After months of speculation that West Ham would be looking in a new direction as regards to a first team manager for next season, it was unsurprising, albeit extremely sudden, to see Sam Allardyce leave his post at Upton Park.
In a season where the word “boring” has been bandied around so many times, ‘Big Sam’ was one of the many victims of that tagline with opposition managers and even his own fans speaking out against the former Newcastle United managers style of play, or in their view, lack of it.
However, history often repeats itself and with the events at Blackburn Rovers that followed Allardyce’s sacking there is sure to be in the back of ‘Irons’ fans’ minds, no matter how much they may or may not have disliked their now departed manager.
The usual suspects have been linked with the vacant West Ham United post, including David Moyes and Steve McClaren, but it is the familiar face of Slaven Bilić that looks set to step into Allardyce’s shoes ahead of the London club’s final season before moving to the Olympic Stadium.
It is that relocation and ‘image change’ that has driven the move to replace Allardyce, who guided West Ham to a 12th placed finish this term, but if Bilić is to be the man, it truly does throw up more uncertainties than it does certainties.
Next season will be one of the most pivotal in recent West Ham United history as they not only need to stay in the top flight to ensure the new stadium has its maximum effect, but the Londoners now also face into a gruelling Europa League campaign having qualified viva the fair play route.
With the first qualifying game for this competition kicking off on July 2, Mr.Gold and Mr.Sullivan, the majority West Ham shareholders, will need to dig deep in order to give the new manager, who ever he may be, a squad capable of coping with such demands.
It should be noted that Hull City started their doomed campaign this season also in the Europa League and despite not making it into the group stages, Steve Bruce would be as experienced as any to talk about the extra pressures it put on his ‘Tigers’ this year.
With Allardyce you are as guaranteed, as much as it is possible in the world of football, of safety in the top flight; the 60-year-old having never been relegated from the Premier League as a manager.
This is where the uncertainty of Bilić comes into play. Having never managed in this country and with questionable records at club level with the likes of Lokomotiv Moscow, the Croatian may have a battle on his hands in terms of adapting to the English game. Talking about a gamble, this one takes the cake. The intriguing move of the organization has been frowned by some fans and raised some eyebrows of game analytics. Just like someone who just stumbled upon the latest casino sites and decided to play without second thoughts, it could be a win or lose scenario which is not surprising as this has been the case for the past decade.
While the former Croatian national team manager has played in England, with none other than West Ham and Everton, that was 15 years ago and the league has changed quite a lot.
To put it into perspective, 15 years ago Manchester City were being relegated from the Premier League, Chelsea were not a top 4 side let alone the mega rich Champions they are today and Leeds United and Ipswich Town were mixing it with the big boys in the top five.
A clear sign of uncertainty in football came after Bilić’s departure from his national team position with Croatia. Following a hugely successful six year spell with his home national, Bilić was head hunted to bring the glory days back to Russia’s Lokomotiv Moscow. The new manager was backed with financial muscle as Vedran Ćorluka signed from Tottenahm Hotspur for £5.5 Million among other additions.
Despite this backing, Bilić oversaw the Russian clubs worst ever season, with a ninth placed finish sealing his fate. A move to Turkey would follow to Beşiktaş, where Bilić remains today, but despite a win percentage of over 50%, the Croatian has yet to hit the heights his early potential promised and as a result, one would have to heavily question the West Ham hierarchy should he be appointed.
With a move to the Olympic Stadium on the horizon it is crucial both in financial and sporting terms for West Ham that their new venue is hosting the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea in two years time and not, with all due respect, Rotherham and Brighton. With that in mind, one has to ask if the trigger has been pulled far to fast once again on ‘boring’ Sam Allardyce?