Pub Talk: A look at Pellegrini’s tactics, his game management, use of certain players and his substitutions?

The Blowing Bubbles team settle down to put the West Ham world to rights...

Two defeats at home to Spurs, an away defeat at Brighton and a draw at Leicester, should we have done better in October?

Greg Richardson: Yeah absolutely, not just because on paper Leicester and Brighton were winnable games, but I actually think we’ve performed well enough to have gone unbeaten in those games. Our luck’s just not been in.

Holly Worthington: Brighton and Leicester were games we could and should have taken three points from. This was our opportunity to climb above those in a similar position to us and unfortunately, we didn’t manage to make the most of the situations. Playing Spurs is always a tough one but our heart often sees us come away with a decent result. This time, it just wasn’t meant to be.

Lucy Woolford: We all seem to agree that the answer is ‘yes’. It’s a shame we didn’t capitalise on the confidence we’d built in September. The international break came just at the wrong time – we needed to bounce back from defeat to Brighton quickly and regain momentum, but it wasn’t possible. It’s been a disappointing month, but not a total disaster despite the recent results on the pitch.

Meirion Williams: October was a pretty poor month for us and I have to say a little unexpected after the result against Manchester United and Everton coupled with the draw with Chelsea. It was typical West Ham though as I was full of optimism and expected at least a win against Spurs and a win at Brighton. We definitely could have done better and we in fact lost two points at Leicester rather than picked up one.

Our run-in to the end of 2018 includes plenty of winnable games, how many points would you accept as a minimum before we enter 2019?

GR: I see it that we have about nine games we could potentially win which would be 27 points so I’d be happy getting north of 18, if we can get to an average of two points from each of those games we’ve done well.

HW: As a bare minimum, I’d go slightly lower than Greg say 15. This is our chance to prove we mean business this season and I genuinely think we are capable of at least 20 points, given our run in. I’ll be very worried if we end the year with less than 25 points in total, particularly with such a competitive league this season.

LW: Looking at the table now and striking a balance between my inner optimist and pessimist, around 22 should be doable. That could leave a nervy end to the season but as long as we don’t drop form in January it’ll all work out fine.

MW: It really all hinges on our home form. Cardiff, Burnley, Palace and Watford should give us a full 12, but let’s not forget that Spurs have won more games at the London Stadium currently than West Ham. The away game against Huddersfield should also yield maximum points as could the away game up in Burnley so 18 points would be a nice way to end the year

Entering our fourth month of the season but with a firm eye on January, who do we need to ship out? Where do we need to strengthen?

GR: Hernandez needs to be moved on. The thinking behind the signing was sound but it’s not paid off and I can’t watch him jog about and then fail to hold it up anymore. Other than that I’d look at getting Mario back on loan as we lack another creative player in Lanzini’s absence.

HW: We need back up in the left back position. Masuaku is brilliant when he runs with the ball and when he’s on form but he’s just not defensively-minded enough to play in that position for me. Antonio also seems to be struggling and I’d love to get a pacey winger on the team.

LW: Holly’s right, we need to strengthen defensively. Injuries aside, we have a decent squad forming but if we lose any defensive-minded players to other clubs or to injury, we’d be a little stuck. And as much of a shame as it is, Hernandez isn’t fitting into our plans, so we could perhaps replace him with solid backup to Arnautovic.

MW: Has to be Hernandez as he seems completely uninterested, also if we can get some money for Carroll now is the time to get rid otherwise there will be no value for him at the end of the season. Sadly if we can get a replacement the third would be Antonio. We are light up front so that has to be a priority plus a left back. We may also need to look at a replacement for Yarmolenko, a short-term deal for Mario might suffice.

What have you made of Pellegrini’s tactics, his game management, use of certain players and his substitutions?

GR: I like the way he has us trying to play and glad he’s finally trying to get us to make use of the wide pitch at home. He is proactive in his substitutions and tries to effect the game. I also think it’s great the way he is involving the academy lads. Just wish Xande Silva was fit to give a try upfront.

HW: At first, I was not keen on Pellegrini’s high line of defence and found it unbelievably stressful watching us try to play pretty football near our own box. I can now see that it’s starting to work as the players buy into his style of play. I love that Pellegrini has trusted Diangana. He is definitely persisting with Antonio which I don’t think has paid off yet.

LW: I’ve been really pleased with the way players have continued to move forward even when a goal or two down. I may have questioned a couple of decisions over substitutes but in hindsight it’s all made sense. I agree with Holly and Greg, his use and management of youth players has been a big positive.

MW: I also love the fact is prepared to bring in the youth and also will go for it as was shown by bringing on Arne and Perez recently against Spurs. He is also getting the best out of such players as Snodgrass who to me is an unsung hero. Still more to do but in Pellegrini I trust.

In light of Pellegrini’s comments after the Spurs game that he’d substituted Anderson at half time because he was playing against Burnley, who do you think – if fit – is guaranteed a starting place in our side? What about Anderson?

GR: The spine of Fabianski, Balbuena, Diop, Rice and Arnie have to play. I also think Snodgrass is making a really good fist of being one of the first names on the team sheet. I like Anderson and think some fans are quick to judge because of his price tag but believe me he will come good. He looked better with Cresswell behind him and I would like to see them play together again.

HW: Anderson is a tricky one because I’ve been incredibly impressed some games and disappointed the next. Rice is the first on the team sheet with me, as well as Arnautovic, Fabianski, Zabaleta and Diop. I’d be tempted to give Diangana a chance too, given his hunger to run with the ball.

LW: He was right to substitute Anderson because he wasn’t effective, although I admire his discretion to say he’s keeping him fresh. I’m happy to eat these words, but I’d have to disagree with Greg and say Anderson just isn’t the right fit for West Ham. Elsewhere, Fabianski has really stated his case in goal, Rice and Balbuena are solid and I think Noble is having a positive impact this season (minus red card!).

MW: It’s pretty easy to pick immediately half the starting line up with Fabianski, Balbuena, Diop, Zaballetta, Rice and Arnie and if fit Obiang, sadly I prefer Snodgrass to Anderson.

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