West Ham cult hero Slaven Bilic takes over as manager
Croatian defender will be in charge for Hammers' final season at the Boleyn Ground before Olympic Stadium move
West Ham have appointed cult hero Slaven Bilic as the manager to oversee their departure from the Boleyn Ground and lead the club into a new era at the Olympic Stadium.
Croatian defender Bilic, who played for the Hammers for 18 months from January 1996, takes over from Sam Allardyce, who left at the end of last season after guiding West Ham to a 12th place finish in the Premier League.
The 46-year-old former defender has signed a three-year deal that will see him oversee the Hammers' final season at Upton Park before moving to the Olympic Stadium in Stratford in 2016.
He said the co-owners David Gold and David Sullivan, and the vice-chairman, Karren Brady, who interviewed him over the weekend had made him feel welcome back at his old club and had "showed their determination and ambition to make what is a big club even bigger".
However, the Daily Telegraph says Bilic was not first choice. "The likes of Marcelo Bielsa, Rafael Benitez, Jurgen Klopp, Carlo Ancelotti and Unai Emery were all said to have been considered, but all rejected the job," claims the paper. But it adds that the "appointment should go down well with supporters" thanks to his stint as a player.
His contract is said to be worth £3m a year but contains a contract that means he "can be sacked without receiving a penny in compensation if West Ham are relegated from the Premier League".
Bilic, an uncompromising centre-back, retired from playing in 2001 and temporarily took over as manager of Hadjuk Split. He later took over as Croatian Under-21 coach and then graduated to the senior team in 2006.
He was in charge of Croatia for six years, and England fans will remember his side's two victories over England during the Euro 2008 qualifiers. But after branching out into club management the BBC notes that he has endured "unspectacular spells in charge of Lokomotiv Moscow and Besiktas".
He was sacked by Lokomotiv after one season and left Besiktas after two season in which he failed to win any silverware and missed out on Champions League qualification this term.