From Hero To Zero In 7 Weeks Pellegrini's Fall

Football fans can be a fickle bunch, none more so than those of West Ham United. As disgruntled fans left the London Stadium following the 3-2 defeat by Newcastle United, there were calls for under fire manager Manuel Pellegrini to be replaced as his side suffered a loss that meant they have only earned two out of a possible fifteen points in the Barclays Premier League, whilst also losing 4-0 to lower league Oxford in the League Cup during the same period.

Just seven weeks ago, those same fans were riding a euphoric wave that promised to deliver European competition qualification, possibly even the Champions League! Such was the belief in the 'Pellegrini project', West Ham fans, and the media began chastising the club's owners for not 'firming up' their manager's contract with an extension of at least a further year added to his original three. There were 'concerned' media reports that Pellegrini might want to return to Chile while his home country is going through a 'challenging' phase, or that the 65 year old would want to retire, or at least semi retire back in Chile.

So where and how did it all go wrong in such a short space in time? Essentially the wafer thin depth of the squad assembled for this season was cruelly and brutally exposed by injuries, just as the team was hitting it's stride and making up for the dreadful opening day hammering by Manchester City. Serious injuries to both Michail Antonio and Lukasz Fabianski stopped the momentum in it's tracks, and although Roberto hasn't quite been the calamity in goal people had feared, Fabianski he ain't. The wisdom of letting Adrian go now seems foolish, but hindsight is a wonderful leveller, not anticipating the injury to Antonio seems equally foolish given his injury record, hence the reason for the earlier reference to the squad's strength in depth.

Losing both players left the starting line up frail, given Roberto's lack of game time, and slow, given Antonio's electric pace. Again, with hindsight, the wisdom of letting Grady Diangana go out on loan to West Brom might be called in to question, as Diangana was the only 'like for like' player available to fill in for Antonio. This season's meagre net £25 Million transfer budget, one fifth of newly promoted Aston Villa's spend, has come back to bite with a vengeance.

Realistically fans didn't expect the same spend as the season before, most knew that players brought on 'tick' had to be paid for in instalments, however the club slashed the squad of much dead wood saving what has eventually turned out to be £750,000 per week in wages alone. Surely a chunk of that £37.5 Million saving could have been put to good use, even half of it might have helped, instead the club is paying the price for not adding strength in depth when it was possible.

Again with hindsight, perhaps the acquisition of Pablo Fornals was just a 'foreigner too far' for this season, because despite his undoubted qualities, he is definitely one for the future and has found the cut and thrust of the Barclays Premier League difficult to cope with. The loss of Antonio has also heavily impacted on Felipe Anderson's performances, the Brazilian looks bereft of ideas when he gets near the box, as everyone and his Uncle are marking the ever isolated Sebastian Haller.

Hammers recent poor run is as bad as the beginning of last season, in fact it is technically even worse! Manuel Pellegrini is the third highest paid manager in the League, and some of his recent decisions have had fans, and probably co-owners, scratching their heads in doubt. The Manager's insistence on playing veteran Pablo Zabaleta, instead of lightening quick Ryan Fredericks at right back beggars belief. The previous week 'Zaba' had been more exposed than a Morecombe and Wise beach chair joke by Sheffield United's front line, and his reselection for the Toon game was met with cries of derision in the Press box who, to a Man and Woman knew that Hammers were probably going to be in for a hiding!

Burnley away is up next, perhaps playing away from might not be a bad thing given the strength of bad feeling about the team and it's manager, after that there is the much needed International break, unfortunately by the beginning of the break Hammers could be as low as 16th in the league, a far cry from not that long ago, so now it's about time Manuel Pellegrini started to earn the exorbitant wage that he gets paid, he owes it to the fans who went home miserable in the rain last weekend.

With regards to Pellegrini's managerial tenure, as the old adage goes, be careful what you wish for, you might just get it! -Ed



boogerscaravan's picture

I think the whole squad is severely lacking in confidence. The displays on the pitch show that. As an aside I watched Diangana last night on sky, what a player he is now. Scoring goals and great movement. I'd get him back in January if that is at all possible before anything else.

As for Pellegrini, a very dignified and apparently unruffled image yes. But is that enough to reignite the passion our players would seem to have have lost?

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