Manuel Pellegrini arrived at West Ham United with a high pedigree and tasked with the job of making the London club great again but it’s fair to say things didn’t exactly go to plan for the former San Lorenzo coach.
When Pellegrini was announced as West Ham’s new manager – to replace the outgoing David Moyes – in May 2018 he was welcomed to the London Stadium with open arms as the supporters believed he signalled a change of philosophy and a shift of ambition.
Pellegrini himself referenced West Ham regularly flirting with relegation and wanting to transform them into a team that tried to attack and win, which was music to the ears of those who cite the importance of the ‘West Ham way’. On the flip side, some pundits were questioning Pellegrini’s suitability to the job. He walked into a rank average team off the back of having managed the likes of Manchester City and Real Madrid and, whilst there is no questioning how good of a manager the Chilean is, it cannot be ignored that the jobs are hardly requiring the same skill set.
A Solid First Campaign
Pellegrini quickly set about putting his stamp on the team with no fewer than 11 signings arriving in his first transfer window for fees heading towards £100m and a pre-season that saw a run of seven games undefeated set the season up well.
Any fans expecting miracles got a sharp reality check though as the league campaign began with four straight defeats but then Pellegrini started to show what he was all about as his team turned in some decent performances – like beating Manchester United for example. Two of his big money signings, Felipe Anderson and Andriy Yarmolenko, contributed well.
The latter suffered a nasty injury that hampered his season but nonetheless the Hammers finished in 10th place, which was a reasonable start to the building process of a three-year contract and relegation was never a fear.
Sloppy Second Season
After a reasonable – if unspectacular – first season West Ham were looked upon as the team that could push for a Europa League spot and the season started pretty well with just one defeat in seven (albeit a home drubbing by Man City).
The trouble came as that run quickly turned into a seven-match run where the Hammers took just two points and Pellegrini came under intense pressure. It eventually told on 28th December when Leicester won 2-1 at the London Stadium. Pellegrini was sacked.
What Underpinned The Sacking?
As with most sackings in soccer, results were the deciding factor but beyond the losses and subsequent league position Pellegrini had paid the price for some questionable recruitment. The club forked out a whopping £45m for Seb Haller from Eintracht Frankfurt.
Despite top scoring for the team with six goals, he hasn’t bagged enough, nor does he offer much in his all round game for the fee in question.
At the other end of the pitch is another Pellegrini signing that has hogged headlines for all the wrong reasons in goalkeeper Roberto, who Pellegrini has since blamed for losing him his job.
The former Espanyol, Benfica and Olympiakos keeper came in for a lot of stick after a string of howlers that are quite frankly hard to sum up. Let’s just say that NFL Super Bowl winning quarterback Patrick Mahomes wouldn’t want to be throwing to a man with his handling skills!
That’s two signings that haven’t worked out with two key metrics not stacking up – goals for and goals against – and that leaves you in a disastrous place. Sacked.
What Next For Pellegrini?
Little has been made about the next move for Pellegrini but he’s a proven manager at the top level. Will a big boy come calling in future? Possibly. A stint in charge of the national team at some stage isn’t out of the question either but one thing is for sure, West Ham are hardly pulling up trees without him.