Manuel Pellegrini: “We need to improve our defending"
Photo by Getty Images/Arfa Griffiths

West Ham were awarded a penalty in the first-half of their Premier League Asia Trophy clash with English champions Manchester City, which was well-deserved for the hard work Manuel Pellegrini's men displayed in trying conditions in the Chinese city of Nanjing.

Eventually losing 4-1, the Hammers did show glimpses of good attacking football but defended poorly. 

The Chilean made a clear statement about the game being of two halves, saying: “I think that was a clear game of two different matches of 45 minutes.” 

The Hammers looked like they were here to play positive football and had opportunities through the likes of Felipe Anderson, Manuel Lanzini and Michail Antonio. But chances they were and nothing more, as the Hammers boss went on to to say.

“In the first half we played well and created chances in their box, but then we conceded two goals in two minutes and, of course, when you are playing against Manchester City you cannot afford to concede those goals."

It was the quick two goals by City, from David Silva and a penalty which was scored by Lukas Nmecha.

Deserved goals for City? Certainly it did show that they have quality on the park to turn things around, after the east London side looked comfortable at 1-0.

Second-half brace by Sterling

Pellegrini went on to say that City moved it up a gear by bringing on their quality players, like Raheem Sterling. But what does concern the Chilean is his side's defending, and he noted that they need to concentrate more and stay focused throughout the 90 minutes. 

“In the second half, they improved a lot when they changed some players, while we wanted to give some minutes to some players and we had some players who have just returned from long injures, so they made a difference. Also, I thought we made some mistakes in our defending and they capitalised.

“I was happy with the offensive system and the way we played in our attacking, yes, because we created more chances than Manchester City, but we must be more concentrated in our defending.”

Pre-season work in progress

Before they leave China, the Hammers still have to play Newcastle United in the third-place playoff in Shanghai on Saturday.

Pellegrini will be expecting more goals and better defending to confirm that they will be ready for the visit of the champions on August 10 at the London Stadium in the opening fixture of the new Premier League season.

Pellegrini said that they are working extremely hard to get everything right and putting together ‘a good squad’. Furthermore, he concluded his interview by stating that he is looking for a good balance on the park.

“We are trying to put together a good squad,” the Chilean confirmed. “We are still in the pre-season and are working to prepare, which is why we made so many changes in this game.

“We are working on our technical side and it’s important that we have [JackWilshere, Lanzini and [Andriy] Yarmolenko this season as we didn’t have them for long periods last season due to injury.

“With them, we will have more balance in midfield and I think we are going to be a good attacking team. We are going to create chances, but we need to improve our defending.”