Manuel Pellegrini will take charge of West Ham’s Premier League game at Southampton on Saturday but defeat could prompt his dismissal as manager.
Pellegrini told West Ham’s board in the wake of the defeat against Arsenal on Monday that he is convinced he can turn around the team’s fortunes and his employers have kept faith with him for now.
But their belief in his ability to haul the club away from relegation danger is waning and losing on Saturday against one of the four teams below them could be the point of no return.
David Moyes, Chris Hughton and Eddie Howe are among candidates who will be considered if Pellegrini is sacked. West Ham are known to admire Rafael Benítez but a move for the former Liverpool manager is unlikely to succeed given the cost involved in taking him from Dalian Yifang and Benítez’s insistence this week that “there is no chance I will come back now”.
West Ham have won only one of their past 11 matches. They have lost seven league games and gone out of the Carabao Cup at Oxford during that sequence, which started in late September.
A defeat at St Mary’s could push West Ham into the bottom three, depending on how Aston Villa and Bournemouth fare earlier in the day at Sheffield United and Chelsea respectively.