Manuel Pellegrini will be ruing the lack of creativity he had on the bench as West Ham were undone by Crystal Palace. In Saturday’s late kick-off, Palace came from behind to beat West Ham 2-1 at The London Stadium.
Sebastien Haller opened the scoring but West Ham’s substitute options were limited. There is a serious lack of pace on the Hammers bench and this is something that Nathan Holland could fix.
West Ham’s lack of pace
Pellegrini will be cursing the injury to Michail Antonio. In a game like this, he is the perfect impact substitution given his strength and pace in the wide areas. He could have hurt Palace as legs started to tire.
But instead, Pellegrini looked at his bench and saw two central midfielders (Pablo Fornals and Jack Wilshere) and a different style of winger (Robert Snodgrass). Considering the type of game that was unfolding, these were not the wisest of options.
Who should shoulder the blame for this? Pellegrini for demanding Fornals over an out-and-out winger? The board for failing to invest properly in the summer? Lady luck for striking down Antonio so early in the season? It is probably a combination of things but West Ham need to look forward rather than backwards.
There is one standout player in the academy who has the pace to trouble teams later in the game. This could be the quality that earns Holland a call-up to the Irons first-team again.
Nathan Holland can be a wildcard
Holland has played one game for West Ham under Pellegrini. That came in the EFL Cup loss against Oxford United. Admittedly, Holland did not the stage alight but he was not West Ham’s worst player on the night.
The 21-year-old has proven his quality at U23 level consistently over the past two seasons. With pace, skill and a direct approach, he scores goals and provides assists in abundance.
Just this season, he has scored four goals and provided three assists in seven Premier League 2 matches. He has also found the net in a friendly against Brentford B and he is way too good for that level.
Antonio has been ruled out until December at the earliest. What has Pellegrini got to lose by including Holland on the bench? The former Everton winger might just be the wildcard option that earns West Ham some valuable points this season.