Meanwhile, the man who topped the pre-season bookmaker lists for the first coach to be fired in England’s top league is still clinging on. Slaven Bilic is increasingly being regarded as a great survivor, a coach who somehow manages to pull off a victory for West Ham when he is under the most intense pressure.
Just this week, Bilic acknowledged he was among the managers in jeopardy and had spoken to West Ham’s chairman about his situation after a humiliating 3-0 loss to Brighton on Friday, which left the club above the relegation zone only on goal difference.
Typically, West Ham came from two goals down against Tottenham to win 3-2 in the English League Cup on Wednesday, and the players can take some confidence into Saturday’s league match at last-place Crystal Palace.
It is becoming a theme for Bilic. Last season, West Ham lost 3-0 at home to Southampton in September, but reacted with a draw and three straight wins. They lost 5-1 at home to Arsenal in December — in one of the poorest displays by any side all season — but followed that with a draw at Liverpool then three straight wins. Chastening 4-0 and 5-0 home losses to Manchester City in January were both followed by wins.
This season, it has been a familiar story, with an abject 3-0 loss at Newcastle in late August making it three straight defeats to start the season. West Ham bounced back with two wins and a draw in its next three games. The Brighton loss was possibly the low point in Bilic’s reign, but again he has come through.
The former Croatia defender was a popular appointment in June 2015, having played for West Ham for 18 months from January 1997, and he guided the team to a seventh-place finish with its highest number of points (62) and goals in a Premier League season.