West Ham United assistant boss Stuart Pearce has made a really surprising admission about Michail Antonio.
The Premier League’s player of the month is on fire at the moment with six goals and three assists in his first six games of the season.
In truth Antonio has pretty much been in top form for West Ham since David Moyes converted him to a striker and the team’s focal point.
Antonio makes the team tick and appears to inspire the rest of his West Ham teammates to believe they can beat anyone when he’s playing.
That was evident again at the weekend as he won a header on the edge of his own box in the last minute against Leeds before bursting forward and scoring the winning goal.
That’s why it is so imperative West Ham do everything they can to keep him fit.
At 31 and given his form, many may think Antonio has cracked it and he is getting the rewards of mastering his craft.
So some may find it rather surprising that in fact Moyes, Pearce and the rest of the West Ham coaching staff have to constantly keep chipping away at Antonio in order to get the best out of him.
That’s according to Pearce himself – who signed Antonio for Nottingham Forest – when speaking in an interview with talkSPORT.
“He’s certainly improved over the last couple of years you know,” Pearce said on talkSPORT.
“I took him at Nottingham Forest… in 2013 somewhere around then and he’s improved no end I think under David’s tutelege here.
“You’re right what you say, his all round game has definitely improved and I think as well the way we handle him here, his physicality is really good.
“It’s just that level of consistency we need to keep nibbling away at and getting a real level of consistency.
“But he’s a real handful you know, we love him to bits at this football club and he’s a real threat playing against anybody with his pace and power.”
Pearce’s comments come after Moyes himself was somewhat critical of Antonio despite his heroics at Leeds.
West Ham fans felt Moyes’s comments were a touch harsh.
But as Pearce suggests, perhaps Antonio is the type of character that responds to the odd use of the stick rather than the carrot.