Stand-in captain Marko Arnautovic delighted the Claret and Blue Army again with a match-winning display in West Ham United’s 2-1 pre-season win at Ipswich Town.
The Hammer of the Year made it five goals in five matches with a typically well-taken second-half finish at Portman Road, helping his team grind out a hard-earned victory over their Championship opponents.
As was the case in previous matches against Preston North End and Aston Villa, West Ham had to work hard for a positive result, but Arnautovic says the physical demands will stand them in good stead for the upcoming Premier League season.
The interest in our club is all over the world now. You can see in pre-season that the fans always come and support us and are always behind us
“I think every game we are improving,” said Arnautovic, who latched onto Sead Haksabanovic’s pass before holding off his man and finishing confidently. “We had a lot of games this week and have more next week and we try to get better and better in every game.
“We are trying to work on the basics that the gaffer wants from us, but it is not always easy because the other teams, especially the Championship teams, are one or two weeks ahead of us and they’re really physical because they’re coming to the end of pre-season because they start next week.
“We’re trying to work hard and trying to win games but the most important thing is for us to win the game.”
At Ipswich, as it was at Aston Villa in midweek, West Ham’s cause was undoubtedly helped by a huge travelling support.
At Portman Road, that meant a 4,175-strong Claret and Blue Army roaring their team to victory – support Arnautovic is massively appreciative of.
“The interest in our club is all over the world now. You can see in pre-season that the fans always come and support us and are always behind us.
“This club is very strong with its fans and they always try to be behind us and this is what we need.
“We need to play for them and they need to cheer for us and together we hope we can do some good things this season.”
With the big kick-off at Liverpool now only a fortnight away, Arnautovic is looking fit and strong, while his sharp finishing suggests another prolific season could await the popular Austrian.
“I try to do my thing like I always do and if the chances come then I try to score,” he continued. “If not, I try to work hard for the team.
“We have good players. We had a good transfer window and there are a lot of challenges in each position.
“Everybody wants to play and it means the training is high quality. I think the players who have come in have done a good job, but the most important thing is the Premier League and I hope they can show their quality there as well.”
Next up for the Hammers is four-day trip to Arnautovic’s homeland, where they will be based in the Alpine town of Kitzbuhel, from where they will head out to tackle French club Angers and German outfit Mainz in their final two pre-season fixtures.
“It’s nice to be there, as it’s a beautiful country and a beautiful city where we’re going as it’s in the mountains.
“We are not there long, just four days, and we have two games and we’ll try to get the best out of it and try to enjoy it and then come back and be focused on the game against Liverpool.”