West Ham United boss Manuel Pellegrini earned the nickname ‘charming man’ and it is easy to see why.
Just 18 months ago West Ham were a club in disarray.
A 3-0 home defeat to Burnley lit the blue touch paper on angry protests from fans demanding co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold – and their vice-chairman Karren Brady – change their ways or sell up.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of the conduct of those involved that day, it achieved what it set out to – positive change.
Sullivan and Gold withdrew from the limelight, pledged to completely revamp the club’s recruitment, hire a director of football and most importantly a title-winning manager in the shape of Chilean tactician Pellegrini.
In fact Pellegrini is the only title-winning boss ever to take charge of West Ham.
West Ham’s remarkable turnaround
A terrible start – four straight defeats – gave the doubters plenty of ammunition.
But the job Pellegrini has done at West Ham since is nothing short of remarkable.
He has given the club an identity again and an attacking style of play which befits West Ham’s traditions.
The club’s progress is best captured by two standout statistics.
The London Stadium was a very unhappy home for West Ham in their first two seasons there.
But the Hammers boast the best home record outside the top six since Pellegrini’s arrival in East London.
Better still West Ham have won 49 points from their last 31 Premier League games under Pellegrini.
Pellegrini credits fans as fortune comes out of hiding
That is the best record outside the top six over the same period and just three points less than Tottenham.
But Pellegrini is not about to pat himself, the owners or his recruitment chief Husillos on the back.
Speaking to the press ahead of Saturday’s home game against Crystal Palace, the manager says it is the fiercely loyal West Ham fans who are responsible for the amazing turnaround in fortunes.
“The atmosphere of London Stadium feels absolutely different,” Pellegrini told the press (whufc.com).
“You feel, when you go in, that we are all together. When I say that, I mean the fans, the squad, the technical staff; everyone has the same mentality and the same desire to demonstrate that we can be a big team also. We needed to continue improving and the only way to do that is with everyone together, trying to win games.
“I think the atmosphere of London Stadium changed in the same way the results changed, in the way that the style of football we are playing is giving fans enjoyment. One of the reasons we are winning is because the players are feeling that support.”
Loyal Hammers faithful deserve success
High praise indeed from a manager that has taken charge of some huge clubs.
You would be hard pressed to find a more dedicated set of fans that is for sure.
West Ham have had the second highest number of season ticket holders in England for the last three years – second to only Manchester United.
That is despite not having won a major trophy for 40 years.
The Hammers faithful can only hope their loyalty and dedication continues to be rewarded by the excellent team Pellegrini is pulling together in East London.