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Amazing success story surpasses expectations


bilicIt’s often worthwhile taking a long look back at possibly unpromising situations and working out how they led us to a place of unexpected high achievement.

Two issues have prompted this thought – a column from the Mirror’s excellent Darren Lewis which I happened upon this morning and the fact that Slaven Bilic’s predecessor returns with his new club later this month.

It’s time to pause for thought!

By wide agreement at the time Slav was in for a very difficult time at West Ham United when he finally got the gig last summer.

And Darren  summed up his position perfectly when saying:

  • West Ham courted the likes of Rafa Benitez, Jurgen Klopp, Unai Emery and Marcelo Bielsa ahead of him for a reason: their records in club management are all superior to his,
  • he’d been sacked in Russia,
  • parted company with Besiktas, and
  • fan polls had him way behind some of his rival candidates for the job, whose CVs stood up far better to scrutiny.

But showing his insider knowledge of things West Ham he added:

  • West Ham plan to push the boat out this summer with five or six new players arriving but said despite all that Bilic “has it all to prove at a club where failure, in their final season at Upton Park ahead of their move into London’s Olympic Stadium, is not an option.”

It was a much fairer assessment of the situation than those pundits who claimed that parting with Sam Allardyce was a huge gamble and that we’d all live to regret it.

It was a point of view that suggested West Ham would remain a survival club forever under a boss who knew how to avoid relegation which, whatever we may or may not think of him, is hardly the highest ambition in the world.

Truth is of course that many – even those who wanted change which included the board – could not forecast with any certainty exactly where Bilic would lead us.

What happened first and foremost – is that he made Dimi Payet his number one target (he understood), gave the nod to Manu Lanzini and a late thumbs up to Michail Antonio on deadline day.

He then set about fostering a relationship with his players similar to that he had at Croatia Рwhich saw them lose just eight games in six years under him.

He has created a bond with the fans which seems unbelievable in the short time he’s been around and the board – who for all their assurances to the contrary – have clearly been surprised by a man who certainly didn’t have the total backing of them all.

The Slaven Bilic story of the last six months has been one of the most extraordinary I’ve witnessed in football and I hope and trust that come June the Irons board sits down and gives him the best contract ever offered to an Upton Park boss.

Oh, and let’s hear no talk of one season wonders eh?

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Hugh Southon is a lifelong Iron and the founding editor of ClaretandHugh. He is a national newspaper journalist of many years experience and was Bobby Moore's 'ghost' writer during the great man's lifetime. He describes ClaretandHugh as "the Hammers daily newspaper!"

Follow on Twitter @hughsouthon


  • bubs says:

    When you compare our squad of players with other top side it’s equal or Better and we are only 3-4 players from being equal with them all,
    Apart from Chelski we have the best youngsters coming through,
    We needed to bring back flair and exciting times to our fans and Hippo was not for changing because it’s not in his DNA, Ian pleased we never got Klopp because his ways look similar to Hippo but at break neck speed,
    The others we courted have gone on and failed at other clubs so in the end fate gave us the right man who now wants to be given a contract that will keep him at the club for a min of 6 years,
    We keep our best players we will not be a one season wonder,but we must be content with this level for a couple of seasons until we get used to our new ground,
    Just hope for all we bury Sunderland and draw a line under the whole issue,I also hope the fans do not react to his return badly or warmly he was paid well for an average job disrespected us and now needs to go away

  • johnboy says:

    With you bubs !!
    And we must beat the hippo to prove a mute point !

  • COYI247 says:

    Well I am proudly not one of the bash Sam brigade. Should he have turned down the opportunity. Bet the hypocrites who are always having a pop at him would be the first to behave far FAR worse and for a tiny fraction of the money! Sam did exactly what he said he would and fulfilled his brief. Have a pop at the 2 Davids for hiring him then, although that too would be churlish in the extreme. No, as far as I am concerned, you Sam bashers can go **** yourselves! COYI!

  • COYI247 says:

    But as regards Bilic: Guardiola or Bilic? For me it is Bilic every which way!

  • bubs says:

    Life must be boring in your world COY1247
    Tampax do what they say on the packet but I would not keep defending them on these sites,
    He was totally disrespectful to all Hammer Fans if you want to turn a blind eye to that just carry on in your little 9 to 5 bubble,and have a nice sensible boring life
    But you are entitled to your opinion so carry on but from now on I will ignore every word you have printed,
    Think I will have a knap now all this excitement has made me tired YAWN

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