Friday, November 25

Bilic deserves time to turn West Ham around

Big piece in the Daily Telegraph this week claiming that the position of Slaven Bilic is under threat. It's fair to say that Sullivan and Gold will be jumpy if they think their new stadium might be seeing Championship football next season. Bilic has certainly made mistakes this season, including bringing on Nordtveit for Payet against Spurs, trying to convert Antonio into a right back and bringing on Andy Carroll in a midweek Europa League tie at Astra, which led to Andy's long-term injury. 

The transfer signings have also been very poor, though it's possible David Sullivan was behind some of the purchases. Gokhan Tore was certainly a Bilic signing as Slaven knew him from Besiktas, while the manager must have had a say in most of the other signings. Far too many squad players were purchased for a Europa League campaign that never materialised.

But having said that, Slaven has a lot of credit in the bank from last season. He's still the same man who seemed to really get what managing West Ham was all about, who recognised the West Ham way and spoke of fantasy and dreams after the FA Cup win against Liverpool. If he is to blame for the current signings then he is also to be praised for the players who came in last season such as Payet, Ogbonna, Antonio and Lanzini. Under Slaven we won at Arsenal, Liverpool, Man City and Everton for the first time in decades. We finished seventh and should have been at least sixth and maybe higher if the refs had been kinder. 

There's been bad luck with injuries to Cresswell, Sakho, Ayew and Carroll and a team trying to adapt to a vast new stadium. Bilic has shown tactical flexibility to try and turn the season round; playing three men at the back with wing-backs and Obiang in midfield has improved results, with only two losses in the last seven matches. We were minutes away from a result at Spurs. It's not a crisis yet, though it might be if West Ham fail to beat Burnley and Hull City in home matches in December.

There aren't a lot of alternatives either. Roberto Mancini is a good manager, but Eddie Howe and Roberto Matinez are not going to leave their clubs mid-season. And the other manager who is an expert at keeping clubs up and is available right now is, erm, Big Sam Allardyce.

Bilic surely deserves a chance to salvage the season and rectify some of the summer's mistakes in the transfer window.

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