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In Slav we trust …but he’s got this wrong!


By Pete Ellis

If loyalty is measured by blind obedience and never questioning anything with which you don’t agree then football is not the sport for you.

Our charismatic gaffer gave us a spectacular 1st season. In Slav we trust etc, and rightly so.
bilicantoThat said, even our hugely popular manager makes a questionable decision from time to time. The signing of Jelavic last year for example although I hold my hands up and admit I supported it at the time (as I thought he was at least better than Carlton). I was totally wrong on that.
Equally, Antonio at right back when all the subs have been used and there’s no other option, was a reasonable gamble for the last 20mins of a game.
However, Playing our second most attacking player out of position for as many games as he did, seemed at best odd, and at worst, entirely baffling?
Like most, I told myself that this is just a stop gap until Byram is ready this season as we were told at the time he signed:”We’ve got him for next year, not this season.”
Yet once again, we find the squarest of pegs in the roundest of holes. The player doesn’t like playing there, the fans don’t like seeing him there, yet Slav sees some potential in persisting with a player that was clearly unhappy, but willing to do his bit.
The latest episode was the worst for me. Situation mishandled to the extent that he’s hauled off and humiliated after costing us another goal.  If Byram was able to step in after that mistake, he was able to start surely?
We now have a guy that’s unhappy, who has been humiliated on national TV, and is as confident as me when I wear a pair of speedos on the beach!
It’s been badly handled in my view and I take no pleasure in writing  that. Seemingly, the attribute that Antonio has, the pace power and direct attacking mentality, are not valued as much as the technical play makers that are the Payets and Lanzizis.
This is strange to me as the rough and ready Antonio certainly got us out of a few scrapes with his goals and directness last year. With any team, the ability to mix is up and play the free flowing stuff and also the direct or even hoofball, is essential to getting the best result.
Slav has forgotten more than any of us will ever learn about top flight football, but just because Stephen Hawkins says the sun rises in the west and sets In the east, it doesn’t mean he’s right.
I hope sense prevails, because to me it’s gonna end up with one of the most exciting and direct English wingers out there, being forced into asking big for a move, and I personally would not begrudge him given this ongoing experiment.
As I say, I hope it gets sorted and Antonio and terrorise defenders once more, rather than be shackled and lambasted when he gets it wrong.
In Slav we trust, but nobody is above criticism, (myself included when you destroy me in the comments section…..where’s my tin hat)?


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About Hugh5outhon1895

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

41 comments on “In Slav we trust …but he’s got this wrong!

  1. Completely agree and am just as baffled. Taking the edge off the new season and the new stadium for me.

    • Slav knows he got it wrong by bringing him off. Who brings off a fit full back??? Especially when we needed strength elsewhere . Antonio is an outstanding player with such a forceful engine which Slav took a gamble on hoping he would develop into a priceless right wing back who can score goals, which allowed him to place other talents into the midfield arena! Slav now is convinced Antonio cannot sustain that position without making critical mistakes leading to goals , so i am sure Antonio i will be used as a sub as an attacking midfielder which i look forward too.

      • Valencia should be sold asap in my opinion. Too small and lightweight for the premiership. Sell him while the price is good!!

  2. Agree with this too. Fine as an emergency RB or with 20 mins to go chasing game but Byram should be starting there. We need Antonio further up doing damage.

  3. I hope this situation doesn’t turn out like Sakho..he was played out wide a number of times last season when he is best up top.

  4. Tin hat ?
    Bang on , we all say the same Pete !
    I’ve a feeling he plays r/w on Thursday ! If not send Bilic the tin hat , and a bunker !!

  5. Totally agree, that should not be his starting berth, he is a fish out of water as a full back. Byran should start or they should have developed Tomkins who was getting the hang of it out there. The big question really is where wil he play if we have everyone available? We seem to have a lot of players that can play midfield/wing to fill too few spots. Equally baffling is the desire to play Valencia. He is a lightweight and causes havoc when he attempts to play the ball around the middle as he did a couple of times against Chelsea. It really doesn’t work with AC either. Admire his enthusiasm, but his ball skills on the floor are suspect and he wants it in the air. Lets hope the new guys take the strain and leave Carroll as an impact sub!

