Slaven Bilic had an “air of sadness about him” even in the good times at West Ham, according to vice-chaiman Karren Brady.
The Croatian was sacked following last weekend’s 4-1 home defeat to Liverpool at London Stadium – that ended an almost two-and-a-half year spell at the club.
And Brady claims it was one of the hardest decisions the Hammers board has had to make in the last 25 years.
“He was an honest man with integrity and intelligence and was furiously loyal to West Ham. So sacking this thoroughly decent man was one of the hardest things our board felt it had to do in 25 years in football.
“He was never afraid of the truth or of speaking it. We liked him for that, (co-owners) David Sullivan, David Gold and I. There was always an air of sadness about him, even in the good times.
“This sacking was in some ways the easiest and in others, the hardest. We would liked to have kept Slaven but we couldn’t. He understood.”
Dimitri Payet was the club’s shining light in Bilic’s first season in charge and his goals and assists meant the club finished in seventh place in 2015-16.
However, the Frenchman got itchy feet and demanded a move back to Marseille, and Brady thinks that was the beginning of the end for Bilic.
“In his first six months, when Dimitri Payet was inspiring the team with his Gallic brilliance, Bilic sometimes looked pensive, as though he thought this was a lucky break and might not go on. He never quite recovered after the player staged a strike and went back to Marseille.
“He began to run out of ideas as the team’s initial defiance to Payet’s behaviour faded and less than a year later the manager had also departed.”