Ludo's delight for old pal

One West Ham United legend has been watching Slaven Bilic’s encouraging start as Hammers manager with considerable interest and pride.

Ludek Miklosko played alongside Bilic during the closing months of his Claret and Blue career in 1997, and forged a close friendship with the Croatian.

That relationship has endured for nearly 20 years, and Miklosko has rightly been impressed by his old pal’s start to life in the Boleyn Ground dugout.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Miklosko, who played 373 times in goal for the Hammers between 1990 and 1997. “Slaven has done a fantastic job beating the teams at the top of the table – Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City and then Chelsea last weekend. Those were fantastic results.

“I was a bit unlucky because I have only been at one match this season and it was the home match with Bournemouth, that we lost, which was not the best performance.

“I had a meeting with Slaven after that game and he said he was confident that he had a good team and since then the team has not lost in the league. It’s great.

“I am keeping in touch with Slaven regularly, calling him and sending him text messages and he knows the team needs to keep their run going.”

West Ham go to Watford on Saturday defending a seven-match Barclays Premier League unbeaten run and a near-perfect away record.

Following the upcoming international break, Bilic will then head into his first managerial winter in English football – a period that Miklosko knows will test his old friend, his staff and his players.

“The difficult time will come at Christmas time, then there are lots of games and the going can get tough with the weather and some injuries.

“However, I know Slaven has great experience from his time managing his country, Croatia, and from managing clubs in Russia and Turkey.

“He went through a lot with his national team and playing in European competitions and he knows all about football and how to rises to these challenges.”

A host of individuals have stood out during West Ham’s rise to third in the table, but Miklosko says that the Hammers have relied, and will continue to rely, upon teamwork if they are to maintain their
place in the top four.

“I never look to single out one player in a team, because it needs the whole team to play well for a team to go on a run like we have been on recently,” Miklosko continued. “All the players deserve the praise for the job they have been doing.”

So, can West Ham keep it going at Vicarage Road this weekend?

“This Saturday is a big chance to go there and get another win,” the 53-year-old concluded. “Sometimes it is not as easy to go to a club like Watford than it is to go to the so-called ‘bigger’ clubs like Manchester City or Arsenal.

“Expectations from the fans will grow with every good result, and that can make it more difficult to get the wins, but I know Slaven will not let the players relax and will continue to do a good job.”