West Ham boss David Moyes says he had doubts about Marko Arnautovic’s attitude but now believes he is like Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Moyes has transformed the previously inconsistent winger into his side’s talisman by playing him as an out-and-out striker, and the 28-year-old has scored nine goals since December to guide the Hammers to the verge of Premier League safety.
West Ham are six points clear of the relegation zone and face Stoke on Monday night, live on Sky, in a game that could see Arnautovic push his former club closer to the Championship.
Moyes admits he had serious doubts about Arnautovic’s attitude when he took over from Slaven Bilic in November, but he now sees similarities between the Austrian and former Manchester United striker Ibrahimovic.
West Ham vs Stoke
April 16, 2018, 7:00pm
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“I was concerned, because I’d seen him play for Stoke sometimes and I didn’t think he did all the running back defensively,” said Moyes.
“I was saying ‘I’m coming to a team in the bottom three and if I’m not going to get all the players running, we’re going to be in difficulty’.
“That’s why we had to find something which meant that maybe he wasn’t quite as exposed to having to double up, help the full-back out.
“We had to find a way of getting Marko into a different system. And we played around with it, it wasn’t rocket science.
“We didn’t go out there with it really planned. He was the one that showed us, and going to centre-forward freed him up a little bit. I got him to run and close things down, and show that he really had that capability.
“He’s someone who needs the confidence, but I think he also needs the understanding of how you get to the levels you’ve got to.
“Don’t go back to walking around, don’t go back to looking as if you’re not interested. We need you fully interested.
West Ham United manager David Moyes is aiming for two more Premier League wins to avoid relegation and is calling on his players to go unbeaten until the end of the season.
“He is a little bit of a Zlatan (Ibrahimovic) inasmuch as the players look to him. He’s got a leadership role which he needs to develop as well, for the club and for the team.
“He’s getting to an age now where he’s going to influence players, and he’s going to have to influence players around him, so he needs to be doing it by his leadership and performance. His performances have done it in many ways.”