If Mills is right with his remarks about the Hammers’ Premier League ambitions, then Pellegrini would be taking a gamble to risk too many first-team players in the cup competitions.
“Top-four, getting into the Champions League as a team, as a club, takes you to another level but I get how important a trophy is,” said Mills on talkSPORT (9:02am, Monday, September 23rd).
“If you have realistic ambitions of getting into the top-four, and you’re talking about the likes of West Ham, Leicester, Everton, teams of that ilk who haven’t been in the top-four or European football for some time, I would say from the club point of view…making the Champions League would be a much bigger step than winning that trophy.”
The Hammers don’t have the biggest squad, there are 24 members of it (Source: Transfermarkt), and injuries in certain positions would derail the club’s top-four ambitions before they even truly begin.
For example, the Hammers have not much cover upfront.
Sebastien Haller has excelled since joining the summer, he has scored three goals in five outings, and if he got injured the Hammers may soon struggle for goals.
While ideally, the Hammers would be able to push hard in the Premier League and also go all out in the cup competitions, the race for top-four is so intense that West Ham’s squad may not be able to survive being stretched if they want to reach that goal.
Also, it’s worth noting West Ham have already lost Michail Antonio to injury after he suffered a hamstring injury in the first eight minutes of the 2-0 win over Newport County in the League Cup. (Source: Transfermarkt)
So with that in mind, surely Pellegrini has a dilemma when deciding his squad for cup games as if the Hammers could truly finish in the top-four he won’t want to take needless risks that could cost them potentially a place in the Champions League.