Is Manuel Pellgerini’s time up at West Ham?

Ask West Ham fans at the beginning of the season if Manuel Pellegrini was the right man for the job and they would just have stared at you as if you were missing a few brain cells. Of course he was the man.

At that time Pellegrini had just overseen a difficult season with the Hammers finishing in mid table, and having some good spells along the way. But Pellegrini was given a pass by the fans because A- he was likeable and B- they realised that most of the team he wanted to play were out with long term injuries.

In the summer he brought in some prospects like Pablo Fornals from Villarreal and Sebastian Haller up front, who had done so well the season before with German side Eintract Frankfurt. Both have been utterly disappointing. Haller did score a few at the beginning of the season but has gone off the boil and Fornals has been very poor often now starting from the bench and not getting much game time.

But fans have become frustrated with Pellegrini’s tactics, which remain the same no matter which club they play and that means the opposition know exactly how to read them and do so. Some fans have claimed that their club is ‘the gift that keeps on giving’, largely in part due because if your team is in poor form don’t worry you will play and beat West Ham.

Pellegrini has now emerged as one of the favourite managers in the Premier League to be sacked and that was hammered home (pardon the pun) when the club lost 3-0 away to Burnley at the weekend. It all felt so predictable and it is true that very little has changed for the club who look to get between 40-50 points every season.

The Burnley defeat was the clubs 5th of this season and they have only won 3 games. The Hammers have dropped to 16th place and have 13 points and recent form is one of the worst in the league picking up just 1 point from their last available 15.

The problem that West Ham have is firstly if they sack Pellegrini who do you bring in that will improve the club? There doesn’t seem many managers around at this time that can recover the situation for the club. Also what are their ambitions with the players they have this season? Surely an overhaul is needed, and the club don’t seem or don’t want to give much money away. And money is a key issue here given that Pellegrini is the 3rd highest paid manager in the league, that in and of itself feels like a bad joke and he would have to be paid quite a pay off sum.

The future prospects for West Ham look very bleak indeed. Some players will have to step up, but it feels very questionable if they will.

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Pellegrini makes massive mistake as West Ham’s season is almost over

West Ham were shocked and gave a shocking performance in the Carabao Cup to lose 4-0 to League one side Oxford United in midweek, and one wonders how long this negative effect will last with the Londoners.

The cup competitions can often serve a surprise as the so called giant killing teams of the lower leagues play their best games and up their performance.. Losing to one of the lower league teams happens to most of the big clubs, particularly those who rest their star players.

However, it is the manner in which West Ham disintegrated which is of most concern. A 4-0 loss is more than poor and 3 of Oxford’s goals were scored in 29 minutes in the second half as the Hammers simply collapsed. For Fantasy Football managers, cup competition can be tricky. For those who look to place bets on cup competitions, you should look no further than Amazing Bet which allows you to take advantage of offers from bookmakers as well as guide you to better betting odds. Amazing Bet also provides you with information on where and how you can place Free Bets.

Manager Manuel Pellegrini did make changes to his side that beat Manchester United in the league just a few days before, 9 changes in all, but there was still plenty of quality on the field including new signing Pablo Fornals who has been very underwhelming since joining the club on a coat tail of hype from Villarreal.

Pellegrini was forced to bring on regulars early in the 2nd half such as Mark Noble and Sebastian Haller but the irony was that when more experience and quality came on the Hammers lost the plot and Oxford United actually improved.

It is bizarre to think that the Hammers have started the season well and just beat Manchester United but this cup defeat was a stark reminder that worse things could be round he corner for the club.

There has to be criticism pointed at Pellegrini though- for example why make so many changes? Yes games come thick and fast and he rightly pointed out that you need to utilise your squad. But what justification did he seek in making those changes? For example had this been a midweek Champions League game he wouldn’t have made the changes which leads us on to suggesting that Pellegrini in actual fact disrespected the competition and it has widely back fired onto him and the club.

