West Ham face a tough start to their Premier League campaign, as the Hammers travel to London rivals and title hopefuls Arsenal on Sunday.
Slaven Bilic was appointed as West Ham boss earlier this summer as a replacement for Sam Allardyce. Already his managerial methods are being questioned.
He has come in for criticism recently because of his decision to field a weakened team in the recent Europa League qualifier defeat against Romanian side Astra. The Croatian decided to prioritise the start of the Premier League campaign over a possible European adventure.
Rightly, or wrongly the Europa League is seen by many as a distraction. Teams strive to make the top six of the Premier League, but then some teams do not take the Europa League seriously.
The Hammers were in the Europa League almost by default, after making the competition through the fair play league last season. It was obvious that the Irons were not going to take the competition seriously, despite the clubs reported ambition.
The Hammers have made a number of ambitious signings this summer, with the signing of French international playmaker Dimitri Payet perhaps the most eye-catching. Payet produced an incredible 21 assists and scored seven goals last season.
Whether the former-Marseille attacking midfielder can settle quickly in the Premier League will likely determine how the Hammers fare this season.
Highly-rated Italian centre-back Angelo Ogbonna has also joined the Hammers this summer. The 27-year-old joined from Italian champions Juventus this summer and big things are expected of the former-Torino star.
Re-signing Carl Jenkinson on-loan from Arsenal could be a shrewd move. He was very impressive last season while on-loan from the Gunners and is a player with great potential.
Spanish midfielder Pedro Obiang has arrived as a slightly unknown quantity for most Premier League fans, but the 23-year-old is highly-rated.
Bilic is the man tasked with the job of attempting to help gel the new signings with Allardyce’s team from last season. The Croatian has a mixed managerial record at both international and club level.
The former-Irons centre-back earned much praise for his work with his national team, but his club career has not gone so well so far. His first managerial position in club football came in the Russian top-flight at Lokomotiv Moscow.
Lokomotiv finished ninth in the Russian top-flight, which was their lowest finish since the Russian league was established in 1992. The 46-year-old was in the Russian capital for less than a year before being sacked. Bilic then enjoyed a better two-year stint at Turkish side Besiktas.
His appointment seemed like a popular one amongst Hammers fans, but the lack of managerial experience in the Premier League should be a concern. The Croatian seems to be regarded as a club Icon, despite spending less than two years with the club before joining Everton.
Bilic is known as methodical organiser, as you would expect from a former centre-back and leader. His mixed record in club management may also be a concern. He will be hoping to improve on that mixed record in the English top-flight.
The Hammers finished 12th in the Premier League last season, despite enjoying a bright start to the campaign that saw them threatening the top four at one point.
A poor second half to the season saw the critics of Allardyce’s style of football and methods criticised. Big Sam was living on borrowed time last season and he looked like a relieved man when he realised he was not going to be the West Ham boss this season.
Bilic has been brought in to make the Irons style of play more expansive. Whether he can improve on the 12th place finish of last season remains to be seen.
The club owners seem to be ambitious with the Irons moving to the Olympic Stadium next summer. Everybody connected with the club will be hoping that Bilic can be successful in the East End, only time will tell if he will be.
Will Slaven Bilic be successful at West Ham?