The Sky Sports pundit admitted that Haller “needed a partner” upfront before discussing Manuel Pellegrini’s options if the experienced boss opted to change his side’s set-up to give the forward more help up top.
Cottee appeared to hope for a new option to emerge in January before raving about Antonio as he claimed the winger was a big miss and pointed out that him and Haller are “excellent together.”
“We need that option although let’s be honest, Michail Antonio is a big miss,” Cottee told Claret & Hugh.
“The two of them are excellent together and hopefully it won’t be long before the big fella is back – we’ve missed him far more than has been mentioned so far.”
When you consider that Haller and Antonio have only played 81 minutes together, as Antonio was used sparingly in the three Premier League outings he made before injury struck and one of the games he did play in was the draw with Brighton that Haller missed, then Cottee may be jumping the gun to say the duo are excellent together.
As while they showed glimpses during the win over Watford of working well together, they haven’t played enough in the same side, for anyone to be certain they have a fantastic partnership.
However, Cottee may be right to suggest Antonio could be a gamechanger for Haller once he returns from injury as on paper they could work.
Antonio can play anywhere across the front line, through the centre or on either flank, so can work around Haller and he proved last season that he was capable of getting both goals and assists as he scored six while creating four.
The 29-year-old also likes to use his pace to run at opponents, he averaged 1.8 dribbles across his league outings last season (Source: WhoScored), which means he can run past Haller in order to get onto any ball he flicks forward.
The 25-year-old Frenchman has on averaged won 7.1 aerial duels per game, as per WhoScored, and averaged 1.1 key passes across his nine league outings, so that implies he may be suited to creating chances for others especially teammates with pace.
Haller’s average rating on WhoScored has dropped in his last two league outings, with him isolated up top, but clearly, if Antonio was playing he’d be able to be a gamechanger for the forward as there would always be someone to work-off.
So with that in mind, Cottee surely thinks Antonio could be a gamechanger for Haller but it’s all about waiting for the winger to be fit again.