Outgoing manager concedes not starting season well but 'will be very proud of my work' at Premier League club
Moyes on pole to replace Bilic at West Ham as Croat calls his own dismissal 'logical'
West Ham United have sacked Slaven Bilic, in a move that even the dismissed manager conceded was “logical”, and are likely to appoint David Moyes as his replacement.
Saturday’s 4-1 defeat to Liverpool proved the final straw and Bilic, who leaves West Ham in the relegation zone and with the Premier League’s worst defensive record, said he expected to be fired.
The Croatian, who was in the final year of his three-year contract, had been under pressure after losing the first three games of the season.
“I am sad and disappointed but not in the club,” Bilic told Sky Sports. “I expected it, to be fair. No hard feelings. Especially when time goes by, I will be very proud of my work here.
“We didn’t start this crucial season well. As in many clubs in the Premier League, the manager is the one who pays the price. Of course you always believe you can turn it around but that doesn’t mean the club didn’t make the right decision. It is a very logical move.”
The 49-year-old former Croatia international, who was appointed in 2015, took West Ham to seventh in an encouraging first season in charge, when they challenged for a top-four berth, but they finished 11th last year as results deteriorated after leaving Upton Park.
West Ham have lost more league games than they have won at the London Stadium since moving to a new ground last summer, and Bilic’s team were beaten 3-0 by promoted Brighton and then 4-1 by Liverpool in his last two home matches.
They recruited Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta, Javier Hernandez and the club record signing Marko Arnautovic in the summer, with West Ham believing a policy of bringing in players with Premier League experience would reap dividends.
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“The board invested heavily signing the players Slaven wanted to complete the squad he needed to push the club back towards the level we had reached in his first season, and we believe we have the players capable of doing that,” joint chairmen David Gold and David Sullivan said in a statement.
“Sadly, performances and results have not been of the expected standard. It is with disappointment and heavy hearts that we have made the decision to relieve Slaven of his duties.”
Sullivan and Gold praised Bilic for his “integrity and honesty” and the former West Ham defender had been a popular figure.
But he could not settle on either his strongest team or his best system this season while, with West Ham making fewest sprints in the division and ranking 19th for distance covered, they did not seem fit enough.
Moyes has been out of work since resigning as Sunderland manager following their relegation last season but has been a long-term target of Sullivan and Gold.
They were interested in appointing him in 2015, when Bilic eventually got the job after Moyes felt he ought not to leave Real Sociedad so soon after joining them.
The Scot has had underwhelming or poor spells at his last three clubs, Manchester United, Real Sociedad and Sunderland, has only won 10 of his last 54 games in management and 90 per cent of Hammers supporters in one online poll opposed his appointment.
However, West Ham’s interest in him suggests they are placing more emphasis on his 11-year stint at Everton, where he managed eight top-eight finishes.
The 54-year-old manager will reportedly get an initial six-month contract.