Croatian coach Slaven Bilić has today been recognised as the manager of the month in the English Championship League. The former Hajduk Split, West Ham United and Everton player has enjoyed a brilliant first season as manager of West Bromwich Albion and his team are currently second in the league. They now look to be on track to rejoin the Premier League next season, thanks in part to Bilić's skill.
Having enjoyed a successful run of fixtures since Bilić took over at the club in summer 2019, the 'Baggies' suffered a blip in results over Christmas and in January and it looked like the chasing pack might catch them and steal the chance at promotion. However, in February, Bilić's team bounced back, winning five and drawing one of their seven matches to ensure they moved clear of third place. They scored 13 goals in these seven games, earning 16 points from a possible 21.
A former manager of Hajduk Split and the Croatian national football team, Bilić's appointment to West Bromwich Albion is the Croat's first return to English football since being sacked by West Ham United in 2017. Just the year before, Bilić's first season at West Ham had seen the team rise to a standing almost unparalleled in their recent history. With Bilić at the helm, West Ham beat Liverpool for the first time in 52 years and attained their second highest finish in the Premier League (7th). They broke several club records of the Premier League era, including highest number of points in a season (62), the highest number of goals in a season (65), the fewest number of games lost in a season (8) and the lowest number of away defeats.
Since Bilić's departure, though less than two seasons ago, West Ham have appointed new managers no less than three times. They are now joint third from the bottom of the Premier League on points and have a relegation battle on their hands. A majority of West Ham fans agree that the worst move the club has made in recent times was the hasty dismissal of Slaven Bilić.
Bilić's new club West Bromwich Albion were, in 1888, one of the founding members of the English Football League. Their greatest rivals are three teams also from the Midlands area of England, Aston Villa, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Birmingham City. They have played at their home ground, The Hawthorns, since 1900, with the club itself being some 22 years older than the ground.