The irony is West Ham are one of those well known clubs alongside Everton for example who have not won a major trophy for a long time. Next year will mark 25 years for Everton and 40 for West Ham. Again did Pellegrini rest players just so West Ham could finish in the top 10? What are their aspirations in a very difficult league? Shouldn’t the club really be chasing a cup and giving it a go?

With this cup gone, West Ham’s season already looks exposed. They aren’t ready for a top 4 place and don’t look up for a Europa League one either. That leaves the FA Cup then which doesn’t start for them until January.

The shock remains with Pellegrini, for such an experienced coach to get this so painfully wrong is mind boggling.

Next month is huge for Everton and Marco Silva in the Premier League

Everton claimed their first victory in five matches at the weekend as they beat West Ham 2-0 at home in a match which has effectively saved manager Marco Silva’s job. The win also took the Toffeemen out of the relegation zone but the club are far from out of the woods.

It has been a difficult period for Silva as Everton manager, and one could say that the Portuguese has had 3 good months with the club from the last 12- that hasn’t been good enough and under Silva so far Everton have not taken strides forward. The hope for the club after victory at the weekend is that they can build on this and move further up the table and perhaps challenge for a European spot. Will that be possible, or are Everton still in free fall?

Everton’s next game is against Brighton next weekend and on paper that looks like 3 points for the club, but it is away from home where Everton have really struggled.

Win, lose or draw that match will not affect Silva’s future with the club, instead attentions will turn to November, in what could be a massive turning point for the club. Let’s look at the fixtures in detail:

v Tottenham (Home)- How Everton would love to play Tottenham right now! The London club are in free fall and experiencing a crisis, with Everton at home and controlling the pace of the game like they did against West Ham, there would be every hope of 3 points against a side who on paper are superior to Everton. This game though doesn’t take place for another 2 weeks, that’s a long time in football and by then Tottenham could be back on track, and this game could be much harder to get points from.

v Southampton (Away) The Saints have really struggled this season and are in 17th place with no wins in their last 4 games. The club have the worst home record in the league and whilst their games have been close, Everton could fancy their chances in this one.

v Norwich (Home) Everton have won 3 games at home from 5 and one would expect a victory here. The problem is that they have already lost at home to a promoted side in Sheffield United. Norwich are looking poor though and one would expect Everton to get a win here.

With some Carabao Cup matches in between if Everton can go far in that, they could also get at least 7 points from the 9 available in November, Silva should be looking at his job being secure at least for now. It is a huge month for Everton because in December they have an incredibly tough fixture list where they don’t look like getting many points from, those matches include Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Leicester, that is why the club need to pick up points in November. Watch this space.

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West Ham- the surprise team of the Premier League so far

Not many pundits or fans would have predicted that West Ham would be in 4th position in the Premier League after 7 games but that is exactly where they are, and they still have room for improvement.

It started off so badly in the league for the Hammers, who were literally hammered at home by champions Manchester City 5-0. Sometimes you have to hold your hands up against the champions and a loss is a loss. But it was the manner in which West Ham gave up and complete with a toothless performance which led many to think that Manuel Pellegrini’s team could struggle this season, not so.

That loss has been the only one so far for the Irons who have gone on to win 3 and draw 3. They have now gone 6 games unbeaten, with the best of the bunch result arguably being against Manchester United where the club won 2-0.

The winning feels great but any fan will tell you they have seen much better, even in recent seasons and there is a sense that the Hammers aren’t playing great football, but are getting the positive results.

This is all fantastic news for a club that usually have to step back into the shadows when it comes to the big London teams of Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham. But as it stands West Ham are proving their worth.

A lot of credit needs to go down to manager Manuel Pellegrini, who has taken his time with a squad that have faced many long term injuries last season. One such player was Andriy Yarmolenko who missed almost the entire season. Well he has already bagged a few goals this term and is turning into somewhat of a cult hero. Good times are here at West Ham, and perhaps they deserve it after all of the problems they have been through.

The club play Crystal Palace at home next weekend and then Everton away followed by Sheffield United at home. One could expect at least 6 points from those games.

