Saturday 21 July 2018

Slaven Bilic 'expected' to be sacked after West Ham defeat by Liverpool, but leaves a proud man

Slaven Bilic leaves West Ham 18th in the Premier League
Slaven Bilic leaves West Ham 18th in the Premier League

Jack de Menezes

Slaven Bilic has admitted that he “expected” to be sacked on Monday morning when he arrived at West Ham United’s training ground to meet with co-owner David Sullivan, and admitted that he leaves the club “very proud” of what he has achieved.

The 4-1 defeat by Liverpool on Saturday proved enough to end Bilic’s reign of two years and four months as the side slipped into the relegation zone, having claimed just two wins from 11 Premier League games this season.

With the club placed 18th in the Premier League table, West Ham co-owners David Gold and Sullivan decided, along with the board, that Bilic needed to be replaced in order to avoid slipping into a relegation battle at Christmas, and given their struggles this season, Bilic admitted that he saw the axe coming.

“I expected it. There are no hard feelings,” he said as he left the club’s training ground on Monday.

“I can be very proud of my work here. We didn’t start this crucial season well. As in many clubs across Europe, the manager is the one who pays the price.

“[We had] A good or great or very good first season, then the second season was going to be difficult with the change of stadium. This season that we hoped that we would make that step from the start and we just didn’t make it.

“It’s a very logical move. The fans were brilliant to me from the start until the end.”

The Croatian has forged a reputation as being one of the nicest managers in the Premier League, and given that West Ham was one of the clubs that he represented as a player, he was visibly emotional about the decision.

But he did concede that while he would always back himself to drag the club out of trouble if given the rest of the season to turn things around, the recent results suggested otherwise.

“Of course you are always hoping and believe in yourself that you can turn it around, otherwise I wouldn’t be in this job and be at this level,” he added. “But that doesn’t mean that the club didn’t make the right decision.”

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