ichail Antonio didn’t catch the World Cup Ultimate — he was busy taking his youngsters to Lapland for a pre-Christmas deal with.
He didn’t watch quite a lot of the remainder of the match, both, save a number of England video games and a little bit of Brazil, as an alternative stepping again from soccer, having fun with a vacation in Dubai, time together with his household and the rarity of a mid-season break.
However when the Premier League returns on Boxing Day, the ahead is decided to do two issues: win again his place as West Ham’s centre-forward and hearth the Hammers away from a relegation scrap.
The break got here at a superb time for the Hammers, who’re solely some extent away from the drop-zone after profitable simply 4 League video games this season, for all they cruised out of their Europa Convention League group stage with an ideal six from six.
“We were a bit up and down,” Antonio says. “[The break] has given us an opportunity to work on our consistency, get back into the season and do what we know we can do: play like we have over the last couple of years and try to get our philosophy back.
“We are a team that believes we should always finish around the European places, so it’s just about getting it to gel again. I think we hit a slump from the massive season we had last year and, after this nice little break, hopefully we can turn things around.”
Objectives have been the problem for David Moyes’s aspect, with simply 12 in 15 League matches, and as a lot as you dare not learn too far into mid-season friendlies, Antonio believes the truth that the Hammers have scored eight in three friendlies this month no less than reveals issues are coming collectively after a summer season of main recruitment.
“We’ve been working on why things have been breaking down going forward, because we’ve not been conceding much, but we’ve also not been scoring as much as in the past,” says the Jamaica ahead. “Every team that has brought in lots of players has tended to struggle in the beginning, but once things started to gel and the chemistry starts to build, things starting working out.”
That targets have been in brief provide has been a significant headache for Moyes, who spent £30.5million on making Gianluca Scamacca a marquee putting signing this summer season.
The Italian has step by step turn out to be Moyes’s main man and, whereas the Hammers’ hectic schedule means Antonio has nonetheless featured repeatedly, he has not began a League recreation since mid-September.
“No, I’ve not been happy [with the number of games I’ve played],” he admits. “I’m someone who wants to play games. I’m never going to settle for coming off the bench and being involved that way.
“That’s something that’s driven me to where I am now. I’m not really about the rotation type of thing — if I’m fit, I want to play. It’s the gaffer’s decision on what he wants to do, but I’m always going to let him know that I want to play.
“Through my whole career, there’s always been competition, someone that wants to take your shirt. Right now, [Scamacca’s] got the shirt. It’s my turn to try to improve and work on what I need to work on to get my shirt back.”
Antonio has publicly confirmed himself a high quality self-critic, with a well-received punditry look on Match Of The Day following the Hammers’ defeat at Manchester United this season.
“It’s something I want to do [after I stop playing],” he explains. “To do that, I need to start being seen in that side of the media.”
The 32-year-old additionally feels the published evaluation of soccer can be improved by having present gamers function extra repeatedly.
“A lot of players don’t want to criticise other players,” he says. “[But] anything I say, the professional will already know themselves what they’ve done — it’s not that I’m going to make things up to make them look bad.
“It would be good, because players who’ve been removed from it start to forget how it is, what it’s like when you’re playing and you make mistakes. There were a couple of times where I disagreed with [Jermaine] Jenas or Micah [Richards] because they would say something and I’d say, ‘Oh, you’re being a bit harsh there’.”
A post-playing profession will not be calling but, nonetheless, and although this World Cup didn’t seize Antonio’s consideration, he already has eyes on the following in 2026, the place the enlargement to 48 groups and the truth that Mexico, Canada and the USA all qualify as hosts leaves Jamaica with a significant likelihood of reaching their first match since 1998.
“That’s one of the reasons why I chose to play for Jamaica, to help them get to a World Cup,” he says. “It’s always been my dream.”
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