Appointing a new manager is a gamble, and West Ham and Newcastle became the latest Premier League clubs to roll the dice when they respectively hired Slaven Bilic and Steve McClaren this week.
In the case of Bilic, he is well travelled, experienced and, as a former Hammers player, familiar with both the club and English football. On the other hand, he is something of a step into the unknown as he has never managed here. His West Ham past means his arrival will generate excitement, but any honeymoon period that buys him will still be brief.
I’m interested to see who he buys. Predecessor Sam Allardyce tended to favour strong French-African players; I wonder if Bilic might return to West Ham’s traditions and favour European, more technical recruits?
I’m also curious to see the budget he gets – and how he copes, since it is likely to be bigger than at any of his previous clubs.
Bilic will be under pressure. He is expected to do at least as well as Allardyce did, while he has the extra burden of a looming move to the Olympic Stadium. West Ham simply have to be a top-flight team when they relocate, but if Bilic makes a bad start it could quickly become a huge story.
I expect Bilic to create an attacking side. To some extent it comes with being Croatian – or at least, part of the Croatia sides that he played for and coached. It’s what he knows best.
McClaren, meanwhile, must be delighted at getting a top-flight job just weeks after losing a Championship one. I’m not sure the Toon Army will be so thrilled at being hitched to a manager with a mixed recent record.
In his favour, he’s organised, and has managed in Europe and at international level. Yet his Middlesbrough days were long ago. He has come from a limited lower division team, and that takes a different type of management. It’s also worrying how his seemingly promotion-bound Derby side let their season slip and didn’t even reach the play-offs.
I don’t understand why Newcastle have stated that they are targeting a cup this season. It may be to quell their supporters but is not particularly helpful to McClaren. It’s a sign of how volatile the position can be.
My gut feeling is that Bilic is a good coach and a good motivator, and therefore will prove a good appointment. Newcastle need a strong manager and, while McClaren is a good coach, I’m not sure about his motivational skills.
Trevor Steven is a former England footballer who has played at two World Cups and two European Championships. He now works as a media commentator.