  6. The problem we have with Slav, as much as I admire him, he will not back down! In his eyes he has made a decision and if he goes back on it he will lose face with the club, team and fans……

    • Its a big man that can admit he got it wrong ! A man who would be appreciated by the fans and club I hope ?
      Somehow I think this has to be sorted internally ! If he returns out wide its been solved ?
      If not then there’s going to be aggro , and that’s something the club will not welcome !,
      All sorts could come from it , doesn’t bear thinking about .? Yet ??

      • I totally agree JB. Despite watching the greatest player, Bobby Moore, my favourite was always Bonds. He lacked guile, but made up for it with sheer guts, heart and determination. THAT’S why fans still idolise him. Young Antonio has similar attributes….I absolutely love watching him tear defences to pieces….and his goals! That header against Man U! It just doesn’t get better than that. He doesn’t play pretty football, but he is tops in every other way.
        I do love intelligent players too: Sheringham was incredible, even late in his career.
        Seeing the way the club are treating him makes me sick to the core; to that bit deep inside p that I find most precious about being a Hammers fan.
        Clearly Slav has NO respect for what Antonio brings to the table.
        I am very upset at this. It might be water off a ducks back to others, but I can feel myself walking away for a couple of years. Same when they ‘sacked’ Billy Bonds.
        Slav is destroying Antonio and I can’t stick around for that….

  7. 100% agree with every wordllllllll

  8. I totally agree. I hope it doesnt in tears with Antonio leaving the club.
    I do also worry that when everyone is available Slav wont play him in midfield but leave him out and use Feghouli who looks decent so far and Tore who looked woefully not match ready against Chelsea.

  9. Few things that I’ve been thinking about… I’m pretty sure Antonio signed a new contract in the summer after playing so many games as right back, and I find it hard to believe he would have done this withouth speaking to Slav about where he see’s him playing. So I can c y Slav might feel a bit let down by him In pre season and at Chelsea although I feel it was very disrespectful turning his back on him ( was it ginge that got the back treatment in Europe last season too? ) also I’m a bit dubious about the fourfourtwo interview or whomever it was as it didn’t really get picked up any where else and seemed to me like it was quotes from last year and this summer put together to create its own spin, I could be way off but just how it felt to me. If we weren’t in the prem I feel Slav could turn Antonio into a inform clyne type player ( I like antonios delivery into the box I feel it’s part of his game people don’t appreciate ) but the pressure in the prem is too much from fans, opposition targeting the right, pundits, blogs and betway 😉 the good games will be forgotten and any mistakes highlighted to the extreme. It is a experiment doomed to failure but personally I don’t believe this to be down to antonios ability’s or slav’s but the surround pressures and opinions. I don’t normally post and done this in a rush so apollages for the rambling style. Coyi.

  10. Totally agree with this article but lets hope Slav gets it right from now on. IMO he has constantly made 2 major mistakes. Mistake 1 is playing Antonio at RB, mistake two is playing Carroll as a lone striker. Neither works and it has cost us numberous points not just last Monday night. He has to find a system where we can use the pace of Sakho etc.

  11. Fabregas ??? Reckon he would be great for us . Why not go for it !!. Could be the Ever so missing ” marquee” signing we were waiting for but never arrived . He needs a club like West Ham and we need a player like him . WHY NOT .

  12. The head line reads : ” in Slav we trust ” . Yes we do , but things ain’t so great right now .
    This is not a season to be experimenting , it is a make or break season .
    Time to play however/whichever style to get points . At the end of the day that’s what gets you there . Down the middle , long diagonal balls , crosses upon crosses . It don’t matter cos we need points .

  13. Tin hat? Don’t think you’ll get many disagree.

  14. I don’t think any will disagree with the fact that Antonio is not a right winger and also played in position on the right wing will score more goals than our creative players. I don’t agree that it was a bad decision to take him off though because he had already put Tore on so Slav was between a rock and a hard place, maybe he took him off to protect him and play him against Astra, I don’t think this article is supportive at all, just fans the flames of discontent. Slav is wasting Antonio at right back, if he kept him there you would be whingeing he did what we all wanted and played Byram in that position and you are whingeing, the guy can’t win, take a breath watch the next few games and see what happens, these are the teething problems of having a big squad of capable players, more mistakes will be made as we bed in the new arrivals.

