Slaven Bilic’s insistence that Michail Antonio is a full back is now causing acute anxiety among fans and Hammers insiders that the player may be suffering a confidence crisis.
It has been the one issue that thus far has caused a shadow over the manager’s reign and we are now in a position where we await the announcement of the team for our Premier League opener against Bournemouth with real concern.
And the big question is WHY? He is a wide midfielder. End of. Surely! He has said so himself!
Antonio looked distraught when Bilic reached for the’ hook’ and pulled him out of the action against Chelsea and the player’s march down the tunnel did nothing to soothe our worries.
Indeed some on the ClaretandHugh forums are claiming that if this goes on there will be a showdown between the pair which could lead to the player looking for the exit door.
The only acceptable reason for subbing him is that his mind may not have been right after such a high profile error – which ironically had been preceded by some decent defensive work.
But it seemed extreme and surely it would have been a much better idea to draft in Sam Byram – who was immediately very impressive – and push Michael forward to threaten the west London team with what he does best – scaring the life out of them with his amazing runs.
One insider told us this morning there are now fears Michail will suffer a confidence crisis after the double whammy he suffered last night and that would be a serious concern.
There is nobody in the world who can convince me that the lad is anything other than one of the best wide men in the country and it looks from here as though the manager has a growing man management issue on his hands.
We are very close to this situation and it is occupying most minds but even on the broader football landscape others are beginning to wonder what’s going on.
Sky’s chief pundit Gary Neville – who genunely knows what he is talking about – said after last night’s game when comenting on the incident: “It has to be questionable to be playing him in that position.”
Indeed Gary indeed!
With Ayew off and Tore on the only way Antonio could have been pushed forward would have been if Tore switched wings and Valencia came off which may have been better in retrospect but the whole team bar Collins, Byram and Masusku under performed so it may be a blessing in disguise, hopefully Antonio will be played as a winger against Astra and not as a defender so that he can restore his confidence.
I am so disappointed in Slav with this issue, my Hammer of the year last year was Antonio, my current favourite players are Ant and Ginge. Ant is, for me, more exciting to watch even than Dimi, his weaving runs along the wing, prepared to take anyone on is surely the reason why we bought him. Not only is it simply wrong to play him at RB because he isn’t a very good one…it is an absolute crime that we don’t have him where he should be so we lose on two counts….last night, I was at the game, was crying out to push him forward to support the isolated AC but no we get Tore, who quite frankly won’t cut it end of.
Im sorry to say this as I have huge respect for Slav but I am starting to loose that respect now. Yes a manager has to have a lot of self belief but Slav stubborness in playing Antonio in the RB role is now bordering on Arrogance. He has taken one of our best goal creators and scorers and made him play in a possiton the lad clearly is not suited to. If he carries on like this he will DESTROY Antonio and that would be criminal. Slav one of the things I have always respected you for was being able to admit when you have got it wrong its time to admit that now and get one of our best players back on track!!!!
We had to watch Hippo stick with his methods until it took our club to the brink and no this is not the same but Slav could destroy Antonio buy sticking by this experiment,
I felt so bad for Antonio when his face showed how upset he was giving the pen,
But after 10 minutes you could see Hazard was going to destroy Ant,when Ayew got injured Slav had his chance to bring Byram on and put Antonio on the right wing,
He should have done a double change and taken Valencia of and brought Payet on
Pushed Noble out of the way of the defenders and let Novedt spread the ball about,
I don’t want to see Antonio and Kouyate messed up by Slav sticking with Valencia and Noble,
That is the main problem now Kouyate and Novedt are the best defensive midfielders and that is there natural position Noble should fight to get back as he did last year,
Tore looks far from fit and not up to the pace of the premier
We need Calleri and Sak back desperately AC on the bench or cash please
Valencia gone and with the cash buy Bony
Bony,Calleri,Ayew and Sak better front 4 to pick from then what we have now,
And think before you sell Obiang because at the moment he is better then Noble
Noveidt was out of his depth last night. He should in no way play ahead of Noble (who was only slightly less poor last night).
I don’t think it was Nordveidt’s best game but he wasn’t helped at all, Chelsea always had 4 midfielders pushing forward pressuring him and the spaces he could move into Noble, Kouyate, Ayew, Tore and Valencia were nowhere to be seen, they should have been giving him an option for a shorter pass and the moment they received the ball another player should have been available. Chelsea pressured the ball really well, we as a team did not adjust to their pressing game. Let’s put things into perspective, we are the first team to play Chelsea under Conte in a competitive game, a London derby, Slav had to try and improvise on the hoof and we also had a team with a lot of new players in it so although it was a disappointing result it was our first of the season and what may well prove to be one of the toughest tests. The fact we are disappointed not to get something from the game and indeed we very nearly did shows how ambitious we are, hopefully we will progress in Europe Slav can get this midfielder he wants and the midfielder will prove to be exceptional in linking up play. Hazard yesterday was as good as I have seen him in any premier league match, Kante was superb as were Costa, Oscar and Ivanovic, I would give most of their players 8 and 9 out of 10 for their performances despite the fact we were not at our best, fingers crossed that proves to be our toughest match of the season COYI!!!!
