Slaven speaks - AFC Bournemouth

Slaven Bilic is expecting a ‘dynamic’ contest when AFC Bournemouth visit the Boleyn Ground in the Barclays Premier League on Saturday.

The West Ham United manager praised Eddie Howe’s side for the way they have played in their opening two fixtures following promotion from the Championship, despite the fact the Cherries have no points and no goals to show for their efforts.

The Hammers boss warned that his team must be on their game if they are to break down and beat an adaptable Bournemouth team who have troubled Aston Villa and Liverpool in recent weeks.

“I expect a very dynamic game,” Bilic revealed. “On the one hand I expect a physical game, but on the other hand I saw the way Bournemouth are trying to pass the ball and their first idea is to pass the ball. They are very good and they play good football.

“They are not just passing in a tiki taka way and they are not just lumping it up, they are mixing it up. If they can pass, they pass it, but if they are under pressure they try to hit the two guys up front. When they can press you, they press you, but if not they are all behind the ball and waiting for you. They are a good team and that’s why they looked so good in their opening two games.

“I watched both of Bournemouth’s games and of course you could say that they deserved something from each of them. They weren’t second-best in the first game against Villa and at Anfield the game was very even.

“OK Liverpool had better chances and scored and hit the bar and had a couple of blocked shots, but in open play, if you see the quality of the passing it was Bournemouth for me and they were a bit unlucky in both games.”
Concentrating on West Ham, Bilic faces a number of selection decisions after losing Adrian to suspension and Mauro Zarate to a hamstring injury in the build-up to Saturday’s game.

On the goalkeeper situation, Bilic revealed that he expected the Club’s appeal for wrongful dismissal against Adrian’s red card in last weekend’s defeat by Leicester City to fail because of the stringent nature of the FA’s rules.

Adrian was sent-off for serious foul play after catching Jamie Vardy in the chest with his boot, and will now serve a three-match suspension.

“I am disappointed with a three-match ban,” said Bilic. “To be fair, I was hjoping that our appeal would be a positive one, but I wasn’t expecting to win it because of the rule. I said after the game that it could be a red and I didn’t change my mind.

“For me it was a bit harsh but I can tell you with the ref it was not out of the blue. The ref decided it was a red and I’m OK with that, but for me the punishment is unbelievable. It’s too big, it’s too much but when I saw the rules after that, I knew we didn’t stand a chance because the FA would have to change their rule, which they will not do, of course.”

There has been some speculation over who will replace Adrian in goal against Bournemouth on Saturday, but the manager confirmed that he expects Ireland international Darren Randolph to take the gloves at the Boleyn Ground.

“We are going to see who will play in goal,” Bilic said. “Darren is doing well and he is an experienced goalkeeper, an international, so I’m expecting him to be in goal.

“It’s very short-sighted to say he has a problem with Bournemouth. It happened once. When I played in Germany we beat Valencia 7-0 in the UEFA Cup, but it was once. You can’t say that we were better than Valencia as a club, so I believe in Randy. He is experienced, he is good and he played in so many games and what happened with Bournemouth could happen to anyone or to him against any other team.”

“I said four weeks ago that I would not discuss our transfer activities in front of the public until it is done one way or the other. I am not necessarily going to bring someone in in goal.”
Alex Song was here last year on loan and I think that everybody agrees, West Ham fans, non-West Ham fans and football people from across the country, that especially in the first six months he was exceptional and he was brilliant
While he has yet to decide over the signing of a new goalkeeper, Bilic confirmed Joint-Chairman David Sullivan’s statement surrounding the possibility of Alex Song returning to the Club.

Song is set to undergo a medical ahead of a proposed move from Barcelona, and the manager says the Cameroon midfielder would be a major player for the Hammers should he come back to E13.

“Agreement is in principle and you’ve seen the Chairman’s statement and it says everything,” the manager said. “We agreed the terms and now it’s subject to the medical, and we hope he is going to pass that because we know how good he was here last year and how good he is as a player.

“He has got a record. He was an Arsenal player and a Barcelona player and all that and we would like to get him and it’s down to the medical. We got a lot of positive comments and details about his improvement so we are really confident that he is going to pass the medical.

“He was here last year on loan and I think that everybody agrees, West Ham fans, non-West Ham fans and football people from across the country, that especially in the first six months he was exceptional and he was brilliant.

“If we can get him in that stage or type of playing and try to do it for a bit longer over the whole season, it would be crucial for us.”