West Ham United manager Manuel Pellegrini shocked plenty of prognosticators on Saturday when he started summer signing Pablo Fornals ahead of in-form winger Andriy Yarmolenko against Everton.
The Ukrainian was involved in international duty with his country during the break from club football, which probably factored into the manager’s decision, but it very much backfired in the 2-0 defeat at Goodison Park.
However, it’s the comments that the Chilean made regarding the former Villarreal man after the game that really beggared belief. What the Hammers boss has said surely shows that standards are too low in east London.
“I am happy with him,” he said, as per Football London, at his post match press conference. “It is not just about [Aaron] Cresswell or Fornals or one player, as a team we need to return to the way we played a couple of weeks ago.”
Pellegrini is right that the entire team were poor at Goodison Park and that the players need to return to the form of a month ago, but if he’s happy with Fornals’s form then there’s something clearly wrong.
Look, we all know that there’s an adaptation period when coming to English football from abroad, but Fornals hasn’t ever looked like being capable of making a quick step up. If you compare his start to that enjoyed by Felipe Anderson last season, then you see how poorly the Spanish international is doing.
That continued against the Toffees. As per WhoScored.com, the 23-year-old managed three shots with only one of them on target, as well as managing a team-low 19 passes despite playing an hour of football. Plus, he only found the target with 73.7% of them. Fornals also had three unsuccessful touches and was dispossessed twice, while being caught offside twice as well.
Clearly something needs to change in regards to the young midfielder, and that’s not going to happen with Pellegrini praising him when he’s clearly underperforming.