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Is our love affair with Manu over for good?

Blog by Allen Cummings 

There was a time when we were all in love with Manuel Lanzini. He epitomised playing the famed West Ham Way. It said so in his own special song….”Ain’t nobody like Lanzini, makes me happy, plays the West Ham Way”…! Sadly it seems a very long time ago that particular chorus rang out from the West Ham faithful. In fact, in recent games the one time love affair between us and the little Argentine has turned very sour indeed.

On Wednesday, after another hugely disappointing 69 minutes, Manu was replaced by new fans’ favourite Pablo Fornals. A substitution that met with jeers for Lanzini as he left the field, replaced by cheers for Fornals as he joined the action. It was another sad ending for Lanzini – and somewhat ironically it came against a team and manager for whom he was once reported to be a big-money target, when Jurgen Klopp was having to wrestle with filling the hole created at Anfield by the departing Philippe Coutinho in 2018.

So what has gone so badly wrong with Lanzini? Why has he gone from hero to zero so dramatically? It’s clear his confidence is at an all-time low. He appears reluctant to get on the ball, which is exactly where a player of his capabilities should be. Orchestrating the play – directing operations – dictating the shape of the game with his passing – creating space for himself and others with his dribbling. All too often this season he has been just a peripheral figure, the opposite of what’s required. It’s probably wrong to suggest he’s been deliberately hiding, but that’s the way it’s looked. Manu has cut a sorry figure, regularly giving the ball away cheaply and failing to make even the simplest of passes.

‘Class is permanent’, or so they say, and Lanzini was certainly a class act in his early years with us. But a serious injury in 2018 side lined him for six months, and the truth is he has struggled ever since to recapture that same form. The one plus for Manu is that David Moyes is still right behind him. “He’s arguably one of our best players,” insists the supportive Moyes, “when I was here before I needed him as much as I needed Marko Arnautovic. He was such a good player for us and I am desperate to get him back to the levels he was.”

The problem for Moyes is many don’t appear to share his faith in the player, and they’re showing it. In the situation we find ourselves the fans want to see players fighting for the cause. Giving it everything they’ve got. From where they are standing at the moment they feel they aren’t seeing that from Manuel Lanzini. In truth Moyes is right – we do need Manu’s skill and creativity. At his best he’s a game changer. A match winner. But have we got the time to wait to see the real Manuel Lanzini resurface again?

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About Sean Whetstone

I am Season Ticket Holder in West stand lower at the London Stadium and before that, I used to stand in the Sir Trevor Brooking Lower Row R seat 159 in the Boleyn Ground and in the Eighties I stood on the terraces of the old South Bank. I am a presenter on the West Ham Podcast called MooreThanJustaPodcast.co.uk. A Blogger on WestHamTillIdie.com a member of the West Ham Supporters Advisory Board (SAB), Founder of a Youtube channel called Mr West Ham Football at http://www.youtube.com/MrWestHamFootball, I am also the associate editor here at Claret and Hugh. Life Long singer of bubbles! Come on you Irons! Follow me at @Westhamfootball on twitter

11 comments on “Is our love affair with Manu over for good?

  1. Good piece, Allen, as usual. Lanzini looks to have never recovered from the injury – he is a shadow of his former self. Hopefully, Lanzini’s confidence, strength, speed of foot and of thought will return and we will benefit in the future – I don’t think it’s a case of him losing interest in the club. I think the pressure should be taken off him and he should be used from the bench if required. Fornals deserves to start instead in any case. Maybe MP’s crystal ball anticipated all this when he signed Fornals … or maybe not … 3 new signings today, please! COYI

  2. No bones about it, the ‘fans’ cheering Lanzini’s exit are an absolute disgrace. The guy is seriously out of form, I think we all accept that and there’s no denying it but I don’t agree that he isn’t working hard and trying things. I read a comment on here to the previous Lanzini post from someone blaming Lanzini for the 2nd Liverpool goal saying he was at fault. I’m not sure what game they had watched because it was Noble and Masuaku who somehow both failed to get possession following the clearance from the corner. It was then Lanzini who ran the length of the pitch trying to prevent the Ox from scoring.
    Manu isn’t behaving like Payet or Arnautovic and does not deserve the level of abuse he is getting.
    This really is unique to football fans who think it’s ok to shout abuse, jeer and boo their own players in these circumstances but frankly it isn’t. You don’t see it happening in Rugby, Cricket or any other domestic sports to be fair.
    I hope Lanzini rediscovers his flair after a horrific injury. He is a good lad and has represented the club well.
    I am resigned to the fact that the behaviour shown by these ‘fans’ is so entrenched in football and then as individuals that there’s little than be done or said for them to change. However being brutally honest, it’s scummy behaviour. They are an embarrassment and should be ashamed of themselves

  3. Hi Allen.
    I struggle with the Lanzini debate, as I do with the situation we find ourselves in with Reid.
    Both player were on the verge of running their contract down, and both were rewarded with lucrative, long-term deals.
    The difference is, in-between injuries Reid continued to play to his best ability.Lanzini has flattered to deceive for so much of his time at the Hammers that, other than the payer season, I don’t remember him stringing a run of performances together that warrants the adulation.
    ‘On his day’ is a well-used phrase, and he, unfortunately, fits that stereotype perfectly! 🙁

    • Lanzini played second-fiddle to Payet in 15-16. But in 16-17 played 35 league games scoring 8 goals – runner-up to Antonio as HOTY. In 17-18 he scored 5 goals in 27 league games. Think that shows he was worth a new contract when it was offered Stuart. The injury has taken its toll on him big time.

  4. Hi Allen

    I agree – this is an excellent piece – and I for one am very sympathetic to Manu and really hope that he does get back to something approaching his best – even now to me it seems that he (for someone of his slight frame) is difficult to get off the ball

    It is something that I have posted before – I can understand fans being unhappy with players who show a lack of loyalty / selfishness (e.g. Payet / Arnie) but we should not blame a player for the consequences of a horriifc injury – Dean Ashton comes to mind

    So I hate to hear boos for Lanzini and hope that soon his song witll once again ring out from the stands. I agree that perhaps Fornals should start ahead of him on current form, but we cant blame him for being selected and IMHO it is good to see Moyes publicly supporting players

  5. Lanzini’s demise did seem to start after his huge pay rise, or was that just a coincidence.
    To me, it seems that players fight to get the same rewards as the top earners of a club.
    And once they achieve that goal of riches, I could only ever dream of.
    There is nothing left to prove.
    Just an opinion

  6. To my mind it stems from his injury, pure & simple. I can’t blame him. If I was seriously injured I would very seriously consider putting myself in harm’s way again every time I engaged in an activity which caused that injury ! However, his career is in football, & that demands physical commitment. If he is not willing (understandably) to get stuck in, then he has to be dropped. Sorry, Manuel. Thanks for everything.

  7. The boos were aimed at Moyes for continuing to select an out of form Lanzini over a much improving Fornals.

    There are plenty of players who have overcome serious knee injuries both mentally and physically. Often it is the mental side which takes the longest to conquer as appears to be the case with Lanzini. Putting the weight of expectation on him to perform, especially in our current situation, isn’t doing him any favours!

    • Tough one for Moyes Ajay. Does he drop a player who has suffered a huge confidence loss – and dent it even more. Or does he put his faith in him, get behind him, but keep putting him in the firing line?

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