What a Julen Lopetegui West Ham could look like

The post-Moyes era has already begun. Life under Julen Lopetegui is already taking shape.

Yet to take charge of his first game for West Ham, Julen Lopetegui is making moves at his new job amidst reports of signing 28-year-old Brazilian centre-back Fabricio Bruno for West Ham, a sign of things to come under the new Spanish boss.

Lopetegui:

A player has to see direction, knowledge, and an idea. He has to be convinced, above all. You have to find a way of conveying your ideas that wins him over.

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Sevilla as a case study

Julen Lopetegui often sets his team up in a 4-3-3 formation with variations into a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-1-4-1 and, most recently, a 4-4-2 at Wolves to suit various game states, a pattern which the West Ham players are familiar with. He will try to instil his ideas into the players, often involving playing out from the back using a double pivot to break the first line of the press, creating midfield overloads as the wingers tuck in, creating space for the wingbacks to overlap, constant player rotations and trying to create chances through combination plays with the striker or getting on the end of a cross, not too dissimilar from his time at Wolves.

Lopetegui’s teams are characterised by a high pressing intensity alongside being compact, making themselves difficult to break down and also blocking passing lanes as was often the case at Sevilla and the Spanish National Team – triggering the press when the opponents shift the ball to the wide areas and changing the pressing pattern to counter the opponents playing style effectively. Often, this involves the striker pressing both opposing central defenders in a back four system and his wingers going against the opposing fullbacks, leaving the player in the number 10 role to try blocking passing lanes into midfield or sometimes stepping up the pitch to assist in the press.

There are differences in the way Lopetegui set up his team at Wolves and Sevilla majorly because he tried to get instant results at a relegation-threatened Wolves, which he stated was a difficult task at the time, a case of going direct as opposed to the patient build up play he is often associated with.

Lopetegui prioritises passion and determination and could be inclined to give more opportunities to players who show such qualities and leave it all out on the pitch, creating a dressing room atmosphere where the club comes first, reminding the players that it is all about playing for the badge on the shirt.

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Player development

With a background in Real Madrid Castilla and the Spanish National Team reserves, developing players is not strange to Julen Lopetegui. With the precedent of Casemiro, Danilo, Alex Sandro and even Jules Kounde, West Ham can fantasise about how the Spaniard could work with a young player like Mohammed Kudus and other exciting academy talents. Mohammed Kudus has been a bright spark and has done well for himself in his first season at a new club. With Lopetegui coming in, he could elevate Kudus’ game while raising the ceiling for some older players.

Transfers

There could be significant arrivals and exits as the new era under Lopetegui kicks off to bolster the first-team squad. Aaron Cresswell, Vladimir Coufal, Ben Johnson and Michail Antonio see out their respective contracts this summer. Manchester City remain interested in Lucas Paqueta, leaving no guarantee that City will not be back this summer to sign him after the previous attempt failed. West Ham are reportedly prioritising at least one new centre-back, a right-back and a centre-forward for the upcoming transfer window. With Angelo Ogbonna set to run down his current contract and Nayef Aguerd and Kurt Zouma nearing their thirties, West Ham’s defence needs a revamp. Tosin Adarabioyo, Max Kilman and Youseff En-Nesyri are potential targets and have been linked with a move to the London outfit. West Ham are also reported to be in talks with Palmeiras for Brazilian talent Luis Guilherme.

Julen Lopetegui has always been a force to reckon with in European club competitions, amassing 56 managerial appearances, securing the top four three consecutive years for Sevilla, alongside one Europa League trophy. It is safe to say a mid-table status will not satisfy his ambitions of being among the elite managers in Europe. It would be interesting to see how he turns West Ham into a team that consistently makes appearances in Europe.

Lopetegui:

The first thing is to be aware that you’re going to a very different competition. There are different ways of playing and different ways of refereeing too, which oblige you to adapt. In England, one of the things you feel as soon as you get there is the vertiginous pace of the game.

Julen Lopetegui has come a long way since getting the sack at the Spain National Team on the eve of the 2018 World Cup. Knowing that his players are watching him and are keen on what he has to offer, his stay at West Ham should be fun.

The Author

Boluwatife Adenusi

Boluwatife Adenusi is a young football writer with a dynamic insight and a love for the beautiful game. With a fresh perspective and a genuine love for the game, Boluwatife is eager to share his insights and observations with fellow football enthusiasts. Boluwatife's writing showcases a natural talent for storytelling, bringing readers an insight into culture and tactics. Follow Boluwatife Adenusi on BackPage Football for his insights on football as it is meant to be.

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