West Ham Vice-chairman Karren Brady has admitted that sacking Slaven Bilic was “one of the hardest” decisions the board has had to make.
West Ham parted company with Slaven Bilic last week following a poor start to the campaign that has left them 18th in the Premier League table.
Brady insists that, while Bilic’s task was made more difficult by the loss of key man Dimitri Payet at the start of the year, the board – comprised of David Gold, David Sullivan and Brady – had little choice but to swing the axe in the midst of some disappointing results.
“When we told Slaven Bilic we didn’t want him to stay as manager of West Ham, it was clear he was not going to argue with the decision,” she told The Sun. “No one likes to sack anyone. It’s not easy, especially when you genuinely like them, and I take no pleasure from it — but sometimes there is just no alternative. Everyone on the board enjoyed a good relationship with Slaven and supported him at every opportunity. We spent £100m on players since he joined — and no club outside the top six has spent more.
“Every pre-season requirement, every winter training break, every backroom member of staff, the complete refit of the training ground… whatever he wanted, we tried to deliver. He, in turn, was an honest man with integrity and intelligence and was furiously loyal to West Ham. So sacking this thoroughly decent man was one of the hardest things our board felt it had to do in 25 years in football.
“I think a huge majority of our supporters agreed with our decision. They, like us, remain as respectful of the 47-year-old Croatian as it is possible to be of a manager whose diminishing success in leading a good squad of players has placed the club in the relegation zone with the season almost a third through. Expectations at the London Stadium are far higher than that. We spent £45m in the summer buying experience in defence and goal threat in attack.
“Neither manifested itself. Rather, goals have poured into our own net to the extent that we have the worst record in the league — and we haven’t scored many, either. “In his first six months, when Dimitri Payet was inspiring the team with his Gallic brilliance, Bilic sometimes looked pensive, as though he thought this was a lucky break and might not go on. He never quite recovered after the player staged a strike and went back to Marseille. He began to run out of ideas as the team’s initial defiance to Payet’s behaviour faded and less than a year later the manager had also departed.”