Croatia boss Slaven Bilic is being lined up to take over as West Ham manager after Alan Curbishley resigned in disgust yesterday.
Bilic, an Upton Park favourite during a 16-month spell as a player, has already been sounded about a return to East London, sources close to the club told City A.M. last night.
The 39-year-old is believed to be keen on a move to the Premier League, having made an impressive start to his managerial career with his national team, although there are reservations about his lack of club experience.
“I get calls from England all the time,” Bilic said on Monday. “But I can’t say anything about West Ham United.” Bilic refused to comment further yesterday following Curbishley’s departure.
Curbishley resigned after little more than 18 months in charge, blaming the club for going back on promises and making transfer decisions over his head.
The last straw for the former Charlton manager is thought to have been Monday’s sale of defender George McCartney to Sunderland. He is also believed to have been angered by the decision to offload Anton Ferdinand last week.
In a statement released through the League Managers Association, Curbishley said: “I had an agreement with the club that I alone would determine the composition of the squad. However, the club continued to make significant player decisions without involving me. Such a breach of trust and confidence meant that I had no option but to leave.”
The LMA said that West Ham’s “unilateral actions around player transfers” had caused the rift, and that peace talks in recent days had failed. Reserve boss Kevin Keen has been placed in temporary charge.
Bilic was last night red-hot favourite to replace Curbishley, whose departure came after the club’s best start to the season for nine years.
An uncompromising but classy centre-back who made 54 appearances for the club before leaving for Everton in May 1997, Bilic would be a popular choice among Hammers fans.
He has quickly carved out a strong reputation as a manager since taking charge of his national team in 2006.
Croatia qualified for Euro 2008 at England’s expense, beating Steve McClaren’s team home and away, before being eliminated in the quarter-finals on penalties.