Bilic says he's to blame for hammering start

West Ham United midfielder Dimitri Payet and striker Simone Zaza (right) appealing for a penalty unsuccessfully in their 3-0 defeat by Southampton on Sunday.
West Ham United midfielder Dimitri Payet and striker Simone Zaza (right) appealing for a penalty unsuccessfully in their 3-0 defeat by Southampton on Sunday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Slaven Bilic admitted that the responsibility for West Ham United's dreadful start to the season lies with him and denied that there is any split in the dressing room after the 3-0 defeat by Southampton at London Stadium on Sunday.

Bilic spoke as the West Ham captain, Mark Noble, pulled no punches, criticising the "laughable" defending that has led to West Ham conceding 11 goals in their past three Premier League matches.

His manager insisted the attitude in the camp remains positive.

Yet Bilic said that confidence evaporated after Charlie Austin's opener for the visitors and he accepted that credit is quickly running out for him and his players, with his team stuck in the bottom three after five defeats from their first six matches of the season.

Only a few months ago, they were being lauded after finishing seventh last season.

"It is my responsibility, it is my team," Bilic said.

"I am not flying away from the responsibility and I don't want to point fingers. It is never one player. One player can make a mistake and you can lose a game. But it is a team effort, it is teamwork, it is a team mistake.

"But it is true that at the moment we have to be clear, everything that was really good last year is bad. We can say the season has only just started. But it's happening for four games now and we have to change it big time."

Southampton rose to ninth place after further goals from Dusan Tadic and James Ward-Prowse.

Claude Puel's side were good value for their victory and a visibly upset Noble was damning in his assessment of the match.

"Eleven goals in three games is laughable," the 29-year-old said.

"We could have kept playing until tonight and we wouldn't have scored. I thought we started all right and then bang, we conceded a goal and we never looked back in it.

"If I'm honest, it could have been six in the end. On the bright side, I don't think it can get any worse. At the moment we're just not good enough."

Bilic was asked if the players are pulling in the same direction.

"Are they together?" he said.

"From what I can see, they are good with each other. They are the same players who did it last year. Of course when it is not going so well you can't expect the atmosphere to be smashing.

"But have I noticed any problems in training? No."

This was West Ham's third defeat at their new home - following the 0-1 loss to Astra Giurgiu in August and the 4-2 defeat by Watford last month.

Bilic added that it hurt to see supporters leaving long before the final whistle. "It is not a good sight," the manager said.

For Southampton, this was a fourth straight victory in all competitions and their second in the Premier League. In those four victories the Saints have kept four clean sheets.

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 27, 2016, with the headline 'Bilic says he's to blame for hammering start'. Print Edition | Subscribe