On the chalkboard: How Marcelo Bielsa could have transformed West Ham

West Ham United targeted Marcelo Bielsa in 2015, prior to appointing Slaven Bilic, according to reliable source Ex-West Ham United Employee.

Bielsa is now Leeds United manager, with the Hammers choosing to replace Sam Allardyce with their former defender instead of the then-Marseille manager.

On the chalkboard

It is fair to say that West Ham’s squad might have looked different had Bielsa taken over.

In the 2015/16 summer transfer window, the Hammers signed Dimitri Payet, ironically from Marseille, with Bielsa having transformed him into a star in France. Had he moved to Upton Park, he may well have brought the playmaker with him.

Manuel Lanzini also arrived – a player Bielsa would surely have admired – but the likes of Pedro Obiang, Carl Jenkinson and, in January, Alex Song may not have been trusted to adapt to Bielsa’s high-intensity way of playing.

The eccentric boss prides hard running and high pressing over anything else and works his players to the bone.

Song and Obiang are statuesque midfielders, while Jenkinson is not blessed with any sort of pace.

Nikica Jelavic, a £3 million addition from Hull City, would never have been scouted, let alone signed, though a deal for Michail Antonio may well have been struck – he is a player with pace and energy to burn and may well have worked well under Bielsa.

Mauro Zarate was sold in January and he is exactly the kind of full-throttle forward the Argentine loves.

He could have been gifted another chance under Bielsa’s stewardship, while, conversely, it is difficult to imagine the likes of Andy Carroll, Mark Noble and James Collins getting much of a look in.

A formation change

Leeds tend to line up in a 4-1-4-1 formation in the Championship.

Under Bilic, the Hammers played mostly with a 4-2-3-1 system that allowed Dimitri Payet to thrive.

Bielsa tends to partner attacking thrust with defensive solidity and there may well have been an alteration to the way the Irons played.

There would, naturally, have been many changes to the playing staff too, as well as the coaching team.

One can be absolutely sure that West Ham will have run that little bit harder and pressed that little bit higher had Bielsa been on the touchline.

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