Thursday, January 12 2017 will be the date marked by many West Ham United fans as the day that their love affair with Dimitri Payet died, when it was announced by a deflated Slaven Bilic that the midfielderwanted to leave the Hammers.
Payet’s relationship with the East London fans was one of the most special in the English top-flight, with the fans welcoming the 29-year-old with open arms after his move from Marseille back in the summer of 2015 as their star man, their catalyst.
Though many will say that his short and sweet career at the Hammers is already in ruins, Payet is in serious danger of permanently destroying his legacy at the club if he continues his frankly poorly advised and selfish behaviour.
Building it up to knock it down
Few would believe that it would be unfair to say that West Ham picked him out of obscurity, with the Payet always been on the cusp of greatness.
He was always recognised as one of the best playmakers in Europe, but was never given the platform to go to the next level, but the stage of the Boleyn Ground was handed to him.
Payet grabbed the opportunity with both hands, with 15 goals and 17 assists last season and swept the club’s end of year awards with five gongs.
He continued that form into the summer as his performances for the Hammers earned him a real shot in the Didier Deschamp’s France squad for the summer’s Euro 2016 tournament. Payet’s stock continued to rise and rise, as he helped them to the final at the Stade de France but that success might be where this week’s events have stemmed from.
The form of the Hammers has certainly had an effect on the Frenchman, despite creating some excellent moments so far in the season he has really failed to live up to the dizzy heights of the previous season. Alarm bells began to ring when he admitted that he could leave in East London, and possible rumours of an exit to Arsenal when he shared his admiration for the Gunners.
Those worries were solidified when a deflated Bilic spoke to the media ahead of the clash with Crystal Palace, stating that Payet’s plans of an exit and proposal to not play or train for the club until a transfer was sorted.
Bilic rightfully stood firm and unmoved by the Frenchman throwing his toys out of the pram, stating that the club won’t be selling their top assets at least in this window. He also left a window of opportunity for a return, but only if a change of attitude and a show of respect to the club and the fans were shown.
Already life after Payet?
It feels that the fans have already made their voices heard, with a new and dirtier version of ‘we’ve got Payet’ ringing around the taverns of East London ahead of the return of Sam Allardyce with his new Palace side.
Throughout the first period it looked like that there were missing their French talisman, with a number of set-pieces and creative opportunities going begging with them looking like they lacked that creative spark.
However, they managed to turn it around in the second period with Michail Antonio stepping up to the plate like he has for the majority of the season, setting up the goals from Sofiane Feghouli, Andy Carroll and Manuel Lanzini securing a 3-0 victory.
Such a performance will give Bilic a glimpse of hope going forward into a future without Payet, and with the flack he has received if the Frenchman does eventually make a return in a blaze of glory his relationship with West Ham United looks to be beyond repair.
West Ham United will take on Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday, January 21 with kick-off at 3pm GMT.