ExWHUEmployee’s Column: Players still back Bilic after meeting

Author: . Published: at 10:41pm

It has been a while since I wrote one of these but I hope to continue to write more regularly from now onwards. As always I am still looking for writers who can commit to actually writing something 😉 and preferably during the day too, so if that is you please get in contact.

So today Big Sam has mutually resigned from his position at England and there are obvious questions around any misdemeanours which may have happened during his time with us. There was always a lot of talk especially from Ravel Morrison’s camp around Sam putting pressure on players to switch agents to Mark Curtis. It was Ravel’s refusal to do so that spelt the end of his career at West Ham apparently and just before he left Allardyce managed to persuade Reece Burke to join Mark Curtis as well.

There was always question marks around Sam’s agent dealings, however I have been told by people in the club today (and by respected media figures) that the club should have nothing to worry about. Talk of the club suffering a 12 points deduction are not correct, and represent nothing more than sensationalism to sell papers. There was also a suggestion that as Enner Valencia was being third party-owned at one point, this could come back to haunt us now this story has broken. Fortunately, this is not true and the third party agreement ended before we signed him, therefore there is nothing in there that represents a legal issue. Nonetheless, the club are braced for a number of stories to break from other agents and outlets telling of stories of Sam’s dealings, so it looks like West Ham’s new head of Media relations, Max Fitzgerald, has his hands full in his new role.

Our current manager took the players out for a meal yesterday where all cards were put on the table. It is said that the players still stand by Bilic and that he hasn’t lost the dressing room. Talk through certain media outlets has been that Bilic is too soft and allows pets and children into the training ground seems wide of the mark, as I have heard the opposite. There were concerns around the tough nature of Bilic’s training at the start of the season and fears that it could have contributed to a lot of muscle injuries during his tenure, which the chairmen and manager are said to have discussed,  and changed them as a result.

Interestingly, during this meeting,  Bilic apparently informed the squad that nobody will be picked on reputation from this point onwards, and that those who are not performing will be immediately dropped in favour of squad players with a point to prove.

There is strong talk though that the manager will be given three more games , with the club fully expecting that he will have turned it around by then. In the unexpected event that it comes to Bilic departing, I have heard of some of the names being lined up and there is a real range of experience and managers with potential. I think we should all get behind Bilic and do what we can to try to turn it around for him. Running polls on whether Bilic should be dismissed seems premature and unhelpful to the current situation.

Bilic will have a game or so after the international break to prove himself. This is because the club see that when Sakho and Carroll return to the side, and Cresswell not that far off,  Bilic will finally get a full complement of players, if not, very close to full.  It is also thought that Bilic is prepared to give Sakho a second/third chance now to prove himself at the club. Having originally said he had no future at the club, this comes as something of a U-turn, but I think the current striker situation has made him act.

Reports have surfaced tonight of Randolph and Carroll being out on some all-night bender with Randolph said to be abusing people who were on their way to work. Again, this isn’t really the press that the club needs and I do question why some people who support the club want to do their to draw attention to a story like this. Andy Carroll is said to be disappointed by the reaction and believes that they have not done anything wrong.  I am sure the club will look into it, which will probably end with the conclusion that there isn’t a problem.

We’re all wondering the same thing at this point: What exactly has gone wrong this season? This will be discussed in detail on our radio show tomorrow. This is live on Phoenix FM at 7pm and available to download on iTunes after the show. In a nutshell though, I believe the exit from the Europa League created a negative feel before the Premier League had started, something which the squad found hard to shift. A lot of players had been bought/not sent out on loan in preparation in for a long European campaign which never materialised. Once we exited, Reece Burke promptly left on loan and it meant the likes of Randolph, Obiang, Tore and Calleri realising they would be getting a lot less games and probably feeling resentful.

The move to the stadium has not helped. Had it ran smoothly and there was a positive feeling among the fans then this would be reflected on the pitch but the anger around sitting and standing and inadequate stewarding meant that rather than supporting the team there was a lot of negativity.

I also question our use of the transfer market. I would say we have opted to sign quantity over quality this year. We have spent a lot of money on a lot of players when perhaps we would have been better to buy three £20m players that improved our first team rather than just our squad.

Injuries have really not helped the situation, but strangely,  despite the fact that we have managed to play our best players in Payet, Lanzini and Antonio, we have failed to reach any sort of consistency. Despite this, we are still missing players like Cresswell, Ayew and Carroll, who will surely make a difference upon their return. One area where the crisis has hit us particularly badly, is the defence. The constant changing of players, I think,  has meant that a solid understanding has not been able to form yet. Similarly, we have faced problems in our forward line. With Andy Carroll out injured all of our preseason planning and preparation went out of the window and we had to change system very quickly. All of this is worrying, but innately fixable.

