As we approach the end of another season it seems an appropriate time to reflect on Slaven Bilic, who was appointed as the club’s 15th permanent manager last summer. I’ll be honest and say that when the club let Sam Allardyce go I was nervous. Not because I’d become a disciple of his ‘hoofb all’ or had fallen for his debatable northern charm, but because I knew the club could not afford to be relegated in the final season before we move into the Olympic Stadium.
I needn’t have worried. Bilic has, quite simply, proven himself to be a wonderful appointment. Th e Croatian has kept all of the good things about an Allardyce side – the pragmatism and defensive solidity – but has reconnected the team to the club’s core values: attempting to play attractive football and win matches. Bilic understands the fans’ mentality and in turn they have responded to him.
I have also liked the way he has handled himself in the media. You never hear him moan or criticise referees, despite an awful run of decisions that have dented our Champions League hopes. He also never moaned when we had loads of injuries before Christmas. Instead he has handled himself with humility and class and I hope he stays at the club for a very long time indeed.