After a week that brought seven precious Premiership points including two clean sheets and a rare away result at Anfield, it seems strange that Hammers fans are feeling so negative about their side. However, the overwhelming vote for the post as MOTM after yesterday's almost criminal victory over a dominant Hull City highlights the level of concern amongst fans that the team are playing relegation football and have lost their way tactically.
After stumbling home against Burnley in midweek courtesy of a soft penalty, Hammers fans hoped that their heroes would turn on some style having finally ended a run of defeats. However, the performance against Hull was possibly our worst of the season as we could easily have conceded 4 or 5 goals against the Premiership's least potent attack!
Apart from the three shots that hit the post, Hull created a host of decent opportunities and will feel devastated not to have taken all three points. Chief amongst our woes is the inability to maintain possession once we get past the half way line. Opposition sides have rumbled the 'Payet plan' and are simply crowding the talismanic midfielder out of the game.
Meanwhile, Andy Carroll may be winning lots of headers but as a lone striker there is nobody close enough to benefit. as a consequence, we are sending long balls up to the big man who is essentially controlling the ball for opposition defences. Pointless stuff that makes you wonder if we need to revert to a traditional 4-4-2 formation? Sakho and Carroll up top will make any opposition defence stay deep and take some pressure off our beleaguered midfield and defence. Moreover, it will make space for Mr Payet, which can only be good for us!
The three CBs formation was adopted back in early November in an effort to stem the flow of goals conceded by a disorganised defence that had lost it's confidence. Chief amongst this was the absence of Cresswell and Bilic's insistence upon playing Antonio as a right wing back. Although initial results (against the offensive might of Middlesboro!) suggested that we had tightened things up, yesterday's performance, along with the recent drubbings by Arsenal and Man United have emphasised how we are really no better defensively with this formation.
With Kouyate sitting deep we lack the mobility in midfield and also his capacity to join the attack at crucial moments. Moreover, Kouyate's positioning in the deeper role allows teams to play the ball quickly through the centre with relative ease and has resulted in our repeatedly getting caught on the counter. Given our lack of penetration as a pressing side when in possession, this is proving a major weakness for opposing sides to capitalise upon.
Now that we have a few points on the board we can get back to trying to find our best formation. The (presumed) arrivals in January will provide new personnel to fit into our system and a face-saving excuse for Bilic et al to abandon our present tactics. Swansea will be an interesting test but the early substitutions yesterday bringing on Fernandes and Ayew emphasised that the current problems are about a lot more than players and that our set up is all wrong.