WHO Poll
Q: Manuel Pellegrini - What should we do
a. A good man & a good coach we should stick with him
10%
  
b. A busted flush & he's outstayed his welcome, time to go
37%
  
c. What difference does it really make who's in charge while the current owners are still in control
53%
  



Wils 1:51 Mon Nov 11
‘They press once, they press twice and then they walk’ – can West Ham stop the slump?
Insightful piece hidden behind a paywall...

https://theathletic.co.uk/1349594/2019/11/05/they-press-once-they-press-twice-and-then-they-walk-can-west-ham-stop-the-slump/


After 11 Premier League matches, West Ham are level on points with Manchester United and Tottenham. This is a sentence that Manuel Pellegrini and his backroom staff aspired to in the opening weeks of the campaign but it no longer reads as a compliment.

Pellegrini craved substantial improvements after a 10th-placed finish in his first season and, while the aim spelled out to his squad this summer centred on European qualification, those ambitions rose further by the end of September. Only six weeks have passed since an impressive 2-0 victory over Manchester United that put West Ham into fifth position, 12 places and seven points better off than at the same stage in Pellegrini’s first campaign.

West Ham were, at that point, level on points with third-placed Leicester and only two behind Manchester City with six games played. One source told The Athletic that some West Ham players and staff members floated the hope of a top-four finish and an improbable Champions League place. At the time, it made some sense. Gaps would need to be filled and West Ham, who have spent £180 million since Pellegrini arrived at the club 18 months ago, seemed to have half a chance.

Yet now, the gap to the top four already appears insurmountable as Leicester and Chelsea have pulled ten points clear. This, in truth, does not matter too much. West Ham remain within one win from the top six but more worrying is the dismal slide that has followed success over United.

Not only did West Ham replicate last season’s FA Cup exit at Wimbledon by losing 4-0 at Oxford in the third round of the Carabao Cup in September but Pellegrini’s team have also taken only two points from five fixtures against Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Everton, Sheffield United and Newcastle. It is a dreadful return and concern is heightened by an upcoming run that includes trips to Burnley, Chelsea and Wolves, plus home matches against Tottenham and Arsenal. These five games will shape West Ham’s season and, most probably, Pellegrini’s reign at the club.

We are, after all, 56 matches into the Chilean’s tenure and it is still not entirely clear where his side are heading. West Ham have won only 22 of his games in charge and the streaky nature of the team’s form has raised more questions than answers. “It feels like they are drifting a little,” one source said. “There is a persistent problem with underlying motivation. This danger that, deep down, many players are happy to be nothing more than mid-table. Declaring European football as the official target was meant to change this attitude but it is too easy to lose yourself in the no-man’s land of mid-table.”

Pellegrini, 66, can be a hard man to read. He is purposely aloof in front of the media and, despite being in his fifth season in English football, the guard is still to drop. He does remain popular, both in the boardroom and the dressing room. West Ham insist they remain fully behind their manager, whose job is not in immediate danger.

But then, Pellegrini is rarely actively disliked. Not many managers depart on positive terms from the European elite but Manchester City’s fondness for Pellegrini was such that the club bought him an LS Lowry painting upon his departure. At Real Madrid, before he was cast aside for Jose Mourinho in 2010, both Jorge Valdano and Zinedine Zidane made personal representations on Pellegrini’s behalf to the club’s board.

His West Ham team have, at times, demonstrated signs of progress. Pellegrini wants to create a fluent side capable of competing toe-to-toe against the Premier League elite. He is a manager who adores creative talents, such as Juan Roman Riquelme, who he nurtured at Villarreal, and David Silva, who he coached at Manchester City. At West Ham, he has players such as Pablo Fornals, Manuel Lanzini, Felipe Anderson and Andriy Yarmolenko. Indeed, despite the overload in these creative positions, The Athletic understands West Ham considered a move for Norwich’s playmaker Emiliano Buendia during the summer window.

Yet to many observers, West Ham remain light in central midfield. Mark Noble remains a formidable training ground presence but, now 32, his powers are dwindling. During Saturday’s 3-2 defeat by Newcastle, Noble performed poorly and was substituted at half-time.

