Bilic staves off the spectre of de Boer dismissal

West Ham midfielder Pedro Obiang scoring the opener via a wicked deflection. This was their first home game after three away losses in a row.
West Ham midfielder Pedro Obiang scoring the opener via a wicked deflection. This was their first home game after three away losses in a row.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Pedro Obiang and Andre Ayew scored to give West Ham manager Slaven Bilic the perfect 49th birthday present as the Hammers beat Huddersfield Town 2-0 in the Premier League on Monday.

Obiang got the opener via an enormous deflection, and Bilic then pumped the air in relief as much as delight when Ayew pounced to add the second as West Ham claimed their first points of the season.

Defeat to Huddersfield would have left the Croat in real danger of becoming the second managerial casualty of the season, after Frank de Boer was fired by rock-bottom Crystal Palace on Monday.

"We started with three away games (due to the World Athletics Championships at the London Stadium) and three defeats, so this was a must-win game," Bilic told Sky Sports.

"I feel the pressure for a whole year now. It is maybe not logical for me to be under pressure after three games, but it is modern football.

"It is my birthday today and this is a great, great present for me."

He added that he was fully focused on preparing his team for the match and did not even consider that he would suffer the same fate as de Boer.

"I'm not going to lie, Frank de Boer was in the back of my mind. I've come to the zone where I don't care about that," Bilic said.

"I care about the team. I saw my team really focus, not just today but yesterday, the day before."

For newly-promoted Huddersfield, it was their first defeat - and the first goals they had conceded - in what has been an impressive start to life among England's elite.

But Huddersfield manager David Wagner was disappointed in his team, who were organised in defence but lacked quality up front.

"It was a deserved defeat," Wagner said. "Defensively we were okay, we were aware of the direct style. We were good on the second balls, but football is also an offensive game and offensively, we weren't good enough.

"We made many unforced errors, bad decisions. We have to be more brave and comfortable on the ball.

"We haven't shown what we are capable of."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 13, 2017, with the headline 'Bilic staves off the spectre of de Boer dismissal'. Print Edition | Subscribe