After the recent thrashing dealt to West Ham at the hands of Liverpool in an embarrassing 4-1 home defeat, goals from Mohamed Salah, Joel Matip and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have meant Slaven Bilic’s departure from the London Stadium is appearing to be something of an inevitability.
West Ham started the game the brighter of the two sides, and went close with Andre Ayew striking the post early on after finding himself one on one with Simon Mignolet. That was the best of the first half for West Ham, as two goals in two minutes from Mohamed Salah from a rapid counter attack and a Joel Matip tap in after a scramble form a corner put Liverpool in a comfortable position by half time.Embed from Getty Images
In the second half West Ham once again started brightly and quickly scored through Manuel Lanzini who calmly put the ball away form the centre of the box, could West Ham repeat what they did against Tottenham last week?
Of course not. Just one minute later Liverpool had restored their two goal advantage, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scoring his first goal since his move from Arsenal. Salah then heaped more misery on West Ham in the 75th minute as he drilled a fantastic effort past Joe Hart to make it four. As Liverpool move to joint 4th in the table, West Ham have been left in a sorry state of affairs under Bilic.
The Hammers are in real threat of being dragged in to the bottom three of the division given their current form. So what can West Ham do to stop the rot?
Put simply, the players need a right kick up the rear. West Ham’s players are at the bottom of both charts regarding distance covered per game and sprints made in the league so far, a strong indication of a lack of fitness or at least effort being made. Players who earn thousands a week should be able to play and try for at least 90 minutes a week, for the thousands of fans that come to watch them every week. Ability wise, West Ham have a top half squad but they simply aren’t performing to their potential.
Slaven Bilic brought about a memorable last season at Upton Park, but since the move to the London Stadium he has not found the same levels of success. A change is needed at the helm, as it appears the players are not playing for the manager anymore which is a clear signal a managerial replacement is needed.
Bilic’s tactics in recent times have been impossible to see as there is no clear system of discipline on show, which is allowing teams to overrun the Hammers time and time again, as displayed by Liverpool’s goals mostly coming from quick counter attacks.
Bilic has also shown stubbornness as he has been caught out continuously playing players out of position, whether its Michail Antonio at right-back or Javier Hernandez on the wing rather than their natural positions – it is leaving the team exposed and unsure of their responsibilities. Another reason to replace Bilic is to simply get the players fit and up to speed as they have looked far behind everyone else in the Premier League this season.
So who can come into replace him? The bookies favourite at the moment is David Moyes who, since leaving Everton, has been underwhelming after not being given a fair crack at Manchester United followed by abysmal failures at Real Sociedad and Sunderland. In the current situation it would look like a bad move for the Hammers. The board really need to pull something special out of the bag to keep face with the fans and I don’t feel Moyes would represent an option of excitement for the Hammers.
The fans choice would be Rafa Benitez who has rejuvenated Newcastle since he was appointed manager, and with uncertainty over the boards position at the moment now would be the perfect time to try and capture him despite Newcastle’s strong start to the 2017/18 campaign.
Another name West Ham should look at is recently sacked Ronald Koeman, despite his failures this season with Everton. His last three seasons have been fantastic from taking Southampton and Everton to top-eight finishes. He could represent a very good move for West Ham and there would be no compensation to be paid.
With the international break arriving, now would be the best time to appoint a fresh face as he will have time with his players and get them into the new regime before the next game away at Watford.
The board need to take their share of responsibility for this season failings as in the summer there was more to be done to build the squad up after a large number of departures from the playing squad.Embed from Getty Images
Most infamously was their pursuit of Sporting Lisbon’s William Carvalho, who is a class above the current West Ham option in holding midfield, and very much could have made the move to West Ham. The board seemingly didn’t want to stump up the cash to buy him and their “salami slicing “ negotiating tactics were not working – it is not the first time fans have felt cheapened by their owners. So if they do appoint a new manger he must be backed significantly in the summer, in order to bring some extra quality to the squad and drag them out of the rut they find themselves in.
With promises of competing for Champions League football by now since their takeover it seems they may have promised too much. Since taking the fans away from their spiritual home now is the time to fulfil on promises and to make a statement by bringing in a top manager who can get the most out of this faltering squad.
Written by Henry Tomlinson.