Opportunity knocks for Nene

Nene would love to play from the kick-off against Everton after impressing as a half-time substitute at Aston Villa
Disappointing. Frustrating. Agonising.

Saturday’s 1-0 Barclays Premier League defeat at Aston Villa was all of the above for West Ham United, but it represented something else for Nene.

An opportunity.

The Brazilian forward has featured sparingly since his January arrival from Qatari football, featuring six times as an eye-catching second-half substitute.

At Villa Park, the 33-year-old was given a full 45 minutes to show his quality, and responded by producing two of the Hammers’ five shots on goal and setting up Enner Valencia to score with a header – albeit his fellow South American’s effort was ruled out for being narrowly offside.

Speaking to West Ham TV after the game, the former Paris St-Germain and Monaco star said he enjoyed his extended appearance, and hopes to have done enough to start against Everton next weekend.

“I was happy to be on the field,” the No12 confirmed. “It was a shame we didn’t get the result, because in the second half I thought we played better than them and we got some chances.

“I would have preferred to have got the result, but I did my best to help the team and my legs feel good, so I was happy with that part.

“The game was difficult because they also needed the points, so they played very strong and on the counter-attack. If we got more chances to shoot or cross, like the one I gave to Enner, who I didn’t think was offside, then we could have come back in the game.

“This is football. We need to work hard in the last two games and do our best to get the most points possible.”

As an experienced player who has spent more than a decade at the highest level, Nene was asked how West Ham can become a more threatening attacking force in their final two fixtures against Everton and Newcastle United.

“You’ve put me in a difficult situation! What we need to do is put the best quality of ourselves for the team and to create chances and shoot on the target.

“We know what we need to do and we need to put that into practice in the future.”

Nene himself has also found himself in a difficult situation in recent weeks, sitting on the bench when he – like any footballer – would much rather have been in the midst of the action on the pitch.

“Of course I wanted to play more but I respect the staff. I work every day to do my best to play and to help the team and when I get the chance I want to show I can help my teammates.

“It was difficult but this is football. I’m happy here and I hope in the final two games I can get more minutes.”

A prolific user of social media, Nene has endeared himself to West Ham fans on Instagram and Twitter, where his excellent language skills see him communicate in English, French and Portuguese.

He is grateful for that support.

“Yes, that is really important for me and gives me force and power to give my best every day. I want to thank them because from the time I arrived until now they are really good with me and support me a lot with their words.

“I hope to give them what they want from me.”