West Ham win at long last to silence the critics
PUBLISHED: 13:30 17 September 2018
PA Wire/PA Images
West Ham midfield three the key to victory at Everton
Crisis, what crisis? It seems that West Ham and manager Manuel Pellegrini had been written off far too soon if this storming victory is anything to go by.
The pundits had their knives out. Craig Bellamy and Alan Shearer seemed ready with the Pellegrini obituary as if he was out of his depth, but the one man who had remained unruffled was the boss.
“I was absolutely convinced that we were going to finish getting these bad results,” said Pellegrini who had cause to celebrate his 65th birthday.
“We were unlucky to lose the last three games, maybe we didn’t deserve to win, but we didn’t deserve to lose them also.”
He may be right to a certain extent, but this was the first time that the manager seemed to get everything just right.
His midfield three were a joy. Mark Noble linked the defensive midfield with the attacking midfield and had a hand in the second goal.
Pedro Obiang assisted in two of the goals with some fine attacking play that we haven’t always seen from the Spaniard.
And as for Declan Rice, his second-half display of tackling, interceptions and passing was simply a tour de force.
The front three caused problems all afternoon and it was the arrival of Andriy Yarmolenko for his first start which was to tip the balance.
“He arrived late in the pre-season and that’s why we didn’t start him in the Premier League, he needed to improve a lot with the pace,” said the boss.
“We were patient with him, talking with him, working with him and I’m very happy for him that when I thought he was ready he demonstrated it.”
There are still one or two concerns. His defensive play was pretty ropy and he ran out of steam towards the end, but that is by the by. He took both his goals superbly and that is something that a player like Robert Snodgrass was unlikely to do.
Everton were there for the taking, but this fragile Hammers team could still have blown it.
The Toffees pulled one back right on half time and it gave them the momentum after the break and some nervy moments for the West Ham fans who must have been expecting the worst.
Everton’s profligacy and that vital third West Ham goal put paid to that big comeback and though the Blues had their moments after that, they were never really in the game.
It was only the second win for West Ham in 11 visits to Goodison Park and it was something of a masterclass in tactics from Pellegrini.
“It is so easy to say we are going to change, but I was absolutely convinced that this was the way to go,” said the manager with a look of relief on his face.
“We came here to a stadium where it is very difficult to win and we went for the game from the first minute. We scored goals and we tried to score more.”
They did and though this was not quite the displays we saw at Stoke City and Huddersfield last season, it was refreshing to see some adventurous, counter-attacking football and not the nervous, tentative defending we have seen already this season.
Pellegrini tinkered with his team once again, making six changes, but this time there seemed to be more rhyme and reason to his line-up and it worked a treat.
Call off the dogs, West Ham are up and running at last, that is until Chelsea and Manchester United turn up at the London Stadium!