Manuel Pellegrini: Character, away form, VAR and Fabianski's injury
Manuel Pellegrini was happy with the resilience shown by his West Ham United side in drawing 2-2 at AFC Bournemouth on Saturday.
The Hammers went ahead through Andriy Yarmolenko’s well-taken goal before conceding a VAR-awarded equaliser to Joshua King, losing Lukasz Fabianski to injury and falling behind to Callum Wilson’s strike seconds after half-time.
But despite all those setbacks, the Irons showed admirable character and snatched a deserved point when Aaron Cresswell struck his second goal in successive games to lift his team into the Premier League’s top three.
We came here to a difficult pitch to face a team which won its last two games 3-1 and I think we had enough chances to win
“I am very happy with a point because I think we played a good game in the way I like my team playing and with the mentality to go for the win from the first minute,” said Pellegrini, whose side bounced back impressively from their midweek Carabao Cup humbling at Oxford United. “We came here to a difficult pitch to face a team which won its last two games 3-1 and I think we had enough chances to win.
“Unfortunately, we made an important mistake for their second goal in the first minute of the second half when one of our players went in the box before the ball [and played Wilson onside] and they scored after 40 seconds of the second half.
“But we continued playing and believing in what we do and we got a draw. We had opportunities to draw this game at least and, with a bit of luck, we could have won it, but we are happy with the performance we put in.”
A draw at Vitality Stadium made it six Premier League away games without defeat for West Ham, and Pellegrini was delighted by the way his players went on the offensive against an in-form, attack-minded Bournemouth side.
“I am pleased with the way we are playing away from home, with the personality to go for the three points from the beginning and try to win the game,” the manager confirmed. “That’s what we tried to do in this game against Bournemouth and we must try to continue playing in the same way.”
“To start the second half and score in the first minute to go ahead gave them a lot of trust as the home team, but we were calm in that moment, tried to continue to working on the right side with our attacking, which I think we did very well and fortunately for us we scored that second goal.”
Yet again, a West Ham game featured a number of VAR referrals, with Bournemouth seeing one disallowed goal overturned when King was found to be onside, and a second given goal disallowed when Dominic Solanke was ruled to have blocked the view of substitute goalkeeper Roberto as Nathan Ake’s volley flew past him into the net.
Later, VAR also ruled that Aaron Cresswell had not fouled King as the pair tussled inside the West Ham penalty area, so what did the manager make of the system’s influence on Saturday’s game?
“The VAR is the VAR!” he smiled. “You like it when it’s good for you and criticise it when maybe they decide it is a goal, but we have nothing to complain about that.
“I think that it’s a system that will have problems and not resolve all the problems, but I think it will give a lot of help to the referees in deciding things.”
Finally, Pellegrini was also asked to give an update on Fabianski’s injury, which the goalkeeper suffered while taking a goal kick midway through the first half.
“Lukasz felt a problem in a muscle in his hip when he tried to kick the ball,” he confirmed. “We need to know more about it with a medical examination on Sunday.
“Goalkeeper is an important player, but I trust a lot in Roberto also. Roberto played well, he’s a very good goalkeeper and we will see what will happen with Lukasz’s injury and how many weeks he will be out.”