Let us not forget, that all of these absences have also meant we are playing to play too many players out of position. Antonio at right back was a prime example of this. His ‘adventure’ in the position caused a problem which affected the team in more ways than one. It was clear he wasn’t a right back and that he was at fault for early goals conceded. David Sullivan was then said to have spoken with Bilic had said he didn’t think it a good idea playing him there which Slaven promptly listened to. This was good to show that Bilic can change his mind but some of the players obviously felt some concern at this tactical decision.

There is a need, in my view, for us to play only one of Noble or Kouyate now, so that we can bring  in Obiang to protect the back four. I believe he is one of the most unlucky players to have played for us,  as his talent is there for all to see.  I would play Reece Oxford at centre back as the others are all out of form, this would make particular sense as Oxford seems to be getting frustrated as he hasn’t played as much as he was hoping. Obviously, this is of concern to the club, as they want him to remain at the club for the foreseeable future.

In more positive news,  we raised £1017 for Jonjo Heurmann’s charity event, which gives us massive pleasure to donate to the causes of such a heroic young man.  A big shout out is in order to to all of those helped, contributed and donated.  I have put a tweet out asking for the winners of the prizes to get in touch so please, if you entered, do check my account.

Tomorrow marks the end of a place that held so many beautiful memories for all of us. The place I am referring to, as you know, is The Boleyn Ground as tomorrow marks the beginning of  deconstruction work to the beautiful old lady down, something I am not sure I can stomach to see.

Finally, If you are interested in writing for The West Ham way, please get in touch with the site or me via my twitter account

COYI

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  • Brian Yeo
    27th September 2016 at 11:27 pm

    Great read as per usual dude

  • G Force
    28th September 2016 at 12:47 am

    A good assessment adding food for thought. I think you could be on to something about being knocked out of the Europa Cup so quickly. Its something I hadn’t thought of or seen mentioned. I also agree with leaving either Noble or Kouyate out at the moment and would go further. Obiang is certainly very unfortunate to be continuously pushed into the background and deservers a chance to show what he can do. I do not think he is not an 8 out of 10 player but a good 6 is what we need right now. I would also play Nordtveit with him and either Noble or Kouyate plus Payet ,but not Lanzini who could be on the bench to change things if needed. Oxford for Nordtveit is another alternative. THe Norwegian has been played everywhere across the back four and we need to see him in a settled position to make a proper assessment.
    This leaves the full back situation which I would give to Arbeloa and Byram until we get Creswell fit ,not ideal I know but we are short of options, .Reid and Ogbonna are still our best central defenders even if they are not at their best at present. The strikers should be Antonio out right and AN other but not Callieri. I don’t advocate this line up as a permanent solution but it might shore up the defence which gets no protection from the midfield at the moment. For the present I would stay with Adrian in goal who was our best player against Southampton but Randolph pushes him very close.
    THe stadium does have some bearing on our performances but it goes without saying this has got be overcome and we can all help with that. This team does lack some creativity on paper but we have got to stop shipping goals at the current rate.

  • Andy Quinn
    28th September 2016 at 7:31 am

    As ever Ex, a very well balanced article! Personally speaking and given the season we had last year, we should be giving Bilic the whole year to turn things around. Ferguson was at Man Utd for 27 years and nearly sacked after just three; yet here we are 18 months in and the knives are out already? Putting it right will be the challenge cos the players are capable but lacking confidence. Selecting the starting line up on merit/form and not on seniority is a step in the right direction.

    Come on You Irons
    NZ Hammers

  • 28th September 2016 at 7:37 am

    I think you have summed everything up perfectly. There is no doubt that exiting from the Europa League created a negative vibe around the club. The new signings have not been good enough and it is frustrating seeing players like Slimani at Leicester performing so well in comparison.

    I honestly believe the club made a bad decision with signing Tore, Calleri, Ayew and Zaza. These players combined could cost us £60m+ and the quality is not there to see. We would quite clearly be better off buying 2 quality players instead if bringing in 4 average performers.

    My biggest annoyance was our lack of effort to bring in Benteke and Bolasie. Both of these players have proven ability in the premiership, although Benteke did have a dip in form last year. The point here though is Benteke would act as perfect cover for Carroll who always seems to be injured. On the flip side could you imagine Benteke with Carroll or Sakho up front? What a powerhouse of a front line this would be!

    As for the new stadium, I have to say I’m disappointed with the view and the atmosphere. We need a live band in the stadium (someone playing the drums or trumpet like at the cricket). We also need to change the green patch around the pitch to a claret and blue design.

    It’s been a frustrating start to the season, but I am still very much behind Slaven Bilic. We need to show him our support now, get behind the team and hope he can turn things around over the next 5 games.

  • 28th September 2016 at 8:04 am

    Great read very helpful and informative cheers COYI lets get our youngsters in the team ⚒

  • dicaniocan
    28th September 2016 at 8:48 am

    Always a calm head when all about are losing theirs. I was actually thinking we really need EX to step in and offer some sort of round up with so many different things happening in and around the club. As usual EX doesn’t disappoint

  • Trev N
    28th September 2016 at 4:12 pm

    Very enlightening .. it helps to what is going on behind the scenes. coyi’s