After over-achieving last term, strengthening the squad and moving to the London Stadium, this was supposed to be the season where West Ham United really progressed to become a force in the Premier League – a team that could start to mix it with the big boys.

Instead the opposite has happened and the Hammers find themselves in the drop zone after consecutive heavy defeats.

Slaven Bilic could point to the early season injury crisis that has engulfed his squad but it wouldn’t do him any good, with some of his side’s defending branded embarrassing by top pundits on BBC’s Match Of The Day.

The Croatian coach, a warrior in his playing days, will be hurting from recent events but what can he do to steady the ship?

Go back to basics

Last season Bilic’s side broke several West Ham records on their way to seventh place and fans were delighted with some of the entertaining play and skills on show, but the side was undoubtedly solid before it became overly threatening.

Two goals, two assists and voted Man of the Match by the fans. Great start to your Hawthorns career, @NChadli! #WBA pic.twitter.com/WIjMgpe2Ss

— West Bromwich Albion (@WBA) September 18, 2016

There was a noticeable transition in style for the Irons last year, with early season physicality gradually yielding to flair as the campaign wore on.

West Ham, with considerable millions of pounds of attacking talent in their squad, might be best served by digging in and waiting for the injury crisis to abate.

The catastrophic defending of recent weeks must be the number one priority for the manager and he should perhaps sacrifice some of his creative talent in order to protect his back four.

Build around Payet

One man however, who should be allowed to express himself without limits, is Dimitri Payet.

West Ham's Dimitri Payet defends "instinctive" rabona against Watford: https://t.co/7RlVS8n9P7 pic.twitter.com/MYBg2s2G4C

— Sky Football ⚽️ (@SkyFootball) September 14, 2016

Amidst the horrors of the last few weeks, the return to fitness of the French star has offered glimpses of hope for West Ham fans.

During Euro 2016, Payet showed his ability to be the man for the big occasion and a knack for producing the goods when his team needed it most.

The former Marseille playmaker was a standout player in the Premier League last term and Bilic should look to him to drag the side out of their current mess.

Maximising space and opportunity for the 29-year-old should be plan A for the visit of Southampton next week.

Turn to youth

Surely changes must be made to the starting XI after the collapse at The Hawthorns on Saturday.

Reece Oxford is set to snub Man City & Man Utd in order to sign a new contact at West Ham. [via @TheSunFootball] pic.twitter.com/n6qJTqHlNX

— West Ham News (@WHUFC_News) September 10, 2016

Injuries at the club have greatly reduced the options available to the manager but perhaps that means he should give younger members of the squad a chance to step up.

Teenager Reece Oxford is one of the country’s most talked-about young defenders and it looks like the perfect time to introduce him.

Up front, the so-far underwhelming Simone Zaza could also be rotated in favour of Jonathan Calleri, a 22-year-old who formed a strong partnership with Carlos Tevez at Boca Juniors last term.

The post Three changes Bilic must make to turn West Ham around appeared first on Ninety Minutes Online.

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