Slaven Bilic: Who is the man taking the the reins at West Brom?

By Luke Hatfield | West Bromwich Albion | Published: | Last Updated:

West Brom have appointed Slaven Bilic as boss, but who is the Croatian coach?

Who is Slaven Bilic?

Here we take a proper look at the former West Ham boss to give you a better insight into the new Albion boss...


Name: Slaven Bilic

Age: 50

DOB: 11/09/1968

Nationality: Croatian

Previous clubs: Hajduk Split, Croatia U21, Croatia, Lokomotiv Moscow, Besiktas, West Ham United, Al Ittihad

Career managerial stats


Hajduk Split (2001-2003)

Games: 16

Wins: 11

Draws: 3


Losses: 2

Win percentage: 68.8%

Croatia U21 (2004-2006)

Games 19

Wins: 8

Draws: 4

Losses: 7

Win percentage: 42.1%

Croatia (2006-2012)

Games: 65

Wins: 42

Draws: 15

Losses: 8

Win percentage: 64.6%

Bilic had success with Croatia.

Lokomotiv Moscow (2012-2013)

Games: 32

Wins: 13

Draws: 7

Losses: 12

Win percentage: 40.6%

Besiktas (2013-2015)

Games: 91

Wins: 47

Draws: 22

Losses: 22

Win percentage: 51.6%

West Ham (2015-2017)

Games: 111

Wins: 42

Draws: 30

Losses: 39

Win percentage: 37.8%

Al-Ittihad (2018-2019)

Games: 15

Wins: 3

Draws: 4

Losses: 8

Win percentage: 20%

What kind of manager is Slaven Bilic?

Known well in England thanks to his time with West Ham, Slaven Bilic is making his first foray into the English second tier, but his history as a manager isn't black and white.

Hugely successful during his time managing his native national team, many will remember watching Bilic's Croatian side beat England at Wembley to ensure there would be no Euro 2008 journey for Steve McLaren's men.

His side went on to top their group in the competition, ahead of Germany, before losing to Turkey on penalties in the quarter-finals.

Elsewhere, his success has been somewhat patchy. He was much-loved at Besiktas by the fans, but failed to convince the men in charge that he was the right man for the job.

He started well at West Ham, guiding the Hammers to Europe in a brilliant first campaign, but his tenure fizzled out before his departure in 2017. The less said about his spell in Saudi Arabia, the better.

Bilic certainly knows the Premier League, but what about the Championship? (AMA)

He's yet to win a trophy as a manager, but his football is certainly entertaining - should his previous spells be considered.

Known to prefer a 4-2-3-1 formation during his time in Turkey, Bilic did utilise that system at West Ham, but also switched it around at times, sometimes utilising a back three, or even opting for 4-4-2.

Claiming to be influenced by the likes of Arsene Wenger and Marcello Lippi, it's fair to say that Bilic football is focused on an offensive style of play, which should be welcomed by the Baggies.

A good man manager too, former players have spoken glowingly about the Croatian. He rarely criticises his players publicly and his charismatic style is appreciated by supporters as well.

His intelligence is beyond question too, he's a qualified lawyer and is fluent in English, Italian and German.

The big question comes in terms of his ability to consistently win games on the pitch.

Will he be the man to get West Brom back into the Premier League?

That's the million pound question, or the £170m question, so to speak.

Having failed to lift any kind of silverware as a manager so far in his career, he has a great opportunity to break that duck with Albion.

Whilst player sales will happen and a squad re-shuffle is needed, the Baggies are still well-positioned in the Championship.

Some wise transfer business will be needed, but Bilic clearly knows a player when he sees one. He was in charge at West Ham when they club brought in the likes of Dimitri Payet, Michail Antonio, Manuel Lanzini and Arthur Masuaku.

Admittedly, those deals will have come in completely different circumstances to the situation at The Hawthorns, but he has certainly got a history of getting good players into clubs.

Bilic knows a player when he sees one, he was integral in getting the best out of Dimitri Payet at West Ham.

However, questions around his consistency and tactical ability remain. He was criticised at Besiktas for a poor run of results late in the season which effectively cost them the Super Lig title, whilst some questioned his lack of a contingency plan when things aren't working as they should over the course of a game.

Should he be able to combat this and prove the doubters wrong in the Black Country, then he could well be the man to help guide Albion back into the top flight.

The Baggies are still a force in the Championship with parachute payments behind them. If he can rudder the ship well, teams will not fancy taking on West Brom this season.

Slaven Bilic in quotes

Bilic on wanting to work in England before working at West Ham:

"I would love to work in England, because of the language and the unique football culture, which is different to anywhere else."

Bilic on taking challenging management roles, in reference to West Ham:

“When you are buying a dog you can find 10 reasons not to buy it."

“Because you can’t go out more, if you are travelling it’s a problem, he’s going to pee there and there until he learns. He’s going to bite your cat, he’s going to leave your place smelly.

“But there is one reason that’s good – he loves you.

“He gives you love. Every time you come home it’s like it’s the first time he’s seen you. So it’s only about the way you approach it. You can approach this life as if it’s half-empty, like this glass [tapping a glass of water in front of him].

“But I can say it’s half-full and look at it. Yes, it’s half-full.”

Known as a great motivator, there are questions surrounding Bilic's tactical nous. (AMA)

Bilic on his management style:

"Fluidity is much more important – you want your team to stay compact, and your lines to remain close to one another, so they can flow over.

"You don’t have to be a tyrant to earn the respect of your players, the only authority you need is the authority of knowledge."

Bilic on treatment of football managers:

"These days, people don’t call Arsene Wenger the great football man, like they used to.

"Now they say he’s naive - him, and all those type of coaches. Everyone talks about nice football but the age we are in, all they care about really is the result. And if you don’t get the result, they kill you!

"They kill you in a very brutal way, the media, the fans, all of them. Even the managers who are very brave and want to play beautiful football, they are not secure.

"For eight out of 10 people, what was the label for Roberto Martinez? Naive. Naive! What did he want? He wanted to play great football! That’s all."

Bilic on playing younger players:

"You can produce your own but for a manager that is difficult because nobody has time to fail.

"You play a lot of kids, it is a risk. Are they ready? Probably they aren’t ready. Sometimes managers don’t want to be the guy who plays the kids, because he gets the sack.

"They want to be the guy after the guy who plays the kids, because then the kids are ready and that manager gets the credit.

"It is hard to give young players experience in the Premier League, because nobody can make a mistake, even for one season."

Bilic has a great connection with supporters, it's fair to say.

Bilic on ticket prices and the rising cost of football for fans:

“It’s not polo, it’s not golf, it’s not a sport for upper class. It’s the most popular sport and shouldn’t be a privilege for a family to go and watch. It should be affordable. It should be like that with football.

“This is not Les Miserables, this is football.”

Dimitri Payet on Slaven Bilic:

"Like a father. We talked to each other every day: he quickly understood how I functioned,

"That was seen in my adaptation [to life in the Premier League], which was very fast. He's a nervous man. He's a Croatian. He can scream. But he manages the players well."

Luke Hatfield

By Luke Hatfield

Digital Sports Journalist with the Express & Star and Shropshire Star.


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