    • First line should have been Antonio is not a right back doh

    • Slav could have taken off Valencia, moved Tore to left wing and keep Antonio on by moving him to right wing. Crosses to Carroll. Job done.

  15. No contest for me Valencia out Antonio in every time. Byram RB 100%

  16. Please….. no speedos on the beach!

  17. I don’t know anyone who knows Jack Sh about football who does not agree,but sometimes people don’t back down and there were time last term when it worked,but that was before other managers had time to work out our weak spot,
    It’s not Antonio he can get about really well but his mentality is to chase and attack the ball and go forward at every chance which is grea if you have CH that drop into cover and defensive midfielders that do the same,
    But dropping off to read the other sides intentions is bread in you from a very early age and never leaves as we can see in .Byram,
    It’s Antonio I feel for because you can see that hard earnt belief he had sap out of him everytime he gets it wrong ,
    It is now inportant that he plays right wing for at least the next 4 games and regains his confidence,
    And only when we are desperate and he agrees use him there again,
    Valencia is a different problem and the 2 Daves should have took the money months ago and believed in there ability to sign a better option,he needs to move on for his and our benifit and again Slav should pick someone else before this option cost us a lot more then 3 points,

  18. Nothing more to say on this. I have said it all many times, even commented on Slav’s obvious stubborn streak.
    The only Q left is can someone make him admit this was a bad idea.
    If he refuses to back down, we may be looking for a manager rather than a striker because sooner or later this has to become a real problem for the two D’s

  19. Yes, Antonio seems like a level headed lad but the way he’s being treated could undermine his confidence and as others have said Byram is ready and able to play right-back. Bilic needs to swallow his pride and do the right thing!

    As far as Valencia is concerned, if anyone offers half decent money we should snatch their hands off – he is hopeless, a real dead leg!

  20. your comments hit the nail on the head. Very poor man management as poor old Byram coming on must have had no confidence as well…one mistake, get the hook. Slav has to re-think his line up. Bizarre to put Valencia and Tore in front of Antonio. Sorry to say that what we are doing to Obiang looks similar, as Nortveit looks pretty slow over 5 yards by comparison.

  21. Despite watching the greatest player, Bobby Moore, my favourite was always Bonds. He lacked guile, but made up for it with sheer guts, heart and determination. THAT’S why fans still idolise him. Young Antonio has similar attributes….I absolutely love watching him tear defences to pieces….and his goals! That header against Man U! It just doesn’t get better than that. He doesn’t play pretty football, but he is tops in every other way.
    I do love intelligent players too: Sheringham was incredible, even late in his career.
    Seeing the way the club are treating him makes me sick to the core; to that bit deep inside p that I find most precious about being a Hammers fan.
    Clearly Slav has NO respect for what Antonio brings to the table.
    I am very upset at this. It might be water off a ducks back to others, but I can feel myself walking away for a couple of years. Same when they ‘sacked’ Billy Bonds.
    Slav is destroying Antonio and I can’t stick around for that….

  22. Oh here we go,oscar for FishnChips.He is going to walk away from supporting us because Antonio is being played at rb.You make some valid points,some good ones by why do they have to be interspersed with bull**** like that.

  23. Novedt looks slow over five yards are you joking he was going past Noble at the time,
    Novedt looks sluggish because Noble gets in his way and then steals Kouyate space on the right and takes him out of the game then falls to sleep on the ball looses it and gives away silly fouls,
    We need to stop looking through claret googles,
    Yes he is one of ours but he stated last season the same,
    It took 2 months for him to get his form back,

