Slaven Bilic, under-performing West Ham manager believes he may be close to the exit door of the London club, after his team suffered a humiliating 0-3 defeat in the hands of newly promoted Brighton & Hove Albion.
The humiliation was even much bitter: Chris Hughton’s Brighton shamed the club in their London Stadium.
When asked what effect the defeat would have on his own role, the manager was typically honest, but insisted he would not give up his own ambitions to forge a successful Hammers side in the future.
“It is definitely not a good situation and the Board will do what they’re going to do. It is their decision, but all I am saying is that we have been in this situation before and got out of that.
“As a manager, you are taking the credit but on the other hand you are taking full responsibility for that and I don’t want to hide or get away from that.
“I am not worried at all about that, to be fair. I am doing my best, but when you lose 3-0 at home to Brighton in a game that it’s not must, must-win as it’s not that stage of the season, but it was a very important game for us and we didn’t make it. I am a fighter, but it’s not my decision.”
In August the Hammers board gave Bilic, who was hired in 2015, four games to turn the team around. But failure now stares the Croatian in the face, as the club now lies 17th on the table, with eight points after nine matches.
The Hammers went into Friday night’s fixture with the Seagulls at London Stadium knowing a victory would take them into the Premier League’s top ten. Instead, they slumped to a crushing defeat to Chris Hughton’s newly-promoted team.
Glenn Murray’s double and a long-range strike from José Izquierdo on the stroke of half-time condemned Bilic’s side to a loss that the manager was at a loss to explain.
“It’s a bad performance from us,” he said.
“The goals killed us. The first one was very quick and between the first and second goal we were dominating the game and we were there and put a lot of balls in the box, but they defended the balls really well and then in those moments at the end of the first half, we conceded the second one from a good bit of individual skill from their player.
“We tried to come back, but it’s very difficult for me to say anything clever now. All I can say is that it was very disappointing and frustrating and as manager I take full responsibility for that.”
Bilic’s survival now hangs on the reassuring words of David Sullivan, a co-owner of the club who said ahead of the match that the manager would remain since he signed a three-year contract.
‘If you change a manager it can give you two or three more points over a season statistically. I believe in morality and what’s right. If you sign a contract you desperately want to honour that contract unless things are desperate.
‘I think the manager has a three-year contract and is entitled to these three years. After the season we will sit down and see if he wants to stay on and if we want him to stay on. That’s a long way off.”
After Friday night’s humiliation, pundits are not sure whether Sullivan’s words will hold in the quicksand of football politics.