The big takeaway headline from West Ham United’s pre-Fulham press conference yesterday was ‘David Moyes backs Sebastien Haller’.
Yes on the face of it, Moyes – like any manager who has only one striker available to him would – offered words of encouragement to the Frenchman.
But make no mistake this was a clear challenge from Moyes to West Ham’s record signing. And the devil is in the detail.
Devil is in the detail as Moyes throws down challenge to Haller
This was no friendly backing from the boss. It was a case of the Scot telling Haller it is about time he delivered. That he must adapt his game to suit West Ham and the Premier League, that he needs to put more effort in.
And most tellingly that he is building something good at West Ham and it is up to Haller if he wants to be part of it.
Haller polarises opinion among the West Ham fanbase. But there was no hiding for him after a dreadful, lacklustre performance against Liverpool.
Even those backing the forward had to hold their hands up as Jamie Carragher tore the striker apart in commentary.
Many said it was unfair to judge as it was against Liverpool. And with supposedly easier games to come that would suit Haller better.
‘I want to see a big, wholehearted centre forward who can contribute to the team’
But that didn’t wash with Moyes. He also made it clear he wants players who can turn it on no matter what the opposition when the same excuse was put to him by reporters for Haller’s display.
“We have always said to Seb he will get his opportunity – it is a big chance for him to show exactly what he can do, and why West Ham value him so highly,” Moyes said in his presser on Friday (Sky Sports).
“He has a great reputation throughout Europe – his goals in Germany were excellent at Frankfurt, so lets hope he can bring that to West Ham.
“I hope I don’t need to categorise him that he can only play in a certain type of game. We want to try and bring in players that are always up for games against good quality opposition.
Moyes throws down gauntlet to Haller
“I am sure in Germany he came up against the likes of Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, top teams in Europe.
“I don’t want to put him in any kind of category – but what I do want to do is I want to see a big, whole-hearted centre-forward who we know can contribute to the team.
“We have got the makings of a good team and I want Seb to be part of that.”
Fail to impress against Fulham and there will be serious question marks over Haller’s future ahead of the January window.