The ‘super sub’ moniker is one that has always fit uncomfortably on Premier League footballers. From Jermain Defoe to Olivier Giroud, there have been many players who have chaffed against that particular label.
The latest player who may be developing a reputation as someone who is better in short bursts than a 90 minute marathon is West Ham United winger Michail Antonio.
The Englishman, on a reported £70,000-per-week [Source: Spotrac], is a fan favourite east London, and he showed just why on Saturday as he delivered a terrific performance off the bench in his team’s 3-1 victory over Watford at Vicarage Road.
The 29-year-old was tremendous, and he very much helped change the tide of the game in the Hammers’ favour. He was, as usual, a fountain of activity, and the hosts simply couldn’t cope with him.
You do wonder, after a performance of this relentless effectiveness, whether Antonio is the man to bring the best out of club record signing Sebastien Haller, who scored twice – both of which came after the former Nottingham Forest man entered the fray.
As per WhoScored.com, Antonio did plenty in just a short period of time on the pitch on Sunday. He came on in the 54th minute, and proceeded to have two shots, both of which were on target.
The Englishman also managed one key pass and was fouled twice. Not only is he creative, but he can alleviate pressure by his tendency to force defenders into mistimed tackles.
We know he’s an aggressive player who likes running at the opposition, who takes shots at goal and is excellent in the air. However, perhaps Pellegrini is now realising that those are abilities which are most effective when launched at a tiring defence, with the manager having depleted Antonio as a sub in the team’s past two Premier League games.
For that reason, then, it may come to pass that Antonio, in some ways, lives to regret his current fine run of form off the substitutes bench.