So How Will West Ham Line Up Under Pellegrini? Defence

West Ham United having confirmed the free transfer of Ryan Fredericks from cross town neighbours Fulham on a four year deal, and with the impending arrival of Felipe Anderson, Marlon Santos, Armando Izzo and Javier Pastore gaining huge press coverage things definitely seemed to be on the up at the London Stadium or the 'Souless Dome' as away supporters like to chant in order to taunt the home fans. We were not suggesting all of the previously mentioned players would arrive in E20, but it did bode well for fans that real effort was being put in to providing a team that would excite and succeed under the guidance of Manuel Pelligrini, then sadly Manuel Lanzini's dreadful long term injury happened casting a dark shadow over events.

Fan's favourite Adrian San Miguel was the only senior goal keeper at the club since Joe Hart returned to Manchester City following his disastrous year long loan, Nathan Trott is the only other keeper with any real experience on the club's books and despite being an international lacks enough game time to act as a number two keeper in the Premier League. Having been poorly treated by the arrival of Hart, Adrian dug in and eventually won the Jersey back, although prone to the odd moment of madness the defence always performed with more confidence when he was in between the sticks. There have been many rumours as to who might replace Adrian, Manuel Pellegrini had not revealed his hand and may well have wanted to run the rule over the Spaniard once he had started training with his squad before making a decision, however the chance of West Ham landing a deal for goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski and defender Alfie Mawson from Swansea presented itself and the club were quick to act

The initial low offer for both players (what a surprise) was of course rejected, but pushing a deal through for the 33 year old Fabiasnki is Hammers' main priority as they are hoping to sign him before Poland's World Cup campaign begins against Senegal next Tuesday. Things could get complicated if he wins his battle with Wojciech Szczesny to become Poland's No1 and impresses in the tournament which will crank his value up, Swansea initially wanted £9 Million for Fabianski, who has one year left on his current contract, but West Ham hope a fee of around £7m will be enough to get a deal done.

Any deal for Mawson would involve a transfer fee of around £20- 30 Million and knowing the owners hatred of splashing the cash up front is therefore highly unlikely!

Assuming there aren't any last minute hiccoughs with his transfer, Ryan Fredericks will be able to play alongside and learn from the venerable and timeless Pablo Zabaletta who has another year left on his contract, and was arguably one of the few West Ham's players to stand out in what was a woeful and inadequate season. Fredericks' natural position would see him operate in tandem with Zabaletta on the right flank, but what does this mean for Sam Byram who has never been able to string together a successful series of games due to constant injuries and loss of form, playing in the Premier League was just a step too far, there will be several lower league clubs interested in him and hopefull he can move on for a decent fee and get his career back on line. .What of the other right sided player Michail Antonio? Palace have been sniffing around for the amiable Antonio who has played virtually every position except goal keeper during his time at the club, but like Byram he is injury prone and may not fit the Pellegrini blue print of power, possesion and fitness, if sold he would command a substantial fee that would help bring in some of the other targets mentioned.

Pellegrini's side will look totally different to the shambles that was presented last season, essentially he will let the players express themselves and wonder of wonders play them in the correct position! Hammers had been made favourites to finish in the top with Pellegrini in charge prior to the Lanzini injury, but are still worth a pre-season punt for that particular finish.
Pellegrini's preferred formation features a four man back line, Aaron Cresswell has recently been playing left of a back three, but his performances particularly towards the end of the season were on a par with when he first arrived at the club, good enough for him to earn an England call up, he is definitely a Pellegrini type of player! As is Authur Masuaku, he and Cresswell link up wonderfully and can cause opposition defences nightmares on the left flank with their power and pace. The main issue defensively will be the centre backs, with the ginger pele that was James Collins leaving the club and Winston Reid increasingly picking up long term injuries new blood is required urgently. Declan Rice and Angello Ogbonna are the only two senior players who naturally play as centre backs, the former having only broken into the first team last year. Cheik Kouyate was forced to fill in but in no way is he fully suited to the position, he like many players last season spent too much time playing in unfamiliar positions.

Clearly Manuel Pellegrini's key purpose is to shore up what was the most porous of all Premier League defences, the only other team to leak as many goals were Stoke City who were of course eventually relegated, scoring goals was not so much of a problem for West Ham who actually were the 8th highest scorers in the League. If he sorts out the defence then Pellegrini's forwards and midfielders will have licence to be more creative and thus score even more goals, it is a simple equation that seemed to elude Slaven Billic which meant that when David Moyes took over with his temporary deal, the players were forced to play so 'pragmatically' that fans did not like what they saw while at the same time being grateful that under Moyes' guidance the club avoided the dreaded drop into the Championship. It was only during the last three games that fans saw a glimmer of what the team could have and should have done all season.

We will be concentrating on the mid field in the next feature. - Ed

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Comments

It now seems that Arnautovic has not ruled out a move to Man United. He is priced at around Pounds 50 million and United are willing to pay that price especially after Maurinho travelled all the way to Austria just to watch him play. If players like Payet and Arnautovic impress during their spell at West Ham then the Board capitulates to lucrative offers. That is precisely the reason why West Ham just do not have that stability at the start of the season, as they now have to backtrack to sorting out the style of play that suits the new so called talented players.

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6 users have voted.

Oh come on who really believes mourinho travelled to Austria to see arnie! Firstly mourinho was working out there for the media and secondly why does he even NEED to watch him? He has worked with him at Milan, probably seen him play loads of times in the prem both this season and other ones. If he really needs to go to see him play for Austria to learn more then he is an idiot. I think people are blowing this out of all proportion.

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10 users have voted.
Dicks is the man's picture

the way things are going Pellegrini will have to don the old magic boots and play.

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