Pablo Zabaleta believes he and his West Ham United teammates gave new manager Manuel Pellegrini the right first impression in the side’s pre-season clash with FC Winterthur.
The Hammers opened the 2018/19 pre-season campaign with a 3-2 defeat to the Swiss side, with Pellegrini opting to use two different teams in the first and second half.
Zabaleta featured in the first half for the Irons, winning a penalty, and the Argentinian reckons Pellegrini has a good understanding of how badly the players want to play every minute, despite the loss.
“Today we wanted to win the game, but sometimes it’s really hard because physically it’s a bit tough at this point,” Zabaleta told whufc.com. “It was good to show the manager that everyone wants to keep their place in this squad, and for Manuel to have this first impression of the lads.
“We will keep working. We are in a great place and we need to appreciate that. We must keep working and this is the only way to improve.”
It was good to show the manager that everyone wants to keep their place in this squad, and for Manuel to have this first impression of the lads.
Sunday’s fixture with Winterthur came at the end of an intense first week of pre-season training, as the Hammers look to improve their fitness prior to the start of the Premier League campaign.
Zabaleta acknowledges the last few days of training have been tough, as they should be, with the players feeling an improvement every day.
He added; “It was a hard week, which was good. We expected a hard week in terms of building our fitness levels, and working on this in three sessions a day at certain points.
“It looks really good. We’re working really hard and looking forward to improving every day.”
A return to training meant Zabaleta once again trained with Pellegrini, having worked with the Chilean during three years together at Manchester City.
The duo helped the Citizens to the Premier League title and the League Cup during their time together at the Etihad Stadium, and Zabaleta is looking forward to seeing how Pellegrini shapes West Ham.
“He’s a great manager and a great person as well,” Zabaleta said on Pellegrini. “I spent three years with him at Manchester City and he was very successful.
“Obviously, it always takes a bit of time for the players to understand the way he wants to play, but after two or three weeks, when the physical work stops and we start to work on tactics, I know that we will improve as a team.
“I’m very optimistic about the team and the squad. I see everyone Is very focused, which is great.”