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David Griffith

Antonio can become a legendary super sub

Blind Hammer looks at the future for Antonio

Antonio’s latest hamstring setback is a disappointment. In a memorable season, his brilliance has flickered only briefly. Unfortunately, he cannot provide the main attacking focal point in the next 2 seasons.

Michael Owen, who also relied on explosive pace, was never the same after his recurrent hamstrings. Sadly if players like Owen or Antonio ease up 5% you only get 50% impact.

Yet Antonio can still become a legend for us. he could still have a full-throttle, match-winning impact from the bench.

Football has a history of deadly super subs.

Ole Gunnar Solskjær had a renowned sub career. He scored 28 goals from the bench, most famously in the 1999 Champions League Final.

However, if Antonio wants a role model it is not Solskjær he should look to but David Fairclough.

When I was young, attending Liverpool University, I watched in wonder at what seemed countless games in which the original super-sub exploded into the game late on, devastating defenders in his wake.

As soon as Fairclough started warming up the Kop reacted and built up a frenzy of excitement.

Fairclough destroyed defences from the bench, scoring 1 goal in 3 Despite only limited minutes. I remember, I could see in those days, that even when not scoring he ran tiring defences ragged.

This is precisely the role I could see for Antonio. Fairclough was used as a weapon. His role was not just to rescue games, though famously he did that. Instead, Liverpool used him to mercilessly ram home their advantage.

In 1976 I saw him burst off the bench to beat six tiring Everton defenders before firing past goalkeeper Dai Davies. Fairclough’s most famous strike though came in 1977 when, he, again, from the bench, scored the winner in the closing minutes in a memorable European Cup Quarter Final comeback against a despairing St Etienne.

If West Ham do make it into Europe Antonio can take heart from Fairclough’s example. He too, could have an even more famous future. He can still become a Hammers European legend.

David Griffith aka Blind Hammer

Perspective required: Irons star a United reject

After the Man United Defeat Blind Hammer looks at the wider perspective

The Man United defeat pricked our bubbles. Still Moyes consistently warned that there would be bumps in this journey.

There remains a massive resource disparity between West Ham and most of our current lofty challengers. . Our second best player is a Manchester United reject who could not force his way into their first team.

The wider perspective is that, for once, we are over achieving. West Ham’s wage bill and turnover should, see us competing around 8th . The actual par may vary slightly because of the yo yoing relegation of clubs like Villa and Newcastle.

Happily both Leicester and West Ham are punching above their weight. West Ham are over achieving after decades, Payet season excepted, of under performing.

The Moyes project though has the opportunity to raise this par.

Some fans hoped for a sugar daddy investor ready to pour billions into West Ham to pump the club to a higher level.

More realistically raising our par means growing the club.

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