There are still the question marks, like for example how can a team who dream of finishing high up and then to play in Europe justify losing to Oxford United 4-0 and get knocked out of the Carabao Cup. True Pellegrini did make 9 changes but even so, there was plenty of quality on the field.

It was a huge loss, and maybe the only way to chase those demons is to watch again in a few years. Finally Pellegrini seems to have the team he wants and he is implementing perfectly. The game should be a classic.

 

 

Manchester United are in serious turmoil after latest defeat

Manchester United lost 2-0 away to West Ham and their season turns from bad to worse. The Red Devils have slipped to 8th place and are already 10 points behind league leaders Liverpool.

Have United ever been this bad since Sir Alex Ferguson retired from the game in 2013?

It is clear as daylight that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is not the man to lead the club. He is a good man, a footballing person, but this job is simply too big for him. And that is unfortunate as there are two versions of the manager. The first is the smiling man who came into rescue the club last December as they went 10 games undefeated and played their best football in almost a decade. Then there is the man who used to manage Cardiff and who got them relegated, that is the man that United have.

Fans are starting to call for his sacking, it’s brutal yes, but at the same time he isn’t the clubs right manager.

United have won just 2 games all season and even though we are into the early days nothing looks right at the club. It’s true that they are playing some good positive football but results are not going their way and the truth is that the usual United fear factor has evaporated.

His record with United after that bright start is actually incredibly poor with a 21% win rate. He has won just 4 games with the club from 19. Had this been beginning of the season league form then United would have had 17 points mid season, that is the damning verdict that Solskjaer has no future with the club.

As it stands United look like they would finish with about 53 points, which is light years away from where they need to be. Now let’s take a look at their upcoming fixtures.

United’s next four league fixtures look tricky. First they will face Arsenal at home which will not be easy at all. Next they will play Newcastle away from home and Steve Bruce will add more spice to that as Newcastle’s manager and ex United player. After that they have a massive game at home to Liverpool and then they will play Norwich away who have already beaten Manchester City at home.

It doesn’t seem possible that Solskjaer will be able to turn this around, at the same time who would United go in for? That answer is simple, Massimiliano Allegri is a free agent and he has the right experience at the biggest clubs to perhaps bring United back to where they belong. Solskjaer’s number looks up, it just seems now when and where it will happen.

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Business as usual as Manchester City and Liverpool get off to flying starts in the Premier League

So the Premier League has kicked off and it seems that it is business as usual as both the title favourites Manchester City and Liverpool got off to flying starts. Not only did they win their respective games they scored 9 goals between them.

Liverpool got the ball rolling (pardon the pun) when they beat Norwich 4-1 at Anfield on Friday night. It was always going to be extremely difficult for Norwich who have just been promoted from the Championship to take on the European champions and last seasons runners up in the league and so it proved. With ease Liverpool scored 4 goals and Norwich showed their naivety.

At the same time it wasn’t all plain sailing for Jurgen Klopp’s team and Norwich played some tidy football and created quite a few clear cut chances. If Liverpool who have arguably one of the best defences in Europe defend like they did on Friday night against a top 6 team they will suffer. Plus Alisson went off injured and Klopp will be hoping that his Brazilian goal keeper is only out for a limited time. Still it was a great start for Liverpool who will be looking to win their first league title since 1990.

The next day at lunchtime ended up being a miss match, when champions Manchester City went to West Ham and didn’t break sweat as they scored 5 goals with no reply. Raheem Sterling was deservedly the man of the match after he started his campaign with a fantastic hattrick. West Ham were toothless and unlike Norwich gave no fight and no hope as to how they will pick up points this season. Of course the Hammers have had some hyped arrivals in the likes of Pablo Fornals and Sebastian Haller and even though Fornals only came on from the bench in the 2nd half, he made almost no impact except for a teasing cross.

