Talking Point

Slav Is Staying & That's How It Should Be

A statement from the Board, issued this afternoon…

To end speculation once and for all, the West Ham United Board feel it necessary to announce that we have 100 per cent faith in Slaven Bilic’s ability to lead West Ham United. Despite press speculation to the contrary, the manager’s position is not under threat. The Board know that Slaven and his coaching staff have the full backing of the playing squad and the overwhelming majority of supporters to lead West Ham United out of this difficult spell. The Board now urge all supporters to unite behind the manager, his staff and the squad as we go into some important games. We all have complete confidence in their ability to end a testing run of results and finish the season on a high.

Good. Well said. We’d be mad to get rid.

Zaman Siddiqui's Match Review

The Silva Lining

In spite of their win, Hull still find themselves in the relegation zone. They have made good progress under Marco Silva, but still have a long way to go. This match was, to put it aptly, the silver lining. This win for Hull means that they are now a bit more likely to stay up and we all know how quickly things can change in the Premier League. Back in December, Swansea were conceding goals left, right, and centre getting obliterated each and every week. Now, the Swans are out of the drop zone.

So what does this mean for us? Well, the distress signal CQD and Hull City were both created in 1904. Just to give some further insight, CQD is one of the first distress signals adopted for radio use. It’s name is derived from the concatenation of the acronym CQ (“sécu”, from the French word sécurité) and D (“distress”). Ergo, CQD was understood by wireless operators to mean, “All stations: distress.”

There isn’t a better time to use the distress signal than now. We have plummeted down the table to 14th and are only six points clear of the drop zone. Our defeat to Hull City has surely confirmed that we are not safe from the possibility of relegation? If this was a one-off, it would be fine, but unfortunately, we have lost our last four matches! Bournemouth and Leicester were winnable games – Tottenham and Liverpool aren’t. We have also conceded at least two goals a match for the past four games. As I mentioned before, one team always get into the mix for the drop. The signs are looking more and more ominous…

On the other hand, our chances of being relegated are as likely as any team that is in the bottom half. Do one or two points between the teams around us really make that much of a difference?. Marco Silva has helped his side get six wins and a draw at the KCOM Stadium scoring 14 goals and conceding a mere five. They even beat Liverpool 2-0 at home! Taking all that into account, this was never meant to be the easy fixture we once imagined earlier in the season. It’s been three years since Marco Silva last lost a home league match winning 32 out of his last 39 games. He is a tactical genius: Grosicki, the player that came on in the second half, assisted both goals.

Our defending has been absolutely atrocious this season. I’m quite surprised that Bilic was a defender in his time. We have lost 20 points from winning positions in the Premier League this season, the most of any side. When we were 1-0 up, did it ever occur to Bilic that we could actually change around our formation to suit a slightly more defensive style? After all, Lanzini is not a natural CM. He has recently received stick for not having much tactical nous and I have to condemn him again for this. There is no point in playing the same way for the entirety of the match. That doesn’t mean that changes should only be made when we’re not winning, but that they should be used effectively with a game plan. When you are 1-0 up, utilise it with a more pragmatic approach.

Of course, not everything in defence can be attributed to the manager. We have made the most individual errors of any team in the PL that have led to goals (10). I can’t really blame the manager or the coaching staff for this as much as the players. Even in this match, Byram gave the ball to N’Diaye who hit the post only for Grosicki to curl it wide. Hull should have scored from that opportunity given by one of our players. This is not something that Bilic can be blamed for.

One of the main reasons this loss is a real cause for concern is that both teams are equally frail in defence. Hull have conceded the second most amount of goals, whilst we have conceded the joint third amount of goals. Furthermore, both teams have given away the most penalties in the Premier League this season – Hull (11) & West Ham (8).Still not convinced that we are as poor defensively as a team that is in the relegation zone? Well, we have conceded the most goals in the opening 15 minutes of games, whilst Hull have conceded the most goals in the final 15 minutes. But guess which team conceded in the final 15 minutes this time?

