Last throw of the dice gives Bilic a stay of execution

LONDON • The vultures were circling. For 89 minutes on Saturday, West Ham United were spirit-sapping and poor against an unadventurous Swansea City, who must surely regret playing within themselves.

Manager Slaven Bilic's position looked more precarious than it has done at any time since he was appointed in June 2015. Then two of his substitutes combined, one point became three, and team and manager go into the international break with a spring in their step.

West Ham kept their fourth clean sheet in five games, and Diafra Sakho's last-gasp goal was enough to claim an ugly 1-0 win - his side's second win of the season and eased some of the manager's stress.

Still, too many marquee signings are failing to live up to their reputations. Bilic chose not to panic, though he acknowledged that he is "fed up" with talking about his future.

"I feel it (the pressure on my job)," said Bilic, whose side were booed by their own crowd at half-time. "It didn't start today. The speculation, not only about me, but there are always a few names and those names are changing. I'm only fed up about talking about that on a weekly basis.

"Of course it's not very pleasant, but all I can concentrate on and all I can do is (to) try and win games. We've done it today. Not in a great style.

"We've done the job. I'm the first to say we have to do better, we can do better and we will do better."

West Ham, who began the season with three losses and are two points above the drop zone, travel to Burnley when the Premier League returns following the international break.

The goal was the first Swansea have conceded away from home in the league this season and defeat left them in the bottom three.

"Of course I'm concerned," said Swansea manager Paul Clement. "I expected better in terms of points and performances. Losing so late on was hard to take.

"We have to create more chances and we have to score more goals. Our midfield is too static and the forwards have to do much more. I have complete confidence in the players we have, but the work we're doing in training isn't connecting to games. That has to change."

THE TIMES, LONDON, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 02, 2017, with the headline 'Last throw of the dice gives Bilic a stay of execution'. Print Edition | Subscribe