The Big Interview - Slaven Bilic


Slaven Bilic says West Ham United have recruited well this summer and he expects the newcomers to make an immediate impact in the Premier League.

The manager has brought in half-a-dozen first-team players already this transfer window, breaking the Club’s record fee by signing Ghana star Andre Ayew from Swansea City.

With seasoned internationals Havard Nordtveit (Norway), Sofiane Feghouli (Algeria), Gokhan Tore (Turkey) being joined by exciting youngsters Arthur Masuaku, Ashley Fletcher, Antonio Martinez and Domingos Quina, Bilic has strengthened his squad ahead of a busy 2016/17 campaign.

Speaking at the official Premier League launch event in north London on Wednesday, the gaffer was in positive mood.

Slaven, how are you feeling about the transfer business you have done so far this summer?

“We are very pleased as we have done very good business with Nordtveit and Feghouli, who are great players and came on free transfers, which is really great for us to get them.

“Then we got a loans with Tore and two or three days ago we completed the deals with Ayew and with Masuaku from Olympiacos, who we needed as another left-back. That’s basically it.”

Do you expect Ayew to make an instant impact in Claret and Blue?

“Yes, I mean a lot of players make it straight away, and some need a little bit of time to adjust. His first big advantage is that he played in a big, big club like Olympique Marseille, he’s an international and is captain of Ghana and is at his best stage.

“He’s already spent one year in the Premier League so it’s nothing new for him. Sometimes wingers, strikers or offensive midfielders need a bit of time, while centre-backs are centre-backs and are just doing their job and don’t depend on the team that much.

“We are very good in that. The players are good in that they really make new players feel at home after a few days, so I’m sure we can expect some good football from the newcomers straight away.”

Does this event bring it home that the Premier League season is about to start?

“Yes, there are only a few days to go now and it is a big season for us especially as we have moved to a new Stadium and all that.

“Of course, every club has its own hopes and dreams and you plan throughout your pre-season and make changes with the aim of winning games.

“Now it starts, and everybody is hoping they can have a good season and you know 80 per cent how you are going to do if everything goes to plan, but there is ten or 20 per cent that you just don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Have the competitive UEFA Europa League games you have played given you a head-start?

“Well we hope so, yes. It’s better for the start of the season because no friendly game can put you in the state when you really need to win.

“If you play those qualification games, they help you because you are starting the season having already got more sharpness. It helped us last year, too, and I hope we make a good start this season.”


Will the Europa League have an impact on your Premier League campaign?

“OK, it’s a fact that we have Europa League and everyone says that if you are in Europe then your chances in the Premier League drop and last year that happened to a couple of clubs, but it means a lot to us, to the Club and to the fans and to me personally. We want it and we decided we’re going to do everything we can.

“It’s a different situation than last year for me and my staff because it’s our second year and the players have got to know us and we’ve got to know the players and we think we have a squad good enough in quality and numbers to compete in Europe and the Premier League.”

Do you have a target?

“It’s not bad to have a target and that’s to do better than last year, better tha n our last game and to approach every game very humble, all together as a unit and with big respect to all of our opponents because they are all great teams capable of beating you.

“On the other hand, we are very confident and arrogant – in a positive way – because we are not afraid of anyone. We know that we can play good and only if we play good do we have a chance against all the teams.”