Stick or twist? Assessing the future of Slaven Bilic at West Ham

Stick or twist? Assessing the future of Slaven Bilic at West Ham

It’s no secret that West Ham’s maiden campaign at the London Stadium has been a disappointment, with the Hammers struggling at the wrong end of the Premier League standings and only sealing safety in recent weeks.

That form is far different to the West Ham side that rocked the Boelyn Ground’s send-off last term, as the Hammers secured Europa League football for their new home- only to exit the competition in the early qualifying rounds once again last summer.

West Ham’s struggles have inevitably led to speculation on Slaven Bilic’s future at the club, as the Croatian boss is rapidly approaching the final year of his three-year deal in East London and a decision on his position will be made at the end of the season.

Whilst the debate rumbles on, there’s plenty of reasons to back Bilic moving forward and replacing the 48-year-old in the summer could be the completely wrong call- as it’s clear that West Ham’s issues don’t come down to him entirely.

Last summer, West Ham’s scattergun approach in the transfer market led to many failings, with the Hammers left with a squad that they believed would be contesting domestically and in Europe. In the end, they were left with an abundance of players in certain positions but lacking in other areas.

West Ham’s contingent on the wing are staggering but the Hammers have struggled without an identified right-back this season, whilst their options up front have been severely limited by poor form and an abundance of injuries.

Whilst Bilic does have to front some blame for the club’s failings in the market, those players also need to hold their hands up as the likes of Simone Zaza, Jonathan Calleri, Andre Ayew and Ashley Fletcher have failed to compete at the level they’d be expected to.

The loss of Dimitri Payet to Marseille in January obviously affected the team but Bilic showed his managerial credentials by dealing with the issue positively, leading West Ham to better form and getting a decent price for the Frenchman.

In fact, West Ham’s biggest issue this season has been the failure to adjust to their new home at the London Stadium- with the squad struggling to cope with a larger pitch and a different style of stadium, none of which is directly Bilic’s fault.

To overcome these issues, West Ham need stability and replacing Bilic this summer would not give them that- especially as the names being linked with a move to the London Stadium are either unlikely to make a switch or don’t appear to be significant upgrades.

Bilic deserves one more chance this summer to get the best out of his squad and the next year is crucial for the Hammers too, as they seek to show that they’re capable of closing the gap on the Premier League’s elite.