Declan Rice continues to impress but he is increasingly over-exposed and found himself targeted by Everton in West Ham’s 2-0 defeat at Goodison Park last month. There is also growing realism that Rice is a major target for Manchester United, even though no talks have been held with any rival clubs. Even so, West Ham’s director of football Mario Husillos has drawn up a shortlist of players who may be equipped to replace the England midfielder.

In the academy, some believe a ready-made replacement is there in the form of Conor Coventry, a 19-year-old who was named man of the match during the Republic of Ireland’s recent under-21 fixture against Italy. He has played only 53 minutes — all in the Carabao Cup — under Pellegrini’s management. Coventry’s contract is due to expire at the end of the season and negotiations have stalled. West Ham retain an option to extend his existing deal by a year and remain hopeful the boyhood supporter will stay, despite his desire to play first-team football. Nathan Holland is another young midfielder thought to be overdue a look-in.

More pressing is the need for senior players to produce. Some at West Ham were surprised by Pellegrini’s loyalty to Pablo Zabaleta against Newcastle, when he chose to play the 34-year-old Argentine against pacey wingers. Pellegrini knows his team have been badly hit by key injuries, most notably by the absence of goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, whose deputy Roberto appears to be a poor recruit. There is also hope that £45 million summer signing Sebastian Haller will improve once Michail Antonio returns from a hamstring injury in time for the home match against Tottenham on November 23. West Ham have missed Antonio’s pace, and the winger had begun to build “a nice little partnership” with Haller before his injury.

The growing question, however, is whether Pellegrini is be the man to take this team to the next level. There are clear question marks, most notably in recruitment.

Husillos is ultimately responsible for acquisitions, in a peculiar situation that saw the head coach Pellegrini recommend the director of football, rather than the other way around. Husillos’ fingerprints were all over the signing of Roberto, who joined from the pair’s former club Malaga. Pellegrini and Husillos, though, retain West Ham’s support, with the club insistent they are backing the duo’s “long-term project” by investing up to £10 million in upgrading the training ground — adding extra pitches and medical facilities — at Rush Green.

Next summer may be more testing, however. Sources close to the recruitment department say that West Ham anticipate interest in Issa Diop, a 22-year-old centre-half who will have enjoyed two years’ top-flight experience and who Jose Mourinho last season described as a “monster” in the Hammers’ defence. There is also recognition that Manuel Lanzini, yet to recapture the form that preceded his injury problems, and Felipe Anderson, both 26, may be the right age next summer to command significant transfer fees. Juventus monitored Lanzini during the summer and are pondering a return.

The decision to hand Jack Wilshere a three-year deal was reckless and his only Premier League start this season saw him hooked at half-time at Brighton. He has started just six Premier League matches for West Ham and, despite training-ground sources reporting “genuinely scintillating performances” in small-sided games, Pellegrini does not trust the midfielder to go the distance in the cut-and-thrust of the top flight.

Other decisions have raised eyebrows. Samir Nasri joined in January — a Pellegrini decision — and West Ham scored one league goal in the three games he managed to start. He now plays for Anderlecht.

For much of last season, Pellegrini found himself increasingly irked by the attitude of Marko Arnautovic. The club had hoped that weeding out personalities such as the Austrian, Lucas Perez, Javier Hernandez and Andy Carroll would cleanse the dressing room and improve results. One dressing room source said: “Arnautovic’s departure was a huge relief. Haller is very popular by contrast. Everybody gets on with him. It makes the dressing room a much happier place.”

It has unified the group to an extent. Sources speak of a good togetherness at the training ground, where players are not under strict instructions to eat their meals together. Most tend to sit in their friendship groups for breakfast while they are not obliged to have lunch at Rush Green.

Pellegrini is not considered an overly hands-on manager. He does leave his training-ground door open — both metaphorically and literally — for players to air concerns and oversees short video analysis sessions for the team both before and after games, but there is little by way of one-on-one tuition. “He is more about an arm around the shoulder and a gee-up than heavy technical stuff,” one source says.

After one victory, the analytics team are said to have asked if he wanted a full breakdown of data. Pellegrini declared: “It’s about how you feel after a performance like this!” He is a cultured, worldly man and does possess broader interests outside the football bubble. When the going is good, this is the attitude that impresses staff and players, who like it when their manager takes an interest in their personal lives and discusses film, politics and literature.

