In an exclusive interview with Football FanCast ahead of the London Football Awards, Tony Cottee spoke of how impressed he has been by Sebastien Haller’s start at West Ham after he was signed from Eintracht Frankfurt during the summer.
The Frenchman arrived after the tumultuous relationship between the Hammers and Marko Arnautovic finally came to an end, with the club’s two-sentence farewell offering an insight into how frustrated the Austrian had left everyone during the final few months of his Irons career.
Despite the sourness between player and club, Cottee felt that it was important he was adequately replaced: “Marko was a player who was developed into a centre forward and he played that role very well, he was pacey and he was a good player, I enjoyed watching him at the club.
“It was probably right for him to move on and the question for West Ham was how do you replace a player like that?”
The eventual answer was to make a club-record move for Haller, who was coming off the back of a season in which he had more goal contributions than starts in the league, amassing 15 goals and nine assists in 23 Bundesliga starts and six substitute appearances, as per WhoScored.
The hefty price tag meant there were also large expectations, but Cottee has indicated that he hasn’t been disappointed so far: “The early signs are good in terms of Haller, he’s got four goals so far this year in the Premier League, which is a good return out of the first nine games.
“He holds the ball up well, he’s good in the air, he’s a good finisher. He looks like a really good addition to the squad.
However, the former West Ham striker and England international feels Haller’s teammates can still do more to get the best out of him: “I think at times he’s been a little bit isolated up front, so he could do with a little bit of help, but I’ve been impressed.”
The signs are there that if players such as Felipe Anderson and Manuel Lanzini get close the 25-year-old more often, he will be able to bring them into the game, as he is already averaging 7.1 aerial duels won and 1.1 key passes completed per game.
West Ham are in concerning territory, having now failed to win in their last five games in all competitions, but Cottee appears to have faith that Haller will be able to help turn things around for the team.
Tony Cottee was speaking as a judge on The London Football Awards, due to take place on 5th March 2020 at Camden’s Roundhouse. Tickets are available from https://