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Penny drops for Pellegrini

The penny seems to have finally dropped for Manuel Pellegrini that Sebastian Haller needs support and does not play well isolated.

He also has accepted that the 4-4-2 formation can work although it took and sickness bug from Felipe Anderson to break his stubbornness.

Pellegrini told reporters: “I think that he (Haller) returns from the first few games in the Premier League and for different reasons he was not doing his best performance. I also think that paying with Michail Antonio it worked better for him, creating movements and making space. Not only for the goal, he had other chances and he worked well for the team.”

However, he later added in his defence “This was not the first time, they also played together earlier in the season against Watford and did well there. My intention was to play with both of them but Antonio couldn’t play two or three games in a row after he recovered from injury. Now they are both able to play together and they did very well.”

We believe you, Manuel! thousands wouldn’t. Let’s just hope the pair stay fit and continue their partnership for the rest of the season.


Pellegrini unsure of his West Ham future

Manager Manuel Pellegrini is unsure of his West Ham future despite the one-nil win over Southampton last night.

Asked by reporters whether his job was safe after the away win Pellegrini replied: “You never know.” adding “I don’t think that your job depends on if you win or you lose, it is on the trust of the owners of the club and I am absolutely sure the owners trust me and in what we do.  I cannot answer for them”

The 67-year-old Chilean manager told a Sky Sports reporter during his post-match interview that he does not read media reports on his future but said he was not stupid knew if his team didn’t have the results he was under pressure after picking up 5 points from a possible 27. He described himself in a difficult position.

Pellegrini said he was flattered that some players said they won the game for the manager in the knowledge could had mea nt the end of his tenture as a West Ham manager.

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David Martin suffers from muscle injury

Goalkeeper David Martin has suffered a muscle injury which will be assessed today (Sunday) to understand the extent of the injury

Pellegrini confirmed the injury news in his post-match press conference at St Mary’s after the Hammers one-nil win.

The 33-year-old pulled up in pain lifting his arm to match officials after a goal kick later failing to ground as the referee stopped play in injury time. With all substitutes used the manager was preparing to pull in an outfield player but Martin signaled he could carry on in stoppage time.

Pellegrini told reporters “He has a muscle injury. We will see tomorrow with the doctor how bad it is but we now have 12 days to recover. Same for Lukasz Fabianski, for Manuel Lanzini, Jack Wilshere, players we need. It is exactly the same as Lukasz Fabianski. I hope not so bad.”

Lukasz Fabianski is hoped to return on Boxing day as the Hammers face Crystal Palace away but that is not guaranteed so they will sweat on Martin recovery over the next 11 days.

If both keepers remain in recovery on Christmas day Roberto could yet make a return between the sticks once more.

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Video: Pellegrini post match interview

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A big win but let’s not kid ourselves all is well

I flatly refuse to kid myself over the Southampton win!

Relieved, yes pleased, yes! But when you find yourself holding your breath and praying for the final whistle you know there’s something still very wrong against a team who in reality had little to offer until the last half an hour.

And that is as familiar a story as you can get given the events of last Monday night when Arsenal  had individual players who could hurt us. Southampton didn’t.

There was much to admire from the Irons as they took a firm grip on the game particularly in the first 45 minutes but with the arrivals of Yarmolenko and Sanchez the wheels could so easily have fallen off.

Ok Fab may well be back for Palace and Lanzini is apparently not too far behind him and despite his lack of real form he is a player who can make things happen at his best.

This is a team which still has problems and doubts about the manager’s abilities to sort things simply won’t go away. There’s room for massive improvement and if that doesn’t happen he is in big trouble.

One things is for absolute certain. If he decides to play that sad one up system again we have real problems and how significant is it that Antonio is a player who has never been a Pellegrini favourite.

Yes, thank heavens for the win but the worries still linger.



The Pellegrini verdict

Relieved Manuel Pellegrini believes that a game we needed to win was done well!

Commenting after the match: “It was a game that we needed to win and we did it well. First of all, we won a a game again and got three points more. We kept a clean sheet and with this kind of game the players recover the trust that they can do it.

“Against Arsenal we did it for 60 minutes, but you need to play for 95 minutes to be a consistent team and we did that today.

“We’ve played three of our last five games away – at Chelsea, Wolverhampton and now Southampton, so I think six points from those [away] games is okay.

“We are missing the points we lost at home against Crystal Palace, against Sheffield United, against Newcastle – that’s the difference between a good season and not.”


