Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham side look short on legs, creativity and defensive stability.
While David Moyes’ tactics were less adventurous, they succeeded in achieving the club’s primary objective – survival – and brought about a degree of defensive reinforcement.
So, should Pellegrini consider a return to the five at the back? We’ve taken a closer look at the pros and cons…
The primary upshot is defensive stability. Strength in numbers worked to a degree for the Hammers last season and it could tighten them up again.
Ryan Fredericks and Arthur Masuaku could play wing-back roles to offer pace and attacking endeavour. The midfield could either remain as a central trio with two up front – Javier Hernandez could get a game – or Declan Rice and Jack Wilshere could play as a two.
They’d have sufficient protection behind and width to aim for as well. Marko Arnautovic also thrived under Moyes last season.
The main disadvantage last season was how isolated Arnautovic was at times. Felipe Anderson and Andriy Yarmolenko have been brought in to offer support but there is no obvious role for Anderson in the 5-4-1.
If Pellegrini went 5-3-2, neither man would have an ideal position. Further, Pellegrini is an advocate of a four-man defence.
Does he know how to coach it? Could he get the players used to it in such a short space of time? Also, he was brought to the club to move on from Moyes’ negative tactics.
Resorting to them after just four games may be seen as an early step back. It may not be a popular choice.
Pellegrini should stick to his principles and remain with a four at the back. It is not quite time to panic and resort to such defensive tactics just yet.
The Chilean would struggle to drill his players in the system and it doesn’t get enough out of his creative players. Arnautovic cannot become as isolated as he was at times last season, if West Ham want to improve.