Wednesday 13 January 2016

Jenkinson Rehabilitation Continues

When can i go back to my real position

At half time on Tuesday night's encounter with Bournemouth West Ham looked all at sea. However, among the many impressive attributes of manager Slaven Bilic is the capacity to make effective tactical changes. In particular, he has no inhibitions on making early substitutions.

And so it was, even though James Tomkins had again been solid at right back, Carl Jenkinson with his attacking nous was brought on on the hour mark. The change was immediately evident.

Suddenly we had more forward presence on the right flank and Bournemouth's defence was forced to swivel. This created more pressure across the defensive line that (1) led the the Payet free kick, (2) caused the throw in deep up the right side that resulted in the Payet-Valencia first goal, and (3) created pressure for the Valencia free kick.

Tomkins is a great defender and excellent centre back. Right back is nowadays a highly specialised role that is a hybrid between a winger and a traditional full back. Last season, Jenkinson excelled in this role but his defensive efforts have declined this term, resulting in him losing the starting berth at RB.

Slaven Bilic is demonstrating his astute man management skills in bringing Jenkinson back into the side. Some fans had commented how a nervous hush had started to descend upon Upton Park each time Jenkinson received the ball. In such circumstances, the Tomkins solution was inevitable.

However, Jenkinson has been gaining more and more game time again and has had a part in each of the Hammers last four games. Of note, since his reintroduction we have gone on an impressive winning spree. Tuesday night's gamechanging substitution was an example par excellence of his contribution to the side, and apart from an unfortunate own goal against Southampton, his defensive contributions have steadied.

It's hard to find anything to criticise Bilic about just now and the Jenkinson affair provides yet more evidence of his assertive and astute management style.

Payet was a sensational signing, but so was Bilic!

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