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West Ham Cottee: Thanks Sam, but Bilic is the man to take us forward

PUBLISHED: 14:14 25 May 2015 | UPDATED: 14:14 25 May 2015

Tony Cottee

Tony Cottee

EMPICS Sport

Our West Ham columnist backs the Croatian former Hammer

Sam Allardyce during the Barclays Premier League match at St James' Park, Newcastle.Sam Allardyce during the Barclays Premier League match at St James' Park, Newcastle.

First and foremost, I don’t think it was a huge surprise to see Big Sam leave West Ham on Sunday. We had heard enough rumours and seen all the gossip about potential new bosses to know that the writing was on the wall.

What I will say, is that it is a huge gamble by the board going into what is one of the most important seasons in the club’s history as we get ready for the Olympic Stadium.

I have to say thanks to Big Sam. He took over the club after the debacle of Avram Grant when all the players were on their knees and he took them back up straight away and though they have flirted with relegation, he has kept them in the Premier League and stabilised things.

The West Ham house had fallen down and he has rebuilt the foundations, made it strong and what we need now are the fixtures and fittings.

Besiktas' manager Slaven Bilic on the touchline during the UEFA Europa League match at Anfield, Liverpool. ... Soccer - UEFA Europa League -Besiktas' manager Slaven Bilic on the touchline during the UEFA Europa League match at Anfield, Liverpool. ... Soccer - UEFA Europa League -

I think Sam should have been given a chance to take us to the new stadium and should have got a contract at Christmas. Since then things have gone wrong and much of that has been down to the lack of stability and conjecture.

The fans never really took to Sam and I think much of that was down to the reputation he had when he arrived as a long ball manager at Bolton.

I think that was wrong as though they played it long up to Kevin Davies at times they also had players like Djorkaeff and Okocha who were full of flair. I think West Ham are similar.

We knew what we would get from Big Sam and that has worked out well and I think in time we will consider his tenure as a good and a successful one.

Slaven Bilic of West Ham United (l) argues with referee Mike Reed (r)Slaven Bilic of West Ham United (l) argues with referee Mike Reed (r)

In terms of a replacement, my choice would be Slaven Bilic. He may not have any Premier League experience, but neither did Jose Mourinho or Arsene Wenger when they arrived.

We are a special club, with special fans and there is an aura about the club and I think West Ham need a manager who will appreciate that because he has been here.

I know Bilic left us to join Everton and though I don’t know if that was the right move, I am not going to criticise him for that as I did exactly the same thing.

But Bilic has done superbly with Croatia in the World Cup, has managed in the Champions League and in some very volatile leagues, so that is why I would go for him.

One thing I would say is that I find it hard to believe that any board can go forward without someone who has played the game at a high level to advise them. I am always available, I have a huge passion for the club, but my phone never seems to ring.

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