Struggling striker Michail Antonio has sent a passionate message to West Ham boss David Moyes and fans about his role.
Antonio has been trying to rediscover his best form as well as goals and consistency in a West Ham shirt since October of last year.
He looked back to something like his hustling, bustling best in the Europa League last 16 win over Sevilla, tormenting the Spanish side and laying on a goal for Tomas Soucek.
But he cut an agitated figure just a few days later in the 3-1 defeat to rivals Spurs where he spurned two very good chances as his Premier League goalscoring drought continued.
Moyes substituted Antonio for Andriy Yarmolenko just 10 minutes into the second half of that game at Tottenham last time out.
Given the match was still very much in the balance at 2-1 with over 35 minutes to play it was quite a statement from the Scot.
After the game Moyes criticised the striker for his performance. And the West Ham boss admitted he was also concerned about protecting Antonio’s delicate hamstrings.
“No (it was not a pre-arranged substitution) I just didn’t think he was contributing enough to the team,” Moyes said on Sky Sports after West Ham’s defeat to Spurs.
“We needed to try something else. Mic’s played a lot of football as well so I’m always thinking about his hamstrings and not overcooking it.”
If one player needed a rest – perhaps more than any other at West Ham – it was undoubtedly Antonio.
So it was a major relief for Moyes and West Ham fans when the club’s only striker was not included in the Jamaica squad for another taxing 15,000 mile round trip and three-game week during this March international break.
Antonio’s loss of form and effectiveness – he has one goal in the Premier League this year, in the New Year’s Day win over Crystal Palace – has been attributed, by some, to tiredness.
Meanwhile others feel the converted forward has been found out somewhat by the opposition. A few have even questioned Antonio’s motivation given the lack of competition up front at West Ham.
The striker has now done an in-depth interview with West Ham’s official website.
And in it struggling Antonio sends a passionate message to Moyes and West Ham fans about his role in the team.
The much-loved forward vows to keep grafting and play anywhere for the team and admits he knows he is ‘not the prettiest player’.
“I always say it and I still say it today, for me to keep my shirt I will play anywhere on that field,” Antonio said in the interview on West Ham’s official website.
“I’m not the prettiest player. I’m not the player that’s technical and stuff like that. So people respect that (being a technical player) more than what I do.
“I’m a grafter and when you’re grafting people don’t notice you.
“But what I’m going to do is keep going out there, keep grafting, keep doing what I’m doing because for me it’s working (in the main).”
Let’s hope this two-week rest has done Antonio the world of good and West Ham reap the benefits during the run-in.