With all the signs pointing to the Boleyn Ground exit door for West Ham boss Sam Allardyce, a hotly-contested market for the Irons throne is beginning to tighten up.
Napoli chief Rafa Benitez is the 4/5 favourite to land the gig, with the former Liverpool tactician’s odds shortening in recent days following David Moyes’ assertion that he has no interest in leaving Real Sociedad, having only taken over the Basque Country club in November.
Benitez will reportedly leave the Partenopei if he fails to lead them back into the Champions League, which is a distinct possibility with Napoli outside Serie A’s qualifying places at present, although they could sneak in with a 19/10 Europa League triumph.
However, the man many West Ham fans want to see take the reins from Allardyce has indicated he is willing to talk to the Boleyn Ground board.
Slaven Bilic fits a couple of major requirements for the Irons’ faithful; the 46-year-old has a solid connection with the club, having spent 18 months plying his trade in east London at the end of the last century, and he is perceived to be an attack-minded coach who encourages his teams to play pretty football.
While in charge of Croatia between 2006-12, Bilic transformed his country’s football fortunes by handing debuts to the likes of Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Mario Mandzukic and Ivan Perisic.
The former two, now at Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively, helped light up the early rounds of Euro 2008, when Croatia emerged top of their group ahead of Germany before going out on penalties to Turkey in the quarter finals.
Bilic left the national post after only just failing to edge out Italy during the group stage of Euro 2012, but was met with a hero’s reception in Croatia on his return from the tournament, and walked away on remarkably good terms with supporters.
A tricky term at Lokomotiv Moscow ended in his sacking in May 2013, but Bilic has clearly done a decent job since with Besiktas, who are still in with a fighting chance of winning their first Turkish Super Lig title since 2008/09 this season.
He still has a year left to run on his contract in Istanbul, but the latest rumours suggest Bilic wants out. You can have 6/1 on him being next West Ham boss with Ladbrokes.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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