Manuel Pellegrini was officially announced as the 21st manager in West Ham history on Tuesday. His Premier League experience and reputation for attractive, attacking football rightly has Hammers supporters excited heading into the offseason. West Ham fans can look at his time at Villarreal to get an idea of his quality.
With any new manager though, there are bound to be winners and losers. There will be those who stand to benefit from the hire and those who will be getting the shorter end of the stick. Here is a shot at predicting who will fall into either category.
Pellegrini is not tied to a system per se. As a result, his “system” is a set of principles, which guide his player selections, as well as formation choice. Known for his calmness, attacking style of play, and man management skills, we can guess at who may see improvement due to this new coach.
- The fans: At the risk of being too optimistic, the fans should see a marked improvement in style of play and potential on the field. There shouldn’t be near as many matches that end with the utter despair we saw the last two seasons, and we may even see post-match talk sounding even a bit encouraged after a loss. As long as we all go in to the season willing to give Pellegrini the time he needs to get the team looking the way he wants, we should at least be proud of the product on the field.
- Manuel Lanzini: The midfielder has the most creativity on a squad that has been bereft of the characteristic. Lanzini has made the most of it, scoring 19 goals and providing 10 assists in 88 EPL appearances since 2015. In Pelligrini’s West Ham, Lanzini may feature as an attacking central midfielder, providing opportunities to showcase that creativity dribbling into defenders and putting them on their heels. I suspect the 25 year old Argentine will see his best season yet in claret and blue.
- Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez: Last off-season’s highest profile signing was a flop in his first year with the club. The system under Slav Bilic wasn’t a good fit, and Moyes didn’t do anything to right that particular ship. Now under the new Chilean manager, Hernandez should see a style that plays to his strength, receiving the ball at his feet.
- Aaron Cresswell: Cresswell improved from his dreadful 2016-17 season, having one of his best statistical years since coming to West Ham with 7 assists. Showing a knack for providing good crosses, the new boss will look to leverage the Englishman in the attack. Pellegrini played with two or three front players many times at Man City, providing many options for overlapping fullbacks to connect with. Another year removed from the knee injury that ended his 2016-17 season, Cresswell has the potential to reap the rewards of the attack and build on this season’s form into the start of the Hammers Pellegrini era.
- David Sullivan: I direct your attention to Jonathan Lines’ recent piece.
- Cheikhou Kouyate: Kouyate has shown flashes of being a serviceable Premier League player, but with his weaknesses in the areas of passing and holding on to the ball, his role as a consistent starter would seem in jeopardy.
- Andy Carroll: The big Englishman has been the focus of transfer rumors that see him leaving the club for some time now. With the new manager, I think he’ll see that come to fruition. It’s hard to envision him in any role but off-the-bench when the Hammers need a goal for this new regime. That makes him worth more to the club as a transfer out than keeping him on the squad. Carroll has proven to be a weapon in the air, but injury is almost expected at this point. As they say, one of the best abilities is availability and Carroll has been lacking that ability. It’s not all bad news for Andy, though. A change of scenery might do him good.
Ultimately, I can’t imagine many losers in this new era. Pellegrini has been able to raise the level of play from his players for a long time and seems to be the perfect man to give a much needed boost of optimism to supporters of the Claret and Blue. The transfer window will tell much more about who the Chilean rates for his squad, but in the meantime, fans can enjoy dreaming about the possibilities of where he can take their club.