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Wrong man, wrong place, wrong time

Seb Haller is on his way out of West Ham.

He is heading to Ajax in the Netherlands, where he will have a chance to reignite a career that is in serious danger of stagnating after his spell with us.

We know the facts and figures. He was the most expensive Hammers signing of all time, he didn’t score enough goals, and at times he actually looked like he’d rather be anywhere else but on the pitch.

There is a player there, though, one who banged them in with regularity for Eintracht Frankfurt alongside Luka Jovic, who went to Real Madrid when Haller moved to the Hammers. Both have suffered similar fates; they have each struggled without the other.

Now, with the Ivory Coast international on his way, it feels like the time to say it: Haller’s not bad, he was just the wrong man at the wrong time!

He came into the club with a big fee around his neck and plenty of hype and he has struggled with that throughout his time in the claret and blue.

He is the entire opposite to  Michail Antonio,  who is the epitome of a blood-and-guts footballer, the type to run himself into the ground, see his tank is empty, and then just keep running anyway.

The pair were never going to play together, so it fast became clear that it was Mikey and then Haller, not the other way around in the pecking order.

Haller thrives off service, balls into the box, intricate little passing moves leading to a gilt-edged chance; Antonio thrives off getting the ball himself and barging his way through the opposition, before slamming the ball into the back of the net. He can make things happen by himself.

And so it is little surprise manager David Moyes chose Mikey as his go-to man, the undisputed No.9, and it has left Haller with a decision to make in terms of either staying and fighting for his place or choosing the easy life and leaving.

Few can blame him taking the latter route, especially to a club like Ajax, who frequent the Champions League.

All that’s left to say is he came in at the wrong time and was precisely the wrong player for the style Moyes instituted. This is now a team that doesn’t suffer languid players gladly.

It could have been so different, but maybe, in the end, his exit won’t hurt all that much in the long run.

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About Dave Langton

A journalist with 10 years' experience of working on National newspapers, now chief reporter covering the club that I've loved since I was a boy. Upton Park remains the greatest football stadium ever built.

15 comments on “Wrong man, wrong place, wrong time

  1. I totally agree with you, Dave. Also, fees paid aren’t the players doing so you can never blame a player for not living up to his price tag.

    I can never understand why a manager buys a player to play in a system that the player hasn’t played in. All the scouting in the world can’t predict how they are going to play if it’s not a system/position they’re used to. The 4-2-3-1 that Pellegrini favoured calls for a mobile striker with a good first touch, as does Moyes’ system right now. Haller is neither of those. But I do think there’s a very good striker there. Now just watch him bang ‘em in for Ajax!

    I wish him all the best.

  2. I agree 100%. There will be plenty of Haller bashers chomping at the bit to have a go, but I’m not 1 of them. He didn’t set the fee we paid and it just didn’t work out for him. He’s not the 1st and won’t be the last for that to happen to. Good luck Seb, I hope it works well for you.

  3. This one moved very quickly as far as transfers go these days or it has gone under the radar with people rightly more interested in lockdown and covid .To me he has just never fitted into the system of play Moyes wants and has looked like a passenger at times weighing in with the odd nice goal.Simple to say but surely we need another striker in the shape of the injury prone Antonio, so fast,direct,intimidating and finding the net a bit more often than Haller could manage.He is at the end of the day the latest in a long,long line of strikers who have looked good playing elsewhere but failed with us and importantly failed to get to grips with the pace and rough and tumble of the premiership.Always a gamble buying performers from foreign leagues and to be honest i have half forgotten the strikers we have had over the years such is their number and lack of impact.

    • Sorry, can’t agree. I could forgive all his deficiencies if he had given 100% for the shirt (I think us fans have a history of backing battlers). The fact is that he has barely broken sweat, exhibited a sulky demeanour and picked up significant wages without putting in a proper shift. If I was Bowen, Fornals, Rice or Soucek who all play with 100% commitment I’d have been disgusted with his languid efforts.

  4. Same old story, seen it with Cole (C), Carroll and now Haller, Always assume the big fella can play on his own, and needs balls up to him, while the midfield play 20 yards behind. All the decent on the ground, just no one to pass to so we hit it to the head, and expect them to deal with 2 defenders all the time, while we play catch up. Haller was the first one however, who let be known in his own way, that this wasn’t going to work. Any of these 3 would have thrived with another striker in the Defoe mould to work with them.
    It didn’t work out for Seb, but good luck to him in the future. But bought badly by Pell and then didn’t fit Moyes system . Unlucky son, take the next signing on fee.

