Article by @jasoninge
So like a lot of fans, Monday felt like a very sad day for this football club, with one of our own in, Slaven Bilic losing his job as manager of the club. I’d like to firstly pass on my gratitude to him for playing a huge part in taking this club a step forward and getting us back to playing the sort of football that we West Ham fans believe is our philosophy. The final season at Upton Park, in particular, will live long in my memory, with us breaking our record points total in the Premier League and beating the top six clubs convincingly multiple times, under Slaven’s stewardship. The final game of that season against Manchester United will never be eclipsed in my mind as the greatest football match I have ever seen and I wouldn’t have wanted any other manager in charge that day.
The second season was always going to be problematic with the stadium move and with Slaven’s talisman deserting him, however, he showed nothing but great character and dignity to turn what could have been a dreadful season to an average one with us being one point off 8th place. It’s unfortunate how it has panned out this season, when we should have pushed on. The players unforgivably have let him down on the pitch with consistently bad errors, but it’s a results business and the manager ultimately loses his job.
Slaven can leave the club with his head held high with an extremely respectable 38 win percentage and therefore one of the most successful managers in our illustrious history.
The following day, saw what had gained quick momentum over the weekend in the media with David Moyes being appointed on a 2 and a half deal, with a 6-month break clause, that can be operated by the club should they wish. From a board perspective, it suits them down to the ground. It’s someone that they have targeted previously, available with no compensation and has worked with our Director of Player Recruitment, Tony Henry at Everton. They will be in no doubt that he will be able to turn back the clock to his Everton days, where he was able to build relative success over a period of time. However in reality, football has evolved since then and you don’t get that luxury of time anymore.
I’ve reflected a lot over the past few days and I can’t shake the feeling that the appointment is a mistake. It has left me fearing for this club’s short-term future of staying in the Premier League, which I was never concerned about under Slaven Bilic, due to him digging us out of a bad situation last season. For me, David Moyes, in the same way as Roy Hodgson, is damaged goods. Every manager can have a failure, but two or three on the spin and that’s a trend. I truly believe he is in a no-win situation by taking over the club. If he inconceivably takes us down, he won’t manage again and if he keeps us up, he will undoubtedly have to be kept on after other options are targeted and failed to secure. He will then be left as the man that the owners don’t really want long-term and the one the fans definitely don’t want, without any significant backing in the transfer market, which will just lead to yet more unrest at the club.To credit David Moyes, he did speak very well in his press conference and you certainly get the impression he’s hungry to succeed. The club too is desperately trying their utmost to put a good spin on the appointment, by latching on to the view about training intensity and lack of fitness being the main issue for our current league position. However, as someone who works in Digital Marketing, I see right through this as nothing more than a deflection tactic to try to manipulate the fan base to believe Moyes is the best man for the job, which I maintain he isn’t.
So an interesting remainder of the season lies ahead. I will back the team that I love as always and hope we can turn it around, finishing in a still attainable mid-table finish. The first two games are crucial to getting off to a good start, with the likes of Man City, Chelsea, and Arsenal to follow. Come the summer, it will be time for the board to prove me wrong about whether or not they can actually achieve their high ambitions with a world class managerial appointment and a budget to match or will it prove to be another reality check for us fans that the West Ham managers job has become a poisonous chalice under Gold, Sullivan, and Brady, with the club falling further away from the Champions League.
I conclude with how I started, thank you for everything Slaven, you deserved so much better than how it ended. I hope to see you back in management sooner rather than later, displaying your class, charisma, and passion on the touchline once again. Our loss will be someone else’s gain.
We all want Moyes to succeed in stopping this bleeding.However,,To my mind, he has inherited a shaky injury prone defence which needs thoughtful repair. All of the centre backs are regularly injured or serving a suspension at some point in a season. Kouyate is not really reliable in this position and prefers not to play there .A great many accolades have deservedly been feted on Declan Rice but it is not right to hang our salvation on an inexperienced youngster alone
Moyes knows he has to reorganize the defence but can only select from the players he currently has.
He is going to need all his skills in this area if we are to prevent further damage. I hope it is not to late .
I’d like to challenge a few fairly lazy generalisations/assumptions in this piece.
Let’s not just parrot things as truth without critically thinking them through:
1. Slaven Bilic was not “one of our own”. He’s from Split, in the former Soviet Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia – hardly Plaistow. He played less than 50 games for West Ham before choosing to take more money and move to Everton, hardly Bonzo or Brooking. He was a decent player for us for a brief time and showed some fleeting semi-loyalty, yes. He’s a nice bloke and showed some admirable class, at times, as manager. But “one of our own”, hardly.
2. The last Boleyn game v Salford Utd was a quality night, cracking atmosphere and top game. Very true. But “will never be eclipsed as the greatest football match you will ever see”? Do me a favour. Google France v Portugal, European Championships 1984. Watch highlights of that bad-boy on YouTube and compare it to Winston’s decent (but honestly, fairly average) header. Or the 1960 or 2005 European Cup Finals. Or the nine we’ll put past Leicester under the lights in a few weeks. “Never be eclipsed!?” FFS man. You’re a West Ham fan! Show some utterly deranged and entirely unjustified optimism!!!
3. Slav “was one of the most successful managers in our illustrious history”!? What are you talking about? He was not successful (Moyes had a higher win percentage at Old Trafford than Sir Matt Busby, that does not make him successful!) and our history is not particularly illustrious. Proud? Yes. Famous? Definitely. A home to legends of the game? Of course. But illustrious? We’re not Real Madrid. Or Bayen Munich. Or even the Scousers. Let’s be realists. We’re a brilliant bloody club with a very proud past and have won a few cups and second tier titles. We finished 3rd in the top flight, once, with a crack addict and midget up front. I loved them, love us and are proud of who we really are. No need to ham it up, excuse the pun.
4. You hope to see Slav’s “class, charisma and passion” again soon? Class yes. Charisma, well, maybe a while back. Passion!? What the hell have you been watching for the last year or so!? It would have been nice to have seen some, well, ANY passion from him at ANY point since we left Upton Park, let alone “again soon”.
All that said, thanks for posting (well, we’re never happy with anything, are we!?) and I do agree with your assessment of Moyes and what likely comes next. The fitness spin is pure, classic Sullivan bunkum and Moyes is definitely in a no-win position even if he does a decent job, which I agree is pretty hard to see, especially given the Sunderland debacle. That club also has excellent, loyal, exhausted (!) world-weary fans and they collectively paint a very poor picture of him.
Up the Irons!