Written by: @AdamL1979
We all breathed a huge sigh of relief when the most loved Argentinian in the club’s history came back from injury (yes, we are all thankful for Tevez but he left after a season as soon as he could, so Lanzini has been duly elevated to favourite status) – but where does he fit into Pellegrini’s plans?
Although there is something to be said for the idea that players like Anderson, Nasri, Lanzini and, when fit again, Yarmelenko could keep the ball so effectively that we don’t need to worry about losing it, every now and again it is going to be lost and need to be won back. The midfield also needs to be balanced, giving a potential problem in accommodating all of our creative players into the side. One of the more glorious chapters from our past could provide an answer for this, when in 1985 a young bottle blonde bombshell arrived to play in our midfield – Frank McAvennie.
When McAvennie was brought to the club it was as a midfielder. Injury to Paul Goddard led to him being pushed further forward and the rest is club legend. At a time when most English clubs would have turned their nose up at Messi for his physique, and characters such as Charles Hughes and Howard Wilkinson were seen as tactical giants, our vertically challenged duo scored for fun using their pace, technique and movement.
The similarities between Lanzini and McAvennie are easy to see. Both players began as attacking midfielders with an eye for a goal, both are slight in stature and have a game based on their technique and movement, both have experimented with the peroxide and both played in the footballing wilderness before joining West Ham – one in the Middle East, the other in their native Scotland. McAvennie was 25 when he made the transition to an out and out striker – Lanzini is currently 26.
Freeing Lanzini up from any defensive duties and pushing him a little bit further up the pitch may well begin to revitalise our other creative players, as they will have a technically gifted player to play the ball into in and around the penalty area, rather than constantly working the ball wide and putting crosses in. Pushing Lanzini up on the shoulder of a central defender where he can use his quick feet, dribbling ability and pace would cause opposition defenders a nightmare as well as allow us to mix up the attack a little bit more.
The Jewel could well be the missing link for us – not as a midfielder but as an absolute gem of a striker.