LONDON • West Ham manager Slaven Bilic is under even more serious pressure after Ronald Koeman's sacking by Everton on Monday, but he will hope for a fillip in today's last-16 League Cup action.
Media reports suggest that Bilic, who made his name as Croatia's national coach, has been given two matches to salvage his job, but a trip away to in-form Tottenham Hotspur is probably not the sort of challenge one would want as one of them.
Everton - who despite splashing out £140million (S$251 million) on players in the transfer window lie third bottom in the Premier League - begin life post-Koeman by travelling to champions Chelsea.
Both may have to play their first teams in a competition which usually gives league managers the chance to rest weary first-choice players.
However, for Bilic, no such luxury can be afforded in that respect and facing a Tottenham side that put Liverpool to the sword 4-1 and who firmly set aside the so-called Wembley jinx could not come at a worse time.
He is clearly feeling the weight of expectations as one poor season last term - which came close to his dismissal - has been followed by no sign of a return to the form that they showed in his first campaign, when the Hammers finished seventh in the league.
Following last week's 3-0 home defeat by Brighton, West Ham are currently 16th in the standings, level on eight points with 18th-placed Everton.
"I'm the manager and I don't want to run away from the fact that it's my responsibility, and I take full responsibility," Bilic said.
West Ham defender Jose Fonte said the players owed the fans a good performance.
"We have a game on Wednesday and we need to go and beat Spurs because we have to react, we have to bounce back," he said on the club website (www.whufc.com).
However, a poll published by The Sun yesterday revealed that only 20 per cent of West Ham fans want Bilic to stay.
Defeat by Spurs would probably not be a catastrophe for the Croat, but a loss this weekend to bottom side Crystal Palace would more than likely seal his fate and make him the fourth managerial casualty of the season.