Former Newcastle United winger Chris Waddle has been commenting on the contrasting methods of Manuel Pellegrini and his old club’s manager, Rafa Benitez.
Champions League winning manager Benitez has drawn criticism in recent weeks for his negative tactics against the big boys, while title-winner Pellegrini finds himself pointless and bottom of the table.
Waddle believes Benitez’s pragmatism will see the Magpies survive; but questions whether Pellegrini’s methods will get his more talented squad out of trouble. It’s offered food for thought…
What did he say?
Waddle told BBC Sport: “Rafa is a very good coach at shutting up shop and nicking results. He did a fantastic job to keep them up. But to do it a second season running with the same players is very hard, because mentally and physically it is very hard on the players to work the system he plays.
“Rafa’s very tactical. The problem for Newcastle is when they go a goal down and have got to come out a bit. But he knows how this works. Whereas Pellegrini is very attacking and may have to adjust his style a bit, get a result somewhere and hope to kick on from there.
“I would say they have got enough to stay up but they will be in a battle. I don’t see them getting away from it with 10 or 15 games to go. It will a long season but they have got the manager to get through it.
“In a few weeks they could turn on Pellegrini or whoever is down at the bottom. But at Newcastle Mike Ashley gets it in the neck not Rafa. If Rafa stays in the Premier League he will get pats on the back – for Pellegrini, time will tell.”
Should Pellegrini change his methods?
In the short term, yes. Pellegrini has got three tough games coming up before the next international break; Everton, Chelsea and Manchester United.
West Ham fans won’t care how Pellegrini gets a result from any of those matches; just so long as he does.
However, in the long-term, Pellegrini must not lose sight of the more attractive football he was brought to east London to provide.
If this season becomes an exercise in damage limitation and just doing enough to survive, West Ham may as well have just kept David Moyes. Pellegrini has been brought in to deliver more and has the players to do just that. He must not compromise long-term.