The Huddersfield Town manager David Wagner has emerged as a potential candidate for the West Ham job if the owners decide in the summer that Slaven Bilic is not the man to take the club forward in the long term.
Wagner, 45, a German-American coach who worked with Jurgen Klopp at Borussia Dortmund has led Huddersfield to third place in the Championship and potentially their first ever Premier League promotion, 45 years after they last played in English football’s top flight.
He signed a new deal with the club last summer but there is a set compensation clause in his contract that would free him to join a new club.
After three straight defeats in the league, Bilic’s future remains uncertain as the club face a critical run of game’s starting with Saturday’s trip to Hull City, currently in the Premier League relegation zone.
The club have withdrawn a plan to give their manager a new contract before the end of the season which means that he would go into the last 12 months of his deal were he to stay beyond the summer.
While Wagner is not the kind of big name manager whom West Ham have pursued in the past – in particular with Rafael Benitez – he is one of a number of young modern coaches who are expected to move on to bigger things.
His style is similar to that of his friend Klopp, with a heavy emphasis on the high intensity of his team’s approach and, as a consequence, the fitness of his players.
Wagner is seen as a big personality around the club, one who spends long hours at the training ground and has a similarly passionate approach to the job as Klopp has demonstrated at Liverpool. His squad often train twice a day with training times moved to mirror kick-off times.
He is regarded as an inventive, occasionally unconventional coach who also took his squad on a team-bonding camping trip in pre-season. There has been interest from Bundlesliga clubs during Wagner’s first season in English football.