While Slaven Bilic masterminded an incredible comeback in the 3-2 win against Tottenham Hotspur in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup at Wembley on Wednesday night, there is no doubt that is job is still under threat.
Three straight defeats at the beginning of the season looked to have left him on the brink, but while results picked up and wins were recorded against Huddersfield Town and Swansea City at the London Stadium, home defeats against Spurs and Brighton and Hove Albion – a demoralising 3-0 loss last Friday – mean that the Croatian’s job is far from secure.
Given that his contract is due to expire at the end of the campaign, it would certainly be no surprise to see the West Ham board act early and relieve him of his duties before that point, especially if the Irons suffer defeat in their bottom-of-the-table clash against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday.
While the Hammers are in 16th position with eight points from their nine Premier League games this term, the Eagles have had an even worse beginning to the season and have won just once, losing the other eight fixtures without scoring a goal.
Defeat in south London would likely mean the end for Bilic, and the club would begin their search for his replacement.
Some Irons supporters may argue that there is no point sacking the Croatian if there is no one better out there to take the job, and the recent dismissal of Ronald Koeman from Everton will certainly have raised a few eyebrows at the London Stadium.
Yes, the Toffees have been pretty awful this season despite a big summer of spending, but the Dutchman has still recorded seventh, sixth and seventh-place finishes in the Premier League in his previous three years with Southampton and then the Merseyside outfit. We’re also talking about a vastly talented former player, who won the European Cup twice before hanging up his boots.
That certainly suggests that the 54-year-old would be a positive appointment, and perhaps one of the main reasons he struggled at Goodison Park this season was the failure to bring in a direct replacement for Romelu Lukaku, who left to join Manchester United during the summer transfer window.
Koeman has admitted since his sacking that he was close to getting Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud – a player that would have added a physical presence up top – before the end of August, and the failure to do that may have ultimately cost him his job.
For the first time in his managerial career in the Premier League, Koeman was left without a target man having had the big Belgian last season, and Graziano Pelle in his two campaigns with Southampton previously.
Lukaku enjoyed his best ever Premier League campaign under Koeman as he scored 25 top flight goals in 37 matches, while Pelle netted 23 across the 2014/15 and 15/16 seasons for Saints despite only being prolific for two years at Feyenoord previously.
Those statistics show that the Dutch manager works best when he has a tall and strong centre-forward in his ranks, and that would certainly be the case if he took the reins at the London Stadium.
Andy Carroll is a controversial figure among the West Ham fans because of his constant injury problems and lack of consistency when on the pitch, but there is no doubt that his side’s best and most effective attacking play seems to come when he’s in the starting XI.
Bilic is still yet to find a formation that works with Carroll and Javier Hernandez, and perhaps the arrival of Koeman could help West Ham finally find their spark in the final third and utilitse the duo in the right way to produce the best results – as long as the former can stay fit, that is.
The Irons certainly have the players in wide positions that can supply the 6ft 4in centre-forward, and that little tweak could not only help Koeman and Carroll make their names again, but it could also help the east London outfit climb up the Premier League table and compete for Europe just like Southampton and Everton did under the Dutchman’s leadership.