David Moyes can see West Ham United get the best out of Sebastien Haller by handing the striker a new role following his excellence as an impact substitute at home to Aston Villa.
While speaking with Football Insider, Alan Hutton has suggested it was a “masterstroke” by Moyes to replace Michail Antonio with Haller at the break, having seen the English centre-forward struggle on his return from a hamstring injury.
Haller fell to the bench for the visit of Aston Villa to east London to accommodate for Antonio’s return, despite netting the winner at Sheffield United the week prior and earning the praise of Moyes who noted how he “couldn’t be more pleased for him”.
Hutton is adamant the decision to replace Antonio with Haller was a game-changer in West Ham’s favour, with the £45m club-record signing turning the tide at the London Stadium where Jack Grealish had countered Angelo Ogbonna’s second-minute opener.
“I thought David Moyes made a brilliant substitution, with Haller and [Said] Benrahma,” he said. “I thought when they came on, they changed the game, I thought they were excellent. They caused Villa a lot of problems in the first moments.
“I think it was a masterstroke from David Moyes bringing Haller on. He was definitely a focal point, they got the ball up to him, he held up and he brought the other two attackers into it.”
Moyes benching Haller following his match-winning moment of magic at Sheffield United was a decision that has not sat well with all, as former Arsenal and Everton forward Kevin Campbell believes the Ivory Coast international had a right to start against Aston Villa.
Haller started all three of West Ham’s Premier League fixtures whilst Antonio was injured, and Campbell feels Moyes should have made accommodations for that run to continue even with his first-choice centre-forward returning.
“Haller will be frustrated but Michail Antonio has proven that he is the main guy at West Ham now,” he told Football Insider. “This is the way football works and if there is another injury there might be an opportunity for him to play alongside Antonio.”
But Moyes can see West Ham get the best from Haller by utilising his impact from the bench, having seen how influential he could be against Aston Villa with more offensive aerial duels (9) than any other player, as many defensive aerial duels as Ogbonna (4), a team-high two successful dribbles and a joint-game high five attempted tackles, per WhoScored, including those who started.
Haller’s display was far from perfect with a worryingly poor 33% pass competition rate and no shots, showing why the £115,385-per-week striker was right to only start on the bench.
But his ability to create problems for the opposing side will be something Moyes will strive to tap into time and time again, having only trusted the Ivorian to play 29 minutes over West Ham’s opening five Premier League games.