West Ham pile unnecessary pressure on Slaven Bilicby Andy Dillon / 24 March 2017, 09:56Tweet
WEST HAM’S vocal joint-chairman David Sullivan publicly apologised to the club’s supporters this week because the team lost, writes Andy Dillon (@andydillon70).
It can only be coincidence that he feels the need to say sorry in the week season ticket renewal forms dropped onto thousands of doormats in East London and Essex.
The begging letters have gone out asking fans to stump up in advance and bankroll the club for another 12 months right in the middle of a sudden slump in form.
And who is paying the price? Manager Slaven Bilic.
Three defeats on the spin and suddenly the next three games become ‘vital’ for the season according to the Hammers’ top man.
Nine points which will apparently define whether or not it’s been a good or bad year and whether or not Bilic deserves to remain in his post for the final season of his three year contract.
Forget that Bilic has lost his best player by a country mile, Dimitri Payet: the maverick but magical Frenchman around which the whole club revolved for 18 months before he jumped ship and left.
Forget that Bilic has got to adjust his players to the wide open spaces of the new London Stadium home with tumbleweed blowing across the vast plains of green tarpaulin covering an Olympic sized running track beneath.
Forget that Bilic was also forced to switch training grounds in an emergency to stop his players breaking bones at their old place which has barely changed since the days of Bobby Moore.
His only fit and capable striker Andy Carroll has been held up at gunpoint, the fans have rioted and revolted against their controversial new taxpayer-funded athletics stadium.
None of which seems to have been taken into account in an unfair snipe at a manager who is far from perfect but whose nerves must be shredded after a season such as this.
Sullivan and his cohort David Gold are good owners. In a way they are the last men standing in the multi-national money-mad world of the Premier League.
A pair of senior English gentlemen who own the club they supported as boys and who are not afraid to front up disgruntled fans on social media, or stadium car parks.
You don’t get that at Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City Arsenal or Tottenham.
Bilic has hit some duff notes. Some of his signings in the past few months have been way below par and that is his one big failing.
The club want to keep a firmer hand on his activities in the transfer market in future and as it’s their money so be it.
But to drop a pile of manure on a hard-working manager who still has the backing of most fans is harsh at best. It certainly isn’t constructive.
Particularly as this week the club reported that key players Pedro Obiang, Michail Antonio and Winston Reid are now all sidelined for at least the next four weeks.
Even so, at this stage of the season there are only a few teams who are going to endure seismic shifts in their status and West Ham are not likely to be one of them.
It’s those at the very bottom and those trying to clinch that top four place.
For the rest it’s going to mean a shift of one or two positions either way. Bilic knows this and Mr Sullivan knows it - he should know better than to pile this unnecessary pressure on his manager.