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Slaven Bilic still under pressure

The fate of the West Ham boss is still up in the air

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West Ham United v Swansea City - Premier League Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

The win against Swansea City on Saturday seems to have reduced the fears of the board and the fans that West Ham United would be relegated this year, as the memory of the 2002-03 season where West Ham was relegated with 42 points came back to the East London faithful. That team had a star- studded roster, with players such as Paolo Di Canio, Glen Johnson, Jermain Defoe, Joe Cole, Michael Carrick, Trevor Sincair, and David James, and was largely regarded as being “too good to go down”, and yet still did. The situation facing the club on Saturday afternoon was dire, with five straight losses and seven games with out a win putting immense pressure on the players, the board, and Slaven Bilic himself.

It was widely believed that failure to win the Swansea game would result in Bilic getting the sack, and while the team won, Bilic shouldn’t get too comfortable in the West Ham hot seat. The board has routinely failed to back him, even linking stories about “possible Bilic replacements” in the Mediawatch section of the official website.

And now, today, only a few days after the big win against Swansea, with the Hammers certainly now appearing to get out of the relegation zone for good, yet another “potential replacement” is named in the press. Rumors of Bilic being sacked has literally been going on all season, with the team failing to “live up” to the expectations of the board, despite a fairly disappointing transfer haul during the summer.

The H List highlighted this little nugget from the team’s own paperwork.

A number of fan sites even got in on the piling on, publishing lists transfer “failures” that pinned the bad ones on Bilic, despite the fact that David Sullivan is the one who the team literally refers to in its own paperwork as the head of the Football Operations and is responsible for all transfers.

The club has given Bilic many dreaded “votes of confidence” and has repeatedly claimed that there are no plans to replace Bilic in the summer, despite thinly veiled threats in the press. Karren Brady even said that those people who are saying that Bilic’s job is in trouble need to “Shut up”. And yet here is why people don’t believe the board, and they really only have themselves to blame.

So while the team won at the weekend, Fulham’s Slavisa Jokanovic is the latest name to be linked with the West Ham hot seat. This is after the team was linked to former Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini, and Huddersfield Town manager David Wagner was also recently floated as a potential replacement.

The board has made Bilic’s status at the club virtually untenable. No manager should have to work with a potential replacement sitting in the stands watching the club get humiliated on the pitch. The board has undermined the manager numerous times and had a terrible transfer policy that has left the team short-staffed at critical positions. Of course, Bilic himself has not done himself any favors either, and perhaps his time at West Ham should come to an end. But that needs to be determined at the end of the season if the team stays up.

A loss to a Sunderland team that looks like it has given up on the season this Saturday would still not condemn the team to making travel plans to go to Birmingham City or Barnsley next year, it would indicate that Bilic would likely be looking for new employment this summer. The pressure to win after the club’s board promised a “great leap forward” this season is great, and as long as the club is in the bottom half of the table, the writing may be on the wall.