Pellegrini’s Leaders & Workers Published 15/09/18 on Irons United
As West Ham close in on Sunday’s away fixture at Everton, many within the West Ham world are wondering whether there are any members of the squad who can be relied upon to be the leaders on the field and indeed tireless workers who would never give up?
Pellegrini has suffered four defeats in the opening fixtures of this season and has left the team languishing at the foot of the table, however it is not the league position that strikes fear into the claret and blue souls…but rather the ogre of ineptitude and lethargy that many fans believe may already be present amongst too many players.
Football is as much about skill and fitness as it is about tactics, confidence and work ethic. The summer transfer window has delivered the talent that the fanbase have probably not seen in a generation. However as yet this new crop of players have not delivered when it matters most. Player performance stats would have you believe that West Ham are at the bottom for a very good reason…they simply do not run around enough or try hard enough…but is that the whole story?
Pellegrini has been implementing his tactics and his ethos which may be the right way to go…eventually. But in the here and now, West Ham are struggling to find form from the individuals whom are tasked to deliver it and from a team which quite clearly does not have the total understanding of each other either.
Against Liverpool, I thought Pellegrini was naive to think that this group of players could go toe to toe with an impressive team and outstanding striking trio. Yes, they held out for a while but overall they were taught a lesson which seemingly they did not learn from.
My concern is that Pellegrini may be rigid in his tactical decision making and will continue to use the same formation in all cases and against all opposition. That’s fine if you’re Barcelona at the height of their success, but West Ham are anything but as proficient or as ruthless in front of goal either.
One of the first areas that was exposed was the ineffectiveness of the midfield to not only protect the back four but also to deliver quality service to the strikers. However there were still notable deficiencies in the rear guard and the strikers were failing to hit the target.
Two home defeats have raised the profile of the malaise within the club and the team itself but there was a faint glow of optimism away to Arsenal…but the team still lost. The fact remains that no matter if the team have performed well or have failed miserably…the results were the same and the fans have become more disillusioned as each minute has passed by.
One key area that appears to be wanting is the lack of leadership on the field and the higher work rate required. Many of the players are not playing with the intensity and urgency that would allow a high pressing game and stifle any opposition advances. There hasn’t been the desire to close down and regain possession…and there has been a distinct lack of ‘do or die’ attitude either.
Of course this is frustrating under any circumstances but it is heightened when the team is continually losing. The next run of fixtures are not going to be kind either, so Pellegrini has to consider consolidation and playing for points rather than seeing whether this new wet tactical dream will yield fruit.
Of course it would be foolish to abandon his ideology now, however Pellegrini must devise a plan that enables the players to guard the castle walls with an impenetrable force field and would allow support to Arnautovic or Hernandez too. Much greater endeavour must be made down each flank and the quality of the crosses must be improved…but crucially there should be players willing to race into the box to take advantage of opportunity.
Being strong at the back, forceful in midfield and clinical in attack does not come easily, however. It takes hard work, commitment and trust with each other to deliver not for the self, but for the team and the fans. Perhaps this has been lacking! Perhaps the players have stalled in their approach but now more that any other time in their careers, it is time to knuckle down and play with conviction.
Pellegrini must have leaders all over the pitch. Those who would take control of the game and be responsible for what happens in each third. We need a captain who will encourage and chastise…we need boys to become men and we require each and every one to have the determination to succeed or fight to the very end.
Of course, the players have all regrouped this week and perhaps the International break came at exactly the perfect time. It has given the club some breathing space and an opportunity to take stock. Whilst Pellegrini may not yet know his preferred starting eleven, he is surely starting to understand which players he can rely upon to deliver a committed performance and which he cannot.
Only four games into the season and the manager is already at a crossroads and his fate may be decided over the course of the next six games. If they cannot deliver positive results and performances, if they cannot gain any points, then surely serious questions need to be asked of the manager, the coaching but not least the players themselves who need to held accountable too.
The game at Everton will no doubt be a testing affair. They are suffering with injuries but under Marco Silva are still performing well, whilst West Ham are struggling with the basics and the more advanced aspects of the game so far. Pellegrini should shy away from being forced into a corner to prove that his team are much the better than his opponents. He must instruct his players to lead each other, fight for every scrap of opportunity and work harder than ever…until the lungs burn and the legs throb.
His success will be based upon selection of key players that are ready for the fight and will compete whether or not they are deemed to be the most talented players at the club. Will Mark Noble return to flesh out a five man midfield? Will Hernandez and Arnautovic form any kind of successful partnership? Will Anderson, Wilshere and Yarmolenko finally deliver, over the next few weeks, what every West Ham fan would hope they can?
Once again the fans are forced into expecting a must win attitude from the players…however what the fans truly expect and what Pellegrini must demand…is a quality and committed performance from each individual player. It is inexcusable for any player to not give it there all when the club are embarking on a crucial period. Any lack of commitment should be countered with an Pellegrini iron fist and those players should no longer feature until they prove themselves worthy to the cause. There has to be a light at the end of this dark tunnel that the club already find themselves in. It is up to the players now to become the leaders and the workers that Pellegrini and the fans desire them to be. It is up to the fans to keep the faith and urge the players on to greater things. It is down to the club, the manager and the players to find a solution to the current woes…to give the fans something to cheer about and to ease the growing tensions surrounding the football club.