Manuel Pellegrini

He was delighted with the contribution of Michail Antonio and Sebastien Haller, after the manager finally decided to play a 4-4-2 formation at St Mary’s.

He added: “Both of them worked very well attacking. We knew Southampton were a team who concede goals and both of them had different actions, one inside the box, and the other running into space.

“We had a few more chances too. Antonio is an important player as is so many of the players we are missing. We know he makes an impact. He can improve more and I think we will see him score more. Both of them played a complete game both defending and attacking.

“I think they did very well, both of them, and we scored one goal but had two or three more clear chances to score.

“Michail demonstrates every time he plays that he’s an important player. You must add Manuel Lanzini, Jack Wilshere, Lukasz Fabianski.

They are all important players, but we know Antonio makes an impact because of his power. Unfortunately for him he had the handball [which saw his goal disallowed seven minutes after half-time], but we played a complete game attacking and defending.”

ClaretandHugh says: All well and good and thank God for the win but had Pellegrini seen what was missing a long time ago – a twin spearhead – he and we would probably not be in the sort of mess we have been over recent weeks.  I have no doubt manager after manager from Roy Hodgson onwards has planned everything around our manager’s obsession with one up without any fear of him changing his mind in favour of the blindingly obvious. To learn that a player you bought for near;y €50 million – who always had a strike partner at his previous club – looks a better player in  a pair is pretty hard to fathom! As an insider said to me immediately after last night’s game: “He’s 66 – let’s hope he has finally learned something about 4-4-2.” Despite the win it was a line delivered heavy with sarcasm. Let’s hope next that he plays three at the back because we were fortunate to get away with the points in the end and adding Diop to the mix may well be the answer. As for Jack Wilshere being an important player? Hmm!


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Balbuena: “All the lads did an amazing job”

Fabien Balbuena – like the rest of the players and fans of course -was delighted to grab three points from the Southampton games.

And he claimed that’s how the team must continue to play in every upcoming game although that would probably present a few reservations in some minds.

Yes, there’s massive relief but whilst the team did extremely well for an hour, the Saints created some fine chances which fortunately went unconverted as they hit the post on two occasions and having one strike ruled out.

We too were unfortunately treated by a VAR decision but that can’t disguise the fact that we need to add more to our game if we are to start rising towards the top eight or top ten.

Nobody would dispute that we bossed the game in a big way during that first 45 minutes winning frst and second balls but led by Danny Ings the south coast outfit created some real problems towards the middle of the second and the end .

Balbuena, however, is happy for now telling the official site at https://www.whufc.com/news/articles/2019/december/15-december/fabian-balbuena-way-we-need-play-every-game: “We talked in the week, we talked before the game and on the pitch as well to be concentrated and to be focused on every ball and try to do the job in the best way that is possible and we are happy now because we got three points and an important win.

“That is the way we need to play every game. Every time with order. We need to be organised in all our lines and try to score the chances that we create, then try to keep the clean sheet that is so important for the confidence of all our players.

“We are in a good way. We are working hard but sometimes in some details we are losing, but today I thought all the lads did an amazing job so we deserved the three points.”

Fabian Balbuena and his teammates celebrate at St Mary's Stadium

West Ham’s victory was secured by Sebastien Haller’s first goal in nine Premier League matches and based around a monumental performance from his strike partner Michail Antonio.

Haller said: “They are two strikers who are big and they keep the ball forward and that’s the most-important thing when you have two strikers like them.

“For the team, you grow in confidence because you keep the ball forward and we created a lot of chances because they moved and fought for every ball and that is so important.

“Of course we needed this win because we were working hard and we were working hard so I think we deserve to be happy, as do all the fans support us in every game, away and home, and for the staff and the manager as well, because we know that when you are not winning, of course the pressure is bigger.

“We are confident between the manager and the players, so we need to keep working and doing what we are doing and try to use all the days we have now improving on the things we need to improve and try to win the next game.”



Strike duo can terrorise defences

Mikey Antonio and Seb Haller formed a twin Hammers spearhead for the first time against Southampton and showed they are ready to terrorise PL defences if the managers decides to keep them together.

Antonio’s performance was quite incredible and, starting for the first time, in a while the Frenchman would have been delighted to have him alongside such was his own display.

It’s been a long time coming – and one which the fans have been cring out for – and during the first half  in partixular, it clearly scared the life out of Southampton.

