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West Ham need to look at the players, because they have a top manager

David Purcell
CONTRIBUTOR
Feature
07 Sep 2018, 23:45 IST

West Ham United v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League
Manuel Pelligrini won the Premier League with Manchester City

The opening weeks of this year's Premier League season has left fans impressed, shocked and bitterly disappointed by their teams before the first international break, but for West Ham, it's been like a rollercoaster ride.

But, a rollercoaster that seems to have crashed already.

For the last few seasons, whether it be Sam Allardyce, Slaven Bilic, David Moyes or even Manuel Pellegrini at the helm, the bad seems to far outweigh the good. Calling for the manager's head has been an all too frequent occurrence.

Transfer windows have come and gone, as do the managers apparently, without very little signs of the team improving - particularly after the phenomenal capture and later the sale of Dimitri Payet, of course. That loss has certainly been a turning point in their fortunes.

Payet, who was monitored by many other clubs across England before securing a five-year deal with the Hammers in 2015, dragged the team to heights nobody saw coming. It was a very shrewd piece of business that paid in dividends.

West Ham finished the 2015-16 season with 62 points in 7th place, just four points away from Champions League football and placing higher than both Liverpool (8th) and Chelsea (10th). The quick-witted Frenchman adapted to English football with ease and the club reaped the rewards of smart recruitment.

There was a downside to his immediate success, though.

France v Iceland - Quarter Final: UEFA Euro 2016
Payet lasted only a season in the Premier League

Payet went on to light up the 2016 European Championships with the French national team and returned to his old stomping ground at Marseille after a very public refusal to play for the East London club.

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Owning partners David Gold and David Sullivan have since overseen the axing of both Slaven Bilic and David Moyes, with the fans and club seemingly united in wanting to implement a more entertaining brand of football at the London Stadium.

Since then, things have turned very sour.

Now, there are some who say Manuel Pellegrini doesn't have the enthusiasm or charisma to rejuvenate a team like West Ham - and that may be true. However, the club can't put themselves in a situation where they rather embarrassingly sack the manager they had enough faith in to appoint just three months into his tenure.

Many football pundits and journalists have summarised Pellegrini's appointment at Manchester City as merely being a placeholder who achieved some success while the club looked to bring Pep Guardiola in. But, that can not - in no shape or form - taint his clear successes as a manager.

Recently on Sky Sports', former Manchester City winger Craig Bellamy said: "At Manchester City, he was always a stopgap. After Mancini, they needed somebody that could bring a bit of harmony, be a nice guy in and around the place because at the end of Mancini's reign he upset a lot of people.

"Pellegrini was the right man just to come in and bring a little bit of peace. They knew they had the players, but listen, Pep was always coming in. He was just a stopgap during that period.

"He's had good success in Spain, but this is a different ball game now. Now he's going to be up against it."

Malaga CF v AC Milan - UEFA Champions League
Pellegrini watches on as his former side take on AC Milan in the UEFA Champions League

In fairness, the established Chilean coach engineered a UEFA Intertoto Cup win at Villarreal, finished his spell at Malaga by finishing 4th in the La Liga table (13 places higher than the season he took charge) and has a Premier League winners medal.

West Ham are in a fortunate situation to have somebody so experienced and established on their books right now. After receiving the backing and signing players totalling around £90m - which included the club-record arrival of Brazilian winger Felipe Anderson from Lazio - the 64-year old must be given a chance to implement his ideas.

Before the disappointing four straight defeats at the start of this campaign, people were talking about West Ham as potentially the next team to break the top six.

Now, a few weeks on and rock bottom with zero points, some are pointing at the manager already and calling for the team to revert back to digging in, hitting it long and looking for second balls - which some see as the team's 'strength.'

"Fans, not just at West Ham, but they always want what they haven't got," said Rio Ferdinand following their 1-0 defeat to Wolves last weekend. "It's unfortunate that West Ham are in this position, bottom of the league - pointless - but they have to find something.

"This manager now, Pellegrini, has been given a war chest of money to spend and he's done it. We have to see now what he does with it."

With big spending comes big responsibility, and it can weigh down hard on the shoulders of a new manager.

Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League
Mauricio Pochettino following a 3-0 against Manchester Utd at Old Trafford

Nevertheless, if you take a look around the Premier League right now, there are a handful of teams that are achieving positive results because they have persisted with a coach and bought into their ideas - i.e. the likes of Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and even Crystal Palace to some extent. Then, of course, there are a few newer and exciting projects like those of Chelsea, Everton and Watford.

West Ham have got to do the same with Manuel Pellegrini if they want to yield any sort of success from their new man. A manager with his experience knows the game inside and out, now it's time for the players to deliver on his plans.

The incomings of Lucas Perez, Jack Wilshere, Andriy Yarmolenko and Anderson are really positive acquisitions for the club. Make no mistake about that.

Nevertheless, it's time for those that have been at the club for a long time such as Winston Reid, Mark Noble, Andy Carroll and Manuel Lanzini to be under the microscope. It takes time for the new signings to gel, for a manager to implement his methods and the more experienced players need to help bridge that transition.

Resorting back to the style of old might allow you to escape a relegation fight, but surely the whole idea of bringing in Pellegrini was to create a team with the style to achieve much better than that.

West Ham United v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League
Manuel Pellegrini staring through the bubbles at the London Stadium

For a club well-known for blowing bubbles, the rest of the league looks on and sees a lot of hot air. If the club really wants to improve in the way they say they do, they have got to stop making excuses and pointing fingers at the manager, but instead, expect more from their squad.

It is down to the players to improve and they're in the perfect situation to do so.

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