West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini’s team selection on Saturday suggests that he could be panicking.
Pellegrini named a much-changed Hammers line-up to take on Sheffield United. After some disappointing recent results, Pellegrini decided to shake things up. But it didn’t really work.
West Ham drew 1-1 with Sheffield United. Once again, West Ham surrendered a lead. Robert Snodgrass’ first-half goal was cancelled out by Lys Mousset and the spoils were shared. Is Pellegrini starting to panic?
Changes for the sake of changes
Pellegrini made five changes to his West Ham starting line-up after the 2-0 loss against Everton. But these were not necessarily the right decisions; they were changes for the sake of changes.
Angelo Ogbonna has arguably been West Ham’s most consistent performer this season. But he was dropped for Fabian Balbuena. Likewise, Ryan Fredericks has not been the problem but he was replaced by Pablo Zabaleta.
Some changes were justified. Aaron Cresswell in for Arthur Masuaku made sense after the latter’s defensive lapse against Everton. Pablo Fornals and Manuel Lanzini both deserved to be dropped and Andriy Yarmolenko was recalled.
Robert Snodgrass was another surprise inclusion. West Ham fans bemoaned the lack of pace last week and Snodgrass was not the solution. As it happened, the Scotsman was West Ham’s best player and the goalscorer.
However, all of these decisions just showed that Pellegrini has not identified the problems. He knew something was wrong but just made random changes.
Does Pellegrini know his best team?
The concern with Pellegrini is that he doesn’t know his best team despite overseeing more than 50 games in charge of West Ham. The wholesale changes from week to week is evidence of that.
Another example is the left-back conundrum. Pellegrini changes his mind between Cresswell and Masuaku several times per season. It is worrying that he is not convinced by either, yet the club have recently given both long-term deals.
Pellegrini knows that Sebastien Haller is the first-choice striker. He also keeps his faith in Lukasz Fabianski (when fit), Issa Diop, Declan Rice and Mark Noble. But as for his other players, he does not know the magic combination yet.
After more than 15 months in charge, this is a concern. Is Pellegrini panicking after a string of poor results because he still doesn’t know which players to select every week.