Will Slaven Bilic be given time at London Stadium?
Every club is entitled to their mistakes, and West Ham are no exception – the mistake being the move to the London Olympic Stadium. Bilic’s side have failed to settle in their new home, the results have been below par, as well as the undeniably unrecognisable performances.
The first sign of “a long old slog” of a season is the dreaded vote of confidence, that seems to have already been delivered by David Sullivan and David Gold who sent an open letter to their fans as they vow to “sort the problems out”, arguably not the best start for Bilic’s second season. The letter came off the back of another defeat, this time, 3-0 at home to Southampton.
Sullivan and Gold are definitely feeling the pressure and you do just wonder how much long they will give Bilic, given that they acknowledged the poor form:
“There is no question that this has not been the start to the season that we were looking for but rest assured we are doing everything we can to fix the situation,” they said.
“The facts are there for everyone to see. We know we are letting in too many goals and not scoring enough, but be assured we will sort the problems out. There have been factors which have contributed to the poor start with injuries to key players and some key decisions which have gone against us.
“But we are not going to make excuses and know that Slaven and his team will be working even harder on the training ground this week to get things right.”
West Ham already find themselves in serious danger of being dragged into a relegation battle. They currently lie in 18th, have lost five out of their six league games this term and are shipping goals, almost for fun. They have conceded 16 goals already, and are well on their way to eclipsing the 47 goals they shipped last campaign, which saw them eventually finish 12th.
Many expected West Ham to better their exploits from last season, a new stadium, European football and all done playing “the West Ham way”. Unfortunately, for the faithful, the football played last season seems an all too distant memory.
The European dream was short lived, no “going on a European tour” for The Hammers this season. Knocked out by Romanian outfit Astra Giurgiu 2-1 in the Europa League qualifiers, made worse by the fact that they got the away goal in the first leg, many had them down for a cake-walk at home, not to be. They were thwarted by the same side for the second season running, demonstrating mistakes clearly had not been learned.
Injuries have definitely played a part in West Ham’s early season slump. Dmitri Payet; who for much of last season was their talisman, had no pre-season, like most that took part in Euro 2016. Then you have key absentees; Diafra Sakho, Andy Carroll and Aaron Cresswell.
The Hammers find themselves behind the chasing pack and need to address their defensive frailties. It is all very well trying to play an attacking brand of football, but if you fail to adhere to your defensive responsibilities then you are always going to encounter problems.
At home to Southampton, not for the first time, they showed their naivety. Nordtveit and Arbeloa were continually caught up-field leaving both central defenders exposed. Southampton’s Bertrand and Cedric had the freedom of the London Stadium, this is where the game was lost for West Ham. Bilic operated a 4-1-4-1 system which does not seem to be appropriate for the personnel that he has. 4-2-3-1 would be a lot more fluid with the players that he has at his disposal, while also adding some much-needed protection to his back four. Additionally, it would allow him to give license to his full-backs to attack, if he so desires. West Ham currently look like they are searching for a balance in their style of play, at present, it looks too unorganised.
West Ham “entertain” Middlesbrough on Saturday, knowing that only three points will do if they are to turn the proverbial corner. A win would see them leapfrog their opponents in the league table and exit the bottom three. Another home loss will only see the pressure grow and add to the home supports frustrations.
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