Slaven Bilic says losing Dimitri Payet is the “biggest possible blow” for West Ham and believes James McCarthy’s tackle would have been headline news had it been against another team.
Payet will be sidelined for three months with the ankle injury sustained as a result of the Everton midfielder’s challenge in their 1-1 draw on November 7.
The French star will not require surgery on the injury, but the summer signing will be sorely missed by the Hammers following his flying to start to life in the Premier League since joining from Marseille in the summer.
Bilic believes Payet was hurt as a result of a “nasty tackle” and is puzzled why the offence did not warrant more condemnation in the media.
The West Ham boss wrote in the London Evening Standard: “More clubs will be hurt if referees don’t clamp down on tackles like the one that injured Dimitri Payet for three months.
“This is not about wishing James McCarthy had been sent off. It is also not anything against Everton or their manager Roberto Martinez.
“But that kind of tackle should not be allowed. Football is better in this respect than it was 20 years ago. Those tackles happened more back then so FIFA, UEFA, the English FA and the referees are protecting the players more but they still happen and that is wrong.
“It was a nasty tackle but I didn’t see people talk much. The media did not make a lot of it but that is because it happened to West Ham. It would be the same if it was Stoke or Aston Villa, with the greatest respect to the players of those teams.
“If that tackle had been in the Arsenal versus Spurs game that took place on the same weekend, it would have been the headline story everywhere. It is the same in Germany, France and Italy so it is not just in England. But I was surprised that it was only us talking about it.”
Payet scored five goals and provided three assists in his 12 games for West Ham before his injury earlier this month and Bilic believes his contribution to the Hammers will be impossible to replace.
The manager added: “Losing Payet for so long is the biggest possible blow for the way we are playing, especially when we have the ball.
“He is our main player in the last third of the pitch, whether that’s in goals, assists or the pass that creates an opening. For a lot of people — and I am one of them — he has made the biggest impact of any newcomer in the Premier League this season. Only Mesut Ozil at Arsenal has created more chances.
“Payet makes the players around him play better and every time he gets the ball, he is dangerous. Of course, we will miss him. In terms of quality with the ball, we cannot be the same. We don’t have one more Payet.
“The good thing is that he doesn’t need an operation. It is a long period out but he is a strong character and his recovery is already going well. The medical team says 12 weeks but we are hoping it will be 10 or maybe nine. And it is the kind of injury that we don’t have to worry about recurring. He will come back like before his time out and, of course, we cannot wait for that to happen.
“But our team is not only Payet. I never want to hide behind the excuse that players are missing because we have a good team.”