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John Brewin profile picture  By John Brewin

What does the future hold for Slaven Bilic, Craig Shakespeare, Marco Silva?

The offseason can be dangerous territory for managers. Those who failed to hit their targets may find themselves with difficult questions to answer when meeting with club owners for a post-mortem, while others may be in demand from other clubs looking for a different approach from last season. There may be hirings and firings, changes of scenery or renewed commitment.

With that in mind, ESPN FC pinpoints five Premier League managers whose futures are by no means certain.

Slaven Bilic

West Ham's manager had surgery on Wednesday for a long-required hip replacement, and it looks as if he has avoided the ax. Having conducted end-of-season talks with Hammers owners David Gold and David Sullivan and vice chairman Baroness Brady on Monday, it appears that Bilic has escaped the ultimate consequence of a hugely disappointing first season at the London Stadium.

Bilic's team finished 11th but spent much of the season flirting with relegation. A summer transfer haul of 11 players was disastrous, with only Edimilson Fernandes anything like a success, while the January addition of experienced players Robert Snodgrass (from Hull) and Jose Fonte (from Southampton) almost as unconvincing.

Gold and Sullivan have a reputation, going back to their Birmingham City days, of being patient with managers but a poor start to next season may force them into a quick decision. Sullivan, who acts as a de facto director of football, needs to sharpen up the club's transfer business if Bilic is to be able to emulate finishing seventh as he did in his first season in charge back in 2015-16.

Probable destination: Staying at West Ham, for now

Claude Puel

On the face of it, Southampton had a decent enough season, having narrowly lost the EFL final 3-2 to Manchester United and finishing in eighth place. The picture beyond that was considerably less satisfactory. Should softly-spoken Puel depart the South Coast, as appears a high possibility, he will do so as someone who failed to win over fans, and, as widely reported, players with his attitude.

He might be painted as a victim of the success enjoyed by his predecessors Mauricio Pochettino and Ronald Koeman but Puel's team struggled at home, winning just six matches. His team played a brand of football that did not entertain fans, which went against the reputation he gained at Lille, Lyon and Nice in Ligue 1.

Probable destination: A return to French football seems most likely

Marco Silva

Silva's work at Hull has him clearly touted for bigger clubs. But will he stay in England?

Silva almost pulled off a great escape with Hull City, having lifted the club from rock bottom on his Jan. 5 to fourth-bottom on May 6, but they then suffered a stunning 2-0 defeat to Sunderland before losing 4-0 the following week to Crystal Palace. That snatching of defeat from victory does not seem to have affected Silva's employment prospects, though. Neither does losing 7-1 to Tottenham on Sunday.

Silva had been linked with the post vacated by Walter Mazzarri at Watford but there are stronger possibilities at Southampton (should Puel depart) and a return to Portugal with Porto, whose coach, Nuno Espirito Santo, stepped down on Monday.

With his Hull contract only running until the end of the season, the prospect of Silva managing in the Championship is highly remote for a young manager very much in demand.

Probable destination: A toss-up between Southampton and Porto, though the English club's wealth may decide matters

Craig Shakespeare

Shakespeare's revival of Leicester after March's sacking of Claudio Ranieri seems likely to win the former assistant manager a long-term contract. Shakespeare had been viewed as a power behind the throne of last season's title success and has grown close to the club's Thai owners, the Srivaddhanaprabha family.

This week will see Shakespeare hold talks with the owners over converting his assistant manager contract to that of first-team boss. That he will be a guest of his paymasters at this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix suggests he will be staying on, and a summer of refreshing City's squad can soon begin.

Probable destination: Staying at the King Power Stadium as manager

Rafa Benitez

On May 10 it was announced that Benitez, having led Newcastle back to the Premier League as winners of the Championship, would be staying on at St James's Park, an announcement that met with even bigger celebrations than collecting their trophy.

As it stands, Benitez will be on Tyneside next season though with owner Mike Ashley at the controls, a summer of serenity cannot be guaranteed, especially when considering Benitez's expectation of being handed serious money to make Newcastle a proper Premier League proposition. That may yet blend a heady formula for uncertainty. Benitez has the fans on his side but he also has other options to hand including West Ham, for whom he was Sullivan's no. 1 choice ahead of Bilic in the summer of 2015.

Probable destination: Staying at Newcastle, probably

John Brewin is a staff writer for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JohnBrewinESPN.


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