Slaven Bilic spent roughly two-and-a-half years as West Ham manager, arriving in the summer of 2015 and departing in November 2017.
His first season was a roaring success, arriving as a replacement for the unpopular Sam Allardyce, taking the shackles off his players and recording a 7th placed finish in the Premier League, one place above Liverpool and enough to qualify for the Europa League.
There was a big drop-off in performance levels and points tally in Bilic’s second season, and he was dismissed and replaced by David Moyes after a poor start to the 2017-18 season.
Bilic has since managed Al-Ittihad of the Saudi Professional League, where he lasted just five months before being sacked, but today we wanted to look at his first seven signings as West Ham manager and how their careers have panned out since then.
Here are Slaven Bilic’s first 7 West Ham signings: Where are they now?
7. Stephen Hendrie - Southend
West Ham had actually pre-arranged the signing of Stephen Hendrie in the January of 2015, before Slaven Bilic arrived at the club, but he didn’t join the club until July 1st, so he still qualifies as the Croatian’s first signing. An energetic young left-back brought to the club from Hamilton Academical, Hendrie never registered a first team appearance with the Hammers, but he is now a regular fixture in the Southend United starting lineup in League One.
6. Darren Randolph - Middlesbrough
Darren Randolph of Republic of Ireland during the UEFA Nations league match between Denmark v Republic of Ireland at the Ceres Park on November 19, 2018 in Aarhus
A popular figure at West Ham who often impressed when called upon, Darren Randolph ended up playing more games than the clubs number one Adrian in the 2016-17 season. Joe Hart arrived on-loan the following summer though, so Randolph was allowed to leave the club and join Middlesbrough for £5 million. Signed by Bilic from Birmingham City as a free agent, the Republic of Ireland international is now Tony Pulis’ first choice at the Riverside.
5. Pedro Obiang - West Ham
One of only two players in this seven still playing for West Ham, former Spanish under-21 international Pedro Obiang arrived at Upton Park for a reported £4.3 million from Sampdoria. A real steady Eddie in the West Ham midfield, Obiang puts in a shift and he moves the ball nicely, but he’s rarely a match-winner. He was linked with a return to Italian football via Fiorentina in the January transfer window, but nothing came of it, so the 26-year-old is still with the Hammers for now.
4. Martin Samuelsen - Haugesund
(L-R) Kik Pierie of SC Heerenveen, Martin Samuelsen of VVV Venlo during the Dutch Eredivisie match between PSV v Willem II at the Philips Stadium on September 1, 2018 in Eindhoven...
Those of you who watch youth football will probably have come across Martin Samuelsen at some point, and if you have, you probably watched him and wondered why he wasn’t playing first team football. I thought the youngster looked like one of the most likely players in England to reach the top when I first saw him at 17 or 18. Slaven Bilic brought him to West Ham from Man City in 2015, but the Norwegian international has only registered two first team appearances for the Hammers. A slim, tall attacking midfielder with lovely faints and good technique, for one reason or another, things haven’t progressed as one might have hoped for Samuelsen. He’s still only 21, but he’s already on-loan at his second club this season, Haugesund, back in his native Norway.
3. Dimitri Payet - Marseille
If there was one signing, or indeed one player, who defined the Slaven Bilic era at West Ham, it was Dimitri Payet. A bargain signing at just over £10 million from Marseille, Payet was the inspiration which guided West Ham to a 7th placed finish in Bilic’s first season. He became Bilic’s go-to match-winner and a cult hero at West Ham overnight, before turning the former Everton defender into a broken man and making himself the most hated man in East London just as quick. Having signed a lucrative new deal in February 2016, Bilic announced that Payet wanted to leave the club in January 2017. A deal worth £25 million represented a tidy profit for West Ham, but his loss hurt the club, both emotionally and on the pitch.
2. Angelo Ogbonna - West Ham
Aron Gunnarsson of Cardiff City challenges Angelo Ogbonna of West Ham United during the Premier League match between Cardiff City and West Ham United at Cardiff City Stadium on March 09,...
The second and last currently active West Ham player in this seven, Angelo Ogbonna arrived at the club as an ambitious signing from Juventus. Ogbonna had made 55 appearances in two seasons with the Old Lady, as well as reaching double figures in caps for the Italian national team. He’s been a regular fixture at the club for three-and-a-half years now, but I don’t think he’s been as solid as many Hammers fans would have hoped. Strong in the air but not always the most alert at the back, Ogbonna is prone to the odd mistake, but the 30-year-old is still at the London Stadium right now.
1. George Dobson - Walsall
The second player in this seven currently playing their football in League One, George Dobson was just 17 when Slaven Bilic brought him to West Ham. Prior to his arrival, the young holding midfielder had been with Arsenal for ten years. An incredibly hard working midfield player with iron lungs, Dobson never played a first team game for West Ham, spending a single season on-loan at Walsall. A permanent move to Sparta Rotterdam followed, before Dobson returned to English football and returned to Walsall in January 2018, where he’s since cemented himself as a key first team player.
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