Bilic - Belief has been key to turnaround
- Slaven Bilic happy with thumping Premier League victory at Swansea City on Boxing Day
- Manager delighted with turnaround that has yielded ten points in last four matches
- Boss expects goalscorer Andre Ayew to get better and better as fitness and form improve
Slaven Bilic said West Ham United ‘totally deserved’ their 4-1 Premier League victory at Swansea City on Boxing Day.
Bilic’s Hammers produced their most complete performance of the season to see off the struggling Swans at Liberty Stadium, where Andre Ayew, Winston Reid, Michail Antonio and Andy Carroll were all on target.
With Darren Randolph leading a strong defensive display at the other end of the pitch, the manager was rightly proud as his team notched a third straight win to rise to eleventh in the table.
“It was a really good performance,” he confirmed. “From the first minute until the end we were really compact and were able to defend as a team.
“When we had the ball we were really good on it. We kept the ball well and were dangerous when we had opportunities to break on them and we were switching sides
“It was maybe our best performance this season and we totally deserved it. OK, it helps when you are winning 1-0 and you score another one, because you play with a lot more confidence than when you are losing, but it was a really good performance and I’m really pleased with the team and I congratulate all the players.”
West Ham rode out early Swansea pressure to go ahead through Ayew’s first Claret and Blue goal – against his old club to boot – before Reid’s header five minutes after half-time halted a strong start to the second period from Bob Bradley’s side.
Antonio diverted in a third before Fernando Llorente pulled one back, only for Carroll to net his second of the season with a searing volley in the final minute.
From the first minute until the end we were really compact and were able to defend as a team. When we had the ball we were really good on it
“Of course it’s important to score goals at the times we did,” Bilic confirmed. They had chances before we scored the first, but we also had chances before we scored and we always looked promising on the ball and like hurting them.
“The second goal was at a crucial moment when they were trying to come back from 1-0 down, had made a couple of changes and were trying to turn things around here like they did against Crystal Palace in a great game.
“To score the second goal then, five minutes after half-time, was crucial.”
So, after sitting 18th just over a fortnight ago, West Ham are in mid-table. What does Bilic put the turnaround and ten points from four matches down to?
“The key was that we never stopped believing and we kept training hard and kept believing and, as we said in those hard moments, when we had those five really difficult games, we were talking about those two home games to get out of the cramp, as I called it,” he explained.
“The two wins against Burnley and Hull were hard but they put us in a position where we could breathe a bit more and that was basically the key.
“Even when we were there, we were always saying that we were only three or four points from mid-table and that is still the case because it was tight and it is tight. Of course we are going to be positive but the Premier League gives you no time to relax. However, this is a real opportunity for us to build our confidence even more.”
Talking of confidence, Bilic is now expecting big things from goalscorer Ayew, who produced his best performance in a West Ham shirt against his former club.
“Not just the goal but the performance will help him,” the manager said of his Club-record signing. “He is still not at top fitness because he had the injury and he came back, but the goals help every striker and now we are expecting that his top form will happen.
“We expect him to contribute not only with goals but with his all-round displays.”