It’s no secret that Slaven Bilic is under immense pressure at West Ham.
After a hugely successful season – his first at the club – that saw him guide the Hammers to within four points of a top four finish via memorable away victories over Arsenal, Liverpool, Man City and, of course, that farewell Boleyn Ground win over Man United, it hasn’t exactly gone to plan.
Since then, though, it has seemed as if things have worked against him at every corner. From a long list of injuries, several failed transfers and a the small matter of having to get used to playing in a new stadium, the last 18 months have been extremely testing for Bilic and West Ham.
There were some calls for Bilic to be sacked towards the end of last season but the Croat managed to keep his job, albeit without the safety net of a contract extension heading in to his final year, and now some betting offers currently have him as the favourite to be the next sacked manager in the Premier League.
A disastrous start to this season, which saw West Ham lose their opening three games and conceding 10 goals in the process, led to even further calls for his head, but a 2-0 home over Huddersfield and respectable goalless draw at West Brom seemed to have eased the frustration somewhat.
Last weekend’s 3-2 defeat to rivals Tottenham doesn’t look too bad on paper, but throughout the game it was evident that there are still a number of issues that remain.
The performances against Huddersfield and West Brom showcased an improvement in Bilic’s tactical decisions. Moving to a 3-5-2 formation and using Andy Carroll as the focal point in attack seemed to have worked, but that expectedly went out of the window when Tottenham came to East London.
Bilic admittedly opted to bench Carroll for the start of the London Derby but immediately rushed in to getting him on the pitch and when Michail Antonio was forced off in the first half. Up to the point West Ham’s shape was very good and they were playing well, but the introduction of Andy Carroll changed that.
Many believe it should’ve been Andre Ayew being used to replace Antonio against Spurs, leaving Javier Hernandez up front in a central position. However, Bilic’s tactical blunder opened the team up and allowed Spurs to rush in to a 2-0 lead almost immediately after Carroll’s introduction.
This was one of a number of recent tactical mistakes Bilic has made this season and the general feeling is that it won’t be long before the board are searching for his replacement.
If the former Besiktas manager can find a way to ease those tactical fears and begin winning games in the way he had West Ham doing two seasons ago, then he may well still earn a contract extension.
But at the moment, it’s almost inconceivable to think he will be manager of West Ham come the beginning of next season.