West Ham: Who will replace Sam Allardyce?

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Rumours have come out this morning claiming that joint owners David Sullivan and David Gold have cut their managerial shortlist down to four names.

Sullivan spoke out last week on the club’s website, explaining that they are being extremely thorough in their search, dedicating “every waking minute to recruiting the best available manager to drive our club forwards.”
And if the following names on their shortlist are achievable, they certainly would have succeeded.

We’re going to take a more detailed look at each candidate, and discuss what positive attributes they’ll bring to Upton Park.

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Of the candidates in the list, Frank De Boer is probably the most sought after.

He is currently manager of Ajax. He took over  at the start of the 2010/11 season winning the Everdivisie title in his first year in charge (Ajax’s first title since 2004). He then went on to become the first coach in Dutch League history to win 4 consecutive top-flight league titles.  They didn’t win the league this year, but they were runners- up.

Liverpool did approach De Boer in 2013, but he turned down the offer saying that he was “honoured by the request, but I have only just started with Ajax.” He subsequently went on to win the Rinus Michels Award, which is the Manager of the Year award in Holland.

Many will say that Ajax’s title win came from their strong squad, but this is a side that before De Boer has even started lost stars such as Christian Eriksen, Jan Vertongen, Gregory van der Wiel and Luis Suarez no less.

His clear philosophy of neat, one-touch passing football is a far cry from what Hammers fans witnessed for the majority of the previous regime. And those worried about relegation danger now Allardyce has left, won’t need to worry if this man is in charge.

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Many make Slaven Bilic the favourite because of his previous connections to the club. He played over 50 games at centre-half for West Ham. Many former players including defensive partner at the time Alvin Martin and club hero Tony Cottee have backed the idea of his appointment, although it must be said Cottee didn’t have much to say on his managerial prowess, only commenting that “He mucked in with the lads, he spoke fantastic English and he had a drink and a fag at the back of the bus with everybody else, as you did at the time.” At least the end of season awards should be fun!  He was an excellent player during his time in England, also playing for Everton.

It was confirmed last month that Bilic would leave his current club Besiktas at the end of this season, and it’s no secret that Bilic has ambitions of managing in England, despite reportedly rejecting a couple of offers from West Ham in the past.

Arguably his most successful period as manager was when he took control of the Croatian national side. He only lost 8 games in 6 years as coach from 2006-2012, including a 3-2 away win against England to knock them out of Euro 2008 at the qualifying stage.

He regularly played an attacking 4-2-3-1 formation at Besiktas, including in their victory over Liverpool in this seasons Champions League and is known to be a bit of a ‘tinkerer’ keeping a lot of sides guessing, a staunch difference to Sam Allardyce, who’s side became extremely predictable  in the second half of this campaign.

If they can persuade him to come to East London, West Ham fans might find they have an added bonus of Demba Ba joining Bilic on the flight over!

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The King of the Europa League – Unai Emery, just in time for West Ham’s up and coming European tour!

Despite his age, he’s regarded as one of the finest tacticians in La Liga. Similarly to Bilic, you’ll rarely see him play the same side in two consecutive games. He is excellent at rotating a big squad and a big squad it exactly what West Ham need with their punishing schedule ahead.

He’s certainly an underrated manager outside of Spain, but who better to manage a team in Europe than the man who led Sevilla to win the competition the last two seasons.

But Emery is a man in demand, and if he does leave Sevilla, he will have to decide between West Ham and Napoli, recently vacated by Rafa Benitez. He has stayed quiet about his future however, saying after his most recent Europa League triumph “now is not the time to talk about the future.”

But this year is the first season that Europa League winners go straight into the Champions League, so remaining at Sevilla will also be a tantalising prospect for Emery.

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Marcelo Bielsa is understood to be keen on the West Ham ‘project’, reportedly turning down Sampdoria in favour of a move to the Barclays Premier League.

He just missed out on a Champions League spot with Marseille last term on a shoe string budget, which will please the West Ham owners.

An eccentric character, Bielsa is known as “El Loco”, known for his interesting quips about the game, including “If players weren’t human, I’d never lose”.

What can’t be argued with is Bielsa’s hatred of the ‘long-ball game’ – he is a football purist, he loves the game, his playing style will be nothing like what we saw from West Ham towards the end of last season. He apparently spent one Christmas watching 14 hours of football apparently developing the ability to watch games simultaneously, he said “I am a student of football, I watch videos, read and analyse.”

His only silverware to date however includes 3 league titles in Argentina and Olympic Gold when in charge of the Argentinian national team. But West Ham surely don’t have aspirations to be title winners, especially not in the short term. Their goal is to make sure they are playing good enough football to fill their 54,000 seater Olympic Stadium.  Bielsa won’t play ugly football that’s for sure.

Many teams would have made a decision on a manager a lot quicker than this. But Gold and Sullivan know they need to get this appointment right.

The Olympic stadium is a real added pressure into succeeding. 54,000 people don’t come to watch teams in the bottom half of the Premier League or worse.

Writer’s View: West Ham fans will feel encouraged about the names being touted for the job, they have very ambitious chairmen.

Many will say that West Ham have made a big mistake getting rid of Sam Allardyce at this stage. But I don’t see how any of these managers won’t improve West Ham, especially in the knowledge that they will be backed  financially in the summer and over January.

This is a very exciting period in West Ham’s history, this change could be the benchmark the launches them into regular European Football, and a possible assult on the Champions League places.