Improvement the key for Pellegrini
Manuel Pellegrini has played down expectations for the season as West Ham go in search of their first win of the campaign against Watford.
The Hammers were tipped at the start of the campaign as one of the side’s that could challenge the establishment at the top of the Premier League standings and force their way into the top-six.
A top-10 finish last season certainly indicated that the London club were moving in the right direction under Pellegrini, although they have not started the new campaign on the front foot, being thrashed 5-0 on the opening day of the season by champions Manchester City before earning a 1-1 draw at Brighton last time out.
However, there are extenuating circumstances for those results, as the Hammers won’t be the only side that gets taken apart by City this season, while Brighton have impressed under new manager Graham Potter.
West Ham will now be looking to kick-start their season against a Watford side that have lost both of their opening matches of the campaign and currently prop up the division.
The Londoners claimed a 4-1 victory over the Hornets at Vicarage Road last season and will fancy their chances of repeating that trick and sealing their first victory of the campaign this time around.
Pellegrini will certainly be hoping to secure that first win on Saturday, but he has been keen to temper expectations for the campaign as a whole and says he would be satisfied with a mere gradual improvement.
“I’ve said from the beginning we don’t have a target for this season,” the Chilean told reporters.
“We must try to improve. Every year, the Premier League is filled with tough games and difficult teams to beat. We know what the Premier League is. We need to play every game as a final and, after that, we shall see where we finish.”
Pellegrini has no fresh injury concerns to contend with ahead of Saturday’s match, with defender Winston Reid remaining his only absentee.
“Injuries for this week – we have just Winston Reid. Everyone else is fit,” the former Man City boss added. “Jack is coming back from long injuries. The same happened with Carlos Sanchez and Andriy Yarmolenko. We hope, with every game, he will improve.”
It has to be said that West Ham’s overall record against Watford is patchy, as they have won only four of their last 14 meetings with the Hornets – an unwanted record that stretches back to 2005.