West Ham United assistant manager Neil McDonald believes Modibo Maiga is hitting form at just the right time after his starring role in West Ham United's 3-0 victory against Eintracht Braunschweig on Saturday afternoon.
The Mali striker hit two goals and set up a third as the Hammers signed off their German tour in style. After opening the scoring with a somewhat fortunate goal from 30 yards, a strong run and cross set up Momo Diame for the second before the West Ham No12 concluded the scoring by rounding the goalkeeper and slotting into an empty net.
"Modibo is in the team to score goals and interlink and that side of his game was much better than it has been," McDonald said. "He was running in behind and causing problems, which is great to see as it stretches teams. It was a huge improvement on the last few games we've played.
"Modibo's ability is there as we paid a fair bit of money for him. When you sign new players sometimes they take a bit longer to settle into the team. He's just been waiting for his chance to show what he can do and hopefully he can score goals on a regular basis, try to work out where we want him to run to, hold the ball up and interlink. He's got one hell of a chance to start the season."
After a cagey start from both sides, Sam Allardyce's team soon found their tempo and began dominating proceedings through some incisive midfield passing. Captain for the day Mark Noble was at the centre of most of the visitors' positive play, but he was matched by nearly every player in claret and blue, from Adrian in goal right through to Maiga up front.
"It was a really good performance---. It was very hot in stadium but we've certainly upped our performances since we've come out to Germany. The manager is very happy with everyone's performance. We passed the ball very well and the movement was good. We put it into space and capitalised and scored a few goals."
The Hammers' comprehensive victory concluded a hugely productive tour of Germany that saw the team come on leaps and bounds in terms of performances and fitness. After losing their first game 4-1 against SFV Mainz 05, an impressive 3-1 win against SV Hamburger followed, before Saturday's victory in the Stadion Eintracht.
"We're delighted, not just for the victory but for the performances after getting beaten in our first game against Mainz. The players have upped their game a touch, are a lot fitter and are doing the things that the manager and coaching staff are asking of them. That's all we can do at this stage.
"The penny is just starting to drop and the hard work we're doing on the training pitch is showing in games. We've scored three goals and kept a clean sheet, which is even more pleasing."
While Maiga will deservedly earn the headlines for his performance, former Everton and Newcastle United defender McDonald says that with the rest of the squad all but finalised, the hunt for more firepower to support Maiga and Andy Carroll will continue.
"I know there are a lot of names being bandied about but I do feel that we need another striker to provide competition for places. I think we've got good competition for every other place in the team at the moment and over the three games in Germany, everyone played their part and impressed when they got their opportunity."