West Ham United fans are not too impressed with Marko Arnautovic at the moment.
Arnautovic has been speaking about his troubles at West Ham.
Arnautovic was agitating for a move to China in January where he stood to quadruple his then £100,000 per week salary.
It came after his agent and brother Danijel told talkSPORT that the West Ham talisman had made his mind up and wanted to leave.
Arnautovic remained at West Ham and even signed a new deal on improved terms.
That did not sit well with fans after he had refused to play for the club because he ‘was not in the right frame of mind’.
He has barely featured since and has looked out of sorts when he has.
China episode has damaged Arnautovic relations
The episode has damaged his relationship with fans. Now Arnautovic has spoken out in a video which has been posted by the striker on social media where he demands more respect from supporters.
But West Ham fans should not be too hasty in condemning the striker.
On one hand, when fit and focused Arnautovic is undeniably one of the club’s best players.
He is their top earner alongside Javier Hernandez and for that reason alone the Hammers need him on the pitch earning his crust.
There also needs to be some balance to the view of the star, so often lazily labelled moody, sulky or disinterested.
What about his positive influence as a senior player?
Fans must not dismiss Arnie’s positive influence and quality
Captain Mark Noble has touched on it before (whufc.com).
And Hammers hero Declan Rice has defended Arnautovic recently describing him as one of West Ham’s leaders.
“Whatever happened (with Arnautovic), happened,” Rice said in The Evening Standard.
“All the lads love Marko. He is great in the changing room. We all love him.”
It echoed previous comments from Rice that he looks up to Arnautovic ‘like a big brother’ (whufc.com).
“Arnie is massive for West Ham,” Rice told West Ham TV.
“He gives us a boost on the pitch, to know we’ve got someone of his stature and his quality, and he can get us a goal at any time.
“He’s top. I get on so well with him. He’s like an older brother and he’s always trying to give me advice. He’s like another captain really, he’s always egging on the team to do better and to do well.”
Message to Rice proves midfielder is right over leadership qualities
Then when Rice made his England debut in the last week – under intense scrutiny after his defection from Ireland and previous social media comments – who was one of the first people to congratulate him? Arnautovic.
“Congrats my little brother,” the Austrian said in a picture post of Rice in an England shirt on his personal Instagram account.
“Keep ballin’. Very happy for you.”
He also responded to Rice’s tweet about his first week with the national team, saying: “Congrats. Top player.”
Arnautovic’s body language may sometimes suggest otherwise but we have heard it from the horse’s mouth that he is a crucial member of the team.
Hammers fans should be wary to write him off as China-bound this summer. With Lucas Perez, Hernandez and Andy Carroll all likely to leave the club cannot afford to go out and buy four replacements.
They need all the quality they can get and Arnautovic has that in abundance.