West Ham supporters were pretty despondent in the Transfer Tavern over the weekend after seeing their side let slip a two-goal lead to only draw 2-2 with the Premier League’s bottom side Crystal Palace on Saturday afternoon.
Slaven Bilic’s men went into their clash with the Eagles having brilliantly come from behind to beat Tottenham 3-2 in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup, and they looked on course for back-to-back successes when Javier Hernandez and Andre Ayew gave them a 2-0 half time lead at Selhurst Park. However, they were to be denied a fourth Premier League victory of the campaign as a Luka Milivojevic penalty and fine Wilfried Zaha strike secured a point for Roy Hodgson’s men, although it wasn’t enough to move them off the bottom of the division.
Yet it was West Ham fans who were the more disappointed of the two sets of supporters in the Tavern over the weekend, and with their side sat 16th in the table and just a point clear of the bottom three, the pressure remains firmly on manager Bilic despite that excellent success at Spurs last week.
And recent reports suggest that the Croat’s future still remains in the balance following his side’s inability to beat Palace at the weekend, with it reported that their Premier League remains the club’s priority even if they did reach the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup after beating Tottenham.
Yet the Palace result shouldn’t affect Bilic’s future at West Ham, as up until two individual errors in the second half, the 49-year-old had masterminded an away performance which looked set to earn all three points from their visit to Selhurst Park.
Bilic was bold with his selection by keeping faith with the likes of Ayew, Aaron Cresswell, and Angelo Ogbonna after their sterling efforts against Spurs in midweek, and he was duly rewarded with a first half that saw both Hernandez and Ayew demonstrate a clinical edge to give the visitors a two-goal lead.
Yes, they weren’t entirely dominant but they defended well enough to keep their lead intact, and it was only two individual mistakes, one from Ogbonna and then another from Michail Antonio, which ultimately cost the Hammers all three points, and thus piled the pressure back on manager Bilic.
Centre-back Ogbonna needlessly bundled Andros Townsend over in the penalty area, from which Milivojevic converted, before Antonio inexplicably crossed into the Palace box in the last knockings when he could have kept it in the corner. The hosts duly went on to score from the next attack.
Both were individual errors. Both have cost West Ham. But neither can be attributed to the manager.
Bilic cannot be held responsible for two players making errors like that – up until then his side had been doing well and his selection looked like paying off, but things turned because of those errors.
The Croat controlled everything that he could control and controlled it well on Saturday, and although it’s a draw and as such is a reflection on him as West Ham manager, one needs to look at the context of the game.
So although the 49-year-old is reportedly under pressure once again, the two games he was given saw them beat Tottenham and then draw against Palace in a game they could and certainly should have won.
Surely Bilic and his side have shown enough in the last two matches that they are together, and that they are playing for the manager.
Thus, the Palace result shouldn’t affect Bilic’s future at West Ham – he’s earned more time after two games which could quite easily have yielded two important victories.
West Ham fans… what do you think? Let us know!