West Ham United co-chairperson David Gold has comprehensively dismissed the possibility of Slaven Bilic leaving the club to take over as England manager. The Football Association (FA) are beginning their search for a new head coach after Roy Hodgson stood aside after four years on Monday night (27 June) following a humiliating 2-1 defeat to Iceland that saw his side exit Euro 2016 in the first knockout round.
Previously mixed experiences with Sven-Goran Eriksson and Fabio Capello have left many quick to dismiss another potential overseas appointment, yet FA chief executive Martin Glenn appeared open to the possibility during an excruciating jargon-laden press conference yesterday. Former West Ham and Everton defender Bilic, who has also taken charge of Hadjuk Split, Lokomotiv Moscow and Besiktas at club level, is a popular figure in English football and replaced Sam Allardyce as Hammers chief in June 2015 before guiding the Premier League outfit to a seventh-place finish.
The charismatic 47-year-old improved his likeable reputation further with an entertaining and excitable stint as a pundit during ITV's coverage of the Euros. He also boasts vast international experience with 44 caps for Croatia and a two-year spell in charge of his country's U21 side. He was promoted to his nation's top job after a disappointing 2006 World Cup under Zlatko Kranjcar and guided the Vatreni to Euro 2008 – at the expense of England – and Euro 2012.
Despite that record, however, Gold does not believe the England position would appeal to Bilic, with West Ham on the threshold of an exciting new era. Speaking to blog site Claret and Hugh, he said: "He has managed his own country and I don't believe he would be the slightest bit interested in taking on England. He told us at his interview for this position that his mission was to manage at the highest level in England – the Premier League – with the club he loves West Ham United. England is simply not part of Slaven's mission.
"He is a very, very loyal man. He is loyal to his backroom team and to the board. We have backed him 100% and he us – our commitment to each other is total. This is his club and he is on his way to great things at the Olympic Stadium. I don't believe he will be tempted away by anything."
Early bookmakers favourite and U21 coach Gareth Southgate is likely to manage England on an initial interim basis while the hunt for Hodgson's successor continues. Long-serving Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has emerged as a prominent target once his current Gunners contract expires next summer. Sky also claims that United States national manager Jurgen Klinsmann is "intrigued" by the role, although Gold believes that the next manager will be homegrown.
"I don't believe either the FA will come for him [Bilic] as they have been down the foreign manager route and it hasn't worked," he added. "I don't believe they will go there at all. Slaven has clearly caught the imagination not only of West Ham fans but those around the country with his TV appearances but England? No, I am totally convinced that won't happen .The most important issue is whether he would want it and I don't believe he would. His passion and commitment to this club is total."