West Brom Opinion: The appointment of Slaven Bilic can be considered as a massive statement of intent from the Baggies
According to The Guardian, West Brom have put a full-stop to their long and tedious hunt for a new permanent manager with the appointment of former Croatian defender Slaven Bilic at the helm of affairs.
The Guardian understands that the 50-year-old has signed a two-year deal with the Baggies, which should keep him at the Hawthorns until the end of the 2020-21 season.
West Brom were without a permanent manager following the dismissal of Darren Moore back in March and the recruitment process for a new manager at the Hawthorns was far from straightforward.
Former assistant manager James Shan took over in a caretaker role following the dismissal of Moore and guided the Baggies to the promotion playoffs, where a penalty shootout defeat in the semi-finals at the hand of Midlands rivals Aston Villa ended their chances of securing a return to the Premier League at the first time of asking.
Preston North End’s Alex Neil, Lincoln City’s promotion-winning manager Danny Cowley, recently-sacked Brighton manager Chris Hughton, as well as widely-revered Bundesliga gaffer Bruno Labbadia were all a part of West Brom’s shortlist for the vacant permanent managerial role but it was former West Ham manager Slaven Bilic, who emerged as the standout candidate following a second round of talks with the club. (h/t Guardian)
Bilic enjoyed a successful playing career at Hajduk Split, West Ham and Everton at the club level, whilst also being an integral part of the Croatian side that defied all odds to reach the semi-finals of the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France. The former defender began his managerial days at his boyhood club Hajduk Split before taking up the head coaching role for Croatia in 2006 following a two-year spell with the U-21 side.
Croatia reached great heights on the international front under the stewardship of Slaven Bilic, with the 50-year-old masterminding home and away victories over England in the qualifying rounds of Euro 2008. Bilic guided Croatia to the quarter-finals of the tournament before eventually losing out to Turkey but that impressive run was enough to mark the nation’s revival and their re-establishment as one of the elites in Europe.
Bilic left the international role following Croatia’s group stage exit in Euro 2012 but he was hailed as a national hero upon his departure. Managerial stints at Lokomotiv Moscow in Russia and Besiktas in Turkey yielded poor returns but Bilic rose to prominence in England as the manager of West Ham in the Premier League.
His time at East London didn’t have the most respectful of endings but Bilic showed his managerial acumen over the course of his two-year spell at West Ham, with the Hammers making it to the qualifying rounds of the Europe League under the Croatian’s stewardship.
He masterminded one of West Ham’s most successful Premier League campaigns in recent years, as the Hammers finished 7th in the top-flight in the 2015-16 season and registered famous victories over Arsenal, Liverpool and Man City.
West Ham broke several records under Bilic, including the most number of points with 62, highest number of goals with 65 and the fewest number of defeats in a single season with 8. Looking back at those numbers, one cannot help but wonder what wonders Bilic would have worked at the London Stadium had the paymasters backed him the way they did Manuel Pellegrini last summer.
To put things into perspective, it is not difficult to see why West Brom have made a massive statement of intent with the appointment of Slaven Bilic at the helm of affairs. Noted for his simple and yet dynamic managerial style, Bilic has shown in the past that he knows how to inspire his players and extract the best out of them with his detail-oriented and pragmatic approach.
Bilic became a firm fan favourite during his first season at West Ham and there is no reason why he can’t emulate that kind of success in the Championship next season. West Brom needed a long-term solution to their managerial woes and the Baggies could well be on their way to the Premier League in the near future with an identity of their own if the Croatian manages to work his magic.
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Nevertheless, they have taken a step in the right direction and Bilic could prove to be the perfect man to take the club’s legacy forward.