Slaven Bilic admitted his future is out of his hands as speculation that he could be sacked by West Brom continued even after they took a point off an under-par Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
The 1-1 draw looked like offering the under-pressure Bilic a lifeline in his 100th Premier League game as a manager, but reports after the match indicated a move could still be made on Wednesday by the West Brom hierarchy.
“I’m very calm. I love my job. I’m here and calm,” said Bilic. “To be fair, I’m not bothered. I’m doing my job. I’m enjoying it. I’m working hard for myself, for my staff, for the players, for the club, that’s all.
“Everything else is out of my control. But to be fair, I’m just doing my best. I don’t think about other things.
“I’m not really that bothered what’s happening behind the scenes and all that, I don’t care.”
Asked if the result showed West Brom were still playing for him, Bilic said: “I do not like that cliche. The players are playing for themselves but they are listening to our game plan and it’s really good to see your players fighting like this.
“We are having this kind of atmosphere, this working atmosphere, throughout the whole season and it didn’t drop.
“Sometimes you win games, sometimes you lose them, sometimes you play better and sometimes worse, but we never had a problem with attitudes.”
PEP 💬 Yeah, you have to win these games and we could not do it. We had the chances, but unfortunately we were not able to score goals, especially in the last four or five actions that we had. pic.twitter.com/RB5xNRBysy
— Manchester City (@ManCity) December 15, 2020
The result ended a run of 13 straight league defeats for West Brom against City, though they needed two huge saves from Sam Johnstone in stoppage time to keep out Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling.
Gundogan had put City ahead 30 minutes in though it was, remarkably, the hosts’ first clear sight of goal as West Brom defended well, and got their reward as an own goal from Ruben Dias levelled the scores before the break.
“I asked the guys to believe,” Bilic said. “I told them to enjoy it, to play with a smile on their face but that starts with hard work. It was not a bonus game because every game is an opportunity. I told them to treat it as a privilege because this time last year we were in the Championship.”
Bilic spoke of using the game as a platform to build on, saying: “It is more than a point. We have to use this to get the know-how for what we have to do in every game.”
But whether he gets that chance in Saturday’s game against Aston Villa remains to be seen.
We’re running out of words to describe @samjohnstone50 🤷♂️
Just Sam Johnstone doing Sam Johnstone things 🙌 pic.twitter.com/g0qzvXnqfs
— West Bromwich Albion (@WBA) December 15, 2020
For City, it was another frustrating night after their flat performance in the goalless Manchester derby on Saturday.
Guardiola’s side are on 20 points and have scored only 18 goals in 12 league games this season, a far cry from the free-flowing performance that have marked the Catalan’s time in charge to date.
“That’s the reality,” Guardiola said of his side’s struggles.
“We were able to control things, not conceding much, their goal was a deflection – we were better in all departments but struggling to score.
“We control the games but we cannot do it. You have to shoot one ball inside the net.
“We cannot score goals. It’s difficult for managers to find solutions.”