I ’m delighted to have become a columnist for Blowing Bubbles – a magazine for which I have lots of respect and I hope we go from strength to strength over the coming months.
To say this year has been difficult for the Hammers is a bit like saying turkeys don’t particularly enjoy Christmas, and one of the biggest questions is again over the manager’s position. Were we back in my time there would be no question of anyone being sacked at such a stage but the game has changed so dramatically – and there’s so much cash at stake – it’s all very different in the 21st century.
I am personally convinced that Slaven is precisely the right manager for this club. He loves everything to do with West Ham and is the most passionate manager we’ve had in years. He also showed last season that he is a top tactician and knows how to grind out results, notably against the top clubs who come onto us and suit our way of playing better than those outfits who come to stifle the game and park the bus.
Take the Spurs game. We were outstanding for 95 per cent but again couldn’t kill it off and that is a problem universally in the game today. I simply don’t understand why so many late goals are conceded. We have to sort that but I want to say here and now that I truly believe Slaven Bilic is the right man for the job and should not be sacked.
However, in this day and age anything is possible as I said earlier so you can never be 100 per cent confident in these circumstances. There’s a long way to go and with Diafra Sakho back, we will see a big improvement because for me, he’s the best striker at the club. He was obviously a bit off the pace on his first game back but he is going to get sharper and fitter.
I have no doubts at all that he is going to prove a serious handful for many Premier League defenders over the rest of the season. We’re told his head, that may have caused some issues in the past, is okay now so hopefully we can keep everything sweet in his world and reap some enormous benefits. I wasn’t surprised either when Slaven replaced Adrian with Darren Randolph. I believe it was exactly the right thing to do because the Spanish lad was looking uncertain and that was having an impact on the defence.
I scouted Darren for David Sullivan when he was at Birmingham City and I liked what I saw so I’m happy at the way he has developed into a top international with us. At their best, there is nothing between the pair of them but Darren has been professional and patient. He deserved his chance. Finally, everybody knows that I was not a fan of the move to the stadium but I take absolutely no pleasure from the problems the club has encountered since arriving there.
It could barely be more different to the Boleyn and a period of adjustment was always going to be required but I think, from all I’ve been told and seen, we are slowly coming to grips with the place. Professional footballers can play anywhere and I am sure they will make it “home” sooner rather than later and the form will turn around. It’s been a tough first half of the season but it will get better for sure in the coming months.