Dubai: Slaven Bilic is the right man to turn things around at West Ham United, according to former Hammer’s striker Tony Cottee.
Bilic led the London club to seventh in his first season in charge last year as they bid farewell to Upton Park, but since their move to the Olympic Stadium they have only won once in the first seven matches and are currently third from bottom on four points.
“It drives me mad that after just seven games people are already questioning whether he is the right man for the job,” said Cottee during ‘An Evening With’ at West Beach Bistro in the Movenpick Hotel, Jumeirah Beach Residence, on Wednesday.
“He did a fantastic job last season and it’s important to have a former player in charge, who genuinely cares and understands the culture of the club and knows what it means to supporters. For that he has earned the right to be given time.
“If we are still bottom by Christmas and it looks as though we might get relegated, then make a change then so that someone else can come in and use the transfer window to do better.
“But to say after seven games that he’s not the right man is ridiculous. He is the right man for the job.”
Cottee, 51, who scored 115 goals in 279 games over two spells at West Ham from 1982 to 1988 and 1994 to 1996, said the club’s current plight was just a phase.
“The new stadium was always going to be a difficult transitional period, we’ve also got key players missing, then add to the fact players have come back late from the Euros, we haven’t been scoring and we’ve conceded bad goals — it’s been a bit of a perfect storm. They are in the bottom three, but they won’t get relegated.”
He also said the stadium change had been a necessary evil, but that new-found funds from the capacity increase (35,000 to 60,000) hadn’t been spent wisely.
“Every West Ham fan I knew didn’t want to leave Upton Park, but the last time we won anything was 36 years ago. If we want to keep players like Dimitri Payet we have to be winning things and getting into Europe. I’m not saying the stadium change will make that happen but it will give them more of a chance.
“Now we are in a new stadium we have more money, but we need to spend that wisely. I’m not sure £20 million (Dh90 million) on Andre Ayew was value for money and if Simone Zaza plays another six games we’ve got to spend another £20 million on him, and I don’t think he’s good enough. Put both together, plus wages, and we could have signed Christian Benteke for £30 million and he would have scored the goals to help us get a better start.”