Four things that are different now Bilic is West Ham gaffer

Geoff Hillyer on how the club has changed over the last few months

Slaven Bilic has been our manager for only a short time but there have been big some changes around the club since his arrival.

1) The fans are united

It’s fair to say when Sam Allardyce was appointed manager on June 1, 2011, you’d have needed a pretty strong earthquake to create an equivalent split amongst the fans. Online forums such as Knees Up Mother Brown were full of people either side of the divide, some backing him (‘never been relegated at a club he’s been to’, ‘you know what you’re going to get’, ‘safety is first priority’) and some wishing him gone (‘long-ball style’, ‘boring’, ‘we play on the floor’). Now we’ve moved on, and so the split has been mostly repaired. Geoff Hillyer on how the club has changed over the last few months

2) The style and ethos of the team is changing

You always felt with Allardyce that the result came first, the style and manner of the performance second. In that sense, he played football by numbers and was relatively successful. Indeed, you could argue that this was the recipe for promotion from the Championship and solidity in the Premier League. It’s early days, but the signs are that Bilic wants us to play with more of a swagger and footballing ethos. Take the matches against Arsenal and Liverpool — it wasn’t backs-to-the-wall. Where possible, the team looked to get forward. It’s been refreshing.

3) Image is everything

When you think of Sam Allardyce, what springs to mind? Leaving aside the unflattering nicknames, you’ll probably think of someone who is the very embodiment of ‘what you see is what you get’. Bilic is the complete opposite. You get the impression that he wants the support of the West Ham faithful. He’s already popular, of course, having spent time at the club but he feels that the club will need everything going in the same direction to succeed, and that includes the fans.

4) We have a manager who is ‘one of us’

I was listening to a very interesting interview on a podcast with a famous BBC newsreader. He’d said that when he moved from ITN to the BBC, he always felt as if he was an ‘outsider’ and so viewed with a certain degree of suspicion. You could argue that this is how a section of the West Ham support treated Allardyce. He wasn’t ‘one of us’ and there was no previous connection with the club. Now, we have a manager who was a popular player for us and a player who stayed as a debt of loyalty to West Ham even after a transfer deal was agreed with Everton, to ensure that we stayed up.

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