So Saturday was a really mixed day for me. I was really nervous about our first event and making sure it was a success and likewise about how the team were to play that evening too.
Let’s talk about the negative one first. I thought the performance was terrible and that is being polite. I felt too many players were not interested and seemed very off the pace. I was watching certain players who were amazing last year such as Lanzini and Payet and they just seemed really slow, unfit and half hearted. Lanzini tried hard but just didn’t seem as sharp as he had done and this could be said for a lot of other players too. I find it even more concerning now following Bilic’s post-match press conference where he has said the players are not applying themselves in training either. This is the manager and coaching staff’s jobs to insure that they are and to publically admit that seems a very risky move.
I think the board back Bilic; he will be given a few games yet but this cannot go on much longer. The reasonable time to judge will be after the Boxing Day result against Swansea but a decision should be made in my eyes by then. If a new manager is to come in, you need to give him the January window to bring in his own men, something the likes of Mancini (one of the top names in the mix) would wish to do. Bilic is theirs and my man for now however.
The season has been a major disappointment as everyone involved with the club would admit. There has been mistakes made at all levels from the very top to the players. The board know that mistakes have been made around the stadium and some of the signings in the summer. For me the two main ones are coming out early and saying we will sign a £30m forward raised expectations really high at the start and unless this was delivered there was always going to be a negative view of the window. I also think mistakes at the stadium were made with seating/standing and the PR around that, the segregation of away fans and a failure to make the ground feel like West Ham.
Mistakes have been made by the manager. Many like to blame the board for some of the transfers and yes they have made mistakes but the manager has far more say then some would like to believe. The likes of Tore, Zaza and Ayew were all deals that Slaven Bilic was very keen on. Some of arguably the more successful signings: Masuaku (debateable in success), Fletcher and Fernandes were Tony Henry’s finds. So I think an equal share of the blame can be made.
The decision to play Antonio at right back at the start of the season has been more devastating than many would think too. He clearly wasn’t a right back, everyone around the club clearly felt that except the manager and we lost too many goals because of this decision at the start of the year which in turn had a knock on effect on the confidence and the player’s trust in the managers decisions as well as missing out on a number of signings who could play there. It feels like Slaven has a lot more doubters within the ranks this year than before. I like Slaven and I want him to succeed, I really do, I hope he turns this around.
Another big factor is the players. I think some got carried away with their successes last year and summer tournaments and have not applied themselves as much as they did last year where the spirt of the Boleyn seemed to motivate many of them. Also whilst it isn’t their fault directly the injuries have been crippling. Look at the players not available against Arsenal: Kouyate, Byram, Antonio, Cresswell, Oxford, Calleri, Tore, Carroll and Ayew (to start) and this has been the number for most games (I also forgot Sakho when I first wrote this). The fact that Arbeloa, a player who looks certain to be on his way out, got on the bench and then played shows the injury situation. The loss of Cresswell, Kouyate and Antonio would affect most teams in the league too.
I think negative press has also been a factor. Yes, we have created some of the negative news ourselves but the media has seemed hell bent on focusing on the stadium flaws and the fans’ fighting even though similar incidents at other clubs does not get reported. Even in the week when Ayew was deliberately “rested” and put on an intensive fitness campaign to get back to the standards we expected from him there were stories of a “bust up” with Bilic and Payet not celebrating his goal because of it, which wasn’t true.
The club plan to sign players in January and have an extensive list at the moment but I guess the list could change if the manager does likewise the list of possible departures too. Some of the names on there are really exciting and people are confident many will be keen to join, although the league position could be a huge factor. Forward and right back being the key position. Everyone feels disappointed at the club and everyone needs to do all they can to turn it around. What Bilic said yesterday about the training could be inspired or could really come back to haunt him.
On to more positive things. Our West Ham Way Pre Match event was a real success and we were delighted to see so many of you back at our home of Upton Park at the East London Working Man’s club and enjoying a traditional West Ham event. Mark Ward, who will be the host at every event, was brilliant and we have received nothing but positive comments about him and Frank McAvennie and the event as a whole. The aim of the events it to keep the traditions of the club alive and this is something myself, SDCC and Mark Ward are especially passionate about.
There are learning curves for us as this was the first event and we intend to make each event better and better. We will be making small tweaks to insure that this does happen. Thank you to all those that have taken the time to give us the feedback and we look forward to seeing you again at the next event. These events will take place before every home game that is on a weekend or bank holiday but not midweek. Our next event is on the 17th of December before the Hull City game at 11-2pm and my first ever favourite players and hero of our FA ,up Quarter Final win against Everton, Stuart Slater, will be the guest with Mark Ward. We will have many great prizes for our raffle and a chance to mingle with celebrity West Ham fans, Hammerettes and true loyal and passionate fans! Tickets are now on sale here: http://bit.ly/TWHWTICKET2
Let’s hope we can have some positive news this week at the club and the players come into training with greater determination to turn this around.
