West Ham fans, it’s looking increasing likely that your wishes will be granted. The majority of Irons supporters appear to want Sam Allardyce out of their club, and with his contract due to expire in a couple of months’ time, the lack of movement to suggest that he’ll be given an extension is encouraging for the masses.
However, there is one pressing concern… who will replace him? Well, there seems to be a new favourite on the block in the shape of Slaven Bilic, who, according to reports, is keen to discuss a deal. The Croatian is currently in charge of Besiktas, and is very much a fans’ favourite in East London following a brief spell at the club between 1996 and 1997.
A match made in heaven? Quite possibly, and here are FIVE reasons why…
It’s not been an easy period for West Ham fans. Last season was abysmal as the Irons flirted with relegation, while the latter half of the current campaign has led to ‘what ifs?’ from the stands following the club’s slide from Champions League contenders to midtable finishers. And all of this has happened under the guidance of the universally unpopular Allardyce!
Although he guarantees safety, Upton Park supporters want a little more ahead of the move to the Olympic Stadium, and Bilic seems to tick the emotional box. The Croatian used to play for the club, was somewhat a cult hero and is a character away from his job – he’s in a rock band and has declared himself to be a socialist.
Famously his Croatia side blocked England’s route to EURO 2008, but Bilic is more than just an international manager. The 46-year-old has enjoyed spells in his homeland with Hajduk Split and in Russia as boss of Lokomotiv Moscow before joining current side Besiktas in Turkey. During his spells in charge of clubs and nations his win percentage has only dipped below 50% on one occasion – Lokomotiv – while he’s also led teams out on both Champions League and Europa League action.
Not a hard one, admittedly! Although it’s a little lazy to label Allardyce a ‘hoofball’ merchant, he does lean towards a more direct style of play. When effective it works well, but when times are hard it’s extremely unpleasing. West Ham fans are well and truly fed up with this, and Bilic continental brand may remedy the problems.
Although not a ‘tiki-taka’ coach, the Croatian likes to keep the ball on the deck and utilise skilful players, as he did when his Besiktas side knocked Liverpool out of the Europa League a few months ago. He’s shown a willingness to go long when needed, Demba Ba is a good target man, which illustrates a nice mix that may get the best out of West Ham’s current crop of players.
With a move to the giant Olympic Stadium on the cards and West Ham already planning ticket price cuts to help fill the seats, they need something to really get fans on side. Bilic coming in could revive the spark that some Hammers have lost of late, which would surely see a bump in those coming through the turnstiles.
West Ham’s transfer work last summer was impressive. Even with Allardyce in charge, players such as Enner Valencia and Alex Song chose East London, showing that there is some appeal there. So imagine what a manger of Bilic’s standing could do? The experienced gaffer has encountered a diverse range of players at both club and international level, and with a talented Besiktas team at his disposal, he may be able to convince some stars to swap Istanbul for Newham.