West Ham fired manager Slaven Bilic on Monday following the team’s slide into the English Premier League relegation zone and was set to hand David Moyes an opportunity to rebuild his coaching reputation as the successor.
Bilic was under pressure for weeks and acknowledged it was a "very logical move" to remove him after West Ham’s latest big loss, 4-1 at home to Liverpool on Saturday.
"Disappointed, but not in the club. I expected it," Bilic said outside the West Ham training ground after meeting with members of the club’s board.
The West Ham co-chairmen said they wanted a new manager to "inject fresh ideas, organization and enthusiasm" into the team and seem to have settled on Moyes, who has been out of work since May when he quit Sunderland following its relegation from the Premier League.
A success at Everton from 2002-13, Moyes lasted only 10 months as Alex Ferguson’s hand-picked replacement at Manchester United before getting fired, the job proving far too big for him.
He was fired by Spanish team Real Socieded after a year in charge before a chastening 10-month spell at Sunderland, which he failed to keep in England’s lucrative top division.
Moyes was 1-20 with British bookmakers to fill the vacancy at West Ham, with British media reporting he will be hired on Tuesday.
"I’ve always said I want to go back into club management," Moyes said in an interview with TV channel Bein Sports on Sunday, when speculation was rife about Bilic’s imminent departure. "If the right opportunity comes around, I’ll be interested."
West Ham has won only two of its 11 matches in the Premier League and is in third-to-last place heading into the two-week international break.
Co-chairmen David Gold and David Sullivan have a track record of mostly standing by their managers, and Sullivan said last month he wanted to honour Bilic’s contract, which was due to expire at the end of the season, "unless things are desperate."
Since then, West Ham has lost in embarrassing fashion at home to Brighton (3-0) and Liverpool. The team has been prone to collapsing after going behind — it has already lost by at least a three-goal margin on four occasions this season — and lacked any real identity under Bilic.
"This season we hoped we would make the step from the start, we just didn’t make it," Bilic said. "As with many clubs in Premier League and in Europe, the manager is the one who is paying the price for it."
Bilic was hired in June 2015 and guided West Ham, a team he also played for, to a seventh-place finish in his first season with its highest number of points (62) and goals in a Premier League.
The team left its Upton Park home of 112 years to move to the Olympic Stadium the following season and the change has coincided with West Ham’s problems.
It was hoped that the high-profile signings of Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta, Marko Arnautovic and Javier Hernandez during the off-season would provide the necessary spark for West Ham, but the team is proving just as inconsistent.
"Sadly, performances and results have not been of the expected standard," Gold and Sullivan said in a statement , "and, in recent weeks, we have not seen enough indication of the required improvement to give us the encouragement that things would change and we would meet our Premier League aspirations this season."
Bilic’s assistants, Nikola Jurcevic, Edin Terzic, Julian Dicks and Miljenko Rak, have also left the club with immediate effect but goalkeeping coach Chris Woods appears to have been retained.
Woods worked with Moyes at Everton and Man United, another indication of the identity of Bilic’s likely successor.
Bilic is the fourth manager to lose his job in the Premier League after Frank De Boer (Crystal Palace), Craig Shakespeare (Leicester) and Ronald Koeman (Everton).