|match review copied from www.theguardian.com|
Manuel Pellegrini frustrated by City failings in defeat by West Ham
Date Published Monday 21 September 2015
For perhaps the first time since Manuel Pellegrini’s Cool Hand Luke act arrived at Manchester City the Chilean’s mask slipped after this second 2-1 defeat at home in five days.
West Ham United’s fine victory had a jubilant manager, Slaven Bilic, likening his emotion to entering a hostelry “full of girls” and Pellegrini visibly upset at the close of a disappointing week for his team.
On Tuesday Juventus had won the opening Champions League group match here by the same scoreline. That was City’s first reverse of the season. The first defeat of the league campaign arrived in similar circumstances. West Ham were dominated yet the advantage was spurned.
Pellegrini’s post-match verdict had the manager branding his side “crazy” for the manner of West Ham’s first-half goals. He admitted his frustration and told his players there could be “no excuses” for losing to Bilic’s side at home.
The visitors deserve huge credit, of course. Their victory came despite Kevin De Bruyne’s memorable full debut. David Silva’s late withdrawal – he strained a calf muscle in the warm-up – meant the Belgian was shifted into an attacking berth and he shone.
De Bruyne controlled proceedings in a manner reminiscent of the man he replaced. The 24-year-old has similar vision to Silva but also a turn of pace that can leave an opponent trailing, which the Spaniard lacks.
On this evidence the £52m City paid Wolfsburg for him appears money well spent. Yet still West Ham claimed all three points. When they arrived in Manchester, City had yet to concede a goal in five Premier League outings and boasted a perfect 15 points. Bilic’s men departed having ended that run by turning over a stellar XI featuring Sergio Agüero, Yaya Touré, Raheem Sterling, De Bruyne, Fernandinho and Joe Hart.
In doing so West Ham complete an unlikely treble. To the scalps of Arsenal (2-0) and Liverpool (3-0), each defeated on their own patch, is added that of City. Bilic, who took over in the summer, is piloting the club with notable prowess.
Pellegrini, though, was as close to anger as he has been since replacing Roberto Mancini two years ago. Victor Moses beat Hart in the sixth minute from 25 yards but Eliaquim Mangala and Nicolás Otamendi might have got closer to him.
Diafro Sakho’s finish resulted from further poor defending. Winston Reid beat Aleksandar Kolarov to a Dimitri Payet corner and headed towards Pedro Obiang. Fernandinho failed to clear and the ball fell to Sakho, who made it 2-0.
Pellegrini tried to explain his post-match demeanour: “It was the frustration of the first half. It was exactly the same as Juventus. We were playing in that crazy way. We must retain our unity because we are just starting the Premier League and we must recover from this point.”
As well as Silva Vincent Kompany was also missing due to a calf injury. But Pellegrini was not interested in mitigation. “One thing I never do is to have an excuse about players that cannot play,” he said. “We had players that could play and those players know the way they must play. They are good players, I have a strong squad and because David and Kompany could not play we cannot have excuses that we have lost to West Ham at home.”
Bilic, his side now in third place in the Premier League on 12 points, was understandably happy. “Of course it is brilliant,” he said of having outmanoeuvred Arsène Wenger, Brendan Rodgers and now Pellegrini. “It is like when you come to a pub that is full of girls. You will like it.”
Can West Ham finish in the top four? “Hopefully. But you would be the first one to say before the season that this would be impossible,” the Croatian said. “But still, just six games have gone. We have to maintain, we have to improve. There are going to be ups and downs of course. But we just have to continue working and live for every day of training and every game. Then we have a chance.”
Next up for the Hammers is a visit to their fellow high-flyers Leicester City, for Tuesday’s Capital One Cup tie. City are also in action that evening, visiting Sunderland in the same competition. Silva does not think he can return, though Samir Nasri should again be available following a minor knock.
What City require then is a prompt return to winning ways.
Man of the match Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)