Big questions for Slaven Bilic


michail-antonio-west-ham-stoke_3387473Much better and more to come – that’s the verdict on a badly needed victory over a Huddersfield team which had made a decent start to the season but were made to look distinctly ordinary last night.

Slaven Bilic decided on three at the back – which has always brought us more success – and with Andy Carroll looking right back to his best and Michail Antonio producing an awesome performance – the miseries of the last two weeks were put behind us.

Pablo Zabaleta must get a special mention when producing – for me – his best performance in a Hammers shirt!

Now the big questions will start to be asked – how does Mark Noble find a way back, who makes way for Marko Arnautovic  and, when ready in a fortnight, Manu Lanzini?

The harsh truth from his point of view is that the captain was not missed last night. We looked more progressive in midfield as a result with little of the sideways and backwards passing which has been a feature of our season so far.

Antonio’s pace and Kouyate’s energy, despite him not being at his best,  ensured we kept moving forward and with Carroll always a threat, this was a far better team, formation and tactical approach.

So we now look forward to Saturday and it will be fascinating to see how Slav makes room for the record signing – if indeed he does start him.

Slav likes to stick with a winning side and it could easily be that the Austrian international could start on the bench. Whether Noble joins him is a fascinating question. My personal view is that we probably won’t see him again until the Bolton Cup tie next Tuesday.

Hopefully Slav will stick with the same system as last night although there will be a temptation to return to a more defensive.e approach which hasn’t served us  well away from home.

Should he do that he will present himself with another  dilemma  in deciding who to play in the one up role – Hernandez or Carroll.

I hope he stays with last night’s team. The days of team tinkering needs to be put behind us.


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Hugh Southon is a lifelong Iron and the founding editor of ClaretandHugh. He is a national newspaper journalist of many years experience and was Bobby Moore's 'ghost' writer during the great man's lifetime. He describes ClaretandHugh as "the Hammers daily newspaper!"

Follow on Twitter @hughsouthon


  • Macca says:

    Pmsl reading sites today we have some fans who find it impossible to enjoy a win..
    Zabeleta played well-well it was only Huddersfield
    Fonte was decent-well it was only Huddersfield
    The front three looked dangerous- well it was only Huddersfield
    Bilic chose a good set up- well it was only Huddersfield
    Why can some fans not just enjoy three points instead of finding any negative spin they can to dismiss the performance of players.I bet theyre a joy to share an after match pint with!

    • Mr Buddy Lurve says:

      Hear hear. Sadly, some people are just doom and gloom merchants who need to find misery in other things to make their own lives more bearable!

    • Carrerageorge says:

      Agree, always enjoy a win.Huddersfield had not lost or conceded a goal before last night.

  • Hammer64 says:

    Does anybody know why Kouyate still has a bandage or something similar on his arm. I thought this was operated on. Just protective maybe?

  • pabloonechop says:

    A win is a win. Dismal football- at least as bad as BFS era, but we got it done.
    The issue for Bilic is when ( not if) Carroll gets injured, how is he going to adapt to play to Chicharitos strengths- Lanzini will help but it will require a complete change of approach. That will be the real test for Bilic but one for another day…

  • Macca says:

    Dismal football?!?
    Not having that.

    • Mr Buddy Lurve says:

      Again, I have to agree with Macca. Given all the circumstances and the pressure of the game, I thought our fans, manager and players were marvellous. When will people recognise that we’re not Barcelona, and they’re just a bunch of mere mortals out there, on what was a wet evening, near the beginning of the season, trying their best.

      Get a grip.

  • IronMan says:

    Antonio was a different class last night. I thought the analysis after the game was a little hard on Huddersfield; they’ve done well so far this season and this was just a bad day at the office. The midfield question for West Ham… that is a conundrum. Love Noble to bits and he has been a fantastic servant for the club but when Lanzini, Obiang, Arnautovic, Kouyate are all available I just can’t see where he can be accomodated. What was obvious last night was that we have a quality squad. They have been underperforming. I question the manager’s tactics at times and he does not seem to know how to play the crowd (in a Pardewesque sense). Not sure what the reason was for taking Hernadez off but politically it was a mistake. Flatenned the mood and could have backfired badly. Still, it didn’t so I shouldn’t dwell on the negatives. Pleased to get a result and see some encouraging signs. I looked at Antonio last night and wondered if it was out of the question that he could get a call up for England and go to the finals. He looked hungry and was unplayable. With him and Arnie in the midfield we have real pace and agression. I’m sorry for Mark but I think he has had his day. Let’s treat him with some respect though and ease him out gracefully.

    • Carrerageorge says:

      I agree it seemed a strange decision but if a manager can’t make tough calls because of “political reasons” then he isn’t up it.

  • bashammer11 says:

    And right on cue, along comes pabloonechop.

  • Noble Warrior says:

    Bilic took Hernandez off because he said he was tired after playing internationals.Its all well and good booing in the ground but if you dont know the reasoning its ridiculous.

    • IronMan says:

      Was that the reason Noble? I think that’s fair enough then. Problem is we are all jittery and some are so ‘glass half empty’ they’re waiting for any excuse to have a moan. Sometimes we are own worst enemies. In Hernadez and Zabaletta we have some true pro’s. I can’t wait to see the little pea link up with Lanzini. Nothing suceeds like success; give us a couple of decent performances and the start of the season will be forgotten. The Vine will be rocking on Saturday; the fans will turn up; let’s hope the team does too. Thanks for the info Noble and good luck!

  • markro says:

    SImply basking in the rarified heights of 18th today! ’nuff said.

  • Michael Miller says:

    Yes, Antonio was like the proverbial sh1t of a shovel and looked back to his best, he looked knackered at the end but still managed another gallop, Zabaletta was very lively and energetic, you keep on hearing that his legs have gone but he looked very good last night.

    They did overdo the long balls to AC a bit – Collins and Fonte hoofing the ball up to him from our own half took me back to the bad old BFS days – but I know what people will say – you have to play to his strengths and that’s true but….

    Cresswell taking all the corners and free kicks didn’t work for me but isn’t Arnautovic good at freekicks and Lanzini’s another specialist.

    You do have to wonder where Arnautovich and Lanzini will play – which is a great problem to have – and wonder if Noble’s days are numbered!

    But, it was a good performance against a poor Huddersfield team – no one can deny that!

  • mooro66uk says:

    A poor Huddersfield team that was unbeaten and hadn’t conceded a goal. But lets not mention that when we can have a side ways pop eh?

  • Lazurus. rises like a salmon says:

    Why shouldn’t he mention it. Their manager did. ??? They were poor end of !!!
    3 points , great , this team isn’t firing on all cylinders yet , lack of creative play was evident again but full credit to them for their work rate , we deserved the win , its a good boost for WBA , let’s see if we can produce the graft up there !
    Lots of positives , 👍

    • Michael Miller says:

      Spot on – you can enjoy the win but you still have to be realistic.

      You wonder about the early season results though – Huddersfield beat Crystal Palace and Newcastle, Newcastle murder us and we batter Huddersfield – my heads spinning!

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