After that sweet victory at Crystal Palace, Bilic talked about patience and the part it plays in our contrasting home and away games. He said the squad had a greater understanding of the importance of patience away whereas at home, there was an impatience to score quickly. The inference is that in a rush to score goals, there’s a greater chance of overlooking a more strategic pass that might secure a goal rather than a hurried shot against the bar.
Interesting, because patience – like kindness – is an under rated trait. Probably because we think of patience as something passive not active. The Oxford dictionary defines patience as calm endurance of hardship, annoyance, inconvenience or delay. Or to put it another way, putting up with stuff that’s beyond our control. You know that feeling when you’re stuck in a queue of traffic or at a checkout, wondering if swapping lanes will change the circumstances. Invariably it won’t but what little patience we have left is rapidly eroded by expecting instant access to everything. The microwave’s too slow, the broadband’s too slow, that person in front of you is too slow so it’s hardly surprising that in front of a home crowd, West Ham players know what we really want is for them to score goals.
Now I don’t have one but I know from using other peoples’ it takes longer to make porridge in a microwave and creates a gluey mess that takes even longer to clear up than gently stirring the oats and milk in a non stick saucepan. You can sip a (large) glass of wine in the length of time it takes to make perfect risotto on a hob which, along with the pleasant aroma of good cooking makes for a far more rewarding experience than sticking something in a microwave while you tweet twaddle to someone who’s probably also waiting for the ping.
Patience is what anglers, chess players, artists, writers, hunters and good teachers have by the bucket load. Their patience is not passive, it’s about concentration, anticipation and the application of skill and training. If that, and it certainly seems the case, is what Bilic is instilling in the squad then it might just be the secret ingredient that makes the difference between a good team and a great one.
The glory days of Man U and Arsenal were marked by apparently endless patience, that ability to keep going, the ‘ calm endurance’ as the dictionary says and how many games did those teams win in the dying seconds of a game? We’ve all seen West Ham concede two and three goal leads where it was plain to see the players had nothing in reserve after scoring those goals. Nothing to keep going, to be patient and wait for the next chance to strike. I know Bilic is not the Messiah and we’ve had our bubbles of optimism punctured too often but it does seem that he’s brought a new psychology to the team which makes for smarter play.
So, Mr B, as that overused phrase goes, keep calm and carry on.