Written by: George M
Angelo Ogbonna has been an interesting player to keep track of during his time at West Ham. Since he joined in 2015, the Italy defender has blown hot and cold while wearing the shirt. His inconsistency creates the perfect match between the club and player whilst also being the subject of an archetypical David Gold confusion tweet. This season, Ogbonna seems to have recaptured some of the form which saw him called up to the Italy squad no longer than a year and a half ago. So why has he been dropped from the starting eleven?
Although there are many reasons flying about at the moment concerning West Ham’s current demise, it is bemusing as to why Ogbonna has been dropped for Balbuena in the starting line-ups for the past 3 games. The last game Ogbonna played was the 2-0 defeat to Everton. It’s not as if the Everton defeat could be blamed on him because every player was awful on that day. Ogbonna’s performances this season have been some of his best in years, yet he has been dropped despite only losing 2 of the 8 games he has featured in this season. This puts him as an early contender for Hammer Of The Year in the eyes of many West Ham fans. Balbuena’s contribution to the team has been poor with a record of only 1 win out of 6 games.
Many fingers are being pointed to Pellegrini’s creeping ineptness to manage this team. The volume of fans with this point of view is growing week in and week out, especially when results aren’t improving. Another piece of evidence to support this view comes from and interesting comment ExWhuEmployee made on The West Ham Way Podcast last week. Ex had mentioned that one of the main reasons for Ogbonna’s absence in the team is that Pellegrini had started to feel sorry for Balbuena’s lack of action this season. This makes alarm bells ring in a lot of fans’ heads. How can a Premier League winning manager seriously think that replacing an inform player with an out of form player due to no other reason than sympathy over playing time not have an effect on results? It’s madness.
Plenty of clubs in the Premier League rely on a steady back four which usually starts with playing the same players week in week out to enforce chemistry and familiarity throughout the team. These are the teams that are currently performing above West Ham in the league. Pellegrini must follow suit and start fixing the gaping holes in our defence. This should start with Ogbonna’s reintroduction to the starting line-up. The left-back debate is still ongoing but an experienced manager such as Pellegrini should’ve had this sorted by now. The less said about Roberto the better but an established back four should help with kick-start an improvement in results.
It’s not to say that Ogbonna is a world-class defender that is instantly going to stop this rot. However, the stats don’t lie. We have to feel slightly sorry for the player especially considering one of the reasons he may have been dropped. If the rumour is true, then imagine what Ogbonna must be thinking. Pellegrini needs to stop this strange management behaviour and get him back into the team. Since the 4-0 loss to Oxford, Pellegrini has been making some shocking decisions and surely this can’t go unchallenged, but will the owners take any action with a £20 million termination fee on the line? A reminder of the length of Avram Grant’s tenure at West Ham fly through the minds of plenty of West Ham supporters during this time and the current football and results are drawing comparisons to Grant too.