As final seasons go at grounds, Slaven Bilic, in his maiden season in charge has given us a heck of a final year at the Boleyn.
He has packed it full of lasting memories, attacking football, and most importantly he has given us our West Ham United back. Th ere is a buzz back around the ground, something that was severely lacking at the back end of last season under Sam Allardyce. In truth, Bilic had already won the Hammers faithful over before a ball was even kicked.
He has an infectious passion for the club and the way he talks about West Ham shows he is one of our own. He has guided us to a good finish and a quarter-final of the FA Cup in his first season, some feat for a ‘second choice’. Of course, had we got the rub of the green in some games, like Chelsea away, Arsenal at home, and most importantly at Old Trafford in the cup, we could have been celebrating that much more come the end of the season.
As Slaven himself put it we should be in the top-four but for some iffy decisions here and there. He buys players that get fans off their seats. Long gone of the days where the club would buy Mido, Joey O’Brien, and Abdoulaye Faye.
Now we are looking at players like Alexandre Lacazette and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Th at is how far Bilic has taken us in such a short time. Players want to join us, and our progression into history. Of course, the new stadium helps, but the way the Croat tries to get his players to play football makes West Ham a far more attractive proposition to join.
With rumours beginning to circulate that other clubs are interesting in appointing our Slaven, it is now time the club rewards him for his efforts. He will, of course, need to get through the tricky second season in charge, but I have every faith that him and his staff with negotiate that with ease.
He will be backed by the board, that I am sure of, and his scouts are some of the best we’ve ever had. Another admirable thing about Bilic, which I think endears him to the fans that much more is his honesty in interviews. Fans aren’t daft ; we know if we’ve underperformed we deserve to be beat.
Slaven acknowledges that. He doesn’t try to pull the wool over our eyes, his honesty is refreshing after years of Sam Allardyce trying to tell us we were the better side after yet another 2-0 defeat.
Our home form during our final year at the Boleyn has been phenomenal, just two league defeats all season before May has made our leaving that bit easier to stomach, and every trip is an absolute joy. At long last it has become enjoyable going to West Ham again, watching the Hammers under previous managers like Avram Grant and Allardyce became a chore at times, but now it’s the polar opposite and it is an absolute treat every time you walk into the ground.
It is a vital summer for the club, with our historic move on the very near horizon, the board must react now to ensure we go into the stadium as one unified body. A squad full of talent all pulling in the same direction, and a manager tied down to a long-term deal and feeling secure in his job with his mind firmly fixed on taking this great club of ours to the next level, is just what the club needs as it steps into the unknown.
Seldom often have I been a believer of rewarding players or staff after just one season, but in Bilic’s case, such is the impact he has made at the club, I feel it would be justified. In reality, I can’t see the board giving Bilic a new contract, as they will want to see him get through his second season unscathed before they reward him.
But I think they need to show that they believe in him and have their total trust in taking us forward. After all, they rewarded Payet after doing a good job for just six-months it is time to show the same faith in Bilic.