By Joe Roberts

19th Sep, 2023 | 6:40pm

West Ham United: Michail Antonio hints at tactical frustrations amid 'best performance' verdict

Michail Antonio has hinted at previous tactical frustrations at West Ham United, nothing that the Hammers are no longer playing as defensively as in previous seasons.

Speaking on the Footballer’s Football Podcast (18 September), the striker said that this season is the first season the Irons have been keen to maintain possession and work the ball up the field rather than relying on playing long balls.

Antonio noted that their 3-1 defeat to Manchester City on Saturday (16 September) was potentially the Hammers’ best performance in terms of keeping possession despite the loss.

Antonio said: “This is the first year we’ve kept possession for ourselves. We were keeping the ball, popping it around them. It wasn’t just us holding out and kicking the ball long – we were trying to work our way up the field.

“Since I’ve been here, it’s probably been the best we’ve been in possession versus City. We’ve played them other times and had opportunities, but possession-wise this is the best we’ve played against them. So we were feeling good.”

Positive signs

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Off the back of Sam Whetstone’s claim (18 September) that the Jamaican international had signed a new contract at the London Stadium, Antonio must be happy with the direction of the club.

He had been linked with various moves, including Everton, Celtic and a move to Saudi Arabia, but remains a Hammer after their busy summer window.

Antonio himself has been impressive and contributed to David Moyes’ side’s excellent start to the season, with the City defeat ending their unbeaten start.

They ended the weekend in sixth place – far higher than many expected them to be considering their poor league form last season, but a fresh dynamic and eagerness to keep possession has handed the club a new lease of life.

Antonio posits that Moyes’ side is no longer “just us holding out and kicking the ball long”, hinting at past frustrations the 33-year-old may have had with the Scotsman’s previous tactics.

However, things have changed on the pitch, and Antonio must be confident going forward with the new-look Hammers considering his plaudits for the City performance.

In other West Ham news, Chris Sutton has shared his “totally pragmatic” David Moyes verdict live on the BBC.