  5. I liked him as a player, technically clever and a finisher but he had to play to a system that suited. My one disappointment we did not try him in a 2 more often and I think if we did it may be a different story. I wish him all the best and I hope he does brilliant for Ajax. I could not believe some of the terrible abuse he received during his time. I see people defending players like Fredericks who have been ample opportunity to demonstrate their ability and have just not delivered and yet was constantly critical of Haller. This guy has already showed that he is more than capable in the right system.

  6. Let’s see who we get in his place.
    We now need two new strikers who can run and find the back of the net.
    I think we must have someone up our sleeve to agree to this now.
    I wonder who plays this week, can’t see him risking Antonio.
    I do hope we keep away the players who have already left.

  7. Haller was bought by MP when we were playing possession based football, he actually looked decent when playing alongside Antonio, Moyes system and substitution strategy never seems to allow playing two strikers at the same time, not exactly sure why because against some teams it is a great option. I wish him well, hopefully we can get in some talent that will fit the new system both the Slavia Prague frontmen look like good shouts, young hungry and talented, King from Bournemouth also we need two replacements though plus a left back if any are available.

  8. I agree with the above and wish that it could have worked out for Haller at West Ham – I wish him all the best at Ajax – hammers64 here are a few who ultimately never really made it with the Hammers – Simon Zaza, Jonathan Calleri, Enner Valencia (despite going to watch Nightmare on Green Street), John Carew, Frederick Piquionne (sent off for removing his shirt after scoring at Everton), Sam Baldock, Nicky Maynard (who I thought was quite decent), Mido, Ilan and even Wellington Paulista (unwanted by BFS)

    Hopefully Moyes can now get us a striker that turns out OK

    • Thanks zahamoore.Frightening to think that all that lot you have listed did not score as many goals between them as Hurst or Cottee did each season.

  9. I have been very critical of Haller but it was always about the football. A little bit like having a canoeist on your rowing team. I wish him well.

  10. Many foreign players with big price tags struggle in the premier league, especially in the first season. They are not prepared for the physicality of it all. It’s understandable they might need time to adjust, however they are more likely to make the adjustment if they are physically strong and determined to succeed, prepared to give it everything, blood and guts and all. Haller never had that. His languid style was never going to appeal to West Ham supporters. We like to see players who wear their hearts on their sleeves, who give everything they’ve got. You can see that in players like souchek and coufal. I could have watched them play for Sparta Prague and know they would fit right in at West Ham and go down well with fans. If I watched Haller playing for Frankfurt I couldn’t have said that, and if I couldn’t see it, why couldn’t our owners? Haller was a consolation panic buy by our owners because the player pellegrini really wanted, Maxi Gomez, wasn’t available. Hopefully they’ve learned a lesson. Next time you buy a striker for the premier league, at least buy one who has something about them, pace, strength, skill. Someone who wears their heart on their sleeve, has passion. That’s all we ask.

  11. No sorry, just wasn’t good enough. Not mobile enough. Not fast enough. couldn’t run. Let’s move on.

  12. Dave – a lot more to the play of Haller and Antonio than that descibed. Trouble with Haller was that he was a Pellegrini player. If Pelle had been in charge of Man City at the time, maybe Haller would have been ‘successful’. Unfortunately, Pelle was hired with the ambition of West Ham United being a European giant straight away. The initial investment was wholesale and extensive. Doomed to failure because we were not ready with the playing staff we had at the time. We were never going to succeed. David Moyes agenda is to make the most of what we have and incrementally improve as we go. Having Haller in the side was a little like Alan Pardew being given Tevez and Mascherano and told to play them. I can remember in particular that whenever Mascherano was on the ball all his team mates stood still and watched. He was far too good to play with us at that time. When Moyes went to Man U he made the mistake of cheesing off the Ferguson players by bringing in his Everton players and staff and wanting the team to play in that way. Now at WHU, Moyes hasn’t got the luxury of buying the most expensive and he hasn’t got the recent Everton baggage either. DM and the rest of the staff are doing a grand job at the moment. We look more solid than ever and progress looks steady and stable.
    Oh, and Arnie was a ‘sucess’ whilst we faced relegation – but totally different game at London Stadium these days.
    If we can’t get Zlatan Ibrahimovic for a season then Olivier Giroud would fit in quite nicely at a reasonable cost. Another Michail Antonio would be perfect!! Dreams.

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