Manuel Pellegrini had won just one of his previous ten games and was under pressure to get a result, with the “two games to save his job” line consistently being pushed from behind the scenes as he made his way across the capital to face Frank Lampard’s Blues.
Seven months later, nothing has really changed. West Ham are due to face their London rivals again, at London Stadium this time, on Wednesday and are sitting 17th in the table and are staring relegation in the face.
Pellegrini did manage to pick up a victory at Stamford Bridge to save his bacon for a few weeks. It was the day he finally dropped hopeless keeper Roberto and David Martin enjoyed a memorable debut, keeping a clean sheet in a 1-0 victory for the east Londoners as Aaron Cresswell bagged a second half winner.
With Pellegrini in charge a result like that was always a possibility as he was often unpredictable (apart from his loyalty to Roberto which arguably cost him his job a month later) and could pull a surprise result out of the bag.
With David Moyes now in charge, the same feeling isn’t there, especially after two defeats in a row since the resumption of the Premier League three weeks ago. West Ham desperately need some points from their matchup with Chelsea in midweek to give them some hope in the relegation race.
Moyes’ side have been done favour after favour by the teams around them losing, Aston Villa have lost two from three since the resumption, Watford the same, Bournemouth have lost twice and Norwich have been beaten twice. Only Brighton, who have picked up four points, have taken themselves away from danger,
West Ham haven’t, with two losses on their sheet since the restart and two fairly lifeless performances in truth. Moyes has shown tactical inflexibility and hasn’t been able to adapt in-game to what his opponents have done. Lampard has shown a willingness to change things with the Blues, none more so on Saturday when he made three half time subs in the FA Cup win over Leicester and the Blues won 1-0.
It’s a time for Moyes to be brave and throw some caution to the wind, just like Pellegrini did against Chelsea seven months back when he threw in Martin for his debut and the Hammers secured a first win at Stamford Bridge in 17 years.
Pellegrini, remarkably, admitted it was a tough decision to drop gaffe-prone Roberto post-match, saying: “It was very difficult [to drop Roberto]. It’s a position you must be very careful of when you change it.
“I gave him the most amount of matches you can as a manager, but at the moment we needed a reaction.”
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How Moyes could do with a reaction from his players, who incidentally will have had eight days off by the time the match comes around having last played against Spurs last Tuesday. Chelsea have played twice since then.
If Moyes can do a Pellegrini and pull off a surprise win on Wednesday then the Hammers could move themselves three points clear of the drop zone with games to come against Newcastle United, Burnley and Norwich.
No-one was under any illusions that the first three matches of Project Restart for the Hammers wouldn’t be tough but we have yet to anything that gives just a small glimmer of hope yet.
A victory over the Blues, maybe even a point, could change all that. Moyes needs to do a Pellegrini, just on the opposite side of the capital than what his predecessor managed.