|He taught me everything that i know...|
So said ex-Hammer Slaven Bilic when embarking upon his managerial career with Croatia - an odyssey that lasted 6 years, including two World Cups. Somewhat surprisingly, Bilic is still considered a long shot for the Hammers managerial berth. However, as news emerged that Sam has grown weary of being so underappreciated and is planning to take on a new challenge, the race to find a suitable replacement is hotting up.
As Moyes, Klopp, Benitez and McClaren (????) all seem to be ruling themselves out of copntention, suddenly Bilic is looking like a decent bet. He has been at Turkish side Besiktas for the past two years where the team are on an upwards trajectory and at present they are neck and neck with both Fenerbahce and Galatasaray after 30 games, with ex-Hammer Demba Ba starring up front.
Although Bilic lacks managerial experience in the Premiership, he is well versed in the comings and goings of the Europa league with Besiktas exiting the competition just before the quarter finals after unluckily losing to Club Brugge in March.
In addition, Bilic cut his teeth as an international manager with the CRoatian U21 side - then moving up to the senior squad and bringing a talented generation with him. An ability to engage up and coming youth talent will surely be a key attribute of the Hammers next manager as for many, the real dividend from moving to a bigger stadium is the belief that we will then be able to hold on to our emerging talent rather than feed them on to the likes of Man U and Chelsea.
Bilic's career win percentage is 56% - which compares very favourably with Big Sam's which is just short of 40%. That includes six years at International level. The premiership is a demanding league, but Bilic's record suggests that he would be well suited to it. Moreover, as the above quote demonstrates, his footballing philosophy is well attuned to the West Ham Way.
Ladbrokes are offering odds of 8/1 on Bilic being the next West Ham manager - looks tempting - a bet of £35, if successful, would cover a season ticket at the Olympic Stadium this time next year!