City were simply breath taking on the ball and the pace and fitness was evident compared to West Ham who are set for another frustrating season. The only other story to take from the game is VAR. It was used no less than 3 times and on each occasion got the decision right but there has to still be a question of is VAR good for football? Wasn’t the game supposed to be a simple one, that would include human error? After all England would not have become world cup champions in 1966 had VAR been in place.

True there has been shocking decisions in football, but it can work for and against your team. Maybe VAR takes that moment away in football.  Now when your team score, you will celebrate but perhaps have one eye on the referee and his assistants just in case. What will happen this season is penalties being retaken. It happened in the West Ham game when players encroached the area and it will happen when the goalkeeper leaves his line, and we can expect many penalty problems as a result.

The one damning verdict of West Ham’s defeat was the roar the fans gave as if they had scored a goal. They hadn’t, instead VAR had ruled out a City goal. Is that what teams outside the top 10 will be cheering about in the future?

 

 

Marko Arnautovic gets his wish and leaves West Ham to play in China- is it the right move?

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He’s gone Marko Arnautovic finally got his wish to leave West Ham and has joined Chinese super league team Shanghai.

West Ham were so annoyed by this that they issued a very short statement to the fact and failed to even add the usual all the best wishes to the Austrian player. Arnie as he is known to West Ham fans made his feelings clear a early as January and tried to force the move then but the Hammers were having none of it.

But now he is gone and it is thought that West Ham have had to sell him for a cut price £23m instead of the near £30m they would have preferred. But was Arnie right to leave?

Though there is a feeling of bad blood between both parties, this does feel like the right decision. Why would West Ham want a player who was not commited to the cause, isn’t it just correct to sell the player? Also on his side he isn’t getting any younger. So why stay at a club who will be struggling to fight for honours next season?

Of course money is the real issue and Arnie can expect to earn near to £300,000 a week with Shanghai, a kings ransom and he could never have got that at West Ham, plus he is 30 and not getting any younger, this last big contract gives him the chance to earn well and set himself up.

Shanghai are champions too and he will be made to work hard to retain their trophies and silverware will be a reality for the player out in China.

It’s hard luck to West Ham and one will wish that the club can learn from buying a player who perhaps never had his heart setteled on the club. He scored goals and looked like a great buy, yes, but at the same time he struggled to get goals and play well against the better teams and that was also the problem. He was simply never a top level drawer player and West Ham should be able to move on from his departure which it shouldn’t affect them as much as it could.

West Ham have bought Pablo Fornals and are now in the hunt for Celta Vigo’s Maxi Gomez that is the real top drawer there and those players should be enough to make Arnie’s loss a distant memory.

It’s Valencia or West Ham for Maxi Gomez but surely the answer is simple

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Maxi Gomez who has had a solid 2 years at Celta Vigo scoring goals is wanted by two clubs in Europe, Valencia and West Ham. But which club will succeed in getting his services?

A few years ago this wouldn’t even be open for debate, Valencia would be the smart choice. A massive club who at one point in the last decade could challenge Barcelona and Real Madrid’s dominance and had a very good team. Gomez could have joined and become a better player. But in 2019, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

The best pull for Gomez to join Valencia is that the club will be playing Champions League football next season, and that is massive for any player who has never tasted playing at the highest level for club football. It’s a big ask for Gomez to turn that down when West Ham aren’t playing any European football next season.

Financially a move to West Ham would be better for Gomez too and the Hammers will be able to offer him much better wages. So where should the 22 year old go? The answer for some is an easy one and that is to play for West Ham in the Premier League.

The reason is due to two things. Firstly West Ham are clearly pointing in the right direction and having Manuel Pellegrini as boss is a great thing for the London side who have under achieved too much in recent years. The club have some genuine attacking quality and it is thought that they will be attack minded next season with the likes of Pablo Fornals and Andriy Yarmolenko.

However does Gomez want to improve as a player and person? If so if you move to a foreign country and sample that experience and different culture. If he stays in La Liga he will be doing what most English players do and stay in their comfort zone. There isn’t much wrong with that but you usually become a much better player with a move to a different club and you learn more about the game. The move would be a massive plus for Gomez who could prove his qualities in a different league.

