From the Newsroom - Jacob Steinberg

The Guardian's Jacob Steinberg says the signs are good following the appointment of Slaven Bilic
It may be less than a week since Slaven Bilic was given the nod as West Ham United’s new manager, but football and tennis writer for the Guardian Jacob Steinberg says the early signs are good ones. 

The West Ham-supporting journalist likes what he is hearing from the Croat thus far and is encouraged too by the acquisition of 23-year-old Spaniard Pedro Obiang. 

Here, Steinberg surveys Bilic’s style and pedigree, considers possible summer recruits and offers his take on what can be expected from the 46-year-old’s first season in charge.      

What have you made of the response to Bilic’s appointment? 

“He has certainly said a lot of the right things. You can immediately tell that he gets West Ham fans and he gets the Club. 

“One of the issues over the last few years was the lack of a relationship between the manager and the supporters. I don’t think it was ever there. It was always a losing battle and one that never ever seemed to be resolved. 

“If West Ham were to get off to a slow start next season, then you might see Bilic given more leeway by supporters and maybe the Board as well. In that sense, arguably, looking at it with the glass half full, you could say that’s creating a more positive atmosphere around the place.  

“From Bilic’s perspective, you would want to be getting down to business straight away. A manager’s not going to rely on what he says in the press as the foundation for any kind of success. You can say what you want in the media but it ultimately doesn’t matter if it doesn’t match up to what’s on the pitch.” 

You’ll have seen plenty of Bilic teams in the past, what can West Ham fans expect? 

“I was pretty impressed when I saw Besiktas last season against the English teams in Europe. They really pushed Arsenal very hard in the Champions League qualifier, which was probably the most eye-catching of their performances. 

“So, if anything, he has shown that he can manage against English teams, which is certainly reassuring because he otherwise doesn’t have any experience of managing in England which obviously Sam Allardyce had in spades. 

“He’s spoken a lot about getting young, quick players and, if I’m not mistaken, Besiktas wanted a team full of young Turkish players. If it were all to go to plan, I think it could be quite exciting, fast, energetic football under him. 

“That spell at Lokomotiv Moscow is the only red flag that leaves a few doubts over him. But there has always been a lot of hype around him, ever since 2006/07 when he was in charge of the Croatian team.  

“How much of that, when you’re an international manager, is down to having good players is up for debate. Luka Modric was breaking into the team at that point, but you still have to put all the component parts together and make it into a winning team and they were a pretty good side then.” 

As ever, there are plenty of names being bandied around. Any that catch your eye?
“It will be interesting to see whether Bilic goes back to Besiktas for anyone. Gokhan Tore’s a pretty good player and there’s talk about Loic Remy as well. Clearly, he has had his injury problems, but if he were to stay fit for a large chunk of the season, you would almost have a guarantee of goals there, based on his record over the last few seasons .” 
What do you know of Pedro Obiang? 

“He’s an industrious, box-to-box midfielder, who, at that price, is a very good signing, so that’s encouraging. At only 23, it’s a good sign that West Ham are looking to younger, hungrier players which was certainly a key theme of last summer’s recruitment, with the likes of Aaron Cresswell, Cheikhou Kouyate and Carl Jenkinson.  

“I guess, overall, there is not too much needed in midfield, it’s all fairly strong in that department, but obviously there’s potentially that gap with Alex Song heading back to Barcelona.   

“If anything, they could probably do with a little bit more creativity in there. There are a lot of good qualities in there but perhaps a bit more creativity would be something to look out for. 

“Bilic was a 4-2-3-1 man at Besiktas, so I’m not sure whether the diamond will be so much in vogue next season.  Stewart Downing was a revelation as the No.10 last season and maybe less effective when he played on the wing. 

“I guess if he were to go with a 4-2-3-1, you could have Downing just behind the striker and two either side of him.” 

What would you consider a good first season for Bilic? 

“Top ten. I know they were fourth at Christmas, but there was no realistic prospect of West Ham finishing above Arsenal or Liverpool. I don’t think anyone at the start of last season would have been talking about that.   

“We’ve seen it before. Teams have a good first half of the season and then the financial reality will kick in. Teams with bigger squads and more experience of that level of football will start to overtake you. There would have been a fair few people talking about West Ham as relegation candidates last August.  

“They finished 12th this season so you would have to say that top ten would be perfectly acceptable. There are a lot of good teams around I don’t think that you should automatically think that you are going to finish above Stoke, Southampton or Swansea, or even Crystal Palace, just because they don’t sound as glamorous. 

“They all have good players, have good managers and good teams. In the case of say Stoke or Swansea, they have been in the league longer than West Ham and have had more stability and more of a foundation. West Ham are growing and you have to take into account the possibility of the Europa League as well.”