Marko Arnautovic: A Toxic Talent Who Deserves the Footballing Oblivion Awaiting Him in China

We’ve seen this happen time and time…..and time again.  An okay player joins from an average mid-table side, is absolutely shocking to start with and then, suddenly​, becomes quite good. Because of that, said player now has a very high opinion of themselves. They always did have a bit of an ego anyway.  On their day, they can be unplayable. An absolute handful for the opposition, putting everything on the line to prove their flash-in-the-pan critics wrong. Word then gets around that those handy performances have garnered interest from elsewhere. Time to find some consistency and get a big money offer.  Bingo, someone’s taken the bait. Now, loyalty counts for nothing. Time to up sticks and move on, because a career in football is very short – you have to take these opportunities when they present themselves, right? Cue the waiting game – because the inevitable olive branch will be offered. ‘What’s that? (said player rhetorically asks in their head). ‘You’d like me to stay and you’re willing to stroke my enormous ego by giving me more money?  Go on then, I never really wanted to go anyway – the fans are so loyal and supportive, and I really enjoy playing here.’ (Non-publicly disclosed disclaimer: This agreement is only valid for six months. To hell with loyalty, all you’ve done is put an additional bump in the road.) Back for pre-season after a nice break. Time to get back to w….bam, transfer request handed in. Disrupting, meddling and unsettling all at the club is now the primary objective. Within days, an offer is accepted, severely undercutting what has previously been offered to the club. No choice really. The player is happy, the club are relieved to get rid and off the player toddles into the cash-rich sunset. That sad, sad, sad state of affairs is a remarkably accurate description of Marko Arnautovic’s last six months at West Ham. The Austrian forced through a move to Chinese Super League outfit Shanghai SIPG earlier this week, where he’ll reportedly rake in around £280,000 per WEEK in wages. An absurd amount of money.  He’s arrived in China to fanfare, glitz and glamour – with a booming reception and some super duper flower arrangements welcoming him at Shanghai’s airport.  Back in east London, though, West Ham are picking up the pieces. This is a man who tried to force his way out of the club, only to apologise and ‘commit’ himself to the club by signing a new deal. This is a man who six months later did the same thing, having previously done so at Stoke when he desperately wanted to join West Ham. This is a man who won’t be missed. Truth be told, he hasn’t looked interested since Shanghai’s interest was first revealed, perhaps even before that – when ​Manchester United were supposedly courting him last summer. When you analyse Arnautovic’s performances last season closely, he was actually pretty abject. Disinterested, walking around at a leisurely pace and becoming visibly frustrated when his not so good runs weren’t picked out with laser accurate passing.  A far cry from the reformed character he appeared to be under David Moyes, of all people.  Under the Scot, he seemed willing to put some gusto and effort in – hounding defenders into a corner, chasing down lost causes and driving at the opposition with pace, power and intent. His transition to makeshift forward almost certainly saved West Ham from relegation, and that’s widely recognised. So what changed? He was still the club’s first choice striker, he was loved by the fans and he had a Premier League winning manager now presiding over things. It could be, perhaps, because ​West Ham splashed some cash and he was no longer the talk of the town. Felipe Anderson was. Rightly too I may add. Then again, that may not be true – it could be because he really wanted to join Manchester United. Fair enough, most people do. But when rumoured interest doesn’t materialise and you stay put, what’s the professional approach you should take? Yeahhhh, it’s probably knuckling down and getting on with it, isn’t it? Of course, there is no proof to any of the above being true – just the musings and wittering of a West Ham fan irked by players who can literally hold a club by the nadgers and behave in any way they please. After all, his demeanour may have been because he kept picking up injuries – I, however, am done with the benefit of the doubt approach. Good riddance is my stance. Yes, we’re short of strikers but at least the opportunity is there to recruit players who actually want to play for the club. We’ve also signed Pablo Fornals, who is one hell of a player. There is a silver lining too. While Arnautovic’s wallet may be bulging, his career as a prominent footballer is over. Enjoy playing with Oscar, Hulk and the rest of your teammates, because to the rest of the world, you’re now in footballing oblivion.

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