Who is the bigger club is the other question. True it is Valencia but they are not as big as they once were, and what happens if they exit the Champions League in the group stages and then struggle for top 10 status in the league it can happen and the club do have financial difficulties.

Going to West Ham would be a challenge for Gomez and it won’t be easy, but spreading his wings and giving the club a chance to see his qualities just seems like the right option to take. It will be interesting to see who Gomez picks over the coming days/weeks.

Juventus or Real Madrid? Where will Paul Pogba end up?

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It is no secret that Paul Pogba has not enjoyed the greatest of times at Manchester United and the Frenchman looks set to leave the club this summer, but who for?

Reports have suggested that Fabio Paratici the sporting director of Juventus is in London and having talks with Manchester United representatives about Pogba joining the club. Actually he would be re-joining since United bought Pogba from the Old Lady back in 2016. What has been interesting is that if Juventus do buy Pogba then the player has spent his footballing career switching from these clubs alone, since he started his professional career with United back in 2010.

One wonders if Pogba’s indecisions and playing back and forth for the same clubs sums up his career thus far? The midfielder remains an enigma- a delightful player to watch on the ball and fearsome coming forward but his total inconsistency marks him out to be a player that may well end his footballing career as simply a footnote in the history of the game.

Alongside Juventus’ interest seems to be another and that is Real Madrid who are rebuilding this season after a chaotic last one. Los Blancos have already spent near to £300m on acquiring five players including Eden Hazard and it is thought that coach Zinedine Zidane would love to work with Pogba. Pogba himself may feel that a fresh change is needed from returning to Italy again. One thing is clear and that is United could do with offloading a player that they already know could fetch the club upwards of £100m and release funds to invest in players that want to play for the club and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Keeping with United they have upscaled their interest in Crystal Palace player Aaron Wan-Bissaka who impressed this past season as the Eagles finished strongly. But the talking price seems to be spiralling out of control and one figure has the Palace player at £70m. For now he is on top of Solskjaer’s list and United agree to that sum it seems highly unlikely that they won’t get their man.

West Ham raised eyebrows by purchasing the exciting 23 year old Pablo Fornals. The attacking midfielder cost the Hammers just £24m which is seen as a bargain in today’s football. He comes from Villarreal and even though he had an average last season he is seen as a very good prospect and will add attacking flair to West Ham’s forward line.

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Pablo Fornals: Lowdown on West Ham’s latest signing who is more than ready for English football

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Over the past few seasons, it’s been quite easy for a young individual to announce himself as a player with an immense career ahead of him and be regarded as the next big talent. However, the situation has quietly been different for Pablo Fornals, someone who was a regular starter in midfield and was a key player for La Liga side Villarreal. However, the club and player did not have a solid season as per their normal standards, as the lack of consistency and squad quality became concerning month by month.

Fornals only returned to Villarreal in the summer of 2017 after spending five beneficial seasons in Malaga’s first team as well as their reserve team, and was recently linked with a £24million move to Premier League’s West Ham United. With the deal now becoming official yesterday, it would mean that Villarreal would be making an estimate profit of around £15million and potentially any add-ons or bonuses, which is quite good for a player that was seriously looking for a move since the January transfer window.

Before West Ham smartly snapped him up, both Arsenal and Napoli were interested in the Spaniard a couple of week ago, but were no longer looking at the player and have moved onto the other midfield targets they have in mind. The Yellow Submarines have not seen many major departures so far this summer, but it has shockingly began with Pablo Fornals moving from sunny Spain to rainy England.

It’s time to look at everything you will want to know about the 23-year-old…

Villarreal background

Over the last 10 to 15 years, Villarreal have been recognised for the types of centre-backs and central-midfielders they have purchased for quite a bargain, before going on to developing and nurturing them into top quality players. The likes of Giuseppe Rossi, Joan Capdevila, Marcos Senna, Ruben Cani and currently Bruno Soriano have played for this beautiful and passionate club, individuals who have given their all on the pitch whilst becoming fan favourites during their good moments and bad moments.

