TO paraphrase football’s most over-worked cliche, this has been a season of two halves for Robert Snodgrass.
The first was peppered with impressive performances and a dozen goals for club and country, which encouraged West Ham to pay Hull City £7m for his signature.
The latter saw him doing his bit to pull the Hammers out of the relegation zone he’d left behind, while his former club teeter on the brink of dropping down to the Championship.
But Snodgrass has yet to find the goalscoring form which included a hat-trick for Scotland in Malta last September, one factor in him becoming the William Hill International Player of the Year, as voted for by the members of the Scottish Football Writers’ Association.
He has just two games left to break his West Ham duck, starting with this afternoon’s visit of Liverpool to the London Stadium.
But if he ends a six-month goal drought in his last game of the season, Snodgrass will settle for that.
He has had the World Cup qualifier against England at Hampden on June 10 circled in his diary, and revenge on his mind since last November’s 3-0 defeat.
“It’s massive. I don’t think you’ll get a bigger game in a Scotland jersey than this one. It’s huge,” Snodgrass admits.
“It’s one we’ve all been looking forward to. Our previous meeting left a horrible taste in the mouth.
“If we’d taken our chances, we’d have probably won that game.”
Quite so. Despite going behind early, Scotland were on top for large parts of the first half against the Auld Enemy, and Snodgrass might have scored himself but for a John Stones block. “If it had gone in, it might have been a different story,” Snodgrass continues. “But that’s part and parcel of the game.
“Sometimes it works for you, sometimes it doesn’t. We want to make sure it does this time.”
You can also be sure that Snodgrass will be one of the first names down on Gordon Strachan’s squad list for the encounter, despite a difficult second half of the season for the 29-year-old.
“I’d hoped to build on what I’d done with Hull during the first half of the season,” says Snodgrass, who’s also had spells with Livingston, Leeds United and Norwich City.
“But in terms of scoring and creating goals, my time with West Ham hasn’t really been at the level I’ve had in the past.
“Other teams played me in right midfield, which has allowed me to cut inside or in behind the striker.
“I’ve been playing left midfield a lot at West Ham, which has been tough.
“But the manager (Slaven Bilic) has put me there, and I’ve got every faith in what he’s doing.
“The management staff and the fans have been tremendous, and already I feel like I’ve been there for five years.
“It’s one of the best squads I’ve been in, but on the football side it’s taken a bit longer to get going.
“I’m a realist. I understand football and situations in the game.
“So I’ll keep working hard, as I always do, striving to get that run of games and proving I can score goals and kick on.
“I want the fans to see this lad means business. I just need to get that chance.”
And if Snodgrass gets a chance on June 10 which has a different outcome to last November’s opportunity, the Tartan Army won’t complain!
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