After a tough four games away from home with one cup win against a League Two side and zero points in the league – two goals scored and 10 conceded – it has become apparent that Slaven Bilic has only three Premier League games to save his West Ham managerial career.
But let’s face it, he unquestionably won’t be our manager when the 2018 World Cup starts.
Thank you for the final season at the Boleyn Ground and good luck with your future endeavours, Slav.
So, let’s look at the options…
Rafa Benitez? No. Why? Because our board will not spend big money on short term foreign imports. Newcastle aren’t doing it so why would West Ham?
David Moyes? No. With his track record and even if he was given a huge transfer kitty, he can’t be trusted with it and would only buy over aged players he’s worked with in the past.
Roberto Mancini? No. He didn’t set the world alight at Manchester City despite winning the Premier League and given the fact he has had two spells at Inter Milan and one cameo at Galatasaray, he needs money to do well. Now he is now at Zenit St. Petersburg.
Sam Allardyce? No. although he can get the best out of a bad bunch, we’ve seen his style before and we all know how that panned out.
So who is the right man to take over West Ham and guide our historic and iconic club in a positive direction?
Ladies and gentleman, let me introduce you to Thomas Tuchel.
In 2000 he started his coaching career, being in charge of Stuttart U19s before moving on to FC Augsburg, working his way up the ladder to become manager of FC Augsburg II in the 2007-08 season.
After Jurgen Klopp got FSV Mainz 06 promoted he left to join Borussia Dortmund and Tuchel took over the club after being a youth team coach the previous season. After a couple of steady seasons, Tuchel guided Mainz to a Europa League spot during the 2013-14 season. With a total 39%-win ratio at Klopp’s former club, he left the after admitting that the club couldn’t reinvent themselves with the infrastructure and went to pastures new.
Following Klopp’s departure at BVB, Tuchel was his successor for a second time and took over Borussia Dortmund in 2015-16 season. In his first season using the famous youth system mixed with senior academy graduates and shrewd transfers, he guided Dortmund to the Europa League quarter-finals after being knocked out by Klopp’s Liverpool, achieved a second place finish in the Bundesliga and was runners up in the German Cup after losing on penalties to Bayern Munich.
The following season he used the club’s youth policy again to sign Ousmane Dembele for a mere £12m to help guide his side to a 3rd place finish in the league, Champions League quarter-finals and winning the German Cup, beating Eintracht Frankfurt. After winning the cup, he vacated his position with the German club with a 62% win ratio.
With West Ham United not being able to compete in the transfer market financially against Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United and even Leicester City, the shift in focus would be to look towards our famous academy to feature in the senior squad alongside experienced players.
We have Reece Oxford, Declan Rice, Josh Cullen, Toni Martinez, Reece Burke, Nathan Trott, Martin Samuelsson, Domingoes Quina and recently signed Sead Haksabanovic who could be promoted to suit Tuchel’s tactical approach, by having a fluid and flexible squad on the pitch alongside a vast amount of installation of faith in his youth players, something a West Ham manager hasn’t done in many, many years.
I’ve always felt West Ham are best suited by playing five at the back and Tuchel has created his own formation that has been very robust. Tuchel’s midfield pentagon (5-2-2-1), which features two central deep midfielders, two central attacking midfielders and a lone striker provides a narrow approach on the pitch to control the game where the game is most dangerous.
The defence has very wide wing-backs, which offers an “arc” in the backline to create defensive angles to block deliveries and runs from the opposition. The average formation in the premier league will have three attackers (including a forward) so these are man-marked with a sweeper either side of the central defender. These false sweepers in attack mode can also push into a defensive midfield position to press the opposition, therefore giving additional cover by the other defenders.
The formation also provides an asymmetrical attacking shape where the lone striker would drop into an attacking midfield role, dragging one of the defenders with him to provide a gap for his teammates to expose. The narrowness of the pentagon allows darting quick runs in-between the tightened defence and gives the attacking wing-backs space to deliver pin point crosses into a congestive area.
This is a very direct approach, which requires accurate passing and lots of third man running moves. With the three centre-backs sitting, this allows the wing-backs to attack on both sides and stay forward without worrying about leaving the defence exposed. The defensive midfield duo alternate attacking responsibilities so one will sit and protect the three centre-backs against any potential counter attacks and collect a cleared ball from the opposition. These deep midfielders also support the attacking central midfielders, which is efficient when channelling the opposition into wide areas for them to deliver a ball into an area that is heavily filled with your own players.
Defensively, Tuchel’s system gives great options but this system is predictable at the back, despite its success. If the opposition sit back then you can expect a draw being the outcome – worse case scenario getting one point. That doesn’t sound too bad to me.
This formation has been inspired by the Italy 3-3-3-1 formation where this was purely based on dominance in the middle of the pitch, keeping the threats outside and creating very wide and difficult scoring angles.
With the youth players mentioned above playing alongside Lanzini, Kouyate, Chicharito, etc, you could see a West Ham squad playing with an identity, something Slaven Bilic has failed to do. Bilic’s identity was having a love affair with Dimitri Payet.
The major problem with West Ham at the moment is that the club are playing with a bunch of individuals for a Head Coach who wants to be their mate. Tuchel would get this squad playing as a team in no time, his first season would be transitional and could salvage a top 10 finish, picking up the pieces Slaven has struggled to put together, but it would be the season after that club really be the making of us.
Tuchel wouldn’t cost the club a penny to hire as he in unattached, waiting for his next appointment. No better opportunity than taking over a capital city club with 56,000 home fans every other week, desperate for success on the pitch.
From last season’s statistics, Slaven Bilic’s salary as West Ham manager is currently £2.95m-a-year, which makes him the 18th most expensive manager in the world. That is £150k more than World Cup winning manager Joachim Low.
Thomas Tuchel was not even in the top 25 and yet he was managing one of Germany’s biggest football clubs in a major European competition.
So it’s safe to say that West ham could easily afford to pay off Bilic’s remaining year on his contract and offer a similar wage salary to get one of Europe’s most promising tactical masterminds, without paying a compensation fee.
If you thought Slaven Bilic was a hipster manager, wait till you see this 6ft 4” German on the side-lines.
Komm schon du Eisen!