Right Back In The Creek Without A Paddle Can Antonio Help?

The media do love a good story whether there is any truth in it or not, nowadays it is called fake news, back in the day it was just known as bovine excreta or words to that effect. Hammers manager Manuel Pellegrini hasn't exactly helped himself when it comes to the club's precarious right back berth, as El Pel has made it very clear that 'veteran' Pablo Zabaleta the only fit right back available cannot play all of the seven games scheduled to be played during the month of December, unfortunately this statement will see the price of an additional player sky rocket due to the urgency of the situation.

The long term injury to Sam Byram was bad enough, but when Ryan Fredericks sustained a severe shin injury alarm bells started to ring, Fredericks who arrived on a free transfer from Fulham was supposed to be 'tutored' by Zabaleta in the art of Premier League defending but was unable to perform well enough to displace the ageing Argentine. The plan was for Fredericks to learn as much as he could and then take over from 'Zaba' for the second half of the season, there is an expression 'if you want to make god laugh, then tell him your plans', well he must be 'aving a real laugh at the moment! No one could really have anticipated the 'injury cull' that the club has experienced, but sort it out they must, ahead of the January window.

Up until Frederick's injury the main focus on recruitment was to bolster the midfield, and there are already plans afoot to cover that area, but right back is a different issue. Numerous players are being 'linked' with a move to the London Stadium, but most of them are out of contract, and players who are out of contract are usually so for a reason. They tend to either be unfit, too old or too much trouble or too expensive! Be that as it may be Hammers have to cover the right back berth because Zabaleta , despite looking fitter than virtually any other player at the club, will not be able to sustain the energy levels he has been expending which defy logic.

One left field suggestion has been to try and incorporate Reece Oxford as an emergency right back, he is disillusioned at his lack of game time and Manuel Pellegrini has stated that he needs to show 'more application'. It might suit all parties in the short term, another option doing the rounds is the return of Glen Johnson who has been without a club since leaving Stoke in the summer, he is one year older than Pablo Zabaleta though! Another more practical option is to try Michail Antonio as right back, he has done it before when Slaven Billic was manger and with his speed could match most players for pace.

Manuel Pellegrini has already shown that he is not afraid to use players from the youth set up, but as a right back in the Premier League there is nowhere to hide, and mistakes get punished. Putting a youngster in at the deep end can have far reaching consequences which is why 'Pele' has not drafted anyone in as yet, but would an outside player be any better than what is available from the U-23 and youth team? Probably not, Patrice Evra was parachuted in last season, picked up a bunch of cash and essentially did bugger all except have a laugh on Instagram on a regular basis.

For once the club's woes cannot be blamed on bad planning, just bad luck, and these things do have a habit of levelling themselves out over the course of the season, it is to be hoped that the second half is the polar opposite to the first when it comes to injuries. - Ed

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andycarrollstyle's picture

No no no... if Antonio goes to RB and Pellegrini sticks with Masuaku at LB, we are gonna be leaking goals like crazy through the backline. I'd sooner go back to 3 CB's and have them play as wing backs which is how Masu and Antonio would play anyway in pur current lineup

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