But the pep talks are becoming more common for the exasperating talents of Lanzini, Anderson and Yarmolenko, who Pellegrini accepts will not provide the work-rate that Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola expect from their front lines.

“They press once, they press twice and then they walk,” sighed one dressing room source. “The biggest balance is to tell those behind Anderson and Yarmolenko that they must work even harder to compensate for their team-mates.”

On the training ground, it is still left to the veteran Noble to raise the tempo. For example, as the players regrouped on the first day back after the last international break, the captain upped the ante by demanding more from Angelo Ogbonna and Diop during a training session. Noble is still the most vocal but Rice, Ogbonna and Robert Snodgrass are becoming more prominent voices.

Despite Pellegrini’s laid-back demeanour, the sessions themselves are demanding. Pre-season featured some days of triple sessions while the team went on an 18-day stretch without a day off earlier in this campaign. Yet players are awarded blocks of days off together, which is a popular call. “Training was too hard last season,” says one source. “We would go into games feeling tired. The dosage is far better this time around.”

As a testing run awaits, it is time for West Ham’s players to show the benefits.

Replies - Newest Posts First (Show In Chronological Order)

goose 10:16 Mon Nov 18
Re: ‘They press once, they press twice and then they walk’ – can West Ham stop the slump?
GEGENPRESSING

Mex Martillo 10:07 Mon Nov 18
Re: ‘They press once, they press twice and then they walk’ – can West Ham stop the slump?
I missed this, good read, quite a worry, but I blame it mostly on Roberto and who’s responsible for him being our 2nd goal keeper. Massive fuck up.

Sven Roeder 3:46 Mon Nov 11
Re: ‘They press once, they press twice and then they walk’ – can West Ham stop the slump?
Can I be a fly on the wall when Pellegrini discusses film, politics & literature with the players?

Percy Dalton 2:31 Mon Nov 11
Re: ‘They press once, they press twice and then they walk’ – can West Ham stop the slump?
Charley Farley
I think this was written before the Burnley fiasco.
I'm not surprised they perform like they do it's obvious there's no discipline.
I'm waiting for the next quote from the players "we're fully behind the manager".

charleyfarley 2:24 Mon Nov 11
Re: ‘They press once, they press twice and then they walk’ – can West Ham stop the slump?
Yet to many observers, West Ham remain light in central midfield. Mark Noble remains a formidable training ground presence but, now 32, his powers are dwindling. During Saturday’s 3-2 defeat by Newcastle, Noble performed poorly and was substituted at half-time.

I thought Noble came off with twisted ankle!!!

camel-with-3-humps 2:12 Mon Nov 11
Re: ‘They press once, they press twice and then they walk’ – can West Ham stop the slump?
There are some interesting little anecdotes picked up, although nothing too revelatory.

The fact he doesn’t do any one on one tuition is deeply alarming. How can they improve? Look what the City players say ain’t Guardiola.

Also, the acceptance of slackers is worrying.

Basically, this article shows Pellegrini is severely under-equipped to lead a modern day club.

Northern Sold 2:08 Mon Nov 11
Re: ‘They press once, they press twice and then they walk’ – can West Ham stop the slump?
`despite training-ground sources reporting “genuinely scintillating performances” in small-sided games`


Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha... who writes this bollocks???

crystal falace 2:08 Mon Nov 11
Re: ‘They press once, they press twice and then they walk’ – can West Ham stop the slump?
If Rice is indeed becoming one of the more vocal members of the squad during training then we need to start giving him the armband when Noble goes off each game, he needs to know he's the future captain of the club, at the very least it may increase his value a bit more, it may also convince him to give us another year or 2 more than he would have otherwise.

Northern Sold 2:06 Mon Nov 11
Re: ‘They press once, they press twice and then they walk’ – can West Ham stop the slump?
“We would go into games feeling tired`


Ha Ha ha ha !!!! That killed me... the lazy fuckers...

ornchurch ammer 2:04 Mon Nov 11
Re: ‘They press once, they press twice and then they walk’ – can West Ham stop the slump?
If they are training hard it must come down to attitude as they don't seem to be putting as much in as other teams.

Mind you it must get exasperating when we are conceding the midfield every week. Even Liverpool have 3 battling players in midfield while we attempt to get by with Rice and Noble although Snodders has come in after Everton.





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