West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady said the sacking of Slaven Bilic was among the hardest decisions the club's board has made in the last 25 years.
Bilic's near two-and-a-half-year spell at the helm of West Ham was ended on Monday after last weekend's 4-1 defeat at home to Liverpool left them languishing in the Premier League relegation zone.
Bilic told Sky Sports News he "suspected'' he would be axed and his honest appraisal of the Hammers' position in the top-flight earned him admirers among the club's hierarchy, according to Brady, but that was not enough to spare him.
Writing in The Sun, Brady said: "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."
With Dimitri Payet producing several standout displays, Bilic was able to steer West Ham to a seventh-place finish in his first season in charge in 2015-16.
Brady said Payet's discontent at the club last season and his protracted departure took its toll on Bilic and accused the former defender of running out of ideas.
She said: "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."
West Ham have acted quickly to install David Moyes, who was criticised by Brady in her newspaper column earlier this year for telling BBC Sport reporter Vicki Sparks she "might get a slap even though you're a woman" while in charge of Sunderland.
Brady also addressed the issue on Saturday, adding: "A few months ago I highlighted that the then-Sunderland manager David Moyes gave an unworthy reaction to a question from a woman reporter. He apologised to her and I welcome his move to us and know he won't make such a remark again."