Summer signings have let us down big time & injuries to sakho & Carrol hit us at start of season. Pre season was all about playing with Carrol & no plan B. Still think he can turn it around palace Spurs and Chelsea games showed that.
Sakho was a big player missing too! ..
I’ve contacted the club 5 times about being unable to sit at games,they’ve done nothing and now just ignore emails.Stewards do nothing and once game has kicked off people come from all over to stand.Four of us won’t be renewing
Yes to most of that. There’s little sign of any team ethos and cohesion. We may have had a number of injuries but there’s still no core to the starting XI, no feel that they have a plan let alone any tactical options. Massive for me is the lack of movement off the ball.
Still far too few options being made available for the guy on the ball. It’s been an issue for years and at times we improve but then slip back. Just look at the way Arsenal and City players move and make themselves available. We sometimes click down the left when Cresswell and Payet combine with someone like Kouyate or Obiang to make triangles with inside passes and we look good when we do. But it’s so infrequent. And that’s about players having clear instructions and the work ethic to keep running and want the ball.
For me Lanzini is the guy that works the hardest to knit the play together. He’s much better than Payet at recycling the ball. We just need more solidity around him. But the biggest issue is the way we link with whatever second rate forward we have on the pitch. Lots of buzzing around in midfield doesn’t make a blind bit of difference if there’s no meaningful link with the frontline.
And we can’t just rely on Payet to make things happen. He floats in and out of games and with little support is often the man who gives the ball away. And some of those corners are just awful. How many times have we been caught on the break after a poor corner that doesn’t get past the first defender?
Bizarrely I thought we looked half decent at times on Saturday. We got mugged in the last 15 minutes but we tried to take the game to a very strong team who hit us on the counter. But despite the huffing and puffing that lack of real quality going forward is killing us. We improved the squad (just about) in the Summer but it the starting XI and for the outlay we made that’s criminal.
I always said we’d struggle initially at the OS and that we had to rebuild the year before. Perhaps we flattered ourselves last year and thought we’d achieved it already. But there were some flaky points last year with us bouncing back regularly from conceding cheap goals. And this year with nothing up top we aren’t doing that any more.
Something has to give very quickly. And by far the most important change is to get a real quality mobile striker rather than the overpriced 10th choices we managed in the Summer.
Hard to disagree with your analysis – at this level of sport it’s a psychological challenge as much as a physical one and in England it is the manager’s job to get it right; if he gets it wrong players will be listless and clueless.They need a plan and the confidence in the manager that knows what he is doing and that should come through drilling on the training pitch and the right the selection and tactics and player acquisition should be a natural extension of that process. It’s not their job to see the whole picture. Occasionally you’ll get a band of brothers phenomenon but it is rare – in football; in any sport – just look at England Rugby and the change wrought by Eddie Jones with more or less the same players. Some would say, ‘they are professionals’, and so they are in a very narrow sense. So are musicians in a classical orchestra; they probably know their scores backwards but without a conductor they are all over the place. Being a PL manager has to be one of the toughest jobs in any sport because the stakes are high and the pace relentless- if you have a weakness it will be forced out. It’s OK to be stubborn and bloody minded if you are Sir Alex or Jose or Arsene but Slaven isn’t; he’s been found out. he’s a lovely guy and gave us a beautiful season but I doubt he’s got what it takes and probably should go.
I don’t think you need to look beyond your comment of players being unfit Ex (the word in both it’s meanings is suitable) too many living off last years relative success. I look at Bilic, I look at his team they all seem like a bunch of mumblers completely lacking in passion, where is the Bilic from the TV studio’s jumping about with excitement at Payet’s performances ? The manager and his team are responsible for motivating players when they are underperforming, sometimes that means dropping them, Payet knows he isn’t getting dropped and plays without any pride this season, despite that he has more assists than anyone in the league, unfortunately for us our strikers are toothless and his unwillingness to track back and help out Cresswell or Masuaku has meant that teams with strikers that have teeth have been puncturing our defence at will. God knows what will happen when we are up against Firminho at the weekend his teeth are frightening, I would advise Masuaku and co to put on their sunglasses.
Saturday at the Working Mens Club was brilliant . They say you shouldn’t meet your heroes but I did meet Frank Mc Avennie and was over the moon . I took my 2 Sons with me ( cover your ears a bit lads !) and one of them won a Payet Noble canvas in the raffle . It was my Birthday and what more could you ask for but free beer as well ! See you there again Mark Ward ⚒⚒.