Former West Ham United forward John Hartson has heaped public praise on current manager David Moyes for the way he has been able to harness the ability of attacker Marko Arnautovic since his arrival at the London Stadium.
Arnautovic has netted seven and grabbed three assists in his last 12 appearances in all competitions in Claret & Blue, after scoring zero times and impacting very little in 14 showings before that.
His new-found form coincided with Moyes taking over from Slaven Bilic in East London in November 2017 and the Scotsman hasn’t been afraid to admit that all it took was a little pep-talk with the Austrian International.
Speaking exclusively with West Ham’s Official Website, Hartson, who wore a Hammers shirt between the years of 1997 and 1999, had this to say about Arnautovic’s coming of age at the club.
“West Ham carry a threat and Marko leads the attack, he has been like a different player since David arrived in November.
“We always knew Marko had the talent and I don’t think my old Wales teammate and manager Mark Hughes sold him at Stoke last summer because he didn’t have the ability, but rather because he could be inconsistent and sometimes his attitude could be a problem”.
Hartson continued, “David has sat down with Marko and reminded him what a good player he is and of his responsibility as a West Ham player.
“I know first-hand that these supporters will not settle for players with carefree attitudes, but they will get behind those who show their work-rate and drive to win football matches. West Ham fans demand players who work hard and give everything they have got and Marko has responded to them, too.
“He is a fine player, everybody knows that, and his talent and ability have never been in question. David has clearly worked on the other side of his game and he is now creating and scoring, while he is also working hard on the defensive side of his game. You could almost say he has become a typical David Moyes player.”, stated the former Welsh International.
There can be no denying the similarities between the former Stoke City man and Hartson himself, both physical strikers with an eye for goal, as seen in the latter’s close to 200 strikes in over 400 career appearances for club and country.
Now a pundit for BBC Radio 5 Live and BT Sport, Hartson has sung the praises of Arnautovic and may of his Claret & Blue compatriots in the process, still enjoying the special relationship that he had with the club and the supporters back in his playing days.
However, the Welsh footballing icon will have mixed priorities this weekend as the Hammers make the trip to face his hometown club Swansea City in a pivotal Premier League matchup.
In the same interview, Hartson proclaimed is anticipation for the game and made it clear what both relegation-threatened teams must do in order to stay in the English Top-Flight,
“It’s a big game. I would not say it’s a final in itself, but rather one of ten finals every club from Burnley down to the bottom have got to play between now and the end of the season.
“West Ham start the weekend in 13th and Swansea in the bottom three, but a win for Swansea will see them pull level with West Ham on 30 points, while a win for West Ham would take them six points clear of Swansea.
“Nobody from Burnley in seventh downwards is safe, so it’s important to avoid injuries and hope you don’t get any bad luck, to go on a good run and get yourselves to 40 points as soon as possible.”
Moyes’ men are just ten away from the aforementioned magic safety figure, in theory just a few victories shirt of it, but they must be wary of the danger a mere three points below and Saturday’s Liberty Stadium affair could go a long way to deciding the fate of the Englishmen and the Welshmen.