Bilic was appointed as the Hammers’ new boss on a three-year deal on Tuesday, returning to Upton Park following an 18-month playing stint under then-manager Redknapp 19 years ago. He replaces Allardyce, who endured a tempestuous relationship with much of the West Ham support despite guiding them back to the Premier League and then retaining top-flight status for the next three years. “He is a bit of a lad! He smokes about 80 fags a day, plays guitar in a pop-rock group and is a real character – but he really knows his football. “It wouldn’t surprise me if he brought in a few old faces back in there, one or two of the lads he played with. He might use them on the coaching side, it is just one of the feelings I have got.” One of those old faces is unlikely to be Rio Ferdinand after Bilic’s former defensive partner retired last month. The former England captain, who has also backed Bilic to succeed, has signed as a pundit with BT Sport – but Redknapp thinks Ferdinand will follow Bilic into a coaching career in the future. He said: “Rio is doing his coaching badges and he wants to get into the game, “He is no different to a lot of the lads who get into punditry but they can’t all be as fortunate as Gary Neville who does the punditry and the England job. “A lot of the lads just have to do the punditry but eventually he will want to get into the football world – in a few years time he will have done what he is doing with BT, watching a lot of football, but one day I’m sure he will get into management.” Harry Redknapp has backed Slaven Bilic to be a success at West Ham and believes the Croatian’s popularity at the club will give him an instant advantage over predecessor Sam Allardyce. Co-chairmen David Gold and David Sullivan decided against offering Allardyce a new deal at the end of the season, with the 60-year-old departing just minutes after the final game of the campaign at Newcastle. With the Hammers in the qualifying rounds for the Europa League, Redknapp feels Bilic has a great chance to build on an already well-established relationship with the fans. “It is a big bonus for him,” Redknapp told Press Association Sport. “Sam did a great job but it seemed whatever he did was never good enough for a lot of the fans. Slaven comes in as a popular figure and it is a big advantage for him to come in knowing the fans will give him a great welcome when he arrives. “The fans like him there, I think he will be a very popular new manager at West Ham. I was sad to see Sam go, he did a good job but they have got a decent group of players for Slaven to work with and the thought of going into a new stadium is good for them and I’m sure he will do well.” Redknapp praised the work already done elsewhere by Bilic, who he also revealed to be a ‘real character’. “He did a good job with the Croatian national team,” Redknapp added. “He has been around since then, went off to Russia and Turkey but now he has got a great job, managing in the Premier League at West Ham – a great club and a fantastic opportunity. Press Association
The University of Wisconsin volleyball team received a reality check over the weekend.Wisconsin didn’t lose a match, defeating both Illinois (30-16, 28-30, 30-22, 30-19) and Northwestern (30-23, 30-19, 24-30, 29-31, 15-13), but prior to this weekend, the 10th-ranked Badgers hadn’t lost a single game in the Field House all season.So, when the Wildcats took them to five games Friday and after the Illini stole another game Saturday, it came as somewhat of a shock. “They got a reminder that the game doesn’t come that easily all the time, that you still have to bring that energy, especially on those nights when it’s not totally there,” UW head coach Pete Waite said.Wisconsin jumped out to a quick start against Illinois Saturday, taking the first game 30-16 but coughed up the second game.The Badgers kept most of game two close, but miscommunication led to some costly errors. Late in the game, back-to-back set errors gave the Illini a 28-25 lead and ultimately a 30-28 victory.However, the disappointing loss didn’t affect Wisconsin as the team came out of the locker room looking to put the next two games and the match away.”We came together and shook it off,” sophomore outside hitter Audra Jeffers said. “We just said, ‘There’s two more to play, let’s get out there and clean up our passing, our serving and we’ll win.'”Jeffers posted 13 kills on 18 attempts with no errors for a career-high .722 hitting percentage as Wisconsin had a well-balanced scoring attack. Freshman outside hitter Brittney Dolgner recorded a match-high 17 kills while senior outside hitter Maria Carlini chipped in with 14 of her own. Middle blockers Amy Bladow and Taylor Reineke also had nine and eight, respectively.Wisconsin’s hitters attributed their ability to score to junior setter Jackie Simpson, who served up 50 assists on the night.”Setting was great, and that comes with great passing,” Jeffers said.For Simpson, the great passing — Wisconsin didn’t allow a single service ace — made setting almost effortless.”Our passing is doing a great job back there so that makes my job easy,” Simpson said.After taking the third game 30-22, the Badgers found themselves struggling once again, down by as many as five points. But following a timeout, Wisconsin was able to capitalize on an 11-point run, winning the match 30-19.Waite said no specific game plan or strategy was mulled over in the timeout, just simply playing with the attitude the Badgers have had in their current seven-match winning streak.”It’s about fighting and battling and getting it one point at a time and chipping away at the lead,” Waite said of his timeout speech. “And they did that, and they are always capable of it. Once they kick it into gear, they do some great things.”High-five victoryFriday night against Northwestern, Wisconsin looked like it would keep its momentum rolling, winning the first two games 30-23 and 30-19. However, the Wildcats clawed back to win the following two games to push the match to five games.”I don’t know why, but it was a struggle for us,” Waite said. “We did not play the way we have been playing.”I think a number of players did not bring their best game to the court tonight,” he added. “I think we were carried by some clutch, clutch plays by a freshman, Brittney Dolgner. She really saved us.”The Badgers desperately needed Dolgner to explode in the final game, finding themselves down by three points for most of the contest.While Wisconsin switched sides down 5-8, the thought of a potential upset wasn’t nerve-racking for any of the Badger players.”As a setter, I don’t have time to be nervous,” Simpson said. “I feel that in the game of volleyball, if you take one second to start worrying about something, that’s when you get in trouble.”Wisconsin (21-5, 12-3 Big Ten) is currently in a second-place tie with Minnesota, one and a half games behind conference leader Penn State.