No More Mr Nice Guy: Is it Bye Bye Bilic at West Ham?

West Ham United

Depending on which source you believe, Slaven Bilic is either two games away from the sack, a dead man walking or already with one foot out the door at West Ham right now.

The Hammer’s poor start to the season has been a shock to everyone. Everyone apart from people with a remote familiarity with football that is as this is a club who have specialized in poor starts to seasons pretty much since their foundation in 1895 (and poor middles and ends for that matter).

There is no doubt performances on the pitch have been poor. Players have seemingly lacked passion and Bilic on occasion has seemingly lacked a plan B, looking like a hurt puppy on the touchline as his defence again recedes like Bilic’s own hairline. However, the reason that many feel he should be shown the door doesn’t quite work for me.

Ronald De Boer got the boot from Palace because of his tactics. That’s not the problem for Bilic.

Ronald Koeman got his marching orders largely because of poor summer recruitment. That’s not the problem for Bilic either.

Even though both of those reasons could easily be seen as valid and applicable to the situation in East London and more than enough of an excuse to part company with the former-Croatia manager. Yet, the main flaw in Bilic for many is much more personal. His character. Apparently… Slaven Bilic is just too nice.


Firstly, exactly how nice was he being? If he is letting all the players have a little lie-down in training whilst he does their shuttle runs and makes them all sandwiches then maybe I can concede the point but if its anything less then I’m just not having it. Yet again, incredibly highly paid players and getting away with not putting in a shift by passing the buck as quickly as the FA pass around blame surrounding allegations of institutionalized racism.

The suggestion is that unless a player, most of whom are pocketing over £40k a week, is continuously shouted at and shamed by his manager in front of the media then how can he possibly be expected to perform? How can a professional sportsman be expected to play to the best of his ability just for the sake of his own pride… oh and his employer… and the fans… and to justify his massive pay packet. That would just be too much to ask right?

Just because Bilic hasn’t “Done a Mourinho” and thrown his underperforming Left Back under a bus of “Done a Fergie” and physically assaulted his poor performing Midfielder with some Royal Doulton crockery doesn’t mean those individuals or that team has any less of an excuse not to give their all on the pitch. In fact, surely that’s MORE of a reason to give it your all… because the man has your back so you should have his back.

It’s not just being “Too Nice” that can be a killer flaw either. Roy Keane’s failings as a manager were often pinned to him being “Mr. Nasty” and Fabio Capello was said to be despised by his players for his hard-line behavior (although, with that being England it was hard to tell if they were underperforming or not). Yet, at the same time Antonio Conte gets results as a product of his tough regime at Chelsea, players have upped their game as a result of Jose’s acid tongue at United and the aforementioned Alex Ferguson could play both parts with equal ferocity: a dictator that no one should cross and kindly uncle/father (not in a weird way) figure who protected his players like his own.

It doesn’t matter that Slaven Bilic is too nice. That’s not the problem. He was simply the wrong man for the wrong job. If anything his nice-ness has kept Hammers fans onside for longer than maybe the performances at West Ham truly deserves. Many fans have backed the former hero and all-round-nice-guy instead with many choosing to roundly blame the clubs board for the poor displays rather than the manager or the players… no, never the players.

Incidentally, the board is largely to blame. They picked many of the signings and they selected Bilic and his backroom team. The David’s are also the reason that the Croat will maybe stay longer in the job than he perhaps should as they won’t be keen to pay for his departure.

For Bilic, as it does for every other manager in football, It all boils down to one simple factor: You can be too nice. You can be too nasty. It doesn’t matter as long as you’re winning!

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