As the hunt for our new manager enters its fourth day, the candidates list has somewhat shortened as a number of names have ruled themselves out by either taking on other projects or have decided to take a break from the game.
The club identified Rafa Benitez as the favourite for the post months ago, and were confident of landing the former Liverpool boss. However in typical West Ham fashion, the deal collapsed at the 11th hour amid interest from Real Madrid – who now look set to appoint Benitez as replacement for sacked Carlo Ancelotti.
Ancelotti has also been a name the club have enquired about, however the former Chelsea boss has ruled himself out of the running as he wants to take a break from the game due to health reasons. This however has not put our ambitious owners off – who have put together a lucrative package hoping that might sway Ancelotti in delaying the spinal surgery he requires.
Marcelo Bielsa, who is rumoured to be departing Marsielle has also been mentioned as a target, however the fact he speaks very little English puts his name somewhat low on the list.
This leaves three main contenders for the role at present – Jurgen Klopp, Andre Villas-Boas and Slaven Bilic.
At this moment in time Klopp has ‘ruled himself out’ as he wants to take a break following his decision to leave Borussia Dortmund this season. However much shouldn’t be read into this, as Klopp is widely tipped to take a post as long as the offer is right – and West Ham is certainly a role that he would seriously consider.
Then there is Andre Villas-Boas. A man who is desperate to prove himself in the Premier League following stints at Chelsea and Spurs. The former Porto boss is currently in charge of Zenit Saint Petersberg, where he has just clinched the league title with them. This however appears to be the least likely of the three due the unpopularity of the move from our fans, and that is certainly a situation our owners will want to avoid now Sam Allardyce has departed.
This leaves the favourite for the post – Slaven Bilic. Bilic has been pretty much favourite since Benitez decided to opt for the Bernabeu, and it’s not hard to see why. Although he can be considered a somewhat risk, Bilic has done tremendously well at both Besiktas and also as manager of his home country Croatia.
His stylish attacking style of football, strong connection with fans and arm-around-the-player character certainly would be refreshing for our club, and it’s certainly something our owners are looking for. And the fact Bilic knows the club being a former player, plus being available now puts him front of the podium.
One thing is for certain, a manager will be in place within the next week as the club need to begin player recruitment urgently, especially with the confirmation that Europa League qualifiers await in July.
& as things stand, Bilic has one foot in the door at Upton Park.