LA Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget has told ExtraTime Radio that he believes Sam Allardyce’s reluctance to give him a first-team chance was the reason why he failed to make the grade at West Ham United.
The California-native’s lone senior outing came in the club’s infamous 5-0 FA Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest in 2014, while he made the first-team bench just once last season for November’s 2-1 loss at Everton.
Due to have been out of contract this summer, the former US Under-23 international was granted his release last month to allow him to make an earlier move to LA, where he is now hoping to get his career back on track.
He does not regret his time at Upton Park but, having been lauded as one of the club’s top prospects under former boss Gianfranco Zola, thinks his Hammers career could have taken a different path had there been a more supportive manager at the reins in recent seasons.
“Sam Allardyce came in and for four years just didn’t have me in his plans,” said Lletget. “I was just fighting my way through until finally the LA Galaxy reached out and I’m just happy we got the deal done.
“I think people underestimate how difficult it really is [to break through in Europe] because you don’t have anyone holding your hand,” he continued. “You’re playing with, in my case, Premier League players and it’s tough to make that step up.”
Lletget’s comments come after he marked his full MLS debut with the opening goal in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Columbus Crew SC, having tucked away Robbie Rogers’ pass in the 14th-minute for his first senior strike.
The versatile midfielder was not even supposed to be in the line-up on the night but was given the nod at the last-minute after striker Edson Buddle suffered a groin strain during warm-ups following a two-hour weather delay.
“It was a little crazy how it happened,” he said. “We were warmed up and everybody was ready but then you had a two-hour delay.
“Edson was making the start but we cooled down and then he just started feeling it and couldn’t play, so I jumped in about two minutes before kick-off.
“Until I saw the replay [for the goal], I honestly forget how the ball got there. With those types of plays, you can’t really plan it – it just short of happens. I’m just glad it went in and put the team ahead early on. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the win but I’m glad we got the point.”
With Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard set to join the club next month, it remains to be seen whether Lletget will be able to hold down a regular place in the line-up going forward but he believes that his ability to fill in at a number of positions will stand him in good stead.
“Fortunately, I can play in various positions, which helps,” he added. “But I like to play behind the striker. If do play out wide, I want to penetrate, get into the box and get goals and assists.
“The more I play and my fitness gets up, I think I can provide that for the team.”