The Sean Whetstone Column
At the end of August, media speculation suggested that Slaven Bilic had four games to save his job after we embarrassingly lost 3-0 to Newcastle.
His reputation was probably at an all-time low at that time with many social media polls of over 6,000 fans suggesting 75% wanted him gone.
We are now four games on and I ask the question again, has Slav done enough to save his job for this season?
OK we had one Premier League win over Huddersfield, it was a gritty game and we won but we required a lot of luck and it remained goalless for the first 72 minutes.
We had the less than convincing goalless draw against West Brom at the Hawthorns with players playing out of position again then the 3-0 win over hapless Bolton in the League Cup who possibly have more important things on their mind considering their league position.
Slav continuously insists he is not playing Chicharito out of position on the wide on the wing and that in fact he is just off the main striker. He also defends Andy Carroll saying it will take him a few games to get to his best but equally admits it is difficult to play Chicharito with Arautovic, Antonio and Carroll in the same team.
Yesterday he was at it again, I had been tipped off before the team was announced that Michail Antonio had received a knock in training and was a doubt for Saturday. He passed a late fitness test but I was told that he was only a 70% chance that he could get through the 90 minutes. Antonio didn’t look his normal self from the start and you could tell he was in pain. It was no surprise to me when he pulled up after 28 minutes.
Later Slav would deny to reporters that he took a chance with Antonio insisting his injury was something new.
Next came his decision to bring on Andy Carroll as a replacement for Antonio, again I had been told that Caroll had a knock in training and that was one of the reasons to drop him to the bench. I was told they didn’t want to risk him for 90 minutes and wanted to rest him. In my view, Bilic could have bought in Andre Ayew as a replacement for Antonio and kept the same formation but instead, he showed his favouritism for Carroll and changed the team around him pushing Chicharito out to the wing.
Then was the bizarre decision of starting Aaron Cresswell instead Arthur Masuaku. Most fans know who has the form at the moment but Bilic appears to have his favourites and he is stubbornly loyal to them.
Last week I spoke Peterborough director of football Barry Fry who was a manager at Birmingham City under Sullivan, Gold and Brady.
He told me what I already knew that the board are backers and not sackers and had always been loyal and good to him even after they bought in Trevor Francis to replace him.
They have stayed friends for life and he was a guest of Sullivan and Gold in the director’s box at the London Stadium against Huddersfield.
You can hear the full 10 minute with Barry Fry at www.moorethanjustapodcast.co.uk
If I have one major criticism about the West Ham board it is that they hang on for too long before making their decision and they are too loyal. I understand that Slav will not be offered a new contract and his contract will run down to the summer like Sam Allardyce’s contract was allowed to expire.
Bilic knows it, the players know it and we know it. The decision has been made and he is a dead man walking in my opinion.
Personally, I think we need fresh ideas and a new manager at the helm for the remainder for this season but I doubt much will happen despite speculation in the Sun today that replacements are being lined up. My source tells me no-one is lined up and no discussions have been had to replace him.
It appears this story will have no closure until the summer.