West Ham United defender Ryan Fredericks is something of an enigma.
Fredericks was the first arrival of the Manuel Pellegrini era at West Ham.
But he struggled to establish himself in his debut season following a free transfer from Fulham.
The right back’s performances have steadily improved but he continues to start games in a nervous fashion.
Fredericks urged Pellegrini not to replace him
Speaking at the end of last season Fredericks issued a plea to Pellegrini on Match of the Day not to sign a replacement in the summer.
“Hopefully I’ve shown him (Pellegrini) that he doesn’t have to go out and spend a fortune on another right back, I can do the job next season,” Fredericks told Match of the Day following his best performance in a West Ham shirt against Southampton last term.
Pellegrini was linked with a host of new fullbacks over the summer.
But he elected to spend West Ham’s transfer budget elsewhere despite the reservations of some supporters.
Defender must stamp out nerves
The Hammers look in good shape so far this campaign. But even in the 2-0 win over Norwich City last time out, Fredericks started the game racked with nerves.
He grew into the match and slowly settled down. But his apparent lack of belief in his own ability is clearly affecting his performance and confidence levels.
Speaking to West Ham’s official website, Fredericks has admitted he still has a lot to learn having only made 20 Premier League appearances in his career so far.
“Personally, I was happy with my performance (against Norwich),” Fredericks told whufc.com.
‘Ropy… I need to learn and improve’
“I started out a bit ropy, but I grew into the game and hopefully I can put in a lot more performances like that this season.
“Yes, and there are still a lot of things I need to learn and improve upon. Last season, I was in and out and played a lot of games against the bigger teams, so I had no choice but to learn on the job and not take your mistakes into the next game.
“I’m happy with the way I’m playing at the moment and the manager is keeping me in the team which is the main thing, but I think there is still a lot more to come than what I’ve been showing at the start of the season.”
For Fredericks, learning quickly and on the job is key for him and West Ham.
As the old saying goes ‘you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone’.
And the 26-year-old must make the most of having a Premier League legend like Pablo Zabaleta to learn from this season before he leaves the club, and English football, next May.