Is Barrera the new Savio for Hammers?
Pablo Barrera is still coming to terms with a move to East London and the difference in temperature between here and Mexico City.
WHEN YOU have spent your entire football career playing in the warm climes of Mexico, an Autumnal day in east London must be something of a culture shock for a young player like Pablo Barrera.
A �4million capture from Pumas in Mexico City, Barrera was brought in to provide pace and dribbling skills to the side after impressing at the World Cup in South Africa during the summer.
He is not the first to shine at the World Cup and then struggle to establish himself in the domestic game in England, but the 23-year-old is convinced that he can be a success in the Premier League - if only it wasn’t so cold!
“It is very cold in England,” admitted the Mexico international. “I have adjusted to being here. I have an apartment and a car, but the cold is the main problem for me.”
Opposition defenders and his own choices on the field have also been a problem for the winger as he tries to make an impression in a struggling team.
The last two games have illustrated that perfectly as he has come off the bench and certainly got involved in the heat of the battle, but when the vital moments come, he has been left wanting.
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Against West Brom he chose to try and run through two defenders in the box, while Freddie Piquionne waited in the box to be teed up for a shot, while on Saturday in the dying stages, Barrera broke towards the box, but instead of squaring the ball for two waiting team-mates, he chose to cut inside and balloon a shot well over the bar.
Of course, if that shot flies into the top corner then the Mexican is the hero, but the youngster has yet to learn how to play the percentage game in the Premier League. When he concentrates on getting crosses in, he can be as dangerous as anyone, but that does not happen often enough.
For the player though, he is pleased with the way things went during the 0-0 draw with Blackpool on Saturday.
“We had a lot of opportunities to score and I think the team played very well,” said Barrera. “I think it was probably my best game for West Ham, though I think I performed all right against Bolton and Tottenham.”
The Carling Cup has provided Barrera’s best moments in claret and blue so far. The Mexican, who has made six starts and 12 appearances in all, grabbed assists for Victor Obinna to score the winner at Sunderland and then set up Scott Parker for his last-gasp equaliser against Stoke City.
It showed that he can do the job and, if he gets his chances, he believes that his form will improve.
“After each match I am getting used to the pace of the game,” he said. “There are things that all the players need to have such as good physical condition and match after match it is getting better for me.”
Barrera tasted success at Pumas back in 2009 as they took the Mexican Premier League title, so to come to England for a relegation battle is a real baptism of fire for the winger.
“It is the first time I have experienced this, I have just played football in Mexico before, but I am enjoying the experience I am having in England,” he said. “It’s the best league in the world and the team just have to keep working and I am confident we can make it better.”
Many have compared Barrera’s introduction to that of German flop Savio Nsereko, who flattered on the wing, but in the end was too lightweight for the Premier League and was moved back to Italy and obscurity.
But the Mexican believes that he can succeed in this leaguel where the little German failed. “I think English football does suit my play,” he said. “Sometimes you can get a lot of space out wide, but sometimes it is difficult as well, because the space disappears very quickly.
“It isn’t easy, but I feel I am learning the game over here.”
Barrera will be looking to earn a place in the team for the trip to Anfield on Saturday, and despite spending his life in central America, even he has heard of Liverpool.
“I am excited, but it will be a really difficult match,” he said. “I think the team have to win there, we have to take the points.”
Barrera obviously hasn’t seen West Ham’s record at Anfield since 1963, but perhaps that could be an advantage going into Saturday’s televised game.
“Of course the mentality of the team is not at the best right now because we are not winning,” he said. “But I think the team are playing well. We need that bit extra to score and win and that is the main thing.”
Whether or not Barrera is the man to provide that little bit extra remains to be seen, and of course, the cold weather has hardly begun – let’s see how he copes at Blackpool in February!