Slaven Bilic doesn't understand speculation his job is on the line
Reports last week suggested that club owners David Sullivan and David Gold are considering replacing Bilic with former Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini in the summer. That would seem to make little sense after a sixth win in nine Premier League games took the Hammers into the top half of the table.
The only explanation for wanting to make a change, apart from an extreme knee-jerk reaction to last week’s 4-0 home defeat by Manchester City, is that Bilic raised expectations last season that most managers would have struggled to live up to.
“Honestly, I don’t understand those questions,” Bilic said. “I’m not the manager of Chelsea or Man City so we are in a strange position that West Ham wasn’t expected to be in.
West Ham moved into the top half of the table with their sixth win in their last nine games
“I can say without being big-headed, me and my staff are doing an excellent job here, especially considering the difficulties of this season – changing of the stadium, so many injured players, some of the transfers didn’t work out, not for the players and not for us. But we are swimming in those difficulties really well.”
Shrugging off the blow of Manolo Gabbiadini’s early debut goal for Southampton, West Ham hit back through Andy Carroll, Pedro Obiang and Mark Noble, whose free-kick was sliced into his own net by Steven Davis.
“Make no mistake, that defeat [by City], especially when you lose at home, it hurt us big time,” Bilic added. “But I told the guys, ‘Don’t let this thing that happened ruin our confidence. It was awful in some of the mistakes and everything, but let’s keep that momentum’. And that’s exactly what we did.
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“It’s not easy, especially when you go behind, but that’s why this win is more than three points, because of the way we did it. It was really fantastic. That shows the character of the team.”
To outsiders, West Ham’s recent form is all the more remarkable after the drawn-out saga of Dimitri Payet’s return to Marseille, especially as the Frenchman had been the inspiration behind last season’s improvement.
“We lost a great player, but these things happen in football and the team reacted in the best possible way,” Bilic said. “The boys showed in those difficult situations that we ain’t going to sink, we ain’t going to crumble, we are not going to go, ‘Oh no, we have lost our talismanic player’.
“No, we have to take more responsibility, individually and as a team. And we want to do it.”