West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini has spoken out on his departure from the London Stadium, in an interview following his return to Chile.
The 66-year-old was sacked by the Hammers at the end of December with the team languishing in 17th, but speaking to Chilean newspaper La Tercera, he made it clear that Lukasz Fabianski’s injury and the poor performances of Roberto Jimenez played a key role in him losing his job:
“The only explanation is that this is football. I returned to England for a challenge. To West Ham, who usually fights relegation, but which is a very large [club]. My intention was to make it grow. We started well; until match seven we had [not had] a defeat.”
“Unfortunately, we had a major injury, the goalkeeper [Fabianski], [was out] four months. And the performance of the second [Roberto Jimenez] was not as expected. He had responsibility for several goals. The team was losing confidence, the results were negative and the owners decided to change.”
Pellegrini has not been sacked midway through a campaign for 20 years, despite having managed 14 clubs in his 30-year managerial career, and the Chilean says the experience has “hurt” him:
“It hurt me first. It is the first time in 20 years that the season did not end [for me in a job]. In all clubs, the year was over. In Madrid, I did not finish my contract, but the season did. It had been 20 years without stopping in the middle of the year.”
When asked if the players were to blame for the club’s poor form, Pellegrini took his share of the responsibility and he says that while the team lost its confidence, he was unable to arrest the decline and fell on his sword when the owners made their decision to dispense with his services:
“In football, the first thing that one must understand is that he [the manager] always has the responsibility. You can fall into those negative streaks. The players lose confidence and you, as a coach, must find the solution. You don’t always find it and sometimes they [the owners] don’t have the patience in the leadership. It has happened to Mourinho, Pochettino, Emery … What happens is that it never happened to me.”