Slaven Bilic continues to work wonders at West Hamby Andy Dillon / 19 October 2015, 14:12Tweet
This week The Sun's Andy Dillon (@andydillon70) takes a look at the stunning impact Slaven Bilic has had at West Ham, who grabbed yet another away win on Saturday after beating Crystal Palace 3-1 at Selhurst Park, which propelled the club into the top-4.
WEST HAM may just have unearthed a genius - by accident.
No sooner had the ink dried on Slaven Bilic's three year contract as manager than the chairman David Sullivan put the new man in his place.
It was declared loudly and proudly that Bilic was not first choice to succeed outgoing Sam Allardyce; he wasn't even second or third.
Sullivan revealed that the man to lead West Ham into one of the most important seasons in the club's history was fourth choice; down the pecking order behind Rafa Benitez, David Moyes and Unai Emery of Seville.
How to make someone feel welcome!
Nine games into Bilic's debut year as a Premier League boss and The Hammers sit fourth in the table and showing no signs of slowing down.
Saturday's 3-1 win at Crystal Palace was achieved combining the ingredients West Ham have tried and usually failed to mix into their football down the years; neat passing, expansive tactics and freedom of expression from the forwards.
Dimitri Payet's exquisite sign off goal in injury time rekindled memories of the flawed genius that was Paolo di Canio with the Frenchman's trickery and confidence in the box.
Manuel Lanzini - the 'Little Jewel' - pint-sized Spanish attack-minded midfielder who darts and races around the pitch like a demented firefly.
Yet Bilic has also managed to keep hold of that bit of grit which Allardyce blended into his squad during the previous four years.
Having taken the lead, West Ham were pegged back when Palace scored a penalty, yet in a break with tradition, kept their nerve and went on to win another away game in convincing fashion.
When Bilic was appointed, Sullivan claimed it was the Croatian's challenge to prove he should have been first choice as manager.
He has done that now and made the Upton Park board look silly for not going straight to him when the decision was made by mutual consent for Big Sam to go on the final weekend of last season.
Bilic gets no bonus if West Ham finish outside the top eight this season - but he was smart enough to back himself and insert a clause where he gets one should the club win the league!
Given the highest West Ham have ever finished is third that takes some balls from a bloke who has never managed in English football before.
Interestingly, West Ham are just one point better off than they were this time last season when the team was flying under Big Sam too.
But it was home form carrying them through with impressive wins over Liverpool and Manchester City at Upton Park and totally reliant on the pairing of Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia.
This season it is the away games where the team has excelled; at Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City most notably.
Once the home form kicks in there is no knowing where the journey will end.
Bilic will be tested in the first big examination on their own patch against Chelsea this Saturday.
The Premier League champions look beatable in every department but so did Leicester and Bournemouth who turned up in the East End of London and helped themselves to three points.
If Bilic can nick that one and make home form as reliable as on the road, then West Ham's board of directors might well be digging out his contract from the filing cabinet to check how much they may need to cough up.
Bilic might be checking it too to see if he has an escape clause should his balmy introduction to English football continue and attract the attentions of bigger clubs.