Tactically speaking - Slaven Bilic

A look at how Slaven Bilic’s managerial style, based on his management of Turkish Super Lig club Besiktas

Tactically Speaking – Slaven Bilic

A look at how Slaven Bilic’s managerial style, based on his management of Turkish Super Lig club Besiktas

The Formation

During his second and final season with Besiktas, Slaven Bilic favoured an attacking 4-2-3-1 system in 23 of his 34 Super Lig matches in charge.

Indeed, if he begins life at West Ham United utilising anything other than a flat back four, then that will be a huge surprise, seeing as he used four defenders in all 34 league games and ten UEFA Europa League matches.

The 4-2-3-1 shape is based around two attacking full-backs, two deep-lying midfielders to protect the back four, three fluid, creative and goal-getting attacking midfielders and a versatile, mobile and clinical centre forward.

The Playing Style

Besiktas were one of the best teams in the Turkish Super Lig under Bilic’s management, finishing in third place in each of his two seasons in charge and dominating the majority of matches they played in terms of possession.

As you would expect from a player who learnt his trade in Croatia, Bilic’s Besiktas favoured a short passing game and possession football, controlling the game in the opposition half of the pitch.

On average, Besiktas enjoyed 55 per cent of the ball and completed 81 per cent of their passes last season in the league – compared to 46 per cent possession and 75 per cent pass completion enjoyed by West Ham in 2014/15.

Passing-wise, Besiktas averaged 370 short passes per game, good for 80 per cent of their overall passes made, along with 70 longer passes and 22 crosses.

Perhaps an even stronger indicator of the different style of play adopted both by Besiktas and in Turkish football as a whole, Bilic’s side won 11.9 aerial duels per game, compared to West Ham’s 22.9 per game.

Encouragingly, Besiktas were a balanced attacking unit, going forward with purpose and width on both flanks, creating and converting plenty of chances. Last season, Besiktas attacked exactly the same percentage of the time – 38 per cent – down the right and left side of the pitch.

That approach produced 55 goals in 34 league matches and an average of 5.2 shots on target per game. Of those 55, some 41 came from open play, with the other 14 coming from set pieces or penalties.

Like West Ham, Besiktas were also blessed with a prolific Senegalese striker. For Diafra Sakho, read former Hammer Demba Ba, who plundered 18 goals in 29 league games.

Defensively, Bilic’s side were compact and well organised, conceding less than a goal a game and finishing among the Super Lig leaders in tackles, blocks, interceptions and clearances made.

If they had any weaknesses, Bilic’s side could be caught out by opposition teams playing on the counter-attack, while their offensive attitude and high defensive line sometimes made them susceptible to attackers breaking their offside trap.

One other issue might be discipline – Besiktas players were shown TEN red cards in league games last season – but West Ham fans certainly do not mind their team putting their foot in, if the popularity of Julian Dicks and Tomas Repka were anything to go by!