I think it’s fair to say that every West Ham fan’s heart melted when they saw Antonio leave the field last night, his face riddled with despair and frustration. At first, like most West Ham fans, I decided to trust Bilic with his decision to play Antonio at RB. However, since then, we have seen nothing but mistakes from the natural winger.
I have often made the case that Bilic doesn’t see Antonio as the way forward, in terms of his attacking unite. Look at the rest of our attacking midfielders: Payet, Lanzini, Tore, Feghouli and Ayew. They are all playmaking midfielders, who like to nip in and out of each other. Antonio is the complete opposite. He simply doesn’t pass Bilic’s checklist, he’s far too raw and direct for Bilic’s liking.
So where does this leave Michail Antonio? Surely now Bilic has realised he simply can’t play him at RB? For the record, I must say I was disgusted with the lack of respect Bilic showed Antonio after subbing him last night. Antonio doesn’t deserve this, he was-arguably-our second best player last season. Not only has Antonio been denied a chance to play a huge role in our attack this season, he has (almost) been replaced by Tore, Feghouli and Ayew. He must be thinking “what more can I do?”.
I love Michail Antonio, but if I were his agent I would be telling him to reconsider his position at the club. This situation is a lose-lose. It isn’t fair on him, it’s tarnishing his reputation, and it’s not fair on the team, who are paying the ultimate price for this foolishness. No one is benefiting from Antonio playing RB. Of course I don’t want Antonio to leave, but for the sake of his career I honestly think he should already consider moving on. Unless Bilic reassures him that he will be getting the chance to play plenty of first team football as a winger from now on.
This argument that Bilic disrespected Antonio I just don’t see. Antonio was that bad that I was screaming for him to be taken off and I understand that he shouldn’t be played at RB. When you can still get something out the match (and we nearly did in the end) you have to take off a player who was being completely exposed. Yes that was Bilic’s fault for playing him in the first place, but if you are playing poor and you know you’re causing holes in the team, you have to take the substitution on the chin.
Mickiac: it had been so much better, for Antonio and – more important – for the team to move Michael to his natural position, and take off Valencia (or Nordtvelt) instead. We had to score and Antonio makes things happen. Not on the bench though, and not to be humiliated like that. Like Bilic a lot, but that was a big mistake.
When Ayew came off last night Bilic should have brought on Byram and shifted Antonio further forward. Instead he brought on his mate who’s barely touched a ball for 2 weeks because of his injury (missing both legs v Domzale & Juventus) and he played very poor. I think Töre would have been better playing against Astra where he could ease into the team & Antonio could have flourished in his natural position again.
Surely the move last night was to take off Valencia(tries hard but not good enough),Byram at right back,push Antonio further forward?
Maybe Antonio had just done something Bilic expressly told him not to,and removed him as punishment.
Either way,Bilic must now accept Antonio cannot play at right back at this level.
Surely he should play him on the right of 3 attacking players on Thursday to restore his confidence?
One reason I like Antonio is that he is the contrast to Lanzini, which is why he works so well. Imagine us having options?
It’s an invite to the opposition to play Antonio at RB. If we can see he’s not happy there, so can the opposing manager. It has to be a big part of the manager’s plan to concentrate down the left. So a player under pressure immediately becomes a player under even more pressure!! Bilic has got to realise Antonio is in a bad, bad place right now. Let’s see those respected man-management skills to get the boy playing and performing again the way we know he can and the way that excited us all so much last season.