West Ham United and manager Sam Allardyce have always been somewhat of an unholy alliance.
The 60 year-old has guided the East Londoners from the English second tier to the top half of the Premier League – this term in contention for an impressive eighth place finish. But the persistent grumblings from many sectors of the Upton Park support regarding the attritional, direct and often boring Allardyce philosophy have created a rather volatile working environment during the last 18 months.
The former Bolton, Blackburn and Newcastle gaffer’s contract is set to expire at the end of the season, and perhaps bearing their move to the Olympic Stadium in 2016 in mind, it appears the West Ham board are reluctant to renew his current deal.
So being the ever-helpful bunch we are at Football Fancast, we’ve listed FIVE managers who could realistically succeed Big Sam this summer. Will one of these lads be donning the Upton Park dugout next season?
Harry Redknapp limped away from relegation-bound QPR upon the close of the January window with a rather disappointing win rate of just 19% in the Premier League, but many at Upton Park still have a soft spot for their former manager.
After all, the 67 year-old represented West Ham over 175 times as a player, and during the 1998/99 season guided them to their highest league standing of the Premier League era, a more than respectable 5th.
Redknapp’s also enjoyed successful spells with Bournemouth, claiming the Division Three title in 1987, Portsmouth, where he lifted the FA Cup in 2008, Tottenham, whom he guided to the quarter-finals of the Champions League in 2010, and was once in line to succeed the England job from Fabio Capello, before the FA turned to Roy Hodgson.
The former midfielder’s greatest gift remains his shrewdness in the transfer market, but over the last few years at QPR, the tactical side of his game has looked worryingly outdated.
Forever linked with a return to his former club, it seems inevitable ex-Hammer Slaven Bilic will take to the West Ham dugout at some point in his management career.
The 46 year-old is currently in charge of Besiktas, for whom he boasts an impressive win rate of 54% since his appointment in June 2013, recently masterminding the Turkish outfit’s way past Liverpool in the knock-out stages of the Europa League.
Admittedly, he lacks experience in Europe’s leading top flights, but Bilic’s reputation is built upon his successes with the Croatian national team; in 2008, he eliminated Steve McLaren’s England from the qualifying rounds of the European Championships and many of his players subsequently went on to have impressive careers in the Premier League, namely Eduado, Verdan Corluka and Luka Modric.
Bilic left the international scene in 2010 with a win rate of 65%, and in addition to that impressive return, has developed the repute of a particularly passionate, hardworking manager.
Neil Lennon may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but his incredible successes at Celtic cannot be ignored.
After representing the Hoops over 214 times as a player, the northern Irishman lead them to three consecutive SPL titles and masterminded a historic victory over Barcleona at Celtic Park during the 2012/13 Champions League season – poignantly just one day after the club’s 125th anniversary.
Most impressively, the 43 year-old achieved it all with a squad ever-diminishing in quality, demonstrating his ability to add huge value to low-cost players in a short space of time.
Unable to find work in the Premier League, Lennon was forced to search for Championship employment after leaving the Scottish champions last summer. He took over a bottom-place Bolton Wanderers last October and has since guided them to 17th – an impressive ten points clear of the relegation zone.
With superior resources and quality of player, the former midfielder could uproot trees in East London. At this point in his career however, despite some huge successes in Europe, the West Ham board might view Lennon as too much of a gamble.
A new manager for a new era at West Ham, Eddie Howe could be the man to propel the East London club towards the level of success the Olympic Stadium deserves.
Admittedly, he’s completely untested in the Premier League, but in the space of seven years has guided Bournemouth from rock bottom of the Football League to the top of the Championship, claiming a win rate of 51%.
Still just 37 years of age and renowned for his insistence upon stylish, attacking football, Howe’s become easily the hottest management prospect England has to offer over the last few years.
It’ll be a real sink-or-swim test for him at West Ham however, and the former defender is unlikely to leave The Cherries if they’re promoted to the top flight, as widely expected, this season.
If West Ham plan to become regulars amongst the division’s European rankings, they need a manager who knows both the continental and Premier League scenes extremely well.
Meeting that demand in abundance is former Liverpool and Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez, who has miraculously emerged as the bookies’ favourite to take over at Upton Park next season with his Napoli spell almost certain to come to an end.
The Spaniard often has a marmite effect on football fans but his success is undoubted, winning two La Liga titles and a UEFA Cup with Valencia, an FA Cup and a Champions League with Liverpool and the 2013 Europa League, despite an incidious relationship with the club’s fanbase, during his infamous ‘interim’ stint at Chelsea.
Only at Inter Milan has his win rate dropped below 50% in the last decade, whilst Benitez’ ability to attract star-studded names to East London due to his high status and many connections throughout the game remains another positive.
Whether West Ham have enough financial muscle to acquire a manager who’s worked almost exclusively at Champions League level since 2004 however, remains to be seen.