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Has Slaven Bilic been given the kiss of death?

Tuesday 4th April 2017
Too often does the owner of a football club feel the need to come out and give his unwavering backing to his ailing manager. Results may have turned sour following a good start, or they may not have had to turn sour in the first place if the side has struggled from the beginning. While in theory, the manager being backed by the owners is a good thing, it rarely instils confidence.

On the roulette wheel of Premier League managers, it is West Ham's Slaven Bilic's turn to get the backing from the owner.

The Hammer's manager has been under an enormous amount of pressure this season following a fantastic campaign last year in which they finished seventh, just four points off a Champions League spot. That campaign was seen as a moment which could see the traditional top six broken up, with West Ham now looking like a side that could challenge for a European place.

Instead, West Ham has struggled massively this term. Injuries have hampered the squad's development, while the loyalty or lack thereof from Dimitri Payet will have left a sour taste in the mouth of all those belonging to West Ham.

The Payet saga was one that took a lot of the attention off West Ham's awful start though. Due to the calibre of the player and the incredible turnaround from a man that was given a £1 million loyalty bonus to a player that refused to play. However, now that the whole ordeal has been resolved, the onus is now very much back on Bilic.

The Hammers find themselves in 13th with 33 points, six points clear of the relegation zone. More importantly to the hierarchy at West Ham, they are 25 points shy of Manchester City in fourth and the final Champions League spot.

Of course, maintaining their Premier League status is the most important aim for the club, but, following last season's success, survival would not have been one of the things discussed prior to the season beginning.

It seems then, that Bilic's time is running out. He has eight games left to salvage whatever he can from the season, but this still might not be enough. Statistically, if West Ham were to win every single one of their last eight games, they would still finish one point short of where Manchester City are now.

Their struggles have, as previously mentioned, resulted in Bilic receiving a very public backing. However, Claudio Ranieri received a similar backing prior to his dismissal, and the Italian was a Premier League winner less than a year before. Football is a cruel place, and a backing from the owners does not denote invincibility.

West Ham is a team that seem confused about what they are. They have aspirations of being a top six club, but they are still flirting with relegation at this late stage of the season. The likes of Everton and West Brom this season are simply better than the Hammers, and they are showing it by accumulating more points.

Perhaps Bilic is cursed with a side that thinks they should be breaking into the top six, but are in fact restricted by a far smaller budget than those above them. Every managerial role is a precarious one, and it is made all the more difficult when a club cannot decide where it should be in the table.

 
Ben Darvill

I graduated with an upper second class degree in English and Creative writing from Cardiff Metropolitan University. I have been a freelance sports writer since leaving University and have written for a number of online websites. I am a Chelsea and England fan but I enjoy watching any team play as I have an intense passion for football.


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