West Ham grab the points but there is no urgency and no game plan

PUBLISHED: 08:30 02 October 2017

West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic before the Premier League match at London Stadium.

West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic before the Premier League match at London Stadium.

PA Wire/PA Images

Substitutes get Hammers boss out of a hole after abject display

Swansea City's Martin Olsson (left) and West Ham United's Javier Hernandez in action during the Premier League match at London Stadium.Swansea City's Martin Olsson (left) and West Ham United's Javier Hernandez in action during the Premier League match at London Stadium.

For those strange people who like to leave a game early for all sorts of bizarre reasons, Saturday afternoon for them was a complete waste of time and money..

They would have seen little excitement, even less quality and all they would have been able to do was join in the chorus of boos that greeted the half-time whistle and the substitution of Javier Hernandez.

But for those staying to the bitter end, there was a Grand Finale.

It didn’t hide the abject awfulness of Slaven Bilic’s team on Saturday, but it did perhaps paper over the cracks.

Swansea City's Jordan Ayew (left) and West Ham United's Pablo Zabaleta battle for the ball during the Premier League match at London Stadium.Swansea City's Jordan Ayew (left) and West Ham United's Pablo Zabaleta battle for the ball during the Premier League match at London Stadium.

On came the classy Manuel Lanzini, as well as Diafra Sakho and Arthur Masuaku and after the latter had crossed for Andy Carroll to hit the upright, all three then combined for Sakho to sweep in the winner.

Bilic looked relieved at the win, but he is not stupid and nor are the fans, this was a woeful display.

“It is definitely better points-wide, but I am the first one to say we have to play better,” admitted Bilic after the 1-0 win.

“I know it sounds shallow because you hear it from many managers saying ‘we have lost confidence’, but it is the truth and it happened to us here.”

Arthur Masuaku gets forward during the clash with Swansea CityArthur Masuaku gets forward during the clash with Swansea City

Lack of confidence, or lack of a game plan? It certainly isn’t a lack of quality, but when you have the likes of Carroll, Javier Hernandez and Michail Antonio in your starting line-up, you expect better things.

Swansea were well organised and hadn’t let in a goal on the road all season, Antonio was clearly not fit, but the way Bilic used his two strikers was inexcusable.

Why is Carroll crossing from the wing for Andre Ayew to head? Why is Hernandez looking for the ball close to the halfway line, rather than getting into the box?

No plan, no tactics and a fear of defeat, it is not rocket science and much of it must be down to the manager and coaching staff.

“If you think that after the last international break we had zero points after three games and 10 goals conceded, this is a big improvement,” said Bilic.

“Now, four games, seven points, three clean sheets, coming back against Spurs, it is definitely much better.”

He is right, on paper it is much better, but why doesn’t it feel like it on the field?

Too often on Saturday, West Ham gave the ball away either with aimless long balls or by just passing it to the opposition.

This team is better than that. It has quality players like Joe Hart, Winston Reid, Pablo Zabaleta, as well as Carroll, Hernandez and Antonio, but they are not being allowed to express themselves on the field.

Perhaps it is a confidence thing, but then when Bilic brought on his three subs, suddenly there was urgency, there was control in midfield and there was, at long last, a cutting edge.

Arthur Masuaku should have started and the fact he wasn’t is another mistake by the manager. He has been excellent in the last few games, while Aaron Cresswell has struggled.

Bilic chose Andre Ayew at the last minute when Marko Arnautovic was taken ill, it was another mistake.

Ayew is useful in the middle behind a striker, he has always failed to make an impression on the wing and this was another case in point.

The manager doesn’t seem to know his best team and just as importantly, he doesn’t know where to play everybody.

Hernandez got into the box with the ball just once in the game, this from a player who has scored every one of his goals from in the penalty area.

No wonder he looked fed up when he was substituted. He deserved to go off because he has contributed nothing, but it wasn’t all down to him.

“You can talk about the quality of our performance, but we won the game because we didn’t give up,” said Bilic.

At the end of the day it was the result that really mattered in this game and West Ham are now out of the bottom three and looking upwards.

And for those who did give up and went home early. Perhaps you will think again next time.


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