Manuel Pellegrini’s first season at West Ham has been inconsistent and downright confusing at times, but the Hammers proved on Saturday that they have successfully obtained the most important thing in football – a spine.
Tottenham were yet to concede a goal or drop a point at their new stadium, but that all changed when West Ham rocked up on Saturday afternoon, as Michail Antonio’s second half strike was enough for all three points.
The Irons have been frustrating this season due to their ability to look like world-beaters one week and Sunday league players the next, but the five most important players on the pitch all performed admirably against Spurs.
Lukasz Fabianski, Fabian Balbuena, Issa Diop, Declan Rice and Marko Arnautovic, three of whom were signed by Pellegrini and Mario Husillos last summer, have formed a backbone to the team that every fan should be proud of.
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Every top team has a world class spine. For Manchester City it is Ederson, Aymeric Laporte, Fernandinho and Sergio Aguero. For Liverpool it is Alisson Becker, Virgil van Dijk and Roberto Firmino.
And while the Hammers may not quite have the quality of England’s finest, Pellegrini and Husillos have shown their experience by addressing what is undoubtedly the most important aspect of any team.
Fabianski, Diop and Balbuena were all brought in last summer by the South American pair, and you’d be hard pushed to find three better performers in the Hammers’ squad.
Then there is Rice, who has not only had a breakout season under Pellegrini but has transformed into one of the league’s most technically sound central midfielders in a matter of months.
Finally, Arnautovic looked like the Arnautovic of old on Saturday, but even if the Austrian international does force a big money move away this summer, Pellegrini and Husillos will waste no time signing a replacement.
For far too long the Hammers have taken a scattergun approach in the market, signing any half-decent player with a bit of flair and excitement around them.
In just one season under their new leadership however, they have provided the foundation to build a truly top team in east London. Hammers fans should be very, very excited about the future.