On the flip side, we were good in attack. The attack is made up of just Carroll and Lanzini, right? Sure felt like it. Andy Carroll opened the scoring with his 50th Premier League goal. He is the 44th English player to reach that milestone. Former Hammers Carlton Cole, Trevor Sinclair and Lee Bowyer have also achieved the feat. Anyway, I hope he can maintain his fitness levels against Arsenal as the last time he played the full 90 minutes in four successive league games was back in April 2014. Can he make it a fifth with such short recovery time? Fingers crossed. Can he get a hat-trick like last season against the Gunners? Well, that’s a bit too ambitious.

One of the first things I had gathered about Bilic came from his first two Premier League matches as manager. They were a 2-0 win over Arsenal and a 2-1 defeat to Leicester. Big Sam would have got the results the other way around. I made a direct comparison with Bilic with the thought that he could win the difficult matches and lose the easy ones. It would be very Slaven-Bilic-like to get a win against the bigger team. We lost against Hull, so I’m hoping that he can replicate what he did in his first PL match in charge and beat Arsenal.

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David Hautzig's Match Report

Hull City 2, West Ham 1. Crisis Mode Confirmed.

I’ve said this before, but today it bears repeating. The two prevailing emotions in my life supporting West Ham have been fear and relief. Last season was a rare exception, possibly even a one off, where unbridled joy had a place at the table. But we’ve reverted back to the norm, and I went into today’s match absolutely terrified. Logic dictates that a nine-point cushion along with a possible extra point from goal differential should get us over the line at this point. But the fixture list isn’t as friendly to us as it will be to some below us, so if suspended animation were offered until May I would seriously consider it. With early morning coffee came rumors that Sakho was available. While I knew the tweets about Bilic being sacked and Lacazette signing were a product of the calendar, Sakho had a hint of maybe to it. Alas, it was as believable as something Sean Spicer would say. Other than Collins, it looked to be a fairly attacking lineup, something I admit added to my fear factor. Yes, today was a day I’d have played not to lose. To respect the point. Right or wrong. After our second half display, I’d say I was right.

The minute you know who decided to abandon ship for reasons both spoken and unspoken, it was pretty clear Lanzini would be asked to fill those shoes. In the sixth minute a good run by The Jewel into the box showed promise, but the end result failed him and not even a shot was attempted. Moments later Byram, hoping to take advantage of a run in the squad, got on the end of a Feghouli pass and tried to take a tight angle shot but Hull did their defensive job.

There have been many calls for Masuaku to get his own shot at the starting eleven due to the questionable form of Cresswell. That argument was in play in the twelfth minute when the once automatic selection dawdled one ball in the box and, not surprisingly, lost it to Niasse who then whipped in a cross that Fonte deflected out for a corner.

West Ham had the first real chance on goal in the 14th minute when Feghouli threaded a cross into the box that Snodgrass got on the end of. Replays showed he was offside, so if he had played the ball well he very well might have scored. Unfortunately Snodgrass didn’t take advantage of the linesman’s mistake and tried a one timed header that Jakupovic handled easily. A few minutes later, Andy Carroll got on the end of another good cross, this one from Cresswell. After turning Davies inside out on the box, Carroll chested it down perfectly and did what a striker is supposed to do. He put the ball behind the keeper.

Hull City 0
West Ham 1

Remember when Adrian had a total brain fart at Southampton and got red carded? Yeah, it was rescinded, but it wasn’t the brightest move on the Spaniards part. Nor was it doctoral thesis material last season when he got sent off against Leicester City last season. In the 23rd minute, with Hernandez and Markovic bearing down on him, Randolph decided to channel his inner Lanzini and run the ball out of the box. Yes, the back pass to our keeper was ill advised but just as two wrongs don’t make a right, two mistakes don’t make anything but a disaster. Randolph and the Hammers got lucky there.

In the 30th minute, Lanzini made another of his signature moves near the top of the box before unleashing a wicked right-footed shot that was deflected out for what would be the first of three consecutive corners for the visitors. The cumulative effect of those three set pieces was time for me to make a cup of tea. Milk and sugar in case you’re wondering how a yank takes his PG Tips.

Minutes 31 to 45, plus three added on, were…..uhhhh….a football match. Passes, corners, throw ins, Carroll injury scare, the basics. But that was it.

