Slaven Bilic must go back to basics to steer West Ham out of a relegation battle and save his job

 
Trevor Steven
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West Ham United v Chelsea - EFL Cup Fourth Round
Bilic is under pressure to improve results, especially at home (Source: Getty)

One point above the relegation zone, reeling from a thrashing at home to Arsenal on Saturday, and now uncertainty over the future of Slaven Bilic.

It is hard to work out how it has gone so wrong so quickly for West Ham and their manager.

Firstly, while it is no excuse, the stadium factor can’t be ignored.

In moving from Upton Park to the Olympic Park, the Hammers have left behind a ground where the proximity of the crowd was so central to its appeal – or lack of, for visitors – and swapped it for a vast bowl in which Bilic can seem a speck of dust in the massive space between dugout and touchline, and where there is nowhere for players to hide.

Having finished seventh in the Premier League and just four points off the Champions League places as recently as May, West Ham got off to a slow start in Bilic’s second season and the stadium issue has made that initial malaise harder to overcome.

Read more: Revealed: West Ham owners free to cash in on Olympic Stadium

They looked shambolic during that 5-1 loss to Arsenal.

They were so slow in attempting to close down the Gunners that it was alarming, and it raises uncomfortable questions for Bilic.

Are the players being motivated enough? Is there a communication problem?

Bilic has said there is a lack of intensity in training. That’s sounds dysfunctional and isn’t good enough.

Relegation battle

West Ham should be under no illusions that they are in a relegation battle.

Swansea and Hull already have the look of no-hopers, but the boards of all clubs from Watford, in 11th place, down will be concerned at this stage.

Those boards will also be conscious that the January transfer window is approaching, and that can mean changing manager soon to allow them time to adjust the squad.

I think Bilic has been great for West Ham. I like that he’s a former player and how he got the team playing last season.

But he will surely be under enormous pressure to deliver results and performances in the next two home matches, against Burnley and Hull – or else.

Solve defensive issues

To reverse this run of form, he has to go back to basics.

I always think that you build a team from the back, and Bilic should be able to see that West Ham currently look like they will concede more no matter how many they score.

Defending is done as a team and there seems a disconnect between defence, midfield and attack.

In goal, Adrian is out of favour but with all due respect to Darren Randolph I’m not sure he has got the level.

As an ex-defender Bilic should be well-qualified to fix these problems. If so, he’ll find that a couple of 1-0 wins will go a million miles.

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