I t has been a summer of immense change ahead of our final season at the Boleyn Ground. The managerial appointment of Slaven Bilic has seen one familiar face return to the club, and one of his first tasks was to appoint former teammate, and former Blowing Bubbles columnist, Julian Dicks as first-team coach. Every top manager needs an equally capable right-hand man and nobody could have any complaints about the current Hammers No.2. At a time when the club is preparing to step into unknown territory, the familiarity of a club legend could be crucial in helping the team strive for success both on and off the pitch.
The owners clearly have a very vivid vision about how to reach new heights, and Dicks is seemingly an integral part of those plans. It might be early doors, but all the signals suggest that it’s an extremely wise decision. The four-time Hammer of the Year was always going to be a popular choice with the supporters, but club status isn’t the only source of optimism.
Several players, including James Collins, have heaped praise on the 46-year-old. Those high levels of respect can only serve the team well for 2015/16 and beyond. While Dicks will enjoy great relationships with everyone at the club, the Terminator still casts an authoritative figure.
Assuming the club enjoys a long Europa League campaign, discipline is going to be a key element throughout the season. Adjusting to the demands of European football is no easy feat, and those potential challenges are only exasperated by the current circumstances surrounding the club. It’s never been so exciting to be a West Ham fan behind the scenes, but it has also never been more important to succeed on the pitch. Dicks’ personality, standing and influence could be a huge boost at difficult times.
Perhaps more crucially, though, Dicks has been around the club recently thanks to his time as manager of the Ladies team. The girls are in a much better position than they were prior to the former left-back’s appointment; they have lost a great tutor, but their loss is the senior team’s gain. Dicks’ time with the girls also shows immense coaching dexterity. The ability to adjust a coaching style to suit a different set of players underlines a versatility that could become a key asset as he works under his former defensive partner.
Arguably the most shining quality during his year with the Ladies, however, is a willingness to help the club progress in all departments. His passion for the game, and the club, is unquestionable. He’s openly stated that his dream is to manage the first team at some stage in the future, and he is already one step closer. This enthusiasm, combined with a willingness to try new ideas, can only benefit the players. Dicks won’t be a backseat coach; his style and personality should be a major asset on the training field.
With Bilic an equally commanding character, the pair should have no trouble putting their philosophies into action. Like Dicks, Bilic already enjoyed a positive relationship with the club and its fans. Nonetheless, the Croat had spent 15 years away from English football.
The help of his former teammate will soften the transition back into Premier League life. The pair already look to have a fantastic working relationship and the assistant’s presence will inevitably prove a huge hit in the dressing room. And maybe his penalty record helped the players survive that scare in Malta too. The appointment of Dicks isn’t just a popular one, it’s the best one too. Everyone at Blowing Bubbles wishes him all the best during our concluding season at Upton Park, and hope he’ll be a vital member of the backroom staff when we enter our new home.