Agree with Nestacres, Noveidt was totally out of his depth. How many times did he play it sideways or back to a player who whe all could all see was going to be under pressure in a matter of seconds and then had no option but to hoof it forward and then it started another Chelsea attack. Do not know why we bought him and is it me or do we have too many wide midfielders? Hence SB still playing Antonio RB. Going forward give Byram some game time, drop Reid he has been crap for some time now ( Man U goal of course was special) Ginge and Oxford in the middle, this will give Oxford a chance to learn alot from him, and also Oxfords pace will help out Ginge at times. We had a good team last year all but a class striker, I know we tried and failed to find that class but I dont see the point in buying more second rate midfielders. If we are honest do we really think that AC fits the style of play of SB and West Ham going forward? Good to be an armchair critic is’nt it!
I’ve been banging on about about the woeful Antonio RB debacle all summer.
AT LAST we are getting seriously concerned articles about this. Now maybe we might get an explanation from the club, AND a sea change: Byram at RB, and Antonio on Right wing. Not so difficult is it?
Why did we have to lose to Chelsea before the obvious became…er…. obvious!
My heart goes out to Antonio. Thank goodness all the comments are sympathetic with him and critical of Slav.
I’m gutted by the whole affair. We all idolised Slav, but how can we after such a basic dreadful error.
Are there any further lethal blindspots to come?
After the highs of last year, this is a massive low for me….
Maybe shooting ourselves in the foot is simply in our DNA? Let’s face it, how many times have we seen it before?
The only way forward is for Slav to explain himself, admit and rectify his error, and get back to being a great manager…
If not, it will certainly end badly….
It was the first game of the season, Chelsea were brilliant its not the end of the world to lose an away game to a champions league contender especially the first game. You are starting to sound like a dictator in North Korea telling people what they should think, it’s only a game of football there another 37 to go in the league and hopefully a lot of cup games, if you want Sam to return where you have low expectations and are watching dross but your heart beat never goes to high then just watch the England matches, if not let the season settle in and see where we are in a couple of months and enjoy the ride 🙂
You have got it No32.He is like a dictator.He speaks for all the fans.His comment yesterday about Hugh letting down the majority of the fanbase by not asking about Ant was a beaut!!
Especially when he starts the comment with…FACT…
It’s like hysteria Eddie isn’t it, we have played one match and the world is falling in for some people…
I think most of us have been following our team for long enough to not judge us on one match.It is the age of the internet where people can rant & rage illogically with little to no thought put into their comments.If they did it amongst fans in a pub they would get laughed out of town for being stoopid lol.I was fortunate enough to have a good chinwag with some other hammers this morning while out & about.All level headed with no dramatics at all.
Nordveit’s worst showing so far, but it was symptomatic of the whole team’s malaise last night. We weren’t sharp, we didn’t press and we left a huge gap between Carroll and the midfield, which nullifies his effectiveness. It’s no good Carragher saying Carroll is “unplayable” in the air, if he doesn’t receive crosses to attack in open play (and I can’t remember one from last night!).
However, that was not our first 11 as Payet and Feghouli would have started if fit enough.
Valencia has had plenty of shop window time including pre-season. His first touch is poor and he is simply not the goal threat that we all hoped he would be when we signed him.
Don’t forget that Lanzini will be back soon, too.
We must set up to attack and make other teams plan to deal with us, as opposed to setting up the side to sit deep and counter attack.
Last night was disappointing and frustrating, but I am convinced that things will improve.
This stubborness by Bilic to play Antonio at RB has all the hallmarks of Fat Sam and his arrogance not playing any strikers spell. It worked once against the Spuds and never again but despite that the arrogant fool kept it up for what 6 or 7 games, am sorry to say this feels the same sort of arrogance from Bilic….very disappointed.
is there anybody willing to admit that antonio must be capable to clear the ball once he got it,RB or not..
I’m afraid I didn’t see the penalty itself. But are you
implying that because Antonio made a mistake, he deserves to be castigated? If so, it depends on how good or bad he has been for all the rest of what he has achieved. Personally (along with a lot of other People comments above) I think he has did SO brilliantly last year he deserves a break, especially as he is being forced to play out of his natural position. But maybe you are less sympathetic about it?
Antonio must be pushed forward.
Byram must be starting right back. And if not him throw Either of the Reece’s there.
I love Slav, and don’t question much of what he does. Although playing Valencia and Tore before last seasons most impressive player (behind payet) is nuts. Tore looked average at best, and Valencia was even worse than that.
I’m also sure MA could play either on either wing, or even as a second striker if required, and probably to a much better standard than Valencia.