West Ham defender comes of age with stirring display against Southampton
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Hammers full-back Fredericks has learned so much from Zabaleta
It has taken him all season to settle into the Premier League, but for West Ham defender Ryan Fredericks he finally came of age.
It has been a frustrating first campaign for the former Fulham full-back, He broke his ankle and missed a big chunk of the season and he has also had to compete with the experienced Pablo Zabaleta.
But on Saturday, his statistics were all but perfect and he added an excellent goal into the bargain.
“I think the most I have probably played is two or three in a row,” reflected the pacy 26-year-old.
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“As a player you want to get your rhythm and you want to have the confidence of the manager.
“But Pablo Zabaleta has done well. Everybody knows how good he is and fair play to him when he has come in, he has been brilliant.
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“I’ve got no complaints, I just want to play as many games as I can and help the team when I can.”
He certainly did that on Saturday. The down-to-earth defender admits he has learned a lot this season from the Argentinian.
“Pablo has been brilliant to me,” he said. “Even in this game, he was the first one to come over and congratulate ,me.
“When I’ve been sat on the bench for parts of the season, I have been watching what he has been doing and even at the age he is now, he is still one of the fittest in the team.
“He has probably been the best full-back in the Premier League in the last 10 years, so for me to get a close up look at him has really helped me a lot.”
It has showed in the last two games as Fredericks has made excellent last-ditch tackles to deny Southampton and last week against Tottenham.
And that win in north London last week seems to have given him some real confidence.
“It was a massive win against Spurs,” he said. “Personally it was great against my old club to go and beat them and it gives the fans the bragging rights to keep them happy.
“But it also shows what we can do when everyone is running around and on it, winning their personal battles and more times than not we are going to come out victorious in games.”
They comfortably did that against the Saints on Saturday and Fredericks rounded off his display with a goal, which got him laughing.
“I don’t know what is going on!” he smiled. “I think it shows that I don’t score many because I didn’t know how to celebrate. I just started running round like a bit of a mad man.
“It was nice. It is good for modern day full backs to get forward and provide crosses and all that.
“I payed a nice one-two with Jack Wilshere, he is class and I knew if I gave it to him, he would probably give it back and then it just opened up.
I carried on running, give it a whack and it went in.”
A 3-0 win and one that shows that they can show a little consistency.
“It was important for us to show that it wasn’t just a fluke beating Spurs and that we are up for games that aren’t just against our rivals or the so called bigger teams,” he said.
“If we can play like that against all the teams then I am sure that we can be at the right end of the table next season.
“I think we have shown in our last couple of games that we can go out and beat anyone.
“We are optimistic, but we don’t want to get carried away, we are not going to say that we are going to win the league next season.
“But we have got players that are more than capable of being the so-called best of the rest and we will be looking for seventh place again.”
Speaking on Match of the Day, Fredericks hoped that he had done enough to stop the club going out and spending millions on another right-back.
Performances like that will go a long way to doing just that.