ITV have scored with Slaven Bilic at Euro 2016 – but it’s no accident

Mark Jefferies says Bilic has been star of the tournament out of the Euro 2016 pundits – and ITV bosses are delighted

111092

It was a masterstroke by ITV to employ Slaven Bilic. The West Ham manager has seemingly appeared from nowhere to become arguably the TV signing of the tournament for Euro 2016.

Advertisement

But in this case there is more judgement than luck. I’m told bosses were quietly impressed when Slaven came in and was a pundit for a Europa League tie and a Croatia international match on ITV4 last season.

“There were not millions and millions watching so this is his first big tournament for us; we liked what we saw,” a senior ITV sport source told me.

So whilst he was untried at such a high level, this was no gamble. ITV also knew that his knowledge of his own player Dimitri Payet would be good for the games involving France.

The fact Payet was man of the match in the first two was a bonus. There is a lot to like about Bilic and the way he has taken charge of punditry during some games. ITV host Mark Pougatch said Bilic and Lothar Matthaus have been great signings in his eyes.

“Slaven is very tactile. He is always grabbing people and bringing them into the conversation. It’s great because football is like that; you don’t play with you arms by your sides.”

When it comes to speaking his mind and getting his opinions over, he’s certainly got the magic touch.

Advertisement

Coverage of Euro 2016 continues on ITV and BBC until 10 July. Mark Jefferies is Showbiz Editor at the Daily Mirror.

Euro 2016 TV coverage guide and fixture list

109936