lived it, applauded it! On his day, full of energy and confidence, he could humiliate any defensive midfielder, with more nutmegs than Jamie Oliver’s pantry (four in a single match alone), the swagger and sheer audacity that fans love to see had waned.
From certain starter, to bench, to barely in the squad, to being mediocre against League One opposition. A faded memory of the Mr. Anderson we all admired and applauded, locked in a Matrix of uncertainty.
When he did make a rare appearance, lack of confidence and out of ideas meant he played without the quick thinking he usually had, turning slower than a yogurt in the sun and just looking to avoid being passed to, managing to generously social-distance himself from the ball and any form he once had.
His next Porto call could be a great one without the intense scrutiny and spotlight, at no point did you see a strop or complaint and I believe he genuinely wants to build his confidence back to being a success in the premier league.
Where other players leaving took jibes at the way they were treated, with a bit of class Anderson wished the club well for the season and even talked in a radio phone-in about it to quell any conspiracy theories.
Now it’s been confirmed there is no option to buy at the end of the loan, he can fight for a place next season with the Hammers. If takes this season away to work hard, get his head down and come back stronger to fight for a place in the team it will show his strength of character and might just prove to those doubters that he is not the Felipe Flop after all.