March was a dark month for West Ham fans and four straight defeats dragged the club back into a relegation battle, defeat at Arsenal by 3-0 didn't help April following on the heels of the 2-1 loss to Hull City, grim stuff indeed. There are still plenty of games to play but Hammers are hovering precariously above the drop zone and are in for a real fight. Few would have predicted this after the side’s upturn in form over Christmas but the old defensive problems have resurfaced and Slaven Bilic looks in serious trouble.
According to all the 'software' and various advance systems West Ham are unlikely to be relegated, you can check Bet365 for the best soccer odds and see that West Ham are 20/1, whereas 18th placed Hull are 4/6 and 17th placed Swansea are 9/4. The worrying thing for West Ham, however, is that one team usually pulls off a great escape and Hull are in imperious form since sacking Mike Phelan. Both Hull and Swansea have changed their managers and seen a vast improvement in performances, whereas West Ham have stuck by Slaven Bilic and meandered on. A few weeks ago the bottom three were adrift, but while Sunderland and Middlesbrough are still a fair way back Hull seem determined to claw their way out, Swansea will be looking nervously over their shoulders, but so should Burnley and West Ham. It could go right down to the wire and the Hammers really need to start picking up points.
A tough run in sees West Ham play Burnley at the fortress that is Turf Moor, Liverpool, Tottenham, Stoke, Everton, Swansea and Sunderland,there are some huge relegation six pointers in there especially bearing in mind the loss to Hull at the KCOM stadium, If the club are to survive the drop they really need to beat Swansea and Sunderland as they will struggle to get much joy against Spurs, Liverpool or Everton, while Stoke is always a tough game.
Back in February the Hammers were odds-on to finish in the top 10, but five straight defeats have made a mockery of that, and they are now 9/2, behind West Brom, Southampton, Stoke, Leicester and Bournemouth. While West Ham were losing five in a row, Leicester took 15 points from 15 and have soared past them, Bournemouth have seen a big improvement in March and April, Stoke and the Southampton keep plugging away and earning points.
Overall West Ham are about where they deserve to be in the table, the defence has been dreadful all season and only two teams, Swansea and Hull, have conceded more goals. Jose Fonte was brought in during the January transfer window in a bid to shore things up, but it has not had the desired effect, in fact the complete reverse! It looks like a huge rebuilding job is necessary this summer.
If Andy Carroll could be consistently fit West Ham would be a different team, but his injury record is so abysmal and he can't be relied on, more options are desparately needed up front. Neither wingers have been inconsistent, mainly due to injury, Michail Antonio not included due to the fact that he plays every position except goal keeper!. Sometimes Manuel Lanzini looks like a world beater, but he does not produce top performances often enough although given time he will grow in to the role vacated by a certain frenchman, the same cannot be said for a number of West Ham’s lightweight attackers who have been and gone or who will be going at the end of the season. However the real issue that needs to be addressed is the heart of the team, central defence and central midfield have been massive weaknesses all season. It sounds extreme, but ideally there is a need for two centre halves, two central midfielders, a striker and a winger. That is more than half a team, but it looks necessary in order to avoid another relegation battle, providing survival is achieved this season that is.
The odds on the next Premiership manager to leave his post show that Slaven Bilic is second favourite, behind David Moyes of Sunderland. The Black Cats are bottom of the league, and that is a damning verdict from the bookmakers, he was given a vote of confidence last week, as was Slaven Billic, but whether the owners trust them to undertake the massive rebuilding job required at either club is another matter!