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New West Ham manager: pros and cons of candidates

According to reports, rudderless West Ham United have stepped up their search for a new manager, with four high-profile coaches from the continent said to be in talks to take over at Upton Park.

The four top contenders are now believed to be Marseille manager Marcelo Bielsa, former Besiktas boss Slaven Bilic, Ajax tactician Frank de Boer and Sevilla coach Unai Emery, who is fresh from lifting the Europa League crown again.

Here, Coral experts run the rule over this fabulous four, to bring you the pros and cons of each candidate in line to claim departed Sam Allardyce’s throne.

Marcelo Bielsa
Marseille Soccer League One
Could the mercurial managerial talents of former Chile and Athletic Bilbao boss Bielsa be to West Ham’s tastes? The innovative tactician fits the bill in that he is the polar opposite of Big Sam, with his scant regard for convention and favouring of unorthodox formations and free-flowing football.

One of the game’s most colourful characters, with an enviable CV also including Argentina, Bielsa (4/1 with Coral to be next West Ham boss) may just find a home in east London, where Hammers fans embrace individuality and crave attacking intent.

However, this fiery manager may have already divided the board over his suitability, which is not an ideal starting point and is not necessarily the man to bring long-term stability to the Hammers. Bielsa also ran out of steam with Marseille this season, spectacularly losing a lead in Ligue 1 to miss out on a Champions League place, leaving question marks over his staminia for a full campaign.

Slaven Bilic
Britain Soccer Europa League
Now a free agent, Bilic is odds-on favourite at 8/11 to return to his former playing club as a coach, and could be the safer option, having an already established connection to Upton Park after endearing himself to the Hammers faithful during a short stint in the mid-90’s.

There should be plenty of good will to ease any transition, then, and in Bilic’s own words, he favours a realisitc football philosophy which could fit the London club’s current ambitions like a glove.

“I will never underestimate the value of individualism and inspiration – but without a solid system, improvisation is just anarchy. Of course I prefer a passing, possession-based attacking game more than destructive, defensive play, but you have to look at what’s best for the team.”

There are some doubts to be had over the charismatic Croatian, however, after Bilic left his Besiktas post following failure to deliver Champions League football to the Turkish giants. Any poor patch could also remind fans of the coach’s part in England’s failure to qualify for Euro 2008.

Frank de Boer

Ukraine Soccer Europa League
De Boer has emerged as a wildcard for the coaching position, with co-owners David Gold and David Sullivan said to be keen on the Ajax tactician. Attractive football and possession play is non-negotiable at the Amsterdam ArenA, and an ingrained part of De Boer’s managerial identity, which would certainly appeal to Upton Park, along with his focus on youth promotion.

Four Eredivisie titles in four terms should be enough of a reference for former defender De Boer, but how would the Dutchman cope when in charge of an underdog in a much more competitive league?

Unai Emery
Poland Soccer Europa League Final
Landing Sevilla’s man of the moment looks like a mammoth task, though perhaps the 43-year-old could be tempted to seek pastures new if he feels he has reached his ceiling with the Bathtubs after guiding the Spanish side to successive Europa League victories.

It would certainly be a coup for the Hammers if Emery (10/1) was to take his slick, winning style to London, though his brief and unsuccessful stint at Spartak Moscow before Sevilla leaves lingering doubts. There is also a danger that the Spaniard could use West Ham as a springboard when, with a move to the Olympic Stadium in the pipeline, Gold and Sullivan should be aiming for a long-term appointment.

Coral’s top betting tip: Marcelo Bielsa @ 4/1 to be next West Ham coach and thrill Hammers fans with attacking football