West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini did little to reassure fans who were worried about Marko Arnautovic’s future at the club, after the striker reacted poorly to being substituted in just the 19th-minute of the Hammers’ 2-0 win over Birmingham in the FA Cup.
When quizzed on what happened between himself and the Austrian international upon his withdrawal from the game, Pellegrini said: “He felt a pain in his back at the beginning. He wanted to continue after that, but it was not good to take a risk. He played 90 minutes on Wednesday, the previous game 65 minutes, so it was important for him to be replaced.”
However, the more telling aspect of the Chilean’s post-match quotes came after he was asked if Andy Carroll – who replaced Arnautovic in the match and scored his first goal since April – and the former Stoke hitman would be at the club come the end of January.
Pellegrini answered: “I don’t know what will happen but I think both players will stay here.” Hardly reassuring to say the least.
Well, one would assume that the former Manchester City manager wouldn’t needlessly stir the pot by plunging Arnautovic’s future into question, so there must be something going on behind the scenes.
His reasons for withdrawing his star man are understandable, but the ensuing rift between the pair would suggest that there are underlying issues at bay.
Why would Pellegrini want to get the fans on his back over nothing? If he was convinced of Arnautovic’s future, he most likely would’ve just said outright that he’s going nowhere, given his importance to the side.
“I don’t know what will happen”, smacks of a man who perhaps knew the answer to the question that was being asked, but did not want to give it as it would not have gone down well with the fans.
Whatever is going on, it won’t have filled the Hammers’ supporters with much confidence.