Manager on Monday

Slaven Bilic said West Ham United’s Andy Carroll-based game plan worked superbly against Arsenal on Saturday.

The manager revealed that he started Carroll ahead of the Club’s other strikers because of his ability to make the most of crosses into the opposition penalty area – a theory the No9 proved by netting an outstanding hat-trick from three balls into the box from wide areas.

Two headers and a spectacular volley left Bilic and the watching fans and media alike speculating about what the England centre forward can achieve for Club and country if he stays fit between now and the season’s end.

“We have good strikers, of course, and Andy is fit now and he looked really sharp and we hoped we were going to have success like this, with space on the flanks which we could use to put in good crosses,” Bilic explained.

“We have a few players who can bend the ball in really well – Payet, Lanzini, Antonio, Cresswell and Noble when he goes wide – and basically you are putting the ball in the box, it’s more likely to find Andy than the defenders.

“He has done it against Liverpool, against Chelsea and now against Arsenal, so it was a good decision.”

When asked why Carroll has not been able to produce such goods on a consistent basis, the manager told the press to look no further than the fitness issues which have blighted his West Ham and England career in recent years.

Bilic would not be drawn on whether the hat-trick hero will be deployed again when Manchester United visit in the Emirates FA Cup sixth-round replay on Wednesday evening – but he did say Diafra Sakho and Alex Song are unlikely to be fit to take part.

“I’m not blaming him but it’s a fact that he’s out every now and then,” observed the manager. “And it's a fact that when he's got consistency he's like he was in this game.

“The medical team and the Club are doing everything they can with Andy and he is doing it, but he should be even better if he can stay away from those injuries for a few years, because it’s a waste for West Ham, it’s a waste for England, but it’s the biggest waste for him.

“What more can I say about Andy Carroll? If he goes to bed at ten, he should go to bed at nine-thirty now! He has to do something, but I am not a medical expert or voodoo – I’m just his manager speaking about that and I know he loves football.

“It’s not the training, because when he trains, he loves football. He’s not one of those who doesn’t try in training. When we play five-a-side, he wants to win and he gives everything.

“Will he start against Man United? I hope he’s going to be fit for Man United. I don’t think Sakho or Song will be fit for that game.”
Andy has done it against Liverpool, against Chelsea and now against Arsenal, so it was a good decision
Having been asked repeatedly for his observations about the offside decision that ruled out Manuel Lanzini’s opening goal against the Gunners, Bilic was reluctant to speak on the subject with Monday’s newspaper reporters.

However, he did comment that his West Ham side could have been thrashed had Arsenal added a third goal before Carroll struck twice in a matter of minutes before half-time.

“I decided not to talk about it,” he told the journalists. “They are all asking about it and I like to share my opinion because it affects my job and my mood.

“It was nil-nil when we had a goal disallowed and we could have lost five-nil if they had scored another one at two-nil. I would like to talk about those decisions but if I talk about them in the last four weeks in a row then I found it ridiculous. I ain’t going to talk about it.

“We should be third in the table, maybe not third because I don’t know the gaps and all that, but fourth definitely, without a doubt. I know we should be fourth, but maybe not third. I’ll say fourth!”