What West Ham Crisis?by Andy Dillon / 09 December 2016, 12:58Tweet
SLAVEN BILIC should rest easy for at least a few more weeks, writes Andy Dillon (@andydillon70)
Sure, he is under the cosh at West Ham, but crisis?
A ‘crisis’ at West Ham is losing a Cup quarter final you have already won, as was the case when they fielded ineligible Manny Omoyomni against Aston Villa in the League Cup in 1999.
A ‘crisis’ is being hit with a record £5 million fine for fielding Carlos Tevez in breach of third party ownership rules and then coughing up £25m in compensation to Sheffield United who went down as an indirect result.
A ‘crisis’ is having a striker in Marco Boogers run off to live in a caravan. A ‘crisis’ is Chilean defender Javier Margas leaping from his hotel bedroom window and scarpering back home.
Hopefully you get my drift that a bad run of results is small stuff for The Hammers who have never ceased to frustrate their fans and entertain their rivals with their unique ability to implode.
This week Bilic was given what in normal circumstances would be considered the ‘dreaded’ vote of confidence by the West Ham board of directors.
On the back of last Saturday’s 5-1 home thrashing by Arsenal there were fears it would be curtains for Bilic as these days a run of poor form tends to trigger the axe.
Fair play to joint-chairman David Sullivan for going public to back his coach. Not many clubs follow that business model.
But then we can note that the West Ham hierarchy are in a rather odd position.
Since taking over the club they supported as boys in 2010, Sullivan and business partner David Gold have been through three managers - that’s considered loyalty in the modern game.
Gianfranco Zola, Avram Grant and then Sam Allardyce before Bilic took up the reins last year.
There is one key difference between then and now and Bilic and his predecessors.
Zola, Grant and Big Sam were easy to dispense with.
Zola was considered workshy and his Chelsea connections made severance easy for West Ham fans to accept.
Grant was a disaster whose final game in charge at Wigan as his team was condemned to relegation was the sight of a light aircraft circling the DW Stadium trailing a banner proclaiming ‘Avram Grant - Millwall Legend’.
Paid for by supporters of West Ham’s hated rivals Millwall it was the embarrassing epitaph to a year long reign which even Sullivan admits was a ‘mistake’.
Allardyce was disliked by the punters from start to finish. The myth surrounding his love of long ball football and of himself always rubbed the Cockneys up the wrong way.
Letting him go at the end of his four year contract was a clean parting of the ways.
Bilic however has a big weapon in his armoury at a time of great need.
He is the first manager employed by the two Daves who is actually more popular than them amongst supporters.
Many West Ham fans dislike the new, vast, open expanses London Stadium and yearn for the old tight-knit Upton Park ground. They blame the board for that move.
Home form has struggled in the new surroundings and the new stadium is the cause in may fans’ eyes. The board, in particular vice-president Karren Brady cops the flak for that.
It was interesting that in the immediate aftermath of Saturday’s 5-1 drubbing it was Gold, Sullivan and Brady who got most stick. Bilic got off relatively lightly.
This is despite a terrible summer in the transfer market. It will take you a long time to name a good signing at West Ham this year.
Andre Ayew, no. Gokhan Tore, definitely not. Simone Zaza, nope. Jon Callieri, no, no, no, no, no!
Yet despite seeing the team hovering a point above the bottom three in the Premier League and no wins in six games, Bilic gets the full backing of the board.
As mad as the place is, wouldn’t you fancy bosses like that?