I was wrong about Bilic – but I was totally right to be worried

Fans berated me after I claimed we should have kept Sam Allardyce

Hindsight, that’s what this season is about. With hindsight, Claudio Ranieri needn’t have worried about keeping Leicester City in the Premier League.

With hindsight, pundits and bookies shouldn’t have been so confident in Chelsea’s supremacy. And with hindsight, Gary Lineker might just regret sending a Tweet saying he will wear only his underwear in the first episode of next year’s Match Of Th e Day if his beloved Foxes win the league. Some West Ham fans think, with hindsight, I must regret writing a piece for Th e Independent last year.

People on Twitter bring it up every time we win a game. I am unsure whether any of those individuals are real, but those commentators have opened my mind to my misconceptions and opened my eyes to the wrath of fans. The jist of that article: West Ham fans are deluded and the chairmen are clueless. It was an ode to Big Sam, written in the aftermath of his departure and before the arrival of Bilic.

It argued that dreams of Europe and the big time were being wished for too soon. Ahead of the move to E20, the priority was to remain in the Premier League. Now, I am among those whose tweets and articles have come back to haunt them.

When you start to get abuse from some fans, you realise they spend their whole time retweeting people who predicted West Ham would get relegated. Th is is, of course, from people who also put good money on Leicester City qualifying for the Champions League. My point is: predicting what is going to happen is oft en impossible and with this season in particular I, and many others, got it wrong. But I highly doubt others got it right either.

I regret causing off ence to those fans who genuinely felt upset at being called ‘deluded’ and admit the heat of the moment perhaps got to me. For the fi rst time in many years I feel excited and I was wrong to have had so much faith in Allardyce. Having said that, the fact that Bilic has been able to take the club to new heights is an acknowledgement of how far Allardyce took the team from the Championship. Bilic himself has admitted that.

I do not regret speaking my mind and the unpleasantness from a certain section has solidified that feeling. For some, to speak ill of the club is to not be a proper fan and they accuse me of not being a true supporter. To me, those fans are deluded. Even the editor of one of the West Ham blogs told me that he was glad that I was so hated by many

For this club means so much to me and it’s a family club to its core. Those ‘haters’ have shocked me and yet they shouldn’t. This world of blogs and tweets and podcasts is great for the ability of all fans to have their say. Yet it creates an arrogance and entitlement among those who think they know best. West Ham is a club that gave me an identity at such an early age and a strong connection to my mother’s family from Plaistow.

They, and I, know just how much of a fan I am and how that family aspect is what makes so many of us dearly love West Ham. Perhaps what makes me a Hammer fan like most is my pessimism, something inherited from my mother. There are still question marks around what lies ahead. To banish the demons of Anfield and Goodison, and to take maximum points from the Emirates and Etihad is something to be applauded.

But other results still leave me with doubt. I never dreamed of being where we are now, so to criticise where we finish this season is unfair. But part of me wonders why we were never in front against Norwich in two games this season, why we drew against Villa away, why we could never hang on in numerous games – regardless of refereeing mistakes. I also wonder why we never showed up against Manchester United that night in the FA Cup under the fading lights of the Boleyn.

It is telling that even David Sullivan said Bilic’s contract extension would be delayed until next season, hoping that Slaven was not a ‘one season wonder’. I think Bilic’s managerial statistics show he is not, but that’s West Ham pessimism for you. And with regards to my ‘attack’ on the owners, there is no doubt that our triumvirate bear no similarities to someone like Randy Lerner.

Yet I am not one to assume the owners are not going to sell the club. They are three accomplished business people who bought the club at the right time, when they had a good idea that the Olympic Stadium was a possibility. To buy the club then and see the fortune they could make from selling it, that is a no brainer.

This past year has made me saddened to know there are some fans who have venom and arrogance that belittle this great club. Yet this season has also reaffirmed my faith in West Ham and football itself.

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