Slaven Bilic’s time at the London Stadium managing West Ham United should probably be over this week, if West Ham lose yet another game at Arsenal, leaving them without a win since the first week in February. The team that had impressive road wins at Southampton and Middlesbrough and also a well fought draw against Liverpool has gone away, and have been replaced by a team that can’t keep AFC Bournemouth under three goals after the Cherries missed two penalties. The team is winless in six and has lost four straight. The team is reeling, and sometimes a new voice and new direction are needed. Here are three reasons why he needs to move on.
When you leave Hull for West Ham and then your old club beats you pic.twitter.com/FZe7fcFFHE— Football Fights (@footbalIfights) April 2, 2017
First, the team appears to have forgotten how to play football as a team. Bilic said against Bournemouth that the team had “too many players trying to get a winner” and the same mentality seemed to take over once Hull City took the lead against West Ham late in the second half this weekend’s game. The result was that Andy Carroll was trying to take on players outside of the box on the dribble, while other players sat in the box waving their hands instead of coming back to provide passing outlets for Carroll. The team seems disjointed once the strategy of “send the ball into the box for the big man” is neutralized, and instead of attacking in waves, the team seems lacking direction and attacks fizzle out before they even get started.
The team has also given up set piece goals in three of the four games on the losing streak, and been generally disjointed and incompetent on defense. While the players are the ones on the pitch playing the game, point is that Bilic is the one who prepares the team and gets them ready to play. If the team is leaking set-piece goals, the defense seems to be a comedy of errors, and the attack quickly descends into every-man-for-himself glory hunting game after game, then the manager needs to address and fix it. That is, after all, what he is paid to do, get results from the team that is put on the pitch.
West Ham's website: We need to get behind the manager— Cartlon Cole (@_CarltonCole9) April 2, 2017
Also West Ham's website: Welcome to mediawatch. Here are 5 candidates to replace Bilic
Secondly, Bilic has all but been sacked in the press, with new names and new rumors in the press almost literally every single day, and with three different “votes of confidence” announced by West Ham’s upper management. It’s a gigantic distraction that seems to be holding the team back. While this is in no way Bilic’s fault, as the board seem determined to undermine their manager in the press, a new manager needs to come in to eliminate the distraction entirely. It’s hard enough to manage in the Premier League, and the constant drumbeat in the press about job status has got to make the job even harder. For his own sake, Bilic needs to move on. The board has all but thrown Bilic under the bus for the failure of most of the transfers, while simultaneously taking credit for the ones that work out.
The manager thinks we have enough up top for the rest of this season and we will reassess the situation in the summer. dg https://t.co/BGZBgtqdQa— David Gold (@davidgold) February 1, 2017
Cundy doesn't no what he's talking about, taking player on loan with a view to buy is a good way to do business. Lanzini worked Zaza didn't https://t.co/GABX07NlKM— David Gold (@davidgold) March 25, 2017
@davidgold With the squad you guys have assembled and a fit Andy for a season we would scare the top four to death— Steve Mortlock (@SteveMortlock) March 2, 2017
Finally, the the team has seemed to take a giant step backwards this season. While Bilic may not be entirely responsible for the individual players playing poorly, it is worrying trend that so many players have regressed. Mark Noble is having a rough season, resorting to lashing out at fans in the press. Aaron Cresswell has been a shell of himself. Sam Byram has been held out of the first team despite being healthy, and Cheikhou Kouyate has played out of position with fairly pedestrian results.
What the hell happened to Cresswell yesterday. Absolute shadow of the player last season. Noble, the same. Defensively we are very poor.⚒— Mike Benson (@Michael18761) March 12, 2017
The new Stadium and Dimitri Payet throwing his toys out of the pram have been well-documented challenges for the team this season, and those reasons are not without merit. However, the team lost every game in March and has exactly one win in over two months. The team has had plenty of time to adjust to the new Stadium and Payet left the club in January and his departure seemed to lift the team before the slide down the table resumed.
The good stories from the season, Manuel Lanzini and Pedro Obiang both turning into vital cogs in the midfield and Michail Antonio continuing his good form from last year into an England call-up and a team lead in goals, have come almost by accident. Obiang wasn’t trusted in midfield until Kouyate went down with injury, Antonio was moored at right back or right wingback for the start of the season, and Lanzini has been played on the wing or in a defensive midfield role, not utilizing his best position on the pitch as a number 10 behind the striker. Even exiling promising young forward Ashley Fletcher to the PL2 side when the team was without a first-choice striker was a mind-boggling decision, with Jonathon Calleri, he of two goals, got a run in the side instead.
Craig Shakespeare as Leicester City manager:— Football Facts (@FootbalIFact) April 1, 2017
The injuries to critical players right now have hurt the team, but at some point the poor play of multiple players might have to be addressed by a change in manager, no matter how much it may not be his fault. Leicester City’s sacking of Claudio Ranieri was unthinkable, given that he had managed the team to it’s first Premier League title, but with Leicester on a fantastic run since being replaced, it’s pretty easy to see that the ownership was right to make a change. Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy look like the players that led the Foxes to glory last season, instead of the shells of their former selves that they had been earlier in the season. Hull City’s hiring of Marco Silva looks to be a genius move, with the Tigers looking to avoid relegation despite being in certain doom in December after losing to West Ham.
While the team’s problems run deep, and Bilic is not responsible for most of them, it is best if he moves on sooner rather than later. While a new manager can’t buy new players before the match against Swansea or replace the board, a new manager can get the team motivated and a different voice in the room is sometimes needed to stop the rot and get the players back to playing well. Super Slav may be super, but we don’t need another hero, we are just looking for someone to rely on.