Text  Larger | Smaller | Default

NewsNow

Not another long goodbyeÖ 


Filed: Tuesday, 29th August 2017
By: Paul Walker


Weíve all been here before, havenít we? Slaven Bilic is on the naughty step again and Lord Sully has the raging hump. Is this just another tedious chapter in the long, long goodbye for yet another manager?

To my recollection, this is the third, maybe second, time in the past year that West HamĎs manager has been summoned (never asked politely to pop over for a chat, but summoned by the powers on high) for a showdown with our chairman as yet another calamity in the ĎotherĎ Eastenders soap opera gathers speed.

It is always the same. The team lose a string of games, and Bilic gets told he has four games to save his job. I recall way back at the beginning of last season we were out of Europe and getting battered by everybody from Manchester City to Watford. Five defeats in six if I recall.

We are then due to face Spurs, Manchester United twice, Arsenal and Liverpool and Bilic is put under tremendous pressure to turn things around. We end up being unlucky to lose at Spurs and draw at Man U and Liverpool.

Then it happens again. We lose to Chelsea, Bournemouth, Leicester, Hull and Arsenal on the spin. Lose the next one at home to Swansea and Slav is toast, we are told. We win 1-0.

Somehow we claw our way to 11th after one defeat in the last seven. But there is still a far-reaching end of season review and it all totters on through the summer, with Slav changing his medical staff rather than axing his coaches as the board seem to want.

Now after a seemingly never ending tour of the western world--Austria (twice), Bremen (twice), Hamburg, Iceland, Manchester, Southampton, Cheltenham and Newcastle in 41 demanding days, we find ourselves rock bottom of the table and Slav taking the blame.

Embed from Getty Images


Itís getting tedious, boring and predictable. The same complaints from the fans and the board are repeated over and over. Slav canít organise a defence to save his life, the team show no pace, desire, effort or belief and we are going through new signings ten to the dozen.

Now we are told the board are unhappy with the application, team selection and tactics. Many of the fans who have supported Slav through all this turmoil are turning against him.

Itís all turning nasty and the inevitable seems closer than ever. David Sullivan, though, knows he faces a decision he clearly does not want to take. The fan base are split on so many things, but Bilic--to those who are anti-board--is their shining light, the rekindling of a West Ham many feel has gone forever.

You sense that fans who are supportive of the board want a change in management. Light the claret and blue touch paper Dave, and stand well back.

Jamie Redknapp reckons Bilic is still suffering from the transfer shambles of last summer, he may well be right. This window has seen five new players signed, only three who cost a transfer fee. Sullivan was being praised to the heavens for his work in getting Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta, Javier Hernandez, Marko Arnautovic to the club.

Even the promising kid, Saed Haksabanovic was considered a coup.

Since then, three weeks have been and gone and nobody has been added to the squad. In that time Bilic has clearly been told to sell to give the club the reduced wage bill to buy someone like William Carvalho.

Embed from Getty Images


We have sold £30m worth of players and the spend is about £42m. The worst aspect of the transfer dealings is that of the 18 players who have joined the club since Sam Byram arrived in January 2016, nine have already gone and that will be ten if Jose Fonte is sold to Crystal Palace. Thatís a shocking situation.

If you go back to the beginning of Bilicís reign, which started in June 2015, we have signed (bought or loaned) 48 players and 22 have already left. How you are supposed to forge a proper squad, team spirit and togetherness after that turnover is beyond me.

The other problem is the slow depleting of our squad. If you ignore the four lads from the academy who were released--they will always be replaced by promotion from within--14 players (sold or loaned)have left the club, and only the five previously mentioned have arrived.

Sullivan has, in effect, launched a culling of the nonsense of last summer, to get flops off the wage bill. But in doing so, Bilicís options have decreased.

The fact that so many injuries have hampered this seasonís preparation has added to the problem. We were promised two strikers would be signed. We only have Hernandez. Arnautovic, to me, is a wide attacking midfielder. He is not a striker. He can do that job, but so too can Michail Antonio, but itís not something want to be the norm.

We still need a commanding centre-back, a forceful holding midfield player and another striker. Andy Carroll, you may have noticed, is still not fit.

But none of this has happened, and in the last days of the window, Iím not holding my breath. At least Sullivan has not done the stupid thing and sacked a manager in a transfer window. Even now, the uncertainty will clearly put off possible arrivals, thatís too obvious for words.

Embed from Getty Images


You can tell I am hedging my bets here. I too have grown frustrated with the current situation, and the flood of goals we concede. But donít forget, Bilic was told when he arrived that he had to change the style away from the big Sam era. Some how we donít seem to have hit on a happy medium.

Managers deserve longer than three matches, even if much of the problem is a hang-over from the previous season.

But the problem goes deeper. We are told that senior players are not carrying out instructions, that Mark Noble should be dropped, that people are played out of position.

Worse was a small line in an Ian Herbert report on the Newcastle game in the Mail. Ianís a good operator, and he came up with a carefully worded line: "There are thought to be tensions in the background about an element of Bilicís team selection elsewhere on the field", having previously discussed the problems at central defence.

Later he said "Noble is still an influence but not the player he was." The article was clearly saying this moaning was not coming from a fellow player, but someone behind the scenes. So now we have a non-playing member of the club staff briefing against the manager. That doesnít impress me one bit.

There are many who hope Bilic can turn this around in the four games he seemingly has been given. Huddersfield, Spurs and Swansea at home and West Brom away. Bilic has made mistakes and can clearly be stubborn, but no manager deserves the sort of sustained pressure from within the club that he has had to contend with over the past year.

Injuries and poor judgement in the market, plus the new stadium problems have dealt him a poor hand. I doubt he will survive another showdown with the chairman.


Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.







Your Comments


comments powered by Disqus