By 90Min
August 13, 2018

So it was an opening day to forget. The key thing to remember at West Ham though is that these things take time. Players need bedding in, mentalities need adjusting and most notably, other teams have strengthened.

Yes, Sunday's 4-0 pummelling at Liverpool did show that the Hammers have a long way to go before they perform well as a cohesive unit, particularly in defence. Communication seemed to be lacking, instructions were adhered to rigidly and despite at times there seemingly being a need to slow things down, West Ham's control of tempo was disjointed.

The other main factor in the heavy defeat was the inability to do two fundamental things. Hold on to the ball in midfield, and get star Marko Arnautović involved up front. The Austrian was starved of service, and cut a frustrated figure at Anfield as he often watched on as the Hammers either lost control of the ball down the channels, or were dispossessed in the middle of the park.

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The failure to provide their main man with an opportunity to get at Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk led to a comfortable afternoon for the Reds' backline, with Arnautović only getting a sniff of an opportunity once during his 65 minutes on the field.

Distribution problems aside, the other concern that stood out like a sore thumb was the ease in which Liverpool's midfield controlled proceedings. Time and time again, the Hammers had their pockets picked in midfield, with the Reds' high press giving the likes of Jack Wilshere, Michail Antonio and Felipe Anderson very little time on the ball.

Hustled, harried and harassed, the Hammers were thoroughly outclassed and it was little surprise to see Liverpool stride to a comfortable three points. The scoreline would suggest that the Reds were absolutely brilliant, but in truth, things were made all too easy.

What's important to remember though is that an away day at Anfield is always likely to result in coming away with nothing, particularly if you're a West Ham fan. One away day success in 55 years tells you all you need to know about the Hammers' record on Merseyside, with neighbours Everton proving somewhat of a bogey team in recent times.

What's more, Pellegrini played it his way - and he wasn't afraid to shirk away from the style of defending that he wants implemented this season. Although the high defensive line on the edge of the penalty area provided much comedy to the neutral, it's a sign of his intentions. 

Salah, Mané and company benefitted from the system, but it must be remembered that they are extremely talented players. West Ham won't come up against that kind of quality every week, with a home game to Bournemouth next week sure to produce an entirely result compared to what we saw here.


The knee jerk reaction would be to instantaneously change things. Upon more reflection, it feels like Pellegrini should stick to his guns - for the foreseeable future at least. His team will learn to stray away from following every instruction to every infinite detail, and will adjust to this entirely different style of defending. In time, co-ordination and understanding will knit together as the players get used to the system, and positive results will be generated more often than not.

It won't always work, and at times, the Chilean may need to learn adopting a Plan B is perhaps necessary when your at a West Ham, as opposed to an all conquering Manchester City. But once debutants Fabian Balbuena, Felipe Anderson and Andriy Yarmolenko adjust to the rigours and demands of Premier League, you feel the Hammers have a much better chance. After all, the three aforementioned players cost just shy of £70m between them.

Couple Pellegrini's changes with the fact that it's been a season of hefty investment and transition in east London, and it's not hard to understand why West Ham slipped up on the opening day, for a record 12th Premier League time.

With that comes inevitable ups and downs, and whilst it would have been nice to open the season on a more positive note, it's important to not overreact to opening day results. This was a tough one to take but the Hammers will bounce back, particularly if Pellegrini stays true to his footballing identity. 

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