West Ham’s Faubert reaches an unlikely century milestone

Hammers’ French star Julien Faubert is beginning to show his best form for West Ham

�West Ham winger Julien Faubert celebrated his 101st appearance in claret and blue on Saturday by taking home the sponsors’ man-of-the-match champagne, but clocking up that century of appearances was not a milestone that the Frenchman expected to reach.

Faubert signed in a �6.1million deal from Bordeaux in 2007, but his career in east London has not exactly been a bed of roses.

“I think the bad injury when I arrived was really hard for me,” admitted the 28-year-old. “It is tough coming back from a ruptured Achilles.

“I tried my best coming back. I did a great season with [Gianfranco] Zola, but I don’t want to talk about last season!”

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It is not surprising. Largely ignored by manager Avram Grant, he did not play another game after the disastrous Carling Cup semi-final defeat at Birmingham and it was little wonder that he was desperate to leave Upton Park.

However, the arrival of new boss Sam Allardyce has given the Frenchman a new lease of life and he has appeared in 17 of the 19 games that the Hammers have played this season.

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Break my neck

“I need to feel something for the manager, that is the way I am,” he explained. “When I feel something I can break my neck for him, I can run and work and do everything for him.

“When the manager gives you the confidence and gives you all the cards to play this game, it is more easy.”

Allardyce was certainly appreciative of the contribution that Faubert has made this season and on Saturday in particular.

“I appreciated his ability and of course somebody like Julien, we had to get the best out of him if we could because it was big money when he came here,” explained the boss.

“He hadn’t quite produced, but now we’re seeing the benefits of him playing consistently and consistently well – not only in wide positions but also at right back.

”He was well deserving of man-of-the-match today for me and long may he keep it up, but the bottom line is it’s because he’s working really hard.

“He’s working so hard that he’s creating himself so many opportunities to receive the ball and cause problems for the opposition – and that’s the real benefit for Julien.”

It certainly seems to be easier for Faubert this season. The technical skills of the Premier League may have not been to his liking, but a league like the Championship where running and working hard seem to be integral parts of success seems right up the Frenchman’s street.

“These are things I understand more,” he admitted. “In this league it is all about running and if you run, run, run, sometimes you have the opportunity to score and make a difference.

“I try to do this every game, so I need to be proper fit to do this, because if I’m not 100 per cent I am not up there.

“I have to keep running to keep me fit and maybe make me better on the pitch.”

The results are obvious to anyone watching him this season. When he was substituted with eight minutes to go during Saturday’s 3-1 win over Derby County, it was to a standing ovation, something unthinkable in previous campaigns.

“It was a perfect day and a good team performance as well,” he said. “We weren’t very good in the first half, but the second half was better and, yes, personally it was a great performance for me also.

“I didn’t score, but I tried to give my best for all the games, for my team-mates, for the manager and for the fans.”

That is the thing that is most apparent in watching Faubert. He always tried hard, but most of the time it did not work out for him. Now, although some of his crossing is still comical, his consistency is improving and that seems to be down to a manager who actually cares about his players.

Nous t’aimons Julien!

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