Manuel Pellegrini has admitted he still wants to see a lot more from striker Lucas Perez despite the Spaniard climbing off the bench to score twice and lift West Ham to victory in midweek over Cardiff City.
The 30-year-old replaced Marko Arnautovic five minutes before half time when West Ham’s joint top-scorer limped off with a hamstring injury that will keep him out for at least a month. Perez then scored his first Premier League goals in 700 days in a five minute burst after half time to lift the Hammers to their win on the spin.
Perez hadn’t scored for almost as long as the Hammers hadn’t won successive games in the top flight, a run that stretched back to January 2017, before both ducks were broken against the Bluebirds.
However, that has not guaranteed the former Arsenal hitman a first Premier League start in claret and blue this weekend against Crystal Palace as Pellegrini assesses his options to replace Arnautovic if he sticks with the 4-4-2 that has yielded six goals in the last two games for his team.
The Chilean said: “As a manager you must always be listening and be able to learn new things and it is exactly the same for a player. You must be able to hear what a manager is telling you and if you don’t you are not able to play.
“You may have the quality but you need to improve on other things.I think that Lucas has a lot of things to continue learning but he now has the option to demonstrate that he is a player who has the level to play in the Premier League. It will not depend on what he does in the next games.”
Perez has only played 157 minutes of Premier League football and the 50 minutes he got in midweek was the most he has played in the top flight so far this campaign.
The manager has previously said that “for whatever reason” Perez has not been starting games, with Michail Antonio used upfront at times this season as well as Javier Hernandez and Arnautovic.
When the boss was pushed on what Perez needs to improve on, the answer the manager gave was surprising and very forthright as well.
He added: “We cannot talk about this, it is too long. But maybe better late than never.
“When I was asked about Felipe Anderson a few weeks ago my answer was exactly the same – he is playing well but he needs to improve a lot because he needs to know the Premier League. Today Felipe is playing well but I am continuing thinking he must listen and learn a lot.
“For every player it is different. I always tell every player what is the duty of the manager and the duty of the player.”