The West Ham Conundrum & The Pellegrini Catch 22. Published 23/08/18 on Irons United
All West Ham fans were hopeful and optimistic prior to the season starting, whilst many were even expectant of great things…however their hopes have been dashed, their optimism has turned sour and the expectancy has turned into resignation of the same old tosh again.
How soon have our spirits been dampened by two less than optimal performances and how quick are we all to judge the new recruits and the old salts too? However regardless of fanciful expectation and infantile patience we merely have to remind ourselves that this is only the first two games of the season. In a sprint, the contest would be over…however in marathon, it is stamina and tactics that would moreover prevail.
There is no denying that Pellegrini’s formations and tactics are not yet working, but that does not mean that they are without merit. Nor does it mean that we should all ring the alarm bells and call for sweeping changes or for a change in direction and management either! However there is a noticeable shortfall in performance and understanding from all parties concerned and the players are yet to execute the game plan to full effect. So what now?
Whilst there have been exciting signings to bolster our squad, some of these are yet up to the speed of the Premier League whilst others are suffering under the increasing demands placed upon them. Anderson has yet to bloom, Balbuena has looked sharp and composed but equally suspect and careless. Yarmolenko has entered the fray with guile and ambition but has suffered with match fitness, whilst Fredericks was unceremoniously demoted out of the squad for the last game…and Diop has not impressed enough to feature as yet.
Wilshere has been the only player thus far who has demonstrated an aptitude for the Premier League…and it’ll come as no surprise, but he is the only one who has Premier League experience. So that should tell its own tale.
The question we should be considering, is whether this squad has the capability to improve and to rise to any occasion? Can they work tirelessly together until they gain an understanding of each other’s talents and shortcomings? Can they build up resilience, get down and dirty and get a positive result in upcoming games? Can they win on merit or by ugly means? But notably, can they stick to Pellegrini’s vision of the direction this club needs to move towards and can they deliver?
As fans we are all supportive of our club but we can be just as critical and harsh in equal measure, whilst frustrations may boil over into anger and disillusionment at times too. However, we could all benefit from some fandom valium during these early strides into this season…as there is no need to hit the panic buttons just yet.
Pellegrini has a brand new jigsaw to figure out, with many of the pieces not yet fully formed, irregular and still rough around the edges making an imperfect fit. He has to shape the players he has, to enact he will or he must replace the ones he has with others that can.
Preseason gave him the opportunity to look at certain players, however the litmus test really started two games ago where he found out what really ails our squad. Still defensively vulnerable, ineffective on the left hand side and not dominating in midfield that would protect the back four or create opportunity for the strike force.
These are massive hurdles to overcome and Pellegrini certainly has an impending migraine trying to fit the rounded off square pegs into the gaping cylinders all over the park. The team will not succeed until the players are fully up to speed and have developed the relationships that are required.
The question remains what can be done in the meantime? Should the manager abandon his early ideas to sure up the fumbling midfield and defence or must he continue to work with the players he has at his disposal…to make them better and to make this system work? The answer probably lies somewhere in the middle ground. To abandon would be to accept defeat and the players would be lost in confusion, whilst reckless addiction to a failing system would be folly and would spell peril for both club and Pellegrini himself.
Whilst there have been hints from David Gold that more ‘Free Transfer’ targets are still a possibility…it might be the case that the squad is now firmed until January at least, so the manager must find his best starting eleven players who can produce with consistency and can perform at this Premier League level.
For the new recruits are quickly finding out that the expectation and pressure placed upon them is a heavy burden indeed, however emotional attachments and price tags must not determine who must start and who should be relegated to the substitute’s bench…or even further down the pecking order.
Over the next few games, the players will undoubtedly rally together and attempt to deliver strong positive performances, but it may be no match against the upcoming opponents who will have their own conundrums to solve too. This season was unlikely to be golden, no matter how much we wished it to be so, however there is an opportunity to regroup and start again against Arsenal at the weekend.
A powerful and resolute performance is warranted and the fanbase will respond in kind, however anything less would be tantamount to tectonic plates colliding, sending a tsunami over the West Ham world. Regardless of result, it is the commitment and performance of the individual players that will be on trial..as well as the tactical decisions and formations dictated by Pellegrini. Does he have the players at his disposal that can turn this early dismay around? Can he find the appropriate players within the squad that can carry out his instructions and make his plans succeed or must he shape them until they are able.
Pellegrini must find a way to solve the West Ham conundrum and he faces an almighty Catch 22 situation already so early in the season. He cannot make his plan work without the right players and the players may not be able to work the plan if it is fundamentally flawed or if they are not able to do so. Results are the football business and time is of the essence, whilst the pressure is mounting and patience is already wearing thin for many amongst the West Ham faithful.