Tony Cascarino criticised Manuel Pellegrini’s decision to start Pablo Zabaleta ahead of Ryan Fredericks for West Ham’s clash with Newcastle United on Saturday, when writing his column for the Times.

The Hammers are currently in the midst of a woeful run of form. They have taken just two points from their last five Premier League games. And that run has seen them drop down to 13th place in the table.

Saturday’s defeat to Newcastle would have been a bitter pill to swallow for West Ham fans. The fact that Pellegrini made no changes from their previous game against Sheffield United was baffling enough in itself.

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Pablo Zabaleta (Photo by Rob Newell – CameraSport via Getty Images)

But to start an ageing Zabaleta ahead of the pacy Fredericks when coming up against one of the quickest players in the game – Allan Saint-Maximin, was unforgivable.

And Cascarino criticised Pellegrini for making that specific decision, when writing his column for the Times:

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(Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE (Photo by Sportsfile/Corbis/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

“The writing was on the wall for West Ham’s chances against Newcastle the moment Manuel Pellegrini selected Pablo Zabaleta at right back ahead of Ryan Fredericks. It quickly became clear that Fredericks — one of the fastest in the Premier League — should have been tasked with tackling the pace of Allan Saint-Maximin. But Pellegrini picked 34-year-old Zabaleta instead. Managers are paid to make big calls and Pellegrini got this one wrong.”

Baffling decision…

Quite what Pellegrini was thinking is unclear. But what is certain is that the Chilean made a massive error.

Zabaleta was a fine defender in his day, but he has clearly lost any kind of pace that he once had. The end is nigh for the Argentine.

Next up for West Ham is an away game against Burnley. And Fredericks will surely be brought back into the team for that game.

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