In an exclusive interview with Football FanCast on behalf of the London Football Awards, Tony Cottee has revealed that he is concerned by Pablo Fornals’ start at West Ham, but insisted that the Spaniard should not be given up on.
Across the Premier League and Carabao Cup, Fornals has already made six starts and six more substitute appearances for the Hammers, but as of yet, has only managed a return of one goal, with that coming against Newport County, as per WhoScored.
Cottee has taken little encouragement from what he has seen of the 23-year-old since he was signed from Villarreal during the summer: “I’m concerned, obviously, because so far he’s really, really struggled with the pace of the Premier League.”
However, the former West Ham striker doesn’t think fans should be writing him off just yet: “What I will say is that he’s not alone in that. We’ve seen many players over the years who have struggled to start with in the Premier League.
“I can think of a young Thierry Henry, who I’m sure would tell you himself, found it very, very difficult the first three, four months of his time at Arsenal, look what a player he turned out to be.”
Henry managed to score just once in his first 12 Premier League appearances for Arsenal, before going on to amass 176 league goals for the North London club, as per Transfermarkt.
The lesson from this is not that Fornals is going to match the Frenchman, but that he should be afforded time, as Cottee explained: “I think everyone’s got to be patient with Pablo. It’s been tough for him, but when he gets these opportunities, you’ve got to try and take them.
“You just hope that maybe he’ll have a good game, maybe get a goal or something and then that’ll kick start his career but so far it’s been a really difficult start for him.”
There will need to be a drastic improvement from Fornals if he is to begin making a creative impact, as he is currently only averaging 0.6 key passes and 0.4 dribbles per league game.
Following the excitement of seeing him score twice and get an assist on his way to lifting the U21 Euros trophy during the summer, Fornals’ performances in claret and blue have been a bit anti-climactic so far.
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://