Bilic Pleased With Hammers Following Victory Over The Saints

Bilic Pleased With Hammers Following Victory Over The Saints

Slaven Bilic watched on over the weekend as his side took apart a poor Southampton side at St. Mary’s, winning 3-1 after going one behind thanks to Saints’ Deadline Day addition, Manolo Gabbiadini.

The Croatian manager was full of praise for his team’s performance on Saturday, hailing them for doing everything he could have asked on and off the ball.

However, whilst with the ball and going forward the Hammers were the far superior side, Bilic may secretly have some concerns about his back line.

The back three of Cheikhou Kouyate, Winston Reid and January signing Jose Fonte have far from settled just yet, and it showed on the south coast.

It was always going to be a tough day for newcomer Fonte, returning to the club he captained just two weeks after leaving in controversial circumstances, but it was far from an ideal start when the back line was broken after just 12 minutes and Gabbiadini fired home the opener.

For the West Ham fans there was nothing to worry about for the rest of the afternoon as goals from Andy Carroll and Pedro Obiang gave the visitors a lead at the break before Mark Noble’s deflected free-kick all but sealed the points.

With the east Londoners seemingly in command there were still gaps opening up far too often at the back.

The frailties in the back three were on full show last week when Manchester City dismantled Bilic’s side at the London Stadium, however, the former Hammers defender need not be too concerned.

Kouyate, having only just returned from the Africa Cup of Nations at the weekend, has settled well in his new deeper role and, given that it was the first time the Senegal international had played alongside Fonte, things could have gone a lot worse.

Furthermore, former Saints skipper Fonte, who spent seven years on the south coast, only played in a three on a handful of occasions, and did so to good effect under Ronald Koeman.

Therefore, a little bedding in time, it seems, is all this new-look West Ham defence may need. West Brom at home this coming weekend, followed by a trip to Watford, are not easy games but give the trio a better opportunity to gel than the likes of Manchester City.

Bilic was keen to emphasise the importance of bringing in Premier League experience in the January window, and described Fonte as being almost a British player given the amount of time that the Portuguese had played in England, having joined Southampton from Crystal Palace.

The trust that a manager can put in players who have already delivered in the top flight for half a decade – as the Euro 2016 winner has – will also give the 33-year-old the confidence needed to go on and perform alongside his two new peers at the back.

The recent performances of Fonte & Co. may have worried some of the London Stadium faithful, however, give it a little time and those concerns will be long gone.