Rolls Royce Aguerd is purring beautifully

  • by John Allen
  • Filed: Wednesday, 8th February 2023

West Ham’s mini revival in recent weeks has certainly been a long time coming. Let’s not get too carried away of course – it is only mini and it’s only just a start. But a very welcome start for all that.

In relation to the kind of season we’ve had in the Premier League prior to the last few weeks, three wins (two of which were away from home), two draws (both away) and one defeat in the last six league and cup games has to be a positive to build on.

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A contributory factor in that upturn has been a welcome return to at least some semblance of form from the likes of Vladimir Coufal, Michail Antonio and Jarrod Bowen – while Lucas Paqueta has finally begun to show glimpses of what we all hoped and expected from our £43m arrival from Lyon.

But without doubt the star of recent games has been Nayef Aguerd, who amazingly made only his fourth start of the season against Newcastle on Saturday. Which begs the question does our Moroccan international lay at the root of all manager David Moyes problems this season?

That’s not meant to be detrimental towards Aguerd – the complete opposite in fact. Has Nayef’s performances over recent weeks simply underlined just what we have sorely missed for virtually the whole of the first half of the season?

His masterful tackle on Callum Wilson thwarted what looked like being a certain second goal for the Geordies. Likewise his perfectly timed intervention on Demarai Gray in our victory over Everton came at a crucial time and prevented the Toffees from clawing themselves back into the game.

Notwithstanding those two crucial moments, both vital to the games’ final outcomes, Aguerd’s all-round performances have been nothing short of inspiring. Some are already calling him a Rolls Royce defender – and earmarking him as our next captain, if or when Declan Rice moves on.

Let’s not forget Aguerd was Moyes’ first transfer of the summer – he was a player the manager had been watching for a couple of years, or so we were told. But the eventual business, a £30million deal with Rennes, was done early in the window and Moyes had his man of choice to sit alongside Kurt Zouma at the heart of our defence. A defensive partnership central in his bid to reshape and rebuild the side.

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But, an untimely injury in a pre-season friendly against Rangers at Ibrox put paid to Moyes’ best laid plans.

As the manager recently recapped: "If you look at the centre half formation we had to play in the opening four or five games of the season, we had virtually no centre-halves with Craig Dawson injured, with Angelo Ogbonna not back from the cruciate (injury). We were really toiling at the start of the season".

Asked if he felt should Aguerd have been available for more of the season, West Ham would not currently be sat 16th and only clear of the relegation zone by a point, the manager was emphatic with his response: "I do, yeah".

Oggy is only now getting back to something like his previous form after his injury, which is a bonus. But now there is the injury to Zouma to contend with. Hopefully the big man will be back in the saddle soon though.

Meanwhile Aguerd goes from strength to strength. Long may that continue – and hopefully our hopes for a more enjoyable second half to the season will carry on along with him.

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