The last three games West Ham have played in many ways encapsulate what it is always like to support the club. An extremely disappointing loss to Mourinho’s Spurs who in my opinion were given too many plaudits. Spurs weren’t particularly good, rather it was us playing embarrassingly bad football for the vast majority of the game. If Pellegrini couldn’t get the players motivated for a London derby against Spurs, did he still deserve the job and also how were we going to get anything other than a battering at Stamford Bridge? The Chelsea performance was good and the players worked hard for each other with Antonio really setting the precedent with his infectious work rate. I was definitely pleased we had got three points in West London and a first win at Stamford Bridge in 17 years, but like everyone my concerns about the team and the manager did not suddenly disappear.
I sat watching the Wolves game with my friend who is a season ticket holder at the London Stadium, and while I enjoyed his company and the couple of beers we had, I did not enjoy the game of football we watched. While it was by no means the worst performance I’ve seen Pellegrini’s men put in, all things considered it was pretty depressing. Wolves are a team who in David Sullivan’s mind we should be better than because we have a ‘world class’ stadium and Champions League football was our goal after the stadium move, but in reality we should be competing with them and we are not at the moment. Considering how easy under Pellegrini it has often been for teams to bypass our midfield and defence, we started the game looking somewhat organised.
All football fans inevitably disagree on performances of players but here are some of my brief thoughts on West Ham players at Molineux. Martin couldn’t do a lot for either goal, made a couple of key saves in the second half. Fredericks is a bit hit and miss, yes he has pace but does he offer enough going forward? I’m not sure he does. Balbuena and Ogbonna did alright but the Italian has by far been the best defender and his omission from the team following the loss to Everton was a baffling decision by Pellegrini. Cresswell has been good but Traore’s pace was too much for him, Rice solid as ever but had to cover for Noble far too much and this was one of Noble’s worst performances in a while. Snodgrass always works his socks off, delivery was poor and should have scored after a lovely Fornals pass to make it 1-1. Fornals was one of the brighter sparks and he looks to be finding his feet a bit which is positive. Anderson was probably our best player and was always showing for the ball, hopefully he can get find the levels he found for us last season. Haller is a talented striker and I think he will be a success in this league, part of his struggles have been Pellegrini’s persistence with him up front alone with not enough support. Haller and Antonio together for a run of games is something we shall hopefully see, but I do agree that the Frenchman needs to work much harder given Antonio’s performance at Chelsea. If I was Haller I’d be frustrated that as soon as Ajeti came on more crosses seemed to come into the box which on Pellegrini’s part makes no sense. Yarmolenko was rubbish when he came on and I was happy to see Holland get a chance, he looked pretty bright but a loan spell is probably what he wants in order to improve.
One of my main frustrations with our 66 year old manager is his stubbornness and to some extent I think arrogance. There’s no doubt he’s achieved a lot in his career in the dugout and he has managed some top clubs. West Ham do not have the finances that the Chilean had at Man City but he’s always been keen to say we need a ‘big club’ mentality, we are not Man City and we ultimately cannot play teams off the park and I genuinely believe Pellegrini thinks to some extent we can. We have some talented attacking players on paper but he’s continued to ignore serious problems such as central midfield and the defence. Is his logic we’ll concede 3 but score 4? At Man City with the talent at his disposal (a la Aguero, Sterling, De Bruyne) you can outscore teams but that is not possible for us. I’m not sure what the team do in training because it seems other teams work on how to play against whomever they face next but we play the same way each week, it’s a case of ‘my way or the highway’ for Pellegrini with the same formation that doesn’t work, the same subs that more often than not don’t work and it’s the same excuses post match. Should a man who is paid £7 million a year be repeatedly saying things such as ‘I don’t know why we put in this performance’? If you are one of the best paid managers in the league you owe it to the fans to work out what is going wrong and correct it but there are no signs of change under his tutelage which concerns me deeply.
Up next its Arsenal at home under the lights, another London derby and given that Arsenal’s defence is definitely an area of weakness let’s hope that the boss allows Haller and Antonio to run riot together but I’m not overly confident for us moving forward unfortunately.
Hope everyone is well.