Manchester City 1 West Ham 2: The respective responses of the rival managers spoke volumes about this most unpredictable of results in this most schizophrenic of Premier League seasons and the vastly different weight of expectations being placed upon the shoulders of Manuel Pellegrini and Slaven Bilic.
The Croatian was his usual animated and quotable self, and no small wonder given that West Ham’s away schedule to date has seen them visit Arsenal, Liverpool and now Manchester City with a return of nine points.
“Yeah, yeah. Of course I like it when we are winning,” beamed Bilic “Of course it is brilliant! It is like when you come to a pub that is full of women! You will like it! I don’t play the targets down, seriously. Nobody is saying we are going to finish fourth. What does targets mean? What are targets? ”
Bilic’s infectious enthusiasm speaks, of course, to the low levels of pressure, expectation and, comparatively at least, budget that managing West Ham carries with it.
When, as is the case with Pellegrini, the two centre-halves who were partly responsible for conceding horrendous early goals to Victor Moses and Diafra Sakho, were signed for a combined €83 million then the losing manager could hardly have been expected to engage in the banter that is Bilic’s stock-in trade.
“I have one face, maybe, in the way I think a manager must be in his conduct and the way I think and feel what I must do,” said Pellegrini when asked if he was angrier than usual. “It was the frustration of the first half. It was exactly the same as Juventus, we were playing in that crazy way.”
City’s Kevin De Bruyne, pulled a goal back on the stroke of half-time to set up a frantic second half but, without the guile of injured David Silva, they were unable to break down the Hammers.
MAN CITY (4-2-3-1):
Hart 5; Sagna 6, Otamendi 7, Mangala 5 (Demichelis 46, 7), Kolarov 6 (Iheancho 83, 6); Toure 7, Fernandinho 5; Navas 6, De Bruyne 8, Sterling 5 (Bony 65, 6); Aguero 6. subs (not used) Caballero, Maffao, Fernando, Roberts.
WEST HAM (4-2-3-1):
Adrian 8;Jenkinson 8 (Collins 85 mins,6), Tomkins 8, Reid 9, Cresswell 7; Noble 8, Obiang 7; Moses 7 (Antonio 60, 7), Lanzini 7 (Jelavic 69, 7), Payet 7; Sakho 7. subs (not used) Randolph, Carroll, Zarate, Collins, Oxford.
R Madley 7
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