  24. In the complete absence of explanations from Slav, all we can do is guess. Previously, i had thought that maybe Slav was trying a 3 across the back with 2 wing backs. Nope; that wasn’t it.
    Your superb article opens a different angle:
    Maybe Slav simply doesn’t like blood and guts players, but prefers the pretty ones like Payet and Lanzini.
    Well at WHU we love both, but we’re not the manager. So just 2 hammer home how much Slav dislikes Antonio type players, he fills the midfield to bursting, with 2nd rate players if necessary (Valencia & Tore), to crowd Antonio out.
    Another little nasty that has gone under the radar: Just why should Antonio be made to feel SO pilloried? Ditto Reid for his foolish tackle on Costa (?) that gave Willian a free kick on goal. I don’t want them overjoyed, of course not…but their anguish smacked of fear and lack of confidence.
    I so hope I am wrong…. I would gleefully be laid into by everyone on the site if it meant that Antonio would get a fair crack at RW and Slav openly demonstrated a true admiration for him. Yes please. Please everyone have a pop. Unlike Slav, I want to be proved wrong….
    Thx Pete for a superb article.

  25. Slaven Bilic stated he thought Antonio was the bees bolloxs.I think you are totally missing the point imo.I think Slav has too much belief in him & has faith/trust in the kid to do the job.He ain’t taking anything out on Antonio at all.He if anything has too much faith in him.

  26. Soon after he started playing Antonio at RB I began to fear that Bilic was destroying him. I think Antonio is a magnificent, strong, beast of a man. Even taking into account his strength, what Bilic was expecting him to do was ridiculous. He was expecting him to perform at RB, a position that anyone can see he is very poor at, and also go bombing up the pitch and perform miracles up there. Even Antonio, who is a fantastic player, could not do it. Antonio is a brilliant wide right player, and that is where he should play. There have been other options at RB, but because Bilic has persisted with this idiocy, I am sure he has cost us points. I.m sure the manager is a very clever man, but in this instance, sorry, no.

    • I’ve been banging on about this all summer, and taken a lot of stick for it, but the cheikens came home to roost unfortunately. I would far rather be proved wrong. I don’t want this nonsense.
      It is such a shame that it has taken us losing for finally the issue to finally erupt…and erupt is the right word. Masses of comments, including from people who don’t normally do so; all saying basically the same thing! I go with your “Bilic has persisted with this idiocy”….
      There is no doubt that he is massively intelligent, but I’m getting fed up with the fact that he won’t even explain his thinking. What is THAT about? He’s prepared to talk plenty about other things…It just doesn’t add up, but the longer it goes on, the uglier it gets…
      It is entirely in Slav’s hands to explain and sort this (and not by buying yet more wingers, yet no right backs) ….
      I just hope he does…

      • Make you right, Fish. It seems to me that Bilic has an obsession with wingers. Why bring in Feghouli when we already had a great one in place. Didn’t think much of Tore the other night either, but give him a chance. Also, the club seems to have an obsession with chasing strikers they know they won’t get. Since we scored goals from all over the place last season, and although we do need a top striker, imo there should have been a lot more energy put into trying to find a top defender. Tompkins, who filled in admirably at RB, went out of the club. What was that all about?

  27. Antonio RW every time. I’d have him ahead of Feghouli as the new boy surely can’t just walk straight in when fit can he?

    Byram impressed me again. It’s good to see a young lad in our team taking responsibility and telling players where they need to be and where he wants them helping him out.

  28. He was asked the Antonio situation after the chelskie game by the press and he basically blanked it ! Rabbit in headlight moment ? Says it all for me ,
    Anyway by all accounts Antonio and the players got Bilic pinned down the next day and supposedly sorted it ?
    Let’s wait and see !
    Let’s hope they get the C/H they are supposedly going after , much needed IMO , been banging on now for a while , its. A must !!!

  29. I never feel moved to write on forums (nothing to do with passion I’m just not an Internet person) but the whole Antonio situation has blooming well roused my thumb.
    I fully believe he is our best winger. I don’t group him in with the likes of manu and dimi. I feel they are creators whereas he is a finisher as much as a creator, he’d do a great job as a second striker in a 2 up top formation.
    So why we didn’t spend the gohkan tore money on someone like debuchey I really don’t know.
    On a side note sakho should be given another chance. A fit diafra will bang the goals in. And valencia needs to be sold.

    • Agree with everything you say, except I would let diafra go. His ball control is a bit like Carlton Cole’s.

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