West Ham United manager Manuel Pellegrini has urged club supporters to limit the criticism aimed at forward Marko Arnautovic.
Arnautovic has not scored since his big-money move to the Chinese Premier League fell through in January, which has seen Hammers fans boo their former club favourite.
What’s happened to Marko? Five things you need to know…
- Marko Arnautovic joined West Ham in 2017 from Stoke City for a transfer fee of £20 million.
- He has made 60 appearances for the Hammers, scoring 19 goals.
- The Austrian came close to moving to Asia in January with his brother/agent saying the player wanted the move.
- But the 29-year-old signed a one-year-extension soon after.
- However, he hasn’t found the back of the net since January 5, in the FA Cup against Birmingham City.
The Hammers boss was asked to comment on the present relationship between his striker and the club’s supporters who are far from happy with the form and dedication shown by the former Potter.
Pellegrini has urged the West Ham fans to go easy on Arnautovic who he feels needs more support rather than condemnation to recapture the form he produced earlier in the season.
The former Manchester City boss said: “I don’t think anybody can be happy.
“The fans are not happy, me, Marko is not happy, but this happens to some players when they are not in their best moment. Maybe they need the support more than to punish them.
“Talking with Marko, he wants to do things better. He is absolutely involved with our team, what happened in December with China is now over and finished.
“If anyone thinks that Marko doesn’t want to be here at West Ham, they are wrong. Marko is absolutely involved mentally and physically.
“I repeat, he is not in a good moment but supporting him, he will return to what he demonstrated some months ago.
“A lot of players at parts of the season have bad performances. It is not easy maybe to know that you don’t have the support of the fans that he had six months ago. But with his work and a positive mentality he will return.”
Subscribe to Squawka’s Youtube channel here.
Marko pre/post January
The Austrian international was seen as one of West Ham’s most influential and naturally talented strikers before any interest was registered from the Chinese Premier League.
Arnautovic scored 19 goals in 52 games for the Hammers, with his last effort against Birmingham City coming three months ago.
Despite signing a contract extension, the former Stoke man seems to be struggling to settle back to life as a fully-committed Hammer and his future at the club has been called into question yet again.
Whether Arnautovic stays or goes remains to be seen but the Austrian certainly needs to showcase his abilities to ensure he gives himself the best options when the summer comes around.