Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cats' Job Interests Bilic, Says His Agent; Cats' Job Interests Bilic, Says Agent

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cats' Job Interests Bilic, Says His Agent; Cats' Job Interests Bilic, Says Agent

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Douglas

SLAVEN Bilic is interested in the Sunderland managerial vacancy.

Bilic's agent Rudi Vata has told The Journal the Croatia boss would be keen on talks with the Black Cats if they decide not to pursue number one target Steve Bruce, whose switch to the Stadium of Light hit a hitch yesterday.

Highly ambitious and well-regarded, Bilic is preparing for a must-win World Cup qualifier against Ukraine, but has let it be known he is looking for a new challenge.

He is still under contract with the Croatian FA, but is one of the lowest-paid international managers in the game and looks increasingly likely to depart before the end of the qualification campaign. The Journal understands that Bilic would be open to approaches from managerless Celtic and Hamburg - and Sunderland, too.

The prospect of spending the near-pounds 60m transfer kitty new majority owner Ellis Short will make available to the Black Cats' new boss certainly appeals to the former West Ham defender, whose network of contacts stretches across the Continent.

"Sure he would be interested to talk to Sunderland if they wanted to talk to him. He would be open-minded about any discussions if they were interested," Vata told The Journal.

"There is a must-win game for Croatia against Ukraine in a few weeks and I think Slaven wants to concentrate on that, but he is a fantastic coach who speaks perfect English and it will only be a matter of time before he ends up at a big club." A declaration of interest on Bilic's behalf illustrates the calibre of manager that will be attracted to the Sunderland job. Former England bosses Sven-G|ran Eriksson and Steve McClaren have also been linked, but Wigan boss Bruce still retains huge favour in the Sunderland boardroom. His major advantage over Bilic is familiarity with the club game and the Premier League, and a hugely impressive track record with Wigan and Birmingham City. While Bilic is yet to work outside the sphere of international football, and has only been a coach for five years, Bruce has 11 years of hard graft in English management to his credit. …

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