The acquisition of the Olympic Stadium was thought to be a massive step in the right direction for West Ham United, who had moments of spark but failed to emerge as a London heavyweight in recent years.
The Hammers owners made some big name moves and also surprised many with a few high-profile recruits. They had a stunning 2015-16 season but failed to retain the same and dropped to the bottom half of league tally once again.
Neither Slaven Bilic nor David Moyes managed to turn West Ham into an admirable ‘top-half’ outfit but the appointment of the renowned Manuel Pellegrini as the new boss is indeed an energising move.
The reputation of the Chilean will allow West Ham to attract significant names this window as the former Real Madrid and Manchester City boss would be looking for a squad revamp in order to fuel the new project in East London.
Pellegrini, who guided the Cityzens to win the league in 2014, needs to strengthen multiple slots at West Ham and should bring in an array of names to reconstruct the Hammers squad.
They have been linked with a move for Fiorentina skipper Milan Badelj, who will be a free agent next month. Joao Mario, who completed a loan move in winter from Inter Milan, will be pursued with a permanent deal in mind, or at least on another season-long loan term.
Although both of them are known for their presence in the middle of the park, they are pretty different in terms of playing role and style of football. Badelj, the 29-year-old Croatian defensive midfielder, is rated for his physicality, hard tackles and destructive nature whereas Mario is hard working, more creative and versatile.
However, the duo, together, will add new dimensions, depth as well as a quality all over the midfield. The variety of options should offer Pellegrini some much-needed flexibility and hence, a change in formation will allow the new boss to inject artistry.
The Hammers already have a few quality resources in Marko Arnautovic, Manuel Lanzini and Michail Antonio, who have excelled for the Stratford side.
These two midfielders, meanwhile, can be utilised in various ways alongside the available options. A formation of 4-2-3-1 will slot Badelj deep down the midfield with skipper Mark Noble as his midfield partner and Mario in either of the three advanced roles behind the lone forward.
A 4-3-3 pattern will suit them too, where the Croatian will be utilised as a ‘No.6’. Mario should be handed a box-to-box role to stride forward as West Ham’s chief ball carrier.
It is to be seen now whether Pellegrini sticks to a particular setup or alters the formation if the club eventually manages to strike deals for the preferred options.