Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Can Slaven Bilic save his job at West Ham?

David Nugent in Editorial, English Premier League 31 Oct 2017

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West Ham boss Slaven Bilic is an affable and interesting character. The Croatian with a law degree and a liking of rock music may have more time to practice both in the near future if the Irons form does not improve.

Bilic managerial career with West Ham has been in doubt since the start of the season. In fact, for a period of last season fans were calling for Bilic to leave the club.

A 2-2 draw at London rivals Crystal Palace must have been a devastating blow for Bilic. His team were two goals up at half-time and should have seen the game out.

Bottom of the table Palace produced a spirited second-half display and equalised in the 97th minute through winger Wilfried Zaha.

Antonio mistake ridiculous

One ridiculous factor in the draw at Selhurst Park was Michail Antonio’s actions in injury-time. The winger had the ball in the Palace half and looked set to ensure the team collected three points by taking the ball into the corner.

However, as he ran towards the corner flag, he did something inexplicable he crossed the ball straight into the hands of the Palace goalkeeper who then launched the move that led to the equaliser.

Fans can accept when they are beaten by moments of brilliance. However, their own player doing something as silly as that is just crazy. Bilic was understandably furious with Antonio after the game.

Granted a number of other West Ham players failed to stop Zaha’s run for the equaliser. However, the goalscorer would not have had the ball in the Hammers half if Antonio had kept hold of it.

West Ham not living up to expectations this season

There was optimism amongst the West Ham fans in the summer. The high profile signings of Marko Arnautovic, Joe Hart, Javier Hernandez and Pablo Zabaleta appeared to be good ones.

The Hammers hierarchy certainly backed their boss in the transfer market. Some were even tipping West Ham for a top-six finish this season.

Unfortunately, this is West Ham, which is a club similar to Everton, in the fact that nothing can be straightforward. The new signings have not quite lived up to expectations, while performances have been poor at times.

Arguably, the worse moment of the Hammers campaign came in a 3-0 home defeat by Premier League new boys Brighton Hove Albion. Bilic’s team did follow that defeat up with a 3-2 win at Tottenham in the League Cup, after coming back from two goals down, though.

Winning at Spurs should have given the team a massive lift. The win did seem to have buoyed the players in the first half at Palace, as they established a two-goal lead at the break.

However, in typical West Ham fashion, they managed to throw away the lead and without two points with it.

A relegation fight possible

For a season that started with such optimism, it is turning into more of a hard slog for the not so happy Hammers. Last season for much of the campaign, the Irons were at the wrong end of the table.

At the moment they are 16th in the Premier League table and just one point clear of the relegation zone. A fight for survival is a real possibility this season if results do not improve quickly and are odds of 10/3 to suffer relegation.

Bilic managed to turn things around last season and save his job. The Croatian has better players at his disposal this season, so he can still turn things around.

The players still seem to be playing for their boss, as illustrated in the win at Spurs and the first half against Palace. The fans seem to have lost faith in Bilic, though, which is always a major problem.

The former Croatia boss seems to have no long-term future at West Ham anyway, as his contract expires next summer. The clubs hierarchy look to have held fire on offering the boss a new deal.

The common consensus is that he Bilic will leave the club next summer. If the team do not start winning, his exit may well be accelerated.

Can Slaven Bilic turn things around at West Ham?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Nugent


David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.

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