Ill-disciplined West Ham players letting Slaven Bilic downby Andy Dillon / 30 October 2017, 09:24Tweet
SLAVEN BILIC should be looking up instead of down right now.
West Ham’s manager did indeed look very, very down after yet another calamitous lapse in concentration from his players cost him dear on Saturday.
An equalising goal from Crystal Palace seven minutes into injury time is going to take some getting over and it raises huge questions about the mentality of the Hammers squad.
Michail Antonio’s inexplicable rush of blood which handed the advantage to the opposition is the third occasion one of the West Ham players has lost the plot and for which the team has paid the price.
All in all it has cost Bilic five points, which would put them on 14 and comfortably inside the top ten of the Premier League table after just over a quarter of the games played.
It’s not only Antonio who has lost his head this season. Andy Carroll and record-signing Marko Arnautovic have been sent off for losing control of their senses.
At Southampton in August, Arnautovic threw an elbow into the throat of defender Jack Stephens and left his team a man down for 57 minutes of the match which ended in a 3-2 defeat.
It was an heroic effort for the remaining players to get back to 2-2 at one stage before the odds overwhelmed them.
Just over two weeks ago at Burnley, striker Carroll proved that no lessons have been learned and two yellow cards in just over a minute in the first half meant West Ham were under the cosh for more than an hour.
West Ham were winning at that point but ended up lucky to get away with a draw and another two points slip through Bilic’s fingertips.
Ultimately it could end up costing Croatian Bilic his job because football as we are constantly reminded is a ‘results business’.
When West Ham cock it up tactically like they did against Brighton 10 days ago then the boss cops the flak.
But Bilic is going to be unfairly blamed in the final shake up of the season when his team scrapes survival and his contract is not renewed by David Gold and David Sullivan, the club’s co-chairmen.
Those rash moments when his players couldn’t hack it and let fly with a stray arm or an ill-conceived, limp cross straight to the Crystal Palace goalkeeper, will be long forgotten.
Bilic is not the perfect manager. There are many faults with his outlook on football. Sometimes his teams look sluggish.
His fancy for a continental-style, more considered, less pacy approach to games makes West Ham look unfit and lacking in energy at times.
But managers cannot coach players how to keep their heads, how to see out a game, how to keep their arms tucked in. That has to come from them.
Thanks to the poor levels of professionalism in his dressing room, West Ham’s popular boss is facing yet another key week in the battle to keep his job.
Liverpool visit London Stadium on Saturday evening and on that wide open pitch they will enjoy the freedom.
Bilic needs all eleven of his players to keep their heads in the game because at the moment with friends like his, who needs enemies?