When David Sullivan recruited Sofiane Feghouli to West Ham United, he had one thing on his mind; European experience. Entering the 2016-2017 campaign, the board knew West Ham were navigating uncharted waters as they were now competing among Europe’s best. It made perfect sense - if you want to be successful on the European stage, you need players who have been successful at that level.
Feghouli featured on a Valencia squad that competed in the Champions League, as well as the Europa League. In all European competitions last year, he amassed 3 goals and 1 assist in five appearances. Not a bad ratio for the 27 year old Algerian. In five years with Velencia, he managed to string together 32 goals, and more importantly, 31 assists.
While I do not believe websites such as whoscored.com and squawka.com provide us the whole picture, it does give us the outline of a proven goal scorer in a competitive league. Feghouli has spent the last eight seasons playing competitively in one of the fiercest leagues around the globe. Perhaps then, it would behoove Hammer fans to show a bit of patience for the lad? In an interview with the club’s website, Sofiane has asked for just that.
“First of all, the Premier League is a very different style of football to what I have experienced in La Liga, the Champions League and World Cups.”
“Unfortunately, I was affected by some physical problems earlier in the season but that’s football and I’ll take what I’ve learned this year to improve for next season.
“I’d like to thank all of the West Ham supporters for the messages they’ve been sending me on social media.”
Recently I’ve been having a very similar argument with my fellow Brace The Hammer staff. Are fans patient enough for the modern game? Take a look at Simone Zaza, as an example. Zaza scores 20+ goals in Serie A only to turn into one of biggest transfer flops West Ham has ever seen. Or at least, that is what fans are calling it. But is that a fair assessment? 11 appearances, during a period where even the beloved Aaron Cresswell couldn’t complete a pass, is the new benchmark for success?
The Premier League isn’t for everyone, and that’s true. Historically, we’ve seen plenty of players who have come and gone. Players who were machines in other leagues and look utterly lost on British soil. But in a world of instant gratification, maybe we lost a bit of what used to make a footballer great? A new player signs for an exorbitant amount of money most of us will never see, and is expected to operate at 100% in a new system, under a new coach, in a new country.
Sofiane Feghouli will be better next year. We saw glimpses of what he can do against Liverpool, as well as at Burnley where he scored a goal. We only need to show a bit of patience, and perhaps, that patience will pay off on the pitch.