Slaven Speaks - Liverpool

Ahead of the Hammers' first game of 2016, Slaven Bilic faced the media
Ahead of the Hammers first game of 2016, Slaven Bilic held his pre-match press conference at Rush Green.

During the briefing, the manager fielded a range of questions from the all-important team news, facing Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool and starting the New Year strongly.

Here’s what the gaffer had to say…

Slaven, Happy New Year, is Dimitri Payet in contention to start at the weekend?

“Yes, he has been training with us for a couple of days. It depends how he trains today but I am expecting him to be in the squad. We’ll have to see how much he can participate but it is a great boost for us of course. I think he’ll be involved for the squad for Liverpool.

“Jelavic is back training with us, Winston Reid and Victor Moses are also back so it’s a good situation for us. They still need to get their fitness up but it is good news.”

Will Moses and Reid be available for the Liverpool game?

“Not for Liverpool, there is a small chance but I don’t think so. They are more likely to feature in the FA Cup game against Wolves.”

It’s News Years’ Eve, what have you told your players about how they celebrate?

“They can celebrate with their families of course, something quiet. They know that, they are professional and we are training on Friday.”

What have you made of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side?

“Well, they are Liverpool, they’re a huge team. They’ve won their last two games and kept clean sheets so they’ll be confident. They’ve shown some really good performances, but they are also vulnerable. We are expecting a very tough game, they are full of energy, a way that they like to play. It’ll be a very tough game for us.”

How much do you think the club will change by this time next year?

“Well we have a plan, and there’s a lot happening in the coming months. Of course, we have the new stadium which is very important. On the pitch, we are progressing well, and we have two transfer windows coming up so, by this time next year, a lot of things will be different.”

Are you expecting to be busy in the January transfer window?

“With the injured players coming back, we are in a good way, I am happy with the squad. If something exceptional comes up then maybe, but at the moment we have a good team. Apart from Sakho we are all practically back, if we are lucky he could be back by early February, overall our squad is good enough. We did a very good job in the summer, particularly toward the end.”

What are ambitions for the rest of the season?

“Same as it was at the start, we have to take each game as it happens, we have to maintain the same intensity and if we do that we will do well. We don’t have a specific target; we want to win every game. Knowing that this is the most difficult league in Europe, that’ll be tough, but when we are at are best, we are very good.”

Jurgen Klopp is a real personality, what do you make of him so far?

“Having him in the Premier League is a real boost. He’s the one who all the big clubs wanted, he came to England which is good, he is one of the best coaches in the league. The expectations on him are high of course, but it’s good to have him in the Premier League.”