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Is it fair that West Ham’s Slaven Bilic is the bookies’ favourite to be the first Premier League manager sacked?

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Bilic

We may only be three games into the Premier League season, but Slaven Bilic’s job is already on the line and he has become the bookies’ favourite to be the first manager sacked this season, with Sky Bet even offering 8/15 at the time of writing.

He came under some speculation for much of last season as the Hammers were woefully disappointing, spending much of the campaign languishing in the wrong half of the table. Then, the blame was put down to the board and the poor transfer business which sees only Andre Ayew and Arthur Masuaku still at the club 12 months later.

This season, the Irons have started in even more disappointing fashion. Bottom of the table after three games, they have conceded ten goals and scored just twice. Whilst they almost came close to a point against Southampton, they were absolutely blown away by Manchester United, and more concerningly, a Newcastle side who had lost their first two games.

Once again, Bilic’s recruitment has been poor. Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta and Javier Hernandez have been good additions, if expensive, but have not resolved many of the key issues in this West Ham side such as the shambolic defending.

On the pitch, the Hammers have looked disjointed and like a group of strangers meeting for the first time on the field of play. The lack of fluidity has done little to play to the strengths of the likes of Hernandez and has instead left the Hammers looking more like relegation candidates than European hopefuls.

The style of football has also been a concern. Famed for their desire to play play “the West Ham way”, in recent times it has been hard to tell the difference between the football played by Bilic’s side and that played by the hated Sam Allardyce during his time at Upton Park.

One of the biggest criticisms of Bilic has been his management of young players. Whilst Declan Rice has been given a shot early this season, and impressed, the likes of Reece Oxford and Toni Martinez have remained on the edge of the squad with few opportunities to impress, the former even sent out on loan to Germany rather than given an opportunity to impress in the Premier League.

Bilic is now under pressure more than at any other point in his West Ham career. Where he was previously a fan favourite, even his most loyal supporters are beginning to lose patience. If the club spend much longer at the wrong end of the table, expect David Gold and David Sullivan, not renowned for their patience, to act.

Sam is a football journalist focusing on English football at all levels and Spanish football. He also writes for Spain's biggest daily sports newspaper, MARCA, as well as The Boot Room. Find Sam on Twitter at @samleveridge.

Nice

Jean-Michael Seri arrival would ensure dynamic West Ham midfield, but creativity needed

The 26-year-old has a £35 million release clause in his current contract.

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Photo: Getty Images

According to Sky Sports, West Ham are interested in signing OGC Nice midfielder Jean-Michael Seri, who is available for £35 million due to a release clause in his current contract.

Perhaps Ligue 1’s most sought after midfield players, if Manuel Pellegrini is able to tempt the Ivory Coast international to join the Hammers, it would be a real statement of intent.

A combination of Seri and Pedro Obiang in midfield could be one of the most dynamic in the Premier League next season.

Seri is a versatile option who has played in a three, four, and five-man midfield system in different matches under the tenures of both Claude Puel and Lucien Favre. The 26-year-old is not only an asset in retaining possession, but also in bringing play forward and has enhanced his growing reputation as a capable playmaker.

(Photo by Valery Hache/Getty Images)

Obiang, meanwhile, is an excellent passer of the ball – exactly the type that Pellegrini likes – who possesses an abundance of energy. At times he lacks discipline in his game, but his new manager’s coaching will transform him into a more level-headed player, who will be comfortable in fulfilling his defensive responsibilities.

Of course, Hammers fans will also be excited about the prospect of Declan Rice featuring more prominently under Pellegrini next term. The youngster featured as a central defender for the Hammers in 2017/18, but is perhaps most comfortable as a holding player, as his recent midfield display for Ireland evidenced.

A Seri and Obiang/Rice partnership, in Pellegrini’s favoured 4-2-2-2 formation, would provide a solid base for the Hammers front four to launch their attacks. With Obiang/Rice able to sit and break up opposition advances, Seri would be the man to carry the ball into the final third to supply his teammates.

(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Marko Arnautovic and Javier Hernandez have proven themselves more than capable throughout their respective careers and West Ham fans will be excited to see the duo line up together next season. Therefore, all that’s lacking is a creative presence further up the pitch, particularly with Manuel Lanzini sidelined for the foreseeable future.

Following the smart additions of Ryan Fredericks, Issa Diop and Lukasz Fabianski, and the possible arrival of Seri, Pellegrini would be left with the remainder of the summer transfer window to identify some quality, creative midfield options.

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Jack Wilshere is West Ham’s most realistic midfield target this summer

The 26-year-old seems the best option for Manuel Pellegrini at the moment.

Jamie Watts

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Manuel Pellegrini has seemingly put signing a new midfielder high on his list of priorities this summer, having been linked with some stellar names, but is Jack Wilshere (Sky Sports) his most realistic target?

The Chilean has expressed his desire to get the Hammers playing attacking and progressive football again next term, and views a quality midfield addition as vital in achieving this.

Initially, the suggestion was made that Pellegrini would attempt to move for two-time Premier League winner Yaya Toure (the Telegraph), before stories broke claiming his interest in Paris Saint-Germain’s Javier Pastore (Sky Sports).

Photo: Getty Images

However, talks for both have stalled, with Toure’s preference to join a top-six side (Sport 24) and Pastore’s reported wage demands of £190,000-a-week (Sky Sports) to leave the French capital, with it now looking more likely Roma will land the 29-year-old’s signature.

Wilshere would employ the tactics Pellegrini is after and would instantly inject technical quality into the current functional midfield trio of Mark Noble, Cheikhou Kouyate and Pedro Obiang. His ability to carry the ball past defensive counterparts and to spot a final pass would add extra dimensions to the Hammers’ play, and at the age of 26 he could still have his best years ahead.

Photo: Getty Images

The ex-Bournemouth man has revealed he will not sign a contract extension at Arsenal with his contract set to expire imminently, meaning Pellegrini could land his signature on a free.

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Issa Diop’s presence at West Ham could spark a resurgence in Angelo Ogbonna

The newbie could strike up a strong partnership next term.

Jamie Watts

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West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini is excited by the arrival of Toulouse defender Issa Diop, claiming his “pace and power” will suit the Premier League to a tee, in quotes via Sky Sports. But could his arrival also bare significance in sparking another quality defender back to life at in east London?

The record acquisition of the 21-year-old at the London Stadium (£21.9 million, Sky Sports), has been intended to revive a faltering back-line for the foreseeable future under the Chilean boss, but his presence could also elevate the performances of former Juventus regular Angelo Ogbonna.

Photo: Getty Images

The 30-year-old enjoyed a decent spell under David Moyes and ranked first for clearances made, was joint-top in shots blocked, third in aerial duels and third in pass completion with the Hammers back in February. And next season he will be targeting a key role in the defence, alongside the new boy.

Diop’s “pace and power” will be key for the Hammers’ rearguard next term, and alongside Ogbonna both could really flourish. They both employ a similar style of defending, using their physicality to defend on the front foot, and in theory, an understanding should develop relatively quickly.

If all goes well, and everything clicks between the two, West Ham could have a brilliant defence next term, with Ryan Fredericks and Arthur Masuaku providing the width either side of the two imposing centre-backs.

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