Bilic seeks Cup respite to club’s league troubles
West Ham manager Slaven Bilic is under even more serious pressure after Ronald Koeman’s sacking by Everton on Oct. 23 but he will hope for a filip in today’s Last 16 League Cup action.
Media reports suggest that Bilic, who made his name as Croatian 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 -- which despite splashing out 140 million pounds ($185 million) on players in the close season lies third from bottom of the Premier League -- begins life post Koeman by traveling to champion Chelsea.
Both may have to play their first teams in a competition which usually gives Premier League managers the chance to rest weary first choice players.
Indeed the League Cup would be bottom of priorities for most Premier League managers in terms of silverware or for some simply to survive in the elite to keep on reaping in the millions that membership offers.
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 firmly set aside the so-called Wembley jinx could not come at a worse time.
The charismatic Croatian is clearly feeling the weight of expectations as one poor season last term -- which came close to costing him his job -- has been followed by no sign of a return to the form that the club showed in his first campaign.
“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,” he said.
Hammers Portuguese 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,” Fonte told the club website.
Defeat by Spurs would not be a catastrophe for Bilic but a loss next weekend to bottom side Crystal Palace would more than likely seal his fate and make him the fourth managerial casualty of the season.
In Scotland, Celtic will make the trip to Pittodrie to take on Aberdeen today with only goal difference separating the sides at the top of the Scottish Premiership.
Brendan Rodgers’ side, which is unbeaten in 60 matches against Scottish opposition, claimed a rare domestic clean sweep last season.
The Hoops took a step closer to defending the first part of the treble last weekend as it booked a place in next month’s League Cup final following a 4-2 win over Hibernian.
And Celtic midfielder Callum McGregor, who has scored five times for Celtic this season, insists the Parkhead club is determined to create history by becoming the first side in Scotland to win consecutive trebles.
“We spoke about it at the start of the season and the message was we want to win them again, not just defend them,” the 24-year-old said.
“We want to go out there playing fast, aggressive football and that’s what you need to do to win trophies.”