The current Villarreal squad is still blessed with quite a number of individuals that are born and raised in Spain, including the experienced Santi Cazorla, captain Bruno Soriano, the calm and collected Vicente Iborra and Gerard Moreno, someone who has not had the best of seasons in front of goal but will always be a huge aerial threat, as long as the crossing is effective from the flanks.

Which world-class central-midfielder is he similar to…

It’s still early days for Fornals to be dubbed or regarded as the next Cesc Fabregas or Koke, however, his style of play is very similar to team-mate Santi Cazorla, who once upon a time was a crucial player for Arsenal and was seen as one of the most underrated players in England. With his constant knack for wanting the ball and his ability to dominate it whilst being seen as the focal point of the midfield, he is able to avoid the press with his dribbling skill as well as his intelligent movement.

On top of that, he is more than capable of producing a large number of perfectly-timed passed thanks to his range of passes and his sharp vision to even attempt, which is something that many central-midfielders don’t take the risk to complete. The style of play of both himself and Cazorla is something to admire, given that the latter flourished in the Premier League and the former will without a doubt, do the same as long as a system is in place and the team is built around him, and no one else.

Strengths

Complete midfielder. Not many players within La Liga, especially from outside of Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid, can boast about playing in a number of tactical roles within midfield whilst dominating the match and the opposition. Due to this natural blessing, Fornals’ quality has always been undervalued, purely because of the other talented midfielders and attacking-minded players produced within Spain.

Being a player that does not rely on pace or physicality, the Castellon-born midfielder has proven himself to be dominant on both sides of the pitch. From completing the second most key passes (42) and fourth most successful dribbles (39) when compared to the rest of the squad, he has actually achieved more than expected as the side have recently not been known as a possession-based team. Thanks to his intelligence and positive thinking on the ball, he is able to work really well within tight areas and has the actual ability to get past one or two defenders or midfielders without even trying.

Weaknesses

Although it will be his range of passing as well as his rising quality to get the best out of the midfield that may be what the West Ham supporters will be looking forward to the most. However, Fornals’ has had a bit of a consistency to give away cheap fouls and also in a number of dangerous positions. Unfortunately for him, the Premier League referees will not be be too lenient and inconsistent like the ones in La Liga.

On the other hand, it is ideal and useful to have a player that is quite stocky, aggressive and is willing to go into the much needed tackles and tactical fouls. With a number of players that come to play in England from other European countries, they tend to lack the defensive duties or the mentality to help the team to retrieve possession, which will surely not be a problem for Pablo Fornals at all, as he always puts the team before him.

How would he fit into West Ham?

Fornals could potentially play alongside Mark Noble and just ahead of defensive-midfielder Declan Rice in 4-1-4-1 formation, which is a system that manager Manuel Pellegrini has used time and time again, that has allowed the Hammers to play with the ball confidently and also more productively.

Given that Jack Wilshere has become unreliable and is still battling his own injury issues whilst both Mark Noble and Robert Snodgrass are starting to age and decline, it makes sense Pellegrini’s side to continue to play their football in a 4-1-4-1 setup, providing more space and time for Fornals to pull the strings deep in midfield or to advance up the pitch in possession to create chances for his team-mates or for himself.

With a lot of things spicing up for West Ham, including the fact that they have been scouting and recruiting players effectively for the last couple of seasons. It wouldn’t be a total surprise to see them aiming for a Europa League spot finish for the upcoming campaign, despite the competition from the likes of Everton, Leicester and Wolves.

On the other hand, the budding transfer of Fornals and Celta Vigo’s Maxi Gomez could prove to be perfect signings in the long run, and only if the East London side go on to finish within the top seven, especially in what could potentially be a really competitive season. Now that the deal is official, the Spanish international will certainly be regarded as one of the best signings of the summer window and also for such a really low fee.