By Far The Greatest Team

The football blog for fans of all clubs

Slaven Bilic the latest to be ousted in cut-throat Premier League

And so Slaven Bilic became the fourth managerial casualty in the Premier League this season in what is only the early days of November. The former West Ham manager had to follow suit from Frank De Boer, Craig Shakespeare and Ronald Koeman when clearing out all his possessions and saying his goodbyes.

Compared to Koeman and De Boer, Bilic’s farewells would have been more heartfelt given that he lasted over 880 days at the East London club. Koeman’s time at Everton was almost half this duration, while De Boer was gone after a measly 77 days.

The managerial merry-go-round continues to operate in what can only be described as a cut-throat environment. Time for adjustment when moving to a new country and league is brief. Failure to do so, and the axe will be swiftly summoned.

Craig Shakespeare is slightly different in the sense that he had been at Leicester since 2008 when he became assistant to Nigel Pearson, who he briefly followed to Hull for a year, before both returned to the King Power Stadium in 2011. Whilst Pearson left for good in 2015, Shakespeare stayed on under Claudio Ranieri, whose name is etched, not only in Leicester’s, but in general footballing folklore.

Now both Shakespeare and Ranieri are confined to the archives having done so much to put Leicester on the global map of the sport.

Shakespeare arguably knew the club inside-out given that he had been there for almost a decade. He oversaw what were mesmerising years as The Foxes went from League One to Premier League champions within eight years.

Winning half of his games in charge last season, as Leicester avoided the dreaded drop, and defied all odds by reaching the Champions League quarter finals, continued the meteoric rise of the club in so many ways. Yet, football can simply lose all sense of perspective in a manner so fickle it is almost susceptible to dementia.

Whilst Slaven Bilic’s heroics were not on a par with what Leicester achieved, he brought a massive slice of pride to a club that finished 7th under his guidance in the 2015-16 season. To put this into perspective (a word that seems to be either offensive or unheard of to many within the footballing business) West Ham last finished that high in the 2001-02 season under Glenn Roeder. The likes of Fredi Kanoute, Michael Carrick and Joe Cole were playing at Upton Park then.

Bilic brought style and panache back to a club that had dropped down a division for three seasons since they last finished 7th under Roeder. In Dimitri Payet, Bilic unearthed a special talent, who lit up and electrified Upton Park. Payet’s departure was a huge blow for The Hammers, since he epitomised all that was good about West Ham’s swaggering rise. Yet, rather than lament his star player’s absence, Bilic got down to work with what he had.

Michail Antonio in particular rose to prominence as The Hammers finished the 2016-17 season in 11th. However, like Leicester, expectations had been raised through the roof, meaning that it would be tough-going to replicate outstanding achievements given the magnitude of some of the clubs vying for top-half places in the Premier League.

Slow starts cost both Bilic and Shakespeare this season. Under Shakespeare, Leicester lost to Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal this campaign. These opponents all finished in the top four the season Leicester were promoted from League One in 2008-09. Again that dreaded word, perspective, springs to mind. For those at the top-end of clubs, decisions are based firmly on the here and now.

11 games played. 4 managers sacked. Whilst, West Ham have won only two games so far this season, the brutal fact is that time is irrelevant. Early season sackings are becoming more and more commonplace. Fans and owners demand wins right from the word go throughout the season, and it is the manager who becomes the instant scapegoat if this is not fulfilled.

Many will already be counting the days David Moyes has in the hot-seat.

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