So here we are once more, huddled together like penguins, waiting for the news diligently, the news that doesn’t come.
I feel like I have been here before. That’s right, last September, following the 4-2 defeat by Watford. This is not a case of I told you so (as I prepare to say I kind of told you so), but Super Slav, is really not that super.
I mean, he’s lovely and I like the fact that he goes to rock concerts and wears band t-shirts and the players like him and all of that stuff, but when it comes to managing the football club, he’s just not that super. There, I said it.
As stated, there we were. Cold and cross at the London Stadium, wondering why we bothered as Zabaleta gave away a stonewall penalty and we stared down the barrel of a 3 – 0 defeat, to a team just promoted and with the greatest respect, were no great shakes.
Except of course, I was not there. I had already sold my season ticket on the exchange as the thought of watching West Ham again after the Swansea fixture, where we scraped home in the dying embers, by the skin of our teeth, did not fill me with the joy.
I watched it of course from the comfort of my living room, knowing full well that the forty quid for my ticket sits comfortably in my e-ticketing account. Of course, I mean £27, after the club takes its cut, but I’m assured this money goes on ‘community-based’ projects, whether I like it or not.
What I’m saying is not that, ‘I am so clever, dodged a bullet’ etc. more that it was so clear what could have potentially happened that my head told me to stay away, even if my heart said otherwise.
This really is quite tragic. I have been on the waiting list for a new season ticket after not renewing when we left the Boleyn. I was excited for this season, having fought off my demons regarding the new stadium and the corporate facelessness that seemed to be the direction in which we were going.
I guessed I was ready to forgive all of that, as performances on the pitch were what mattered and given our recruitment over the summer, we had a fighting chance of doing better this season. How wrong I was!
Despite the excitement of some big name summer signings, the same cracks were there, glaring, from the season before. Carroll and his injury woes are a running theme, the inability to strengthen at the back since the departure of James Tomkins, the gap left by Payet going forward. I mean Mikhail Antonio can only have so much gas in the tank and on Friday night, it appeared all of his endeavour and spark, had been replaced by frustration and malcontent.
Like a battered partner, hurt and upset after the Swansea performance, I knew I had to think carefully about how to move forward. I was wary and kept my distance against Brighton but knew that the disappointment of such a humiliating result will force action, will make the change. Sadly, I was wrong.
It is clear to most, probably to Slav himself, that the game is up. It has since transpired that he said his goodbyes and offered to leave a number of games ago after the same result at Newcastle. I mean, what other message do the board need, when their manager throws in the towel so early on? Is this Slav feeling the heat or is he admitting he does not know what to do?
We face the same situation as we did this time last year. A manager who for whatever reason is not getting the job done and leading the team into a potential struggle, a possible relegation battle, yet the owners deciding to ‘give him two more games.’
Personally, I find nothing more insipid and disappointing than this vapid response. What do they expect? What can anyone gain from this situation? Let’s discuss the options.
Option 1 – West Ham United, by some miraculous intervention from a higher power, get home against a rampant Spurs side and beat Palace away. Bilic stays and another disappointing season follows.
Option 2 – West Ham United beat Spurs somehow and lose to Palace. Although beating Spurs away is a feeling second to none, we will be deep in the relegation zone and will most probably be looking at another big team in the Caribou Cup.
Option 3 – West Ham United lose heavily to Spurs and beat Palace. A mini-reprieve in the league, but how likely are we to get a result at Selhurst if we are battered by a scarily in form Tottenham?
Option 4 – beaten by both, same position, except the players are more delusioned, lacking confidence, we are out of a cup and staring down the barrel in the league.
My fairly laboured point, is that this inertia and fear of change, is almost certainly going to cost us. No-one wants to sack a manager, I would have loved it if Slav worked, but it hasn’t. He could and in my book should have gone this time last year and we are quite clearly going backwards now.
I am grateful to the owners for a number of things, but not for this. The feeling in the camp is too relaxed, there is no real pressure (except for the fans), there is no urgency among players or staff. We have become a mini-Arsenal, the fans forced to accept a fate we do not really deserve.