The hopes at the beginning of the season largely surrounded around the Hammers finally looking to have the strength in depth to be able to compete with the Premier League’s top six.
However, despite a strong start to the season, any hopes of possibly finishing in a top-six position seem to be growing dimmer with every passing week. Obviously, as is the way with top-flight football, the buck stops at the door of the manager, and he has to shoulder a lot of the blame for the results over recent weeks.
A defeat to Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur means that it is now eight games without a win for the Hammers in all competitions. That record may appear bad, but the performances on the pitch have done little to increase the hopes of fans.
The record of not winning in eight is poor, but when you examine the performances that the Hammers have put in, then it is much worse. There seemed to have been a clear philosophy at the beginning of the season, with extra emphasis put on the flair players, with Declan Rice and Mark Noble the solid foundation in midfield.
However, the Hammers have been weak in the attacking third, and that has been highlighted by Sebastien Haller’s poor run of form. He has been unable to add to his goal tally since scoring in the defeat against Crystal Palace. Since then, he has gone five without a goal, and Felipe Anderson also hasn’t had an impact on games.
Early season hopes have gone out of the window, and now the Hammers look set to be locked in a relegation battle if their recent form is anything to go by. But, Pellegrini can’t shoulder all the blame.
Injuries have had a significant impact on the Hammers this season. The most significant of these was the injury picked up by Lukasz Fabianski. The Polish shot-stopper is one of the most underrated goalkeepers in the league and has a commanding presence on the backline.
Without the number one keeper, the Hammers have relied on Roberto between the sticks, and while he may be a solid number two; he isn’t of the same calibre of Fabianski. Michail Antonio has also been a big miss over recent weeks, but his return could see a return to form for the Hammers.
He made his return from injury against Spurs after the international break and immediately showed what he brings to the team. He scored in the 3-2 defeat, and despite coming on at half time, he was the star man for the Irons. His pace and directness offer something different in the attacking third, and with Javier Hernandez leaving in the summer, he is now the second choice striker. With the pressure building on Haller, the Hammers fans will be hoping that Antonio can stay injury-free so that he can have a big impact on games coming up.
Lack Of Options
Should Pellegrini be relieved of his duties at the London Stadium, then there isn’t an overwhelming number of options for the club to select from. The chances are that they will need to pay over the odds to get a manager from another club. However, it is difficult to see who they target. Eddie Howe will likely be a name mentioned, but the question whether he would leave the Cherries for the Hammers leaves an uncertain answer.
At present, the board would be best placed to give Pellegrini more time to turn the tide in his favour. There isn’t any immediate danger of relegation, as bookmakers still rates the Hammers as rank outsiders for the drop.
Yet, West Ham fans might soon have to pick their betting calculator, just like in horse racing, to check what are the odds of the relegation battle turning into a real nightmare.