COMMENT By Matt Farr
Football Insider names West Ham’s player of the year for 2016.
England international winger Michail Antonio has been named our West Ham’s player of the year for 2016, in a year where we’ve seen two sides of the Hammers.
West Ham began the year in fine form, putting together an excellent run in the Premier League that saw them finish seventh and qualify for the Europa League.
However, during the second-half of the year, West Ham’s form has been quite the opposite. Winning just five of their 17 Premier League games to date, the Hammers find themselves flirting with relegation.
But despite West Ham’s struggles, one player has stood out from the rest, and continues to perform to the best of his ability – and that man is Michail Antonio.
It is not quite a Jamie Vardy story, but Antonio has followed a similar path to greatness. In just eight years, Antonio has worked his way from Isthmian League Divison One outfit Tooting & Mitcham United up through the ranks to earn high-praise in England’s Premier League.
It has been a phenomenal year for Antonio, capped off by his international selection for England in September. He set the bar extremely high last season with a haul of nine goals from 32 appearances in all competitions, including a run of goalscoring form that saw him net three times in as many games at the end of February.
However, Antonio looks set to go set the bar even higher this term, and has already netted seven goals from 23 appearances. In the absence of premier strike duo Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho (both to injury) for the large part of the season, Antonio has shouldered the responsibility of being West Ham’s premier goalscorer, and he has taken to that new role like a fish to water.
Meanwhile, Slaven Bilic has had to experiment with Antonio’s versatility this season. The 26-year-old has played in a number of different positions for West Ham this season, including as a right-back and centre-forward, as well as his traditional winger role.
But Antonio has excelled in each and every role as if he has been playing there his whole career. Even when things have been going badly for the Hammers in the league, Antonio has been their knight in shining armour.
His un-ending desire to work hard for his team and save them from their relegation scrap makes him the standout performer for West Ham this season, and only time will tell if it all would have been worth it.
In other West Ham news, this Hammers player is moving ever closer to an exit from the club next month.