Haller’s goal wasn’t the most cleanly hit effort but given it was his first since October we can expect it to give him a real confidence boost as we prepare for Palace and Leicester City.

He also laid on some fine passes and with Antonio popping up here, there and everywhere led the line very well indeed as the Hammers made it six points from the last 12.

And afterwards the pair commenting for Sky Sports and quoted at https://www.whufc.com/news/articles/2019/december/14-december/antonio-haller-share-their-delight-southampton-win were thrilled with the outcome.

Antonio said: “It’s massive. Obviously we showed in our performances in the last couple of weeks we’ve improved, but we haven’t got the results we wanted.

“But today we showed that we’ve got the fire, that we’ve got the grit and we’ve got the three points – a massive three points too, because they were only a point behind us and now they’re four [behind us].

On his disallowed goal for handball he added: “I think I’m going to cut my hands off. It happened to me at Chelsea and it’s happened again today. I don’t know what I’m going to do with my arms but it’s like a magnet to it.

“It shows I’m still getting in the good positions and hopefully they’ll start turning to goals!”

“It was good to play with him up front. Me and him have a good relationship at the training ground and it’s good to do it on the pitch. You could see the chemistry between us, we were always linking, always close to each other and hopefully we can keep performing in this way and push up the league.

“It was a massive result because we’ve got loads of respect for the manager. We started the season well before we went on a bit of a blip. I’ve been here for five years now and we’ve always come out of these blips. Hopefully this is the time where we can start moving forward and getting ourselves up the league.”


Haller was more than happy with his first strike in nine games and said: “It’s been a while and for me, for the team, for the club, it was a really important win. I’m just happy with this one and I hope we can score even more because we need it.

“It was not easy [in the second half], but really important to get the three points, no matter how they came.”


Michail Antonio


Read more at https://www.whufc.com/news/articles/2019/december/14-december/antonio-haller-share-their-delight-southampton-win#AvHp2kzluV4mEc1G.99



How we rated the Irons against Saints

Hugh hands out the marks

Martin: Did his job well -went down with what looked like a groin at the end. Pray he’s ok with Roberto as back up although Fab being tipped for a Boxing Day return 6.5

Fredericks: There was some top class defending from the right back during the second half in particular 7.5

Balbuena: Did really well at the heart of the defence 7

Ogbonna: My front runner – with Antonio – for Hammer of the year. Near faultless again 7.5

Cresswell: Did well at front and back 6.5

Noble: Usual battling performance and particularly effective in first half as our midfield dominated 7

Rice: Typical performance, breaking stuff up and effective all over the pitch 7.5

Snodgrass: Usual battling performance but needed to show more . Set pieces were on the spot however. 5.5

Fornals: Improving with every game as he consolidates his place – becoming a battler and goals are not far away 6.5

Antonio: Quite incredible – a footballing terrorist – at the heart of absolutely everything good about us 9.5

Haller: As everybody has been saying a different player with a partner. Grabbed his goal, some fine passes. Back to his best 7.5


Diop: On at the end No rating

Sanchez: Worries you every time he is near the ball 1

Yarmolenko: Very poor – nothing of note at all. Not for me 1


Irons win the battle but Pellegrini war will go on

West Ham won the battle but the war surrounding Manuel Pellegrini’s position will rage on for a while yet after this hard-earned win which saw us dominate the first half and cling on for our lives at the end.

That’s a worry because this was not a great Saints side and we really could and should have won by two or three if truth be told.

Having said that we saw a penalty ruled out for a double foul on Antonio and Haller which makes you wonder what’s the point of technology if it can come up with decisions like that.

Pellegrini finally decided to play two up and it worked, as virtually every fan knew it would be, with the Frenchman scoring the only goal of the match following some amazing input from Antonio.

He was truly amazing with a stunning nine out of ten performance whilst Haller looked a player reborn with the man of the match alongside him.

Mikey had a brilliant goal ruled out for the same reason as at Chelsea – the ball hit his hand on the bounce and with the rules as they are there was no alternative but to rule it out.

Fornals is improving and saw a great shot well saved and Declan put in another fine performance.

But this was all about Antonio if we are honest – a player who is clearly not the type that is on the manager’s favourite list was unplayable at times.

The team put in a great shift against a team that’s been in reasonable form recently but there’s still a way to go and the manager will now this was the first fragile brick in his wall.