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THIS proved to be the final lacklustre performance from Manuel Pellegrini’s struggling Hammers, with the manager sacked after this latest defeat against Leicester City.
The decision did not come as a surprise, with the Chilean really losing his way over recent months, following such a promising start to the season.
The confusion surrounding the team was apparent from the opening team selection, with the two outstanding performers, over recent weeks, Michail Antonio and Robert Snodgrass, among seven changes from the team that lost to Crystal Palace on Boxing day.
A substitution merry-go-round then ensued, with the two players coming on in the second half, when Leicester were already 2-1 ahead.
The crowd’s growing displeasure saw the substitution of Mark Noble by replacement Carlos Sanchez get the biggest cheer of the afternoon.
Pellegrini later explained that Noble was not able to play two games in 48 hours.
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers made nine changes from the team that lost 0-4 to Liverpool.
“The result was a testament to the players and the work we’ve done in the 10 months,” said Rodgers. “We needed the energy and attitude, so I’m pleased for them.”
The home team were in trouble as early as the ninth minute when returning keeper Lukasz Fabianski upended the onrushing Kelechi Iheanacho. The keeper then redeemed himself saving Demarai Gray’s resulting penalty.
West Ham then forced a couple of saves out of Leicester keeper Kasper Schmeichel, the first a rasping shot from Arthur Masuaka, the second a weak effort into the ground from Declan Rice.
Leicester took the lead five minutes before half-time, West Ham failing to clear a cross that was then put back in for Ayoze Perez to head back for Iheanacho to head home.
Four minutes later Felipe Anderson made a driving run forward, exchanging passes with Ryan Fredericks, before crossing back for Pablo Fornals to sweep home his first goal in claret and blue.
Leicester took the lead 10 minutes into the second half, Perez threading a defence splitting ball through which Gray finished with ease.
West Ham huffed and puffed but there was no coming back.
Pellegrini declared: “The players are under pressure, the team want to do it but they don’t know how to do it.”
Speculation now begins on who will take up the managerial position, with David Moyes being hotly tipped to take over, though he is believed to want a longer deal, not just a stop gap to the end of the season such as he was given in 2017.
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