Here’s an interesting rumor concerning under-fire West Ham United boss Slaven Bilic. According to the never reliable talkSPORT the Hammers boss is a top candidate to replace recently departed Bruce Arena as the manager of the United States Men’s National Team.
Let’s get something straight, this is laughably ridiculous. It’s likely Bilic’s agent or talkSPORT just trying to drum up some clicks and buzz about the soon to be fired manager.
As an avid follower of both West Ham and the USMNT it’s hard to see why Bilic would be a candidate for the top USA job. While he does seem better suited for international management than club management he’s not the type of manager that the USA needs right now.
The USMNT and West Ham are in similar spots. Both have squads that given their talent should be playing better and achieving more than they have. Both have sufferred from a lack of discipline in defense and managers trying to place square pegs into round holes.
The US needs a manager that is going to instill discipline into a squad that has been arrogant and entitled. West Ham need the same thing. From that stand point it’s hard to see why Bilic would be anywhere near the top of the list for the USMNT job.
Also, US Soccer is going to take it’s time when appointing the new manager. All signs point to a new manager being named AFTER the US Soccer Federation election in February. Granted Slaven is going to be unemployed well before February but I have a hard time seeing him last too long as an unemployed manager.
With all of this being said the talkSPORT article does bring up an interesting point and something that Bilic could bring to the USA job.
Craig Bloomfield writes “Bilic's work nurturing and promoting youngsters with Croatia – most notably Luka Modric– is said to be counting in his favour as front-runners emerge for the US job.”
This is what I think makes Bilic a stronger international manager than a club manager. The stakes for the US over the next two to three years are very low. Many of the old guard are going to retire or have to be phased out of the setup. The US does have a very promising group of players in the youth teams. Bilic would be given a few years to bring these kids up to the first team and get them ready for Gold Cups and the 2022 qualifying campaign.
This is not a luxury that he is afforded at West Ham or any club. The stakes for being relegated are huge and the conventional wisdom is that sticking with veterans is the smarter choice (I happen to disagree there but that’s a different piece).
While that part does make Bilic an intriguing candidate he just is not the correct fit for a USMNT who are still reeling from not qualifying for the World Cup.
It’d be a good job for Bilic to nab after his failures at West Ham but the fit, timing, and convential wisdom all scream that this is a bunch of you know what.