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HAMMERS FLY OUT TO LAND SLAVEN BILIC
By ROB SHEPHERD, 06/09/2008
WEST HAM chief executive Scott Duxbury is set to fly to Croatia today in a bid to land Slaven Bilic as the club’s new manager.
Bilic remains the overwhelming first choice of the club’s board to succeed Alan Curbishley, who resigned last week.
The Hammers hope they can seal the deal after Croatia’s World Cup qualifier against England on Wednesday.
Bilic has chosen his words carefully over the last few days when and despite interpretations to the contrary, has not ruled himself out of the job.
Despite his strong emotional bond with the Croatia national side, the Hammers hope he will not be able to resist a salary approaching £2million.
The club will also make assurances over the precise role of technical director Ginaluca Nani.
And while West Ham have been on a cost-cutting exercise in the summer, they will point out that the squad cost more than £100 million to assemble.
I understand the Hammers are confident of getting their man but if Bilic says no, former Italy boss Roberto Donadoni, who has already spoken to the club, is the next in line.
Ex-Hibernian boss John Collins and Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola have both impressed during interviews. Former Danish international Martin Olsen has also been considerd.
Bilic signed a new two-year deal with Croatia ahead of Euro 2008 but did insert a get-out clause.
However, it is believed that even if he wanted to go, the clause means he would have to stay at Croatia until January.
The Hammers will not wait that long and it is doubtful whether they would agree to him doing both jobs until then.
But they hope that discussions with Bilic and the Croatia FA will resolve matters.
Bilic, a player at West Ham for a year in the mid-1990s, understands the the expectation and culture at Upton Park.
The board feel he has the passion and vision to get the best out of the squad and bring through highly rated youngsters such as Freddie Sears and James Tomkins.
As a player, he was a big influence on graduates of West Ham’s Academy, such as Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard, and helped them make their mark.