Leicester sprang a mild surprise this week when they made Craig Shakespeare the second managerial casualty of the season. After another game in which the 2016 champions failed to win – rescuing a point against West Brom only in the last ten minutes – the club’s owners invited Shakespeare to clear his desk; the only consolation being that his eight-match stint as permanent boss was barely long enough to clutter it very much.
After this week’s events in the East Midlands, attention now falls on who will be next to have a chance to spend more time with his family. Ronald Koeman’s expensive experiments with an Everton team involving three playmakers and no goalscorer must end soon. Another manager who may soon be thanking his chairman for the opportunity is Slaven Bilic – whose West Ham side this weekend face a game against fellow strugglers Brighton that, according to versatile defender Winston Reid, is a “must-win” encounter.
Summer Signings Need To Start Performing
With arrivals at the Boleyn Ground including Javier Hernandez, Marko Arnautovic and Joe Hart, the Hammers didn’t exactly become top-four contenders, but could have expected to be sitting above their current 15th spot, two points above the relegation zone and below this weekend’s opponents.
Almost as worrying is the performance of their star signings. Hart, once a hugely reliable shot-stopper, always seems to “have an error in him” since Pep Guardiola decided he wasn’t needed in Manchester. Arnautovic, always capable of the spectacular, currently has more idiotic red cards in claret and blue (1) than he does goals. “Chicharito”, meanwhile, may have Old Trafford and the Bernabeu as previous places of employment, but hasn’t played like it so far.
Is Bilic The Man To Turn It Around?
As a player, Bilic was a sturdy, skilful centre back with a consistent level of performance. His current West Ham side are not made in that image. They may be sponsored by Betway, but despite a more experienced, higher value team than their opponents, you wouldn’t put money on them beating Brighton. The integral parts are there, and Bilic seems like a guy you’d want to play for, but damningly, they just don’t look any further on now than they did when he was appointed.
A poor result this weekend — in a game that should bring them three points by any reckoning — would increase a level of pressure that must have the club’s owners considering their next move.
Hope For The Future?
Looking at the current squad and their first team on paper, you’d fancy West Ham to beat Brighton and, although November promises tougher fixtures against Liverpool and a resurgent Watford, it also holds games against Leicester and Everton. If Bilic can establish a solid first XI, and avoid players getting sent off pointlessly — Andy Carroll is experienced enough to start using his head and stop employing his elbow — then shrewd acquisitions like Pablo Zabaleta could contribute to a run at the European spots.
That run is probably unlikely and, in a Premier League where a couple of poor months can get you the sack (as de Boer and Shakespeare will tell you), fifteen underwhelming ones may end up being enough to finish Bilic off.