Slaven gets with the programme

Slaven Bilic has thrown his support behind West Ham United's bid to climb the Barclays Premier League table in the New Year.

The former Hammers centre-back took time out of his busy schedule as coach of the Croatia national side to discuss the fortunes of the club he served for 18 months between January 1996 and summer 1997.

Bilic, now 42, discussed his love for the club, his enjoyment at playing alongside some of the club's most exciting players and being the first Croatian to play in the Premier League in a wide-ranging interview with the matchday programme.

The Split-born great is keeping his fingers crossed that the Hammers can get things together sooner rather than later.

"It is frustrating for me to see West Ham where they are because it is my club," said Bilic. "Apart from the Carling Cup, they are not in a good position. In fact, they are in a very bad position and it will be hard to get out of that position.

"I think they have a good team and I hope that they will be able to stay up, not only for West Ham fans but for fans of English football.

"The Premier League would not be the same without West Ham, so it would be good for the club, the league and English football for them to stay up."

An exclusive interview with Bilic was the highlight of an action-packed matchday programme for the Barclays Premier League visit of Everton on Tuesday.

Jonathan Spector was the subject of the main feature, while Hammer of the Year Scott Parker delved into the Fans' Mailbag and Danny Gabbidon lifted the lid in My Team-mates.

Ian 'Moose' Abrahams caught up with snooker great John Parrott, while there were also exclusive interviews with midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger and Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler.

Reserve-team manager Alex Dyer and Academy Director Tony Carr MBE reported on the latest developments with their respective teams, while Under-18s defender Danny Potts was Learning His Trade.

For all this, plus much, much more, you cannot afford to miss out on the latest issue of the matchday programme.

Priced £3.50, the Everton issue is available separately or as part of a half-season subscription by clicking here.