West Ham left with sour taste as loss to Cherries reminds many of last term
PUBLISHED: 11:00 20 August 2018
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Despite an outlay of £100m in the summer, the Hammers turned in a display that would not have been out of place during the last disastrous campaign
Whatever way West Ham United boss Manuel Pellegrini wants to cut it, the new Premier League season has started with a defeat.
After last weekend’s opening-day mauling at Liverpool, the Chilean said the campaign would begin for the Hammers at home to Bournemouth the following Saturday.
That game also ended in a defeat for the east Londoners, despite taking the lead in the first half through Marko Arnautovic.
Strike partner Javier Hernandez was fouled in the box by Cherries defender Nathan Ake, presenting the Austrian with the chance to open his account for the season from the spot and the 29-year-old duly obliged.
West Ham had chances to add to their lead before the break, with Hernandez drawing a good save from Asmir Begovic after being found brilliantly in the area by Arnautovic, but were unable to do so.
Bournemouth came out looking like a different team in the second half and drew level when Callum Wilson weaved his way through the Hammers defence, who looked frightened to make a tackle.
Minutes later, Eddie Howe’s men hit the front with more woeful defending as Steve Cook rose highest to head home a free-kick.
Worryingly for West Ham, it was a performance that mirrored many shocking displays of last season, and this despite a £100m outlay in the summer.
With so many new faces, it was perhaps to be expected that the Hammers would take their time to gel this summer, and after a second defeat of the season — or first, maybe — Pellegrini asked for patience.
“We knew before we would need time with so many new players, management and style of play,” said the 64-year-old.
“Most of all we need to forget about last season. We need to recover the trust in each player and what they can do.
“We must recover the trust as a club and that’s what we must do in the next week.”
Had West Ham taken one of their chances before the break, things may have been different, with Arnautovic also going close to a second in stoppage time
Even in the second half, the failed to make the most of some good opportunities when behind and could well have got something out of the game had one of those opportunities gone in.
Instead, they were left to rue what might have and manager Pellegrini was most disappointed his team were unable to replicate their first-half performance after the interval.
“A lot of times you miss chances, but you must continue to play the same way,” he added.
“We talked at half-time that we must not work just like we’re just winning 1-0 and wait until they make a mistake; we must continue to press and try to decide the game in the second half.
“We couldn’t do that as we stayed mostly in our own side and we made mistakes in defending.”
With so much spent over the summer and so many talented players brought in, it had been hoped West Ham would progress this season.
Instead, there were far too many similarities with displays from last season in the defeat to Bournemouth.
At times, some of the new Hammers stars looked scared to do anything in the event they might make a mistake.
Pellegrini had spoken about a need for his squad to play without fear at home this season in his pre-match press conference on Thursday.
It seems, though, that call fell on deaf ears, though the Chilean reiterated that point after the disappointing defeat.
“I don’t think it’s the stadium and I don’t think it’s playing here. What they need is to try work the 90 minutes the way we did for 45 minutes today,” said the 65-year-old.
Thankfully, perhaps, for West Ham and Pellegrini, they face a trip to Arsenal on Saturday with both teams having endured pointless starts to the new term.
The pressure will be all on the Gunners this weekend, and boss Pellegrini will hope his Hammers use that to their advantage and finally earn their first points of the new term.