The Premier League season is almost upon us and it’s a crucial one for West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic. The Croatian boss is in the final year of his three year contract, and talks won’t begin until the second half of the season at the earliest.
So what does Super Slav have to do to keep his job at the London Stadium? His first season was spectacular. A seventh place finish in the Premier League, Europa League qualifying play, and a quarterfinal place in the FA cup. The final season at the Boleyn was truly special and Slav did a masterful job that season.
Last season did not live up to expectations and was largely seen as a failure by many fans. Not all of it falls on Slav’s shoulders however there were enough questions for the manager for there to be concern. Why wasn’t right back addressed? Why were so many round pegs shoved in square holes (see right back), why did the team look so disinterested early on, etc...
It’s only fair that Slav is our manager this season, there were enough outside factors last season to warrant Slav seeing out his contract. However, that also means there is immense pressure on Slaven to turn things around and to earn a new contract. So what does he have to do to get that new contract and continue to lead the Hammers?
It’s difficult to say. Many will say it’s Europa League qualification or the sack, others a top half finish will do. On paper this team is better than the 2015-16 team and with that comes the expectation of similar results as that team. However last years less than stellar year and the moves other teams have made this year should temper those expectations.
Expecting to challenge for the top six is going to be a HUGE ask after the summer that the big clubs have had. Add in Everton’s and Leicester's moves this summer and the top half is becoming very crowded.
A fair expectation would be a top half finish with at quarterfinal finish in a cup and a strong showing in the other cup. However, is that enough to get Slav a new contract? I would think it would get him another two or three year contract with the club, but a lot will depend on what other managers are out there.
If there aren’t any world class managers available I would expect that Slav gets his new contract with a top half finish. If there are some Rafa Benitez type candidates out there I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Davids at least gauge other candidates interest in the job.
The only way Slav’s contract situation doesn’t go to the end of the season is if this team come out flying to start the year and are playing like 2015-16. If that happens Slav could have his new contract ready before the season ends.
The opposite of that is if the team looks like it did last season we could see Slav gone by Christmas. I don’t think that’ll happen unless we’re bottom of the league and in real contention for relegation. However, a lackluster showing this season with an 11th place finish would likely see Slav gone at the end of the year.
It’s a big season for the Hammers. An exciting summer has fans ready for this season to be a good one, with that excitement comes expectation. Hopefully Slaven is ready for the pressure that comes with that excitement and managing for his job.