Wednesday, 23 May 2018

The most dysfunctional club in the Premiership needs to change if Manuel Pellegrini is to succeed at West Ham

Manuel Pellegrini is the latest man to be take on the managerial hot seat at West Ham United.

The former Manchester City manager certainly has a top pedigree, having managed other major European clubs like Real Madrid and Malaga. One thing for sure is that he won’t have come across anything quite like the set up at West Ham.

Pellegrini will take over a squad of players that have under-performed all season - just escaping the drop to the Championship. He will expect big money to bolster what he has, a question that he surely will have thrashed out with the club’s owners David Sullivan and David Gold, before taking on the position.

It is widely believed among the West Ham fans that the failure to invest on the playing side has contributed hugely to the under-performance of the team in the Premiership for the past two seasons. When incomings are balanced against outgoings, West Ham have spent virtually nothing for a couple of seasons.

The players they signed last summer proved to be a mixed bag. Top scorer Marko Arnautovic proved an excellent signing, once David Moyes took over as manager. The Scotsman really got the best of out Arnautovic, who did not perform under previous manager Slaven Bilic.

Former Manchester City, defender Pablo Zabaleta was another success. Signed on a free transfer from City, he was one of the clubs most consistent performers – he is though the wrong side of 30.

On the minus side, Joe Hart cost the side valuable points, notably in the run in games against Stoke and Burnley. He was on a high wage and really did not work out.

Mexican Javier Hernandez was wasted. He scored eight goals, which was still a good return, given the limited opportunities provided. It maybe one of Pellegrini’s first tasks to try to persuade Hernandez to stay at the club.

Pellegrini has some good, if seemingly injury prone players, available to him. The emerging Declan Rice and Arthur Masuaka in defence, veterans Winston Reid and Angelo Ogbonna, captain Mark Noble and Manuel Lanzini.

Moyes also found new ways to use defender Aaron Creswell, playing him as part of a central defensive three, as well as turning him into a free kick specialist. The returning Michel Antonio would also give the new manager some much needed pace and power.

On the minus side, surely it is time to call time on the highly paid and injury prone Andy Carroll?

Pellegrini though needs to recruit some quality right across the team. At the back, midfield and in attack, new players are needed.

The fans are not happy with the board, as was most notably shown at the time of the very public protests during the Burnley home game in March. They blame the owners for failing to invest and many are unhappy about ever leaving the Boleyn ground.

The owners have much to do to try to right the situation. At the moment they preside over a club that gets bigger home gates that Spurs and Chelsea, yet regularly flirts with relegation. On the pitch the club has been going backwards since it left the Boleyn two years ago.

It looks to the fans like the owners are just using the club as a cash cow, taking out profits without investing in players. The owners don’t help the situation with their strange PR operations. The social media activity and newspapers columns have caused all sorts of problems both on and off the pitch.

The owners say they have listened to the fans, taken what they have said on board and things will change. But the fans have heard this so many times before. The manner in which outgoing manager David Moyes was treated, suggests little has been learned.

It is as if this listening rhetoric is deployed at time of crisis. However, as soon as the storm is perceived to have past, its same as usual.

The board at West Ham certainly need to step right back from the playing side if Pellgrini is to succeed. Whether they will remains to be seen. It is thought Moyes wanted to take much greater control of how the club operated but this did not appeal. His reference in his final press conference to change and the opposition of some to it does not bode well.

Moyes did a good job for the club, steadying things and securing \Premiership safety. He also transformed Arnautovic, brought on Masuaku and developed players like Cresswell and Rice. Indeed, he did more in six months to bring through young players than has been seen at the club for a decade.

On the debit side, he failed to utilise Hernandez and saw the team beaten by four too many times.

So Manuel Pellegirini has quite a job on if he is to succeed at West Ham. He will have to win the fans over, as well as manage the machinations of the owners. He is certainly a manager with a good pedigree but will that be enough to succeed at what has been described as one of the most dysfunctional clubs in the Premiership?


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