I hope not, anyway
I think in reality, we all knew this was a season in transition and that there would be highs and lows along the way. I’m sure we all knew there would be injuries too, as they are unavoidable in most respects.
The injuries are a concern because they have happened to key players. After Payet’s initial burst onto the scene, it didn’t take a genius to work out that someone, somewhere, sometime, would take him out. I had the feeling that the midfield was going to protect Payet, but maybe not.
To lose two top players in one game is bad enough, but then came the injury to Sakho and now we’re looking short on striker options. I know we have Jelavic, but as I say, we’re looking short on striker options.
To my mind, Bilic is still experimenting. It was OK over the pre-season to watch players, but the Premier League is the real deal and now Bilic can truly see what he’s got. I agree that we have more depth and more quality than we’ve ever had at Upton Park, but the other players need to stand up and put a shift in for the entire 90 minutes, not just one half.
You have to remember that at some point in the season, every team has a blip. Chelsea’s was the beginning of the season, Arsenal are not winning at the moment, Liverpool are picking up now and our past few games are hopefully no more than our blip. The same will happen to Leicester in time and to Spurs, and then their fans will be wondering what has happened to their season.
West Ham have now grouped together a very capable squad. Looking at the league table without rose tinted spectacles, I think that in eighth place, we’ve found our place. We are not a top four club, probably not even top five or six and by the end of the year, the usual suspects will be up at the top few positions and everyone else will be fighting for Europa qualification.
That’s not to say that a decent run, consistency, an absence of injuries to key players and we could be further up the table than we are, but we shouldn’t get carried away and we ought to be realistic.
This is Bilic’s first season at Upton Park and we have a way to go until it is more or less the way he wants it. I don’t think anyone sees us as relegation fodder and we should enter the OS era in the best league in the world and only improve as a team. Right now, they need to focus on the 90 minutes, play at maximum capability and Bilic needs to find a settled system with an alternate and consistent plan B – plan C if needs be.
We are dropping more points than we care to, but this is our blip and let’s get it out of the way now. With Valencia back soon, Payet back in Feb and Sakho just after the New Year, we will have key players back for the final run-in. Just when we need them.
Now it’s time for Zarate to play a prominent part, for Lanzini, Moses, Kouyate and even Carroll, to make their presence felt. The back four need to work as a unit and no one is safe at the back, as there are more options than before.
The doubt for me is still Carroll and I don’t mean to get on his back. I want him to do well, but to me he is simply an impact player for the final 20 minutes. If you play Carroll, you have to give him the service that he needs and that means more crosses from the wings. He doesn’t suit the new system and the system doesn’t suit him. Surely at £85,000 a week he can adapt?
Panic? No need.
In Bilic I trust.