West Ham United’s double swoop for Italian internationals Marco Borriello and Antonio Nocerino this weekend enhances the East London club’s chances for survival exponentially. While both players have been on the fringes of their respective Serie A clubs this season, Sam Allardyce can count on bags of experience and professionalism from both players to try and lift the Hammers spirit and play.
Let’s start with Borriello. He’s been inconsistent throughout his career. He’s had some terrible rough patches but I loved the way he operated in Leonardo’s 4-3-3 system at Milan in the 2009-2010 season after being a mismatch in Carlo Ancelotti’s 4-4-2 diamond. In that season, he scored on multiple volleyed goals and worked well with the likes of Ronaldinho, David Beckham (before he was injured) and Clarence Seedorf to score 14 goals in Serie A play.
I was surprised Marcello Lippi did not select Borriello for the Italian World Cup team and for the 2010 competition in South Africa. Given Italy’s showing, he could have helped the Azzurri avoid embarrassment.
His career at the San Siro stalled when Massimo Allegri took over as the Rossoneri went in a different direction. He was sold to Roma. In his first season in the capital during 2010-11, he was very good but then a management change saw indifferent form and multiple loans. He did score a goal to beat Chievo Verona earlier this season as Roma raced out to the top of the table in Serie A, a place they have since vacated to Juventus.
Now to Nocerino, a player who not long ago was AC Milan’s best midfielder. In the 2011-12 season, he was a Gattuso-like figure replacing the legendary figure in the Rossoneri engine room. His impact was outstanding, finishing second on the team in league goals while playing from a deep lying midfielder position. His influence on each and every match was high. He was selected for the Italian Euro 2012 squad.
A player who once dedicated a goal to the Sandy Hook shooting victims, he is popular and generally thought to be a top professional. However by the end of the 2012-13 season with Milan facing possible Europa League football, he was dropped as the squad made a late run to claim the last Champions League spot. Then this season the return of Kaka further limited his opportunities and the January signing of the Japanese superstar Keisuke Honda coupled with the sacking of Allegri made the player expendable.
It’s been a rapid fall for Nocerino who played a key role in the run to the Euro 2012 final for Italy and scored a penalty in the shootout versus England in the quarterfinals.
Both players bring a level of experience, professionalism and class to West Ham that has been generally lacking this season. Despite spending lots of money on players from within England, the Hammers have had a lamentable season. Sam Allardyce had a history of going to the continent to acquire talent when at Bolton and early in his West Ham tenure. Since the Hammers backs are against the wall, Allardyce has gone out and made two swoops for players that can help right away. There is no guarantee these signings will save the Hammers but I am fairly certain one if not both will help the club at least fight to stay up.