West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic received votes of confidence from his board and captain Andy Carroll on behalf of the players after the team suffered a fourth defeat in a row, leaving them just six points clear of the relegation zone.
Chairmen David Gold and David Sullivan were both watching at the KCOM Stadium as Bilic’s men gave a disappointing display against relegation-threatened Hull City. Gold had already given Bilic a vote of confidence in the build-up to the game and the board released another statement on Sunday morning.
It said that the hierarchy had “100 per cent faith” in their manager, adding that his position is “not under threat”. They also urged “all supporters to unite behind the manager, his staff and the squad as we go into some important games”.
Carroll, who was wearing the West Ham captain’s armband for the first time on Saturday, denied that players are being affected by the speculation surrounding Bilic. The striker had scored to give West Ham a half-time lead, but second-half goals from Andy Robertson and Andrea Ranocchia secured a vital win for Hull.
When asked about the speculation surrounding Bilic, Carroll replied: “The lads carry on hearing it. It’s obviously not affecting us. I don’t know where it’s come from. The lads are all behind him, 100 per cent. He’s a great manager.”
The West Ham striker smiled and said “no chance” when he was questioned about whether the team could go down, but their next assignment is a challenging one, away against Arsenal on Wednesday night. The good news for them is that both Michail Antonio and Mark Noble could be back from their injury problems to face Arsene Wenger’s team.
Another defeat at the Emirates Stadium may leave West Ham in deep trouble, with much-improved Hull due to face Middlesbrough at home on that night. Hull are unbeaten in eight games at the KCOM Stadium in all competitions, with Marco Silva having not lost at home in his last 39 league games as a manager.
Silva last lost a home league game in March 2014 when he was in charge of Portuguese minnows Estoril - and then did not lose on his own soil in the league during subsequent spells as manager of Sporting Lisbon and Olympiacos. The Hull manager said: “It’s fantastic numbers. That gives confidence for us and out players as well.”
Silva’s tactical tweak at half-time had a huge impact on this game, as he switched from a 3-4-3 to a 4-4-2 - and made timely substitutions. Scotland defender Robertson was a beneficiary of the system, marauding forward and striking in the equaliser, which was the first Premier League goal of his career.
Robertson said: “The manager wasn’t happy with us at half-time and we weren’t happy with ourselves, so there were a few words exchanged between everyone. The manager changed his formation and it proved the right decision. We managed to get a wee bit more width on both sides and created more chances.”