Is it fair that West Ham's Slaven Bilic is the bookies' favourite to be the first Premier League manager sacked?
We may only be three games into the Premier League season, but Slaven Bilic’s job is already on the line and he has become the bookies’ favourite to be the first manager sacked this season, with Sky Bet even offering 8/15 at the time of writing.
He came under some speculation for much of last season as the Hammers were woefully disappointing, spending much of the campaign languishing in the wrong half of the table. Then, the blame was put down to the board and the poor transfer business which sees only Andre Ayew and Arthur Masuaku still at the club 12 months later.
This season, the Irons have started in even more disappointing fashion. Bottom of the table after three games, they have conceded ten goals and scored just twice. Whilst they almost came close to a point against Southampton, they were absolutely blown away by Manchester United, and more concerningly, a Newcastle side who had lost their first two games.
Once again, Bilic’s recruitment has been poor. Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta and Javier Hernandez have been good additions, if expensive, but have not resolved many of the key issues in this West Ham side such as the shambolic defending.
On the pitch, the Hammers have looked disjointed and like a group of strangers meeting for the first time on the field of play. The lack of fluidity has done little to play to the strengths of the likes of Hernandez and has instead left the Hammers looking more like relegation candidates than European hopefuls.
The style of football has also been a concern. Famed for their desire to play play “the West Ham way”, in recent times it has been hard to tell the difference between the football played by Bilic’s side and that played by the hated Sam Allardyce during his time at Upton Park.
One of the biggest criticisms of Bilic has been his management of young players. Whilst Declan Rice has been given a shot early this season, and impressed, the likes of Reece Oxford and Toni Martinez have remained on the edge of the squad with few opportunities to impress, the former even sent out on loan to Germany rather than given an opportunity to impress in the Premier League.
Bilic is now under pressure more than at any other point in his West Ham career. Where he was previously a fan favourite, even his most loyal supporters are beginning to lose patience. If the club spend much longer at the wrong end of the table, expect David Gold and David Sullivan, not renowned for their patience, to act.
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