Is it time for West Ham to sack Manuel Pellegrini?
Background image: Hammersfan, CC BY-SA 4.0
West Ham held out hope when they appointed Manuel Pellegrini as manager last year. Well-travelled with league titles in four different countries, the Chilean belongs to an exclusive club within his profession. His accomplishments with Manchester City indicated he knew the terrain and could be trusted. About that.
After labouring to secure a 10th-place finish last term, the Hammers now punch below their weight. Their 2-1 defeat to London rivals Crystal Palace left them in 17th, a point above the relegation zone. It's no surprise Pellegrini's tenure is under scrutiny. It may be surprising he's lasted longer than certain other Premier League managers.
Instead, Messrs Gold and Sullivan keep their faith. Still, it's fair to say Pellegrini is trading on past achievements, particularly his Premier League title with City. In an era where clubs desire quick results and pull the trigger when short term goals aren't met, the West Ham owners should be commended for their patience. The question is, when does patience cross the line into failure to act?
Relegation was the furthest thing from the club's mind when Pellegrini took charge. At the moment, it's too real of a possibility. Sometimes a change, any change, needed. If the club must save their season before it's too late, now looks the time. The Palace defeat was their third in four matches. The team has managed only two victories in the last 12, less than impressive 1-0 wins against Frank Lampard's inconsistent Chelsea and fellow strugglers Southampton.
As yet, the Hammers haven't transformed their new London Olympic Stadium into a fortress. Maximum points against upcoming opponents Leicester and Bournemouth are hardly guaranteed. Difficult January fixtures against high-flying Sheffield United, Everton, Leicester again and Liverpool could leave West Ham in the drop zone, especially given Southampton's new-found form.
Hence, this may be the best time to give the team some fresh motivation. If this was London's red or blue sections, such poor performances would result in #PellegriniOut trending on social media. If the shock of a new manager can evoke a positive response, this is the stretch in which that particular card should be played. It's also the time to give the new man an opportunity to shake up the squad via the transfer market.
Of course, the biggest problem in firing Pellegrini is identifying a replacement. David Moyes is thought to be the lone candidate at the moment but the Scot has not covered himself in glory in his recent jobs. His stock fell considerably after his failure at Manchester United. Clubs such as Real Sociedad and Sunderland struggled on his watch. The Black Cats went down with him at the helm, at which point he promptly abandoned them. On the other hand, he rescued the Hammers from the drop in his previous spell with the side. No other manager could be more familiar with the set-up at the club, the resources available and staff best positioned to help his cause.
Mauricio Pochettino and Massimiliano Allegri are more ambitious choices. The Italian reportedly turned down Arsenal, making any interest in West Ham appear unlikely. As like as not, only a contending club would interest him. Pochettino knows the ins and outs of London and English football, however. Perhaps he's spoiled by a Champions League finals appearance but he may view the Hammers more supportive ownership as an opportunity to take his Spurs blueprint to another level.
For now, however, the club remains in Pellegrini's hands and the question remains. Is West Ham's patience a virtue or shortcoming?