Roberto Mancini has emerged as a surprise candidate to replace West Ham manager Slaven Bilic, whose job appears increasingly insecure.

The former Manchester City manager, who took the reins of Russian club Zenit St Petersburg in June, was linked with a move to east London last season, after he was spotted at a West Ham match during a difficult spell for the Hammers.

According to the London Evening Standard, Mancini is again on the club's radar with Bilic coming under severe scrutiny for his side's shortcomings.

Having lost their first three Premier League of the campaign and conceded 10 goals in the process, West Ham host newly promoted Huddersfield on Monday (11 September) in their first home game of the season, after they were forced to play away from the London Stadium for the first three games of the campaign following the World Athletics Championships.

Bilic, who has been criticised for his side's lack of tactical discipline, knows anything less than three points against the Terriers could cost him his job. Despite a summer that saw them sign proven Premier League players such as Javier Hernandez, Marko Arnautovic, Joe Hart and Pablo Zabaleta, West Ham have started the season on the back foot and have now won only five of their last 22 league games since the turn of the year.

Bilic's position was made even more delicate by West Ham co-owner David Sullivan, who revealed the Croatian turned down the chance to sign Grzegorz Krychowiak from PSG and Bayern Munich starlet Renato Sanches.

"Overall Slaven is happy with the business we have done during the summer transfer window," Sullivan told West Ham's official website on 1 September. "We received the manager's wish-list before the window opened and we have managed to get the top four players on it."

To make matters worse, both players moved to the Premier League on loan, as the former joined West Bromwich Albion, while the latter signed for Swansea.

Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez, who is the third favourite to be the first manager sacked this season behind Frank De Boer and Bilic, is also among the front-runners to replace the latter.

The Spaniard steered the Magpies back to the Premier League at the first time of asking last season but has grown frustrated with what he perceives as a lack of investment by Newcastle owner Mike Ashley. However, West Ham would have to pay £5m (€5.5m, $6.5m) in compensation to lure Benitez away from St James' Park.