It was a night of glory and a point proved for ex West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini in Spain as the Chilean showed he’s no busted flush.
In the weeks before Pellegrini was sacked by West Ham in December 2019 he made some pointed comments perhaps second guessing what was coming his way. More on that in a moment.
After overseeing the unprecedented £100m summer transfer splurge of 2018 expectations were high for the Pellegrini era.
A promising first season saw West Ham finish 10th while Pellegrini and his director of football Mario Husillos broke the club’s transfer record twice with the signings of £35m Felipe Anderson and £45m Sebastien Haller.
The duo also set new records in amounts paid by West Ham for both a goalkeeper – £7.5m for Lukasz Fabianski – and a defender following the £22.5m arrival of Issa Diop – since surpassed by the signing of £29m Kurt Zouma.
But just 18 months after arriving in east London, former Manchester City boss Pellegrini was sacked with West Ham flirting with relegation.
Pellegrini was rather quickly and ironically replaced by David Moyes – the man he had succeeded.
West Ham have not looked back since as Moyes has led the Hammers to a period of unimaginably rapid progress. That is best evidenced by the fact West Ham are preparing for a Europa League semi-final and are now genuine Premier League top six contenders.
There is no doubt Pellegrini was not the right fit for West Ham.
But since his departure there has been a somewhat sniggering attitude towards the charming Chilean. He became something of a scapegoat for that failed experiment and a figure of fun in some quarters.
It always seemed a touch unfair. Especially given the fact some of the signings made by Pellegrini have been big hits at West Ham and key players under Moyes, including Fabianski and Pablo Fornals.
Diop could yet prove to be a successful signing long-term, while Haller was clearly a case of a player’s face not fitting at certain clubs given his huge success with Ajax since leaving West Ham.
Let us not forget either that Pellegrini was the man who saw Declan Rice as a central midfielder and had the gumption to play him there.
Pellegrini had always carried himself with great dignity even in the tough times at West Ham, where he had been brought in and expressly charged with trying to change the philosophy and small club mentality.
With the sack hanging over him, the pensioner came out fighting in the weeks leading up to his departure.
Pellegrini suggested neither he nor the fans were the problem at West Ham.
Instead Pellegrini stated that the inability of the club and his players to match his ambition and big team mentality was the issue.
“I think that with 33 years in this profession I know what football is,” Pellegrini said – as reported by the club’s official website – when grilled about his future by the press at the time.
“It was a challenge to come here, and it’s a challenge that I want to win, to try to grow one step more with this club. For me, we try to improve, playing in the way that I like to play football.
“The pressure for me is to have a good team that plays good football in the way we have already demonstrated we can.
“I will continue trying to involve all the club, and the players and myself, in a winning mentality, an ambitious mentality, and try to grow one step more a club that has 60,000 fans behind it every game.”
Pellegrini quickly found a new job back in Spain – where he made his name with the likes of Villarreal, Malaga and Real Madrid – as Real Betis came calling.
Betis made it to the last 16 of the Europa League this season where they were knocked out by West Ham’s semi-final opponents Eintracht Frankfurt.
Night of glory and a point proved for ex West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini in Spain as Chilean shows he’s no busted flush
The Spanish club are also competing for a place in the Champions League in La Liga.
And yesterday saw a night of glory and a point proved for ex West Ham boss Pellegrini in Spain as the Chilean showed he’s no busted flush by leading Betis to their first Copa del Rey title for 17 years.
Betis won a dramatic penalty shootout over Valencia in Andalucia after the two sides battled out a 1-1 draw in 90 minutes of normal time.
The Copa title now guarantees Pellegrini’s side a place in the next season’s Europa League.
But he could yet meet West Ham again in the Champions League next term should Betis make the La Liga top four and Moyes lead the Hammers to a monumental Europa League win.
Things may not have worked out for Pellegrini at West Ham. But he was certainly no busted flush.