Nigel Kahn’s Column

All men have secrets and here is mine
So let it be known
For we have been through hell and high tide
I think I can rely on you…
And yet you start to recoil
Heavy words are so lightly thrown
But still I’d leap in front of a flying bullet for you

Has Manuel Pellegrini’s time made a difference to the club? After all, he is the most decorated manager the club have ever hired, not just in the Daves’ time here, but also in our entire history. All men have secrets, but what is his and is it touched with magic?

Before coming to West Ham, he had won titles abroad and here with Man City and taken two unfancied teams in Spain, Villareal and Malaga, into Champions League qualification. Can he repeat that with West Ham though and get the owners out of the next level hole they dug for themselves? Will he be the difference between actual real tangible success in the league, something West Ham has never achieved in top flight, or will he be dragged down to West Ham’s level and in between the great performances the usual story of don’t travel well and having a soft underbelly will continue as it has done for virtually every other of the 16 or 17 if you include Sir Trev, managers that came before him?

So, what difference does it make?
So, what difference does it make?
It makes none
But now you have gone
And you must be looking very old tonight

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Last season Pellegrini came in a big fanfare, bringing with him optimism and allowing the overtly ambitious West Ham fans to think top 6 here we come. Four games in, the doom merchants were predicting relegation and implosion, as we achieved as much as Norway used to in Eurovision song contest. Null points.

Then the green shoots of recovery were sown with a battling point against Chelsea and we followed that up a few weeks later with victory over Man United, that then spurred the hammers up the table to a point where maybe 7th spot was a possibility, but as the season ended the same old West Ham was just as evident. The cup defeat to Wimbledon showed that no matter the pedigree of West Ham’s manager, the soft under belly is still there at times.

The devil will find work for idle hands to do
I stole and I lied, and why?
Because you asked me to!
But now you make me feel so ashamed
Because I’ve only got two hands
Well, I’m still fond of you, oh-ho-oh

I must admit, except the fat sham, I have generally enjoyed watching West Ham under every manager I’ve seen, and my first game would have been in the Greenwood era. Those that failed or are perceived to have failed had some form of success. Macari’s record is not as bad as many believe, and he rightly can point to his success being the players he left Bonds with, possibly far better than any Bonzo signed and nearly all lasted longer than Bonzo did.

Glen Roeder achieved the 2nd highest premier league finish or 4th highest top flight position if you prefer in his first season, and the worst manager for me, Avram Grant, I still will never forget the United win in the snow and he had us 45 minutes away from Wembley in the League Cup Semi-final before the typical implosion in Birmingham.

Pellegrini so far has had the same good games and poor games under his watch, as nearly every other manager we have had.
so I do ask….

So, what difference does it make?
Oh, what difference does it make?
Oh, it makes none
But now you have gone
And your prejudice won’t keep you warm tonight

In the transfer market is perhaps where we see a difference in the way West Ham have operated in the past and how we are operating now. Previously under the Daves it seems we were always looking to sign the finished article of a player, normally aged 27 or above and generally has had no resale value when they have left. I have heard it claimed that under the Daves we have stopped being a selling club, but that may be that we haven’t had the players the bigger clubs wanted, so we never got to test the selling club tag.

Under Pellegrini, we have had 3 Transfer windows, and you can see the improvements in the quality of player being signed, not necessary for massive money either. Diop and Balbuena easily could be sold for more than we paid, Anderson the same, resupposing we would want to sell them. But if we acknowledge that other clubs are interested in our players, that must mean we have improved the playing stock from the days when no one wanted to steal our stars.

Here it is evident that Pellegrini surely has made difference if only in his team helping to educate DS, who still is involved in transfers, in the quality is the key, not quantity, and quality can be found anywhere, not just in signing players who are tried and trusted in the Premier League.

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Oh, the devil will find work for idle hands to do
I stole, and then I lied
Just because you asked me to
But now you know the truth about me
You won’t see me anymore
Well, I’m still fond of you, oh-ho-oh

Pellegrini, though, does not come cheap, and though we are earning more money as a club, that is mainly through the PL TV deal rather than anything else that then has allowed us to spend more than usual. He actually now needs to show the extra finance in him, and his back-room team is worth it. If we fail this season and next to break top 7, then he wouldn’t have made any difference in the actual advancement of the club. Problem I see is, If Pellegrini can’t advance this club, who can, and who or what is stopping that from happening?

The Dave’s gamble on hiring the highest calibre of manager they ever had rests on can Pellegrini change the owners and take the club from its historical position of constant under achievers to finally become the club many of us think and believe we are or should be.

But no more apologies
No more, no more apologies
Oh, I’m too tired
I’m so sick and tired
And I’m feeling very sick and ill today
But I’m still fond of you, oh-ho-oh
Oh, my sacred one…