The Vote of Confidence and the Midway Point

As we approach the midway point of the season is the manager on borrowed time?

League TableAccording to newspaper reports Slaven Bilic has received the dreaded vote of confidence from joint-chairman David Sullivan who cited last season’s achievements and the Croat’s passion as reasons why his position as manage is not currently under threat.  Sullivan also claimed that there was a great spirit among the playing staff.

Last night’s result at Middlesbro ensured that West Ham kept out of the bottom three for the time being but there is no doubt that the club are part of the relegation battle.  With a trip to Liverpool on the immediate horizon the chances of being below the line after the next round of matches are high.  After that there will be a run of theoretically easier matches which will take us to the halfway point of the season.  It is not unreasonable to suggest that the outcome of those matches may well lead to a reappraisal of Sullivan’s position on Bilic.

The table below shows West Ham’s record at the midway point in those more recent seasons where we have flirted with relegation.

Season

After 19 Games

Final Table

P

W

D

L

F

A

GD

Pts

Pos

Pts

2002/03

19

3

5

11

18

35

-17

14

18th

42

2006/07

19

5

3

11

11

24

-13

18

15th

41

2009/10

19

4

6

9

28

35

  -7

18

17th

35

2010/11

19

3

7

9

19

32

-13

16

20th

33

2013/14

19

3

6

10

18

28

-10

15

13th

40

 

2016/17

14

3

3

8

15

29

-14

12

 

 

In each of these seasons we had failed to average a point a game by midway and so were behind the curve for the supposed 40 point survival barrier. In every season apart from 2009/10 (Zola) the second half worked out better than the first but in two of those 2002/03 (Roeder) and 2010/11 (Grant) we ended up being relegated; in 2002/03 with a record 42 points for a relegated club.

in 2009/2010 West Ham only collected a paltry 35 points but were still 5 points clear of relegation and in 2013/14 (Fat Sam) a 40 point haul saw us end up as high as 13th while 41 points in the 2006/07 (Curbishley) great escape season left us in 15th courtesy of the unexpected win against the champions at Old Trafford.

After the Grant experience Sullivan was reported as saying that they had stuck with Avram for too long and that it wasn’t a mistake that they would repeat. Now he appears to be willing to give the manager another transfer window in order to turn things round; suggesting that there will be no decision before some time in February. I am not convinced that this makes sense and, if it were me, I would be setting a target of 20 points by the end of the year. Achieving this would require a return of 8 points from the following 5 games:

11 December     Liverpool (A)
15 December     Burnley (H)
17 December     Hull (H)
26 December     Swansea (A)
31 December     Leicester (A)

This should not be an unrealistic if we have an experienced manager who is able to get his team to perform.  Our season must not simply depend on the hope that there are 3 worse performing teams in the league than us.