West Ham United manager Manuel Pellegrini said he always retained trust in his players despite a run of five defeats in six Premier League games that had dropped his team into the relegation dogfight.
The Chilean’s position has come under scrutiny in recent weeks but he could relax a little on Saturday as Sebastien Haller’s goal earned a 1-0 win at fellow strugglers Southampton in a fixture the London side dare not lose.
Defeat would have left West Ham in the relegation zone but they responded with a great first half display and a gritty rearguard action in the second as Southampton threatened.
After a busy close season of transfer activity, including splashing out 45 million pounds ($57.74 million) on French striker Haller, West Ham were riding high after seven games and looked capable of challenging for a European place.
But their form has fallen off a cliff since then and Saturday’s timely win was only their second since September.
“I can’t divide myself from the team. For West Ham it was an important three points,” Pellegrini said of the mounting pressure. “Maybe we have had a difficult moment but I have never lost trust in what we do.
“I don’t read the media but I am not stupid. I always focus on the win. I am happy for the players. We started the season very well and I hope now we have recovered our best.”
West Ham’s Mark Noble paid tribute to strikers Haller, who ended ended a 636-minute goal drought, and Michail Antonio, who had an effort ruled out for handball by VAR.
“I thought they were brilliant. Antonio controlled the game and Haller needed that goal, I am so pleased for him,” midfielder Noble said. “They played really well off each other.
“When Antonio is playing like he is tonight, there is no stopping him. It was such an important win for us.”
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