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EPL 2017/18: 5 early contenders for the sack race

Scott Newman
Top 5 / Top 10
3.89K   //    08 Jul 2017, 17:57 IST

#4 Slaven Bilic

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - MAY 21: Slaven Bilic, Manager of West Ham United reacts during the Premier League match between Burnley and West Ham United at Turf Moor on May 21, 2017 in Burnley, England.  (Photo by Mark Robinson/Getty Images)
Slaven Bilic struggled at West Ham in the side’s first season in the Olympic Stadium

2015/16 was a great season for the former Croatia boss Slaven Bilic in his new home at West Ham United. He led the Hammers to a solid 7th place finish in the Premier League and had the side playing far more attractive football than his predecessor Sam Allardyce. 2016/17 though was much more of a struggle. While West Ham finished a respectable 11th, progress certainly wasn’t made – instead, it could be argued that the club took a huge step backwards.

Playing their first season in the Olympic Stadium didn’t seem to help – the Hammers only won five home games all season and lost seven – and they struggled on the goal front too, with midfielder Michail Antonio finishing as top scorer with just nine goals. The often-injured Andy Carroll was their best striker with seven, but loan signings Simone Zaza and Jonathan Calleri – brought in to score goals – failed miserably, managing one goal between them.

West Ham fans basically demand attractive football – witness them turning on Sam Allardyce for playing football considered boring, even if it was usually effective – and club owners David Gold and David Sullivan have proven to be somewhat ruthless in the past too. They’ve mentioned the need for a new striker or two already, but thus far Bilic hasn’t been able to bring in anyone new.

The pressure is clearly on Bilic this season to improve on 2016/17 – both in results and in the quality of football played – and if he can’t handle that pressure then he may find himself a winner in the sack race.