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West Ham blowing bubbles

last updated Wednesday 14th September 2005, 9:40 AM

Alan Pardew hailed Yossi Benayoun as West Ham’s very own Zinedine Zidane after the tricky Israeli turned in another inspirational display for the Hammers.

Benayoun, a £2.5m summer buy from Racing Santander, scored his first goal in a claret and blue shirt to seal last night’s 4-0 win over a wretched Aston Villa side.

While Marlon Harewood earned all the immediate plaudits for his hat-trick, Benayoun played a major role in laying the foundations of West Ham’s victory.

He was not alone. Teddy Sheringham was masterful, Nigel Reo-Coker perpetual motion in the West Ham midfield while Anton Ferdinand and Danny Gabbidon go from strength to strength at the back.

But Benayoun’s attitude typifies West Ham’s bold attacking intent and Pardew believes he has picked up a gem in the man hailed as the “diamond” in his homeland.

“He is one of those players that makes you get out of your seat. He is easy on the eye, he lets the ball drift across him like Zidane and he goes either way. It is very difficult to deal with when you have players like that,” said Pardew.

“He showed a real work ethic against Villa and I think he surprised a few people. He won three headers against a 6ft 1in full-back.

“There are all sorts of things to his game. I watched him for Israel. There is a presence about him.”

West Ham’s attacking impetus comes from Reo-Coker’s driving midfield runs, from Sheringham’s ability to drop of into space and cause confusion in the opposition defence.

Out wide Matthew Etherington is beginning to prove he is Premiership class and on the right Benayoun has already established himself as a fans’ favourite at Upton Park.

Benayoun is a man of slight build and Pardew joked when he signed for West Ham he needed to be fattened up.

But concerns he would be out-muscled in the hustle and bustle of the Premiership have so far proved unfounded.

West Ham will look to add bulk to his frame but not at the expense of the elusive skills which set him apart.

“I had a feeling he would like this division,” said Pardew.

“He got better every year in Spain and when you look at his pedigree, you have to say he is a thoroughbred horse and hopefully he will get better at West Ham.”

Harewood rewarded Pardew’s faith in him by smashing home the hat-trick which propelled West Ham into the top seven with their second Barclays Premiership win of the season.

And the former Nottingham Forest striker, who was criticised for missing three golden chances in the defeat to Bolton, is determined he is the right man to lead West Ham’s attack in the Premiership.

Pardew spent last Wednesday watching transfer target Benni McCarthy score for South Africa and admitted he considered starting with Bobby Zamora up front against Villa.

But Harewood said: “It’s not extra pressure for me, it’s good competition. You have to take your chance. It brings the best out in everybody because you have to give 100% to get in the team.

“People have been getting on my back as I am the striker and I have to get goals.

“I know with my goalscoring record there is no reason for people to get on my back but that is the way it is in football.

“They are looking for top people to do top things and I just have to keep doing what I am doing.

“It is good the manager has kept faith in me. He has faith in all the players here. He has got us to the Premiership and done fantastic.”

It now seems unlikely Pardew will break up his strikeforce of Harewood and Sheringham, despite Zamora and Jeremie Aliadiere pressing their claims for a starting role.

“I can learn off Teddy,” said Harewood, who linked brilliantly with the former England international for his first goal.

Harewood added in the Evening Standard: “We have formed a great understanding and we hope it will bring a lot of goals for West Ham this season.

“If we play like we did against Villa then the run can keep going against Fulham on Saturday.”

Source IOL
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