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Bilic beats Bielsa to West Ham post as Croat is named new boss

West Ham United (25/1 with Coral to win the Capital One Cup) have announced the appointment of their former player Slaven Bilic as manager on a three-year deal, replacing Sam Allardyce at the helm.

It is reported that the Croatian beat the likes of Marseille boss Marcelo Bielsa and Europa League-winning Sevilla head coach Unai Emery to the position.

Following his appointment, Bilic said on the club’s official website: “I’m really glad to be back with West Ham United. It’s in the Premier League, which is among the best in the world. It’s a big challenge and you are competing with the best and what better club to do it with than West Ham.

“I remember West Ham as a special club. I love these kinds of special clubs. My last club, Besiktas, was that kind of club. It’s not about the size – West Ham is big club – there is something special about them – they are a cult clubs.

“It is a great place to play and I felt like I was at home. It is a big privilege and a big responsibility to now be manager and I hope that I will prove it to the board, players and fans.

“My first priority when choosing a club is to look at its ambitions,” he added. “When I spoke to the Chairmen and Karren Brady, they made clear that it is not only the fantastic new stadium we are moving into, but they showed their determination and ambition to make what is a big club even bigger.

“I saw their determination and passion that they want to do that. That was the number one reason. I could feel that they really wanted me so it was an easy choice.

“I would say to the West Ham fans that I will give my best and together we will achieve great things.”

Although Bilic spent just one season with the Hammers as a defender, back in the 1996/97 campaign, he is remembered fondly by the fans.

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The 46-year-old came to prominence as a head coach during his six-year spell with his national team Croatia, with whom he famously prevented England from qualifying for the 2008 European Championship with.

Prior to that, he highly impressed with Hajduk Split and the Croatia Under-21 team. He has since had less successful spells with Lokomotiv Moscow and, most recently, Besiktas.

West Ham began last season very well and managed to finish mid-table, in 12th, although their form in the second half of the campaign is what led to Allardyce’s departure. They will, however, take part in the Europa League next term after qualifying through Fair Play rules.

Co-owners David Gold and David Sullivan will certainly be hoping that Bilic can help guide them to a more respectable place. A top 10 finish would be a good start, but the Croat can really secure his long-term future at the club by getting higher than ninth for the first time since 2002.

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The Hammers, who are set to move from Upton Park to the Olympic Stadium, in 2016 are also said to be tracking the likes of players Pedro Obiang of Sampdoria and Marseille’s Andre Ayew, who is available for free.