Hull City 0
West Ham 1

With so little action so to speak I found myself thinking that the defense looked more solid up to that point with the inclusion of Ginge. Well, my superstitious nature should have known better than to allow my mind to be positive about our Achilles heal this season. In the 53rd minute, Markovic won the ball in midfield and threaded a pass to Grosicki on the left. The Hull halftime substitute saw Robertson running from his own end and laid the ball off for him. To my eyes, Fonte was in a position to intercept that pass. He didn’t, Robertson cut into the box, beat Ginge and slipped it past Randolph.

Hull City 1
West Ham 1

Hull should have taken the lead minutes later when a counter ended up at the feet of N’Diaye in the West Ham penalty area. His right-footed shot went off the post, the MOTM as we all recall in the home fixture a few months ago, and bounced right out to Grosicki. His shot missed the other post by an inch and went wide. Normally Bilic is at least the equal of the two managers in a match at halftime. His record in second halves is quite good. After the first ten minutes, however, it was Silvia’s man Grosicki who made the difference.

Sometimes circumstances play a part in long-term decisions. In the 66th minute Snodgrass was replaced by Fernandes, and two minutes later Cresswell pulled up with what looked like a hamstring injury and was replaced by Masuaku. Two players that have disappointed many replaced by two players many supporters think deserve an extended run. Time will tell on both of those players.

As the second half rolled on, the more positive play came from Hull. Not surprising as they were at home. But much of was assisted by more bad passing and more bad touches from the likes of Feghouli and poor crosses from just about everyone. By the time Feghouli tried a dink, or a soft cross, or whatever the heck it was in the 78th minute I was 100% ready to accept the point and call it a day. But I was terrified, yes terrified, that it would slip away like so many other points in the dying seconds of a match.

In the 82nd minute, Hull took advantage of the total lack of pace in the West Ham center back universe with a long ball to Niasse. When the pass was made, Collins had a decent lead. It disappeared in about three steps. Hull worked the ball in and around the West Ham area before Markovic and Henrikson linked up well but the latter volley went out for a throw in.

The inevitable happened just as we all thought it would. In the 85th minute, Hull won a corner. The delivery from Grosicki wasn’t actually that good. But Ranocchia made a run towards the near post and threaded a header past Carroll and then Randolph and plunged West Ham into full-fledged crisis mode.

Hull City 2
West Ham 1

Slaven Bilic made one final substitution in added time in search of a equalizer to stop the bleeding, inserting Calleri for Kouyate. Carroll had a shot from the top of the box and decided to give it a whirl, but it went out with a whimper. Much like the Hammers season.

Final Score
Hull City 2
West Ham 1

While the math might still favor us, the reality staring West Ham in the face is so obvious it’s transparent. West Ham look lost. Disorganized. If the season were a few weeks longer, the odds on relegation would be much lower than they currently are.

Hopefully time is on our side. Because currently nothing else is.

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Match Thread

Match Thread: Hull City v West Ham

Hull City v West Ham
FA Premier League
KCOM Stadium
KO 3pm
TV: None
Radio: BBC Radio London

Hull City Starting XI

Please use this thread to comment on the match as it progresses.

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Lineup Prediction

Lineup Prediction: Hull City v West Ham

*Subs: Adrian, Masuaku, Fernandes, Calleri, Fletcher, Feghouli, Nordtveit

Hull City was a happy hunting ground for West Ham the last time we played there I seem to remember, but that hasn’t always been the case. On their day they can be a bloody difficult team to play against, and three points this afternoon are by no means guaranteed. Given that we have lost the spine of our team for this game, we will have to really put in a top performance.

So, Antonio, Obiang and Reid all miss out through injury. It’s possible, but unlikely that Antonio will make the bench. Sakho is keen to play some part after being out for so long but he may be held back too.

I assume Collins will play in defence alongside Fonte, although Bilic may prefer Kouyate given that two 33 year olds are likely to lack a bit of pace. I’d love Fernandes to come into midfield, and he will do if Kouyate plays in defence. Noble’s return seems guaranteed and for some reason I really fancy him to score today.


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