The GoatyGav Column
I mentioned it at the time but I felt it was a shame that Pellegrini failed to get West Ham in to the top six to eight in the Premier League. I realise that he wasn’t everyone’s cuppa but I liked the way he handled himself. When he first joined I thought that the ‘project’ undertaken was one that would take us to the next level of securing European football by finishing sixth or seventh, which often delivers a Europa League place with a view to top four finishes thereafter. I also said that people should look at what MP did at Malaga and Villareal, with relatively limited budgets, to get both sides to semi-finals of Champion’s Leagues outside of his title win with Man City and the record points total delivered at Real Madrid.
Everywhere Pellegrini has been he’s bought wisely. With big, and more modest, budgets he’s had an eye for a good player and has been extremely successful in the transfer markets. West Ham has been no exception to this. Good money has been spent but the quality of those brought in has been extremely high. I believe with all my heart that the squad that Manuel has left behind is one of the strongest we’ve seen at the club.
Before anyone accuses me of wearing the rose tinteds I would also like to put on record my huge disappointment in the football that was being delivered of late. The squad looked dispirited, lacked confidence and performances have been lacklustre to say the least. I’ll never really know if the ‘dressing room was lost’ or if something else was going on but I do have eyes and could clearly see the lack of commitment and effort on the pitch from many of the players.
At the start of this season I was more optimistic than I can remember being about the campaign compared to previous years. In the first half a dozen matches it appeared that the team were going to push on from the strong finish of the previous term. Then Fabianski got injured, confidence and belief visually ebbed away and never seemed to return. Perhaps MP has learned that he requires bigger budgets to play the kind of football that he, patently, believes in, and sticks rigidly to, to be successful in the Premier League.
All things boiled down, however, we did manage to attract a top manager, with winning credentials, to our club and that has to be viewed as a positive. So it’s a big thank you, from me, to Manuel Pellegrini for what he’s done for West Ham United and the condition he’s left us in. Thanks for showing faith, and playing a huge part in the development of, Declan Rice. We’ve got a holding midfielder of true Premiership quality who, if he continues to develop, will become one of the best in the game. Thanks for bringing Lucasz Fabianski, Felipe Anderson, Sebastien Haller, Pablo Fornals, Issa Diop and Fabian Balbuena to our club. Ok, maybe not Roberto, who I do feel extremely sorry for, but a manager will never get every single one of his signings right. Whatever Manuel moves on to do I wish him all the best. He’s a top manager and, I’m sure, will go on to further successes in the future.
No game for the Ladies last weekend as sickness ravaged the squad to the point where the scheduled match with Everton Women was postponed. Hopefully the Ironesses will be fully recovered for their visit to Tottenham Women scheduled for Sunday. The prospect of three points against Tottenham are always highly motivational however a win in that one, by a two goal margin, and the ladies will go above their opponents in the table. I’m sure they’ll be more than up for it when next Sunday arrives.
Happy tidings to report for the mighty Under twenty-threes. Yesterday saw the lads play their home match against title rivals, Manchester United, at Dagenham. A brilliant team performance saw the young Hammers run out two-nil winners against a Manyoo team who were on an amazing seven game winning run. Unsure of whether Nathan Holland would be risked ahead of his loan to Oxford United the former Everton youngster put the game to bed by scoring the second goal, after his assist for the first, before moving to the Kassam Stadium for the remainder of the season. I wish him every success in his time at title challenging Oxford where I’m sure he’ll do really well. Holland is the type of player that I really enjoy watching when running at opposition defenders. He creates opportunities for others as well as bagging his fair share of goals himself and, like Grady Diangana, I’d love to see him eventually make the grade at West Ham. The Under twenty-threes have now opened up a four point lead over the Red Devils having played fourteen of the twenty two game season. The only negative from yesterday was Jo Anang collecting a second yellow card in the game and being, subsequently, dismissed. However it was great to see centre back Akinola return to the fold after a year long lay off. The next couple of games are going to be very important without the keeper and Holland and I wish Dan Halajko’s charges all the best for those challenging matches. Next up a visit to eighth placed Reading.
Have a good week all.