Anderson's best is yet to come

Felipe Anderson is our best player. By some distance. And if you don't agree with me, I wonder if you really understand what West Ham United is all about.

A bit harsh that, I suppose, but there is something about a maverick, creative player that can get you off your seats.

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Nobody is perfect, every player makes mistakes, but the Brazilian was bought in to provide that talent to turn games on their head, to scare opponents.

The sustained criticism of Anderson these past couple of weeks is unwarranted. (Yes, my opinion, but I'm writing this not you.)

Players of his style need to be indulged, encouraged. They need patience. We do not have anyone who can do what he does - Manu Lanzini apart, to a certain extent. He is the sort of player who fits into West Ham's tradition. it's what we are all about, surely?

Otherwise you go back to Big Sam, the long ball into the channels and respecting the point. If you want a side that entertains, attacks and sometimes fails, then Anderson fits the bill.

All I have seen since a generally poor team performance against Crystal Palace are demands for him to be dropped. He's lazy, he gives the ball away, he's inconsistent.

The last bit I accept. But if he was consistent with the talent he has, he wouldn't be with West Ham, would he? He would have been snapped up by Real Madrid or their like.

There are very few players these days that I would pay to watch. Just them, not their team. Because when it all works, when the skill shines through, they are worth the entrance money alone.

All sorts of stats are thrown at Felipe. He's scored one goal in 24 matches. Yes, that's not enough. He has three assists in seven games this term. Well he only provided four assists in 36 league games last season.

You see, if you don't tolerate the mistakes, the clever stuff that doesn't always come off, I wonder if West Ham and all its traditions (and I don't mean the over-hyped West Ham way) is the club for you!

Last season Anderson was criticised for not tracking back to help his full-back. He's doing more of that this season and still getting flak. There is a belief that he doesn't tackle. Not true. His ball-winning skills are some of the best in the club.

It doesn't always need to be a Julian Dicks-style tackle.

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His pass completion is nearly 80 per cent, but he is being criticised for conceding possession. I just hope he doesn't bother looking at social media and all the twitter coaching experts out there. There was even someone asking recently for a poll on what he needs to add to his game!

Anderson's goals-per-game ratio at Lazio was one in 3.5; at West Ham it's one in 4.8. A much harder, more physical, quicker game.

I enjoy watching him. In full flow he is a player of beauty. Pace, ball control off right or left foot at speed with wonderful balance. Flicks, clever passes, nutmegs. It's all there. But his job is to try things, to make things happen, to show the skills we bought him for.

OK, I accept that I have always gone for the show boaters. Tony Currie, Rodney Marsh, Frank Worthington, Alan Hudson. They are not mundane, boring, predictable. And neither is Anderson.

You sense that in Manuel Pellegrini he has a manager who does indulge him, encourage him to take risks.

Jamie Carragher, who knows something about winning the European Cup, reckons Anderson is the one player we have who could step straight into Champions League teams. I would argue there are a couple more.

Andriy Yarmolenko and Lukasz Fabianski have plenty of experience at that level; Seb Haller too. Issa Diop and Declan Rice will make it too, but not quite at the moment.

But I understand what Carragher and plenty more experienced observers see in Anderson. He will get better, but he must be allowed to play his own way, to make mistakes.

If you look back at the goals we have scored this season, he has almost always figured in the build-up. Maybe not the final assist, but crucially to make the whole thing happen.

Take that goal against Palace - the 14-pass one that Sky decided was not good enough for their Goal of the Week poll! Anderson was involved in that tight, close passing work in our own half at the beginning of the move.

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It would have been easy for someone to have put their foot through the ball, but we waited patiently and kept moving the ball in a close area.

Then an Anderson nutmeg and, finally, a surging run down the left with three defenders in his wake took us into the danger area. He then had the control to move the ball back and across for Ryan Fredericks to supply the final pass for Haller to score.

It's stuff like that that makes Anderson worth watching, worth allowing to occasionally fail. He works in the tough danger areas, where pressure and tight marking make life difficult.

We only have Lanzini who can do something similar. But he has only completed eight matches now in 17 months. You sense that the confidence, rhythm and full fitness are still not there after the shocking injury he received on international duty last year.

But when both Lanzini and Anderson are on their game, we have something worth watching.

All this got me thinking of the players we have had over the decades who get you off your seats, who you would pay to watch regardless of who they played for.

Now this next bit is very subjective, my opinions. I am sure you will have different views. But apart from the obvious three World Cup heroes, who were on a different level, I have come up with ten players I believe fit that bill.

Way back in 1958, as a very young lad, I saw Phil Woosnam, a school teacher at the time who was an amateur with Orient. He had the ability to dictate a game with short and long passes from midfield without racing around. A bit like Jan Molby, without the timber.

Next for me came Johnny Byrne. Apart from the Moore, Hurst & Peters trilogy 'Budgie' was the best player I have seen in our colours. He was world class, with sublime skills and fantastic goals.

Following on there was Alan Devonshire, Trevor Brooking and Billy Bonds. Frank McAvennie had that touch of quality and was a showman.

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Liam Brady, not long with us but a sensational player, along with Joe Cole - a little genius as a teenager. Paolo Di Canio and Dimitri Payet were both supremely skilful as well.

I believe Anderson has that level of talent. He needs the application and consistency but it's all there - just don't kill him with critiscim.

The expression "worth paying to see" is something you don't really hear now. You can't just decided to go to see a match, walk up, pay your money and enjoy the one player you have gone to see, anymore.

All-seater stadiums with 54,000 season ticket holders means ground-hopping has become something from the past.

When I was a lad living in west London, I would grab the old fella's Daily Mirror on a Saturday morning, when West Ham were away, scan the London fixtures and decided where I was going to go.

You just can't do that anymore. I have stood on the Shed to watch Charlie Cooke, a magician. Rodney Marsh at QPR in the Third Division was a joy to behold. Johnny Haynes at Fulham, likewise. Jimmy Greaves at Spurs, too.

Every time Manchester United were In London I would try to see them because of George Best and Bobby Charlton. My dad used to take me to see Blackpool whenever they were in town because he wanted me to see Stanley Matthews.

But Matthews back in the dark, distant past, never travelled to London in the twilight of his career. I never actually supported any other team, but just enjoyed seeing the stars of the day.

All that was possible then. Sadly, not any more. Watching stars on TV is not the same and I don't think the modern generation of fans get the chance now to see the true stars in the flesh unless they are appearing at their own stadium.

It's off the subject a bit, I know, which is why I don't want to see Anderson discouraged from doing what he does. Let him play and enjoy the talent he has. Sermon over.

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