Fan blogger Ollie Hirst reflects on the appointment of Slaven Bilic as West Ham United’s new manager
Slaven Bilic may have only spent 14 months as a West Ham player, but I'm sure I wasn't the only one who expected his appointment to come sooner than it has done.
But what better a time for a reunion: Just a year away from an exciting relocation that will hopefully provide the springboard to a much brighter future for this football club, and the prospect of seeing European football at our beloved Upton Park home for one last time.
Bilic's arrival has messed with both my heart and my head. His fleeting spell as a takes-no-prisoners centre-half left a lasting impact on many of us Hammers and it's great to have someone in charge that we know is truly passionate about our club. That's not to say that others before him have not, but there's already a bond between him and us that few managers could match.
For all the harking back to yesteryear, I'm also incredibly excited about our future under the Croatian, especially in Europe. We all saw how Bilic's Besiktas side battled past Liverpool in last season's Europa League, while also maintaining competitiveness on the domestic scene. Although the Black Eagles were knocked out by Club Brugge in the next round - they also finished third in the Turkish Super Lig - it's experience that will surely benefit us as we look to compete on both fronts next term.
Of course, he will need the right players. For all Sam's critics, playing-staff-wise we're in a pretty good state. Although there are gaps to be filled - right-back, centre-back, central midfield, out wide and as always, up front, as far as I'm concerned - there's a core of good players, and young ones, to build upon.
Aaron Cresswell, player and, arguably, find of the season is 25, Winston Reid, 26, Cheikhou Kouyate, 25, Diafra Sakho, 25, and even Adrian, at 28, has barely hit adolescence yet in goalkeeping terms.
As anyone who watched Bilic's Croatia team will recall, his players - an emerging crop of talent like ours - would have charged into brick walls had he asked them to. By my logic, not only will our players love him, those at other teams will too.
Look at what he did for the careers of Eduardo da Silva, Luka Modric and to a lesser extent, Ivan Rakitic (who was already a Schalke player when Bilic took the national team job). Don't get me wrong, each was on the right track, but it was their performances on the international scene that led bigger teams to take notice. Eduardo moved to Arsenal while Bilic was Croatia's manager, Modric to Tottenham and Rakitic to Sevilla.
Others will see that and want to be a part of it, of that I'm certain - especially with so much potential for improvement ahead of us.
Even if there are doubters - and I'm yet to see any in the streets or on social media - you only have to look at the positive messages posted on Twitter by Bilic's former teammates to know we've hired the right man.
They're happy, I'm happy and so should you be.
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