Time to bring on the fat Spanish waiter?

It's surely just a matter of time before this charming man's charmed life at West Ham comes to an end. You can't take two points from 21 and survive for very much longer - barring a miracle that is.

And so it seems that Rafael Benitez may, again, be in the frame. Talks have taken place, but you sense that Benitez and his agent are staging a media blitz to get his name back into folks' minds, he doesn't do wage cuts and he'd be far too expensive for West Ham.


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But Manuel Pellegrini is a goner now after yet another dismal defeat, this time to Spurs. It's just a case of when, and how many more defeats. And the next four games all look like games West Ham will lose in the current climate.

Chelsea, Wolves, Arsenal then Southampton. That last one, you sense, would be the crunch. If we lose that one, it will be the end of the line for the Chilean. But you never know, the board may say there's backing for the manager, but they must know the fans' patience is exhausted.

Pellegrini has the board's support in name only. It would have been ridiculous, a dereliction of duty, if they hadn't been preparing Plan B, to see who is available if things got any worse. And they have.

Now it seems that Chris Hughton and Sean Dyche are candidates. Much more sensible candidates. Hughton knows how to manage at this level, is a decent, organised coach now working for England. Dyche still has a home north of London, has done a fine job on buttons at Burnley and is believed to be interested. West Ham could double his wages over night.

Neither of those two would fill West Ham fans with much joy; Dyche has a lot of Big Sam's characteristics but without the sneer. In Hughton's favour is that he is available and would not cost a major buy out.

Now I was away when Benitez's name shot into the frame last week, again, and after the shattering day at Burnley I was trying to avoid burdening you lot with any more of my rubbish.


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But I did make a few calls, texts and emails... the perpetrator of that particular story was a friend of some 30 years, whose work I respect. Eventually, under the promise of secrecy obviously, I was acquainted with the source of the story and how it got into the public domain. I have no doubt therefore, that the whole thing was kosher. But probably doomed.

A few more calls to old colleagues in the north west who maintain contact with Benitez, and it seems he is keen to return to the Premier League, is not really enjoying being away from his family while people close to the Spaniard say he would be interested in West Ham.

But he would say that wouldn't he! This is Benitez, an expert manipulator of the media, a man who relishes the political infighting of big clubs, a man very keen on the folding stuff. He's on ?12m in China with Dalian Yifang, and that certainly attracted him in the first place.

But he has homes in Spain and the Wirral, where his family have lived happily since he came to England in 2004, and would happily return 'home.'

His wife Montse is heavily involved in the Chester social scene and does plenty of charity work. Eldest daughter Claudia is at university in Paris while younger daughter Agata is completing A levels in Liverpool. Adopted Scousers with accents to match.

Benitez has no intention of moving his home, a stunning house with views of the Dee estuary and Snowdonia. He would take any decent job in England.


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Interestingly, Benitez has done a big interview with the Mail on Sunday highlighting the project he is relishing in China, but he is very aware of the managerial situation in England and never once in that article indicated he was happy to stay in the Far East long term.

When this story surfaced last week Benitez was written off by fans on social media and pundits as past his best, even a failure at Newcastle, where he won promotion and kept the Geordies in the Premier League on peanuts. Not sure that is failure.

David Sullivan has twice tried to lure Benitez to east London, before appointing Manuel Pellegrini and then missing out when Benitez opted for Real Madrid instead.

But Benitez would want too much, too much wages and too much transfer budget. Sullivan will not go there, surely, with having to stump up ?20m plus to get rid of Pellegrini and his staff.

And West Ham may well soon need a new man quickly to arrest the plunge towards relegation. Losing to Spurs, and so badly, was the last straw for many fans.

Whoever is to blame for the Roberto fiasco is no longer the point. Pellegrini and Mario Husillos in making the choice to sign him, or the board for wanting to get a couple of free transfers to replace Adrian, and then gloating about how they had saved ?30,000 a week in wages.


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Roberto has now conceded 19 goals in his eight games (including part of the Bournemouth match) and has become an embarrassment.

But just as bad is the lack of tactics, planning and general effort from this team under Pellegrini, who has 18 months of his contract left and will never resign. Could he be about to become the biggest and costliest mistake of Sullivan's footballing career?

Pellegrini seems to have lost the dressing room. In the seven league games since West Ham beat Manchester United, Felipe Anderson has been hauled off four times and Andriy Yarmolenko three times.

And maybe to underline those stats, Mark Noble said after the game: "You run around, work hard, put your tackles in and win your headers, and let the quality take care of itself. At the moment we're not doing it." So much for the showboaters.

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