Slaven Bilic believes there would be no more fitting final tribute to the Boleyn Ground than seeing his West Ham United side bring the FA Cup back there this year.
The West Ham United manager oversaw a hugely impressive 5-1 win at Blackburn Rovers to set up a quarter-final tie at either Manchester United or Shrewsbury Town.
Assuming there is a winner on the night in that tie, the Hammers’ final FA Cup match in E13 was the memorable extra-time victory against Liverpool on 9 February.
“You can’t call it destiny but you can call a brilliant way to finish our time at one of the most historic grounds in the country,” Bilic said. “Winning the FA Cup will be amazing.
“We want to progress as far as possible. I don’t think that any manager is approaching the FA Cup not wanting to win the games. It is massive and we are crazy to go through in the FA Cup.
“We played some fantastic football at Blackburn and it was great for West Ham fans as there were like 7,000 of them.
“It was also good for the neutrals as a lot of the stuff we played was magnificent.”
Central to much of the Hammers’ ‘brilliance’ was, once again, Dimitri Payet. The France international scored two and set up countless other chances for those in claret and blue, but his manager was keen to focus on the No27’s other attributes after the game.
“I want the questions about Dimitri Payert to continue as it means he is doing well but I am running out of things to say about him!
“It is hard to describe so I think I will need to get some poetry lessons to describe his important to us. It is great as it is not me who says to the other players ‘this is Payet – give him the ball’, they recognise how good he is. They like it as he is doing the dirty work as well.”
Emmanuel Emenike also starred on his first start for the Club, grabbing two goals and going close to netting a hat-trick several times. His manager credited much of his team’s space creation to the Nigerian and it was a performance that did not surprise him after he tracked him for so long.
“Emenike is that kind of a player. Me and my staff know him well from Russia and he is strong and pacey and loves to go in behind, which is very important for us. He is one of the reasons that we created such a big gap between their midfield and back four. They were afraid to push forward because of him and that’s why we had that gap.”
The manager will now begin to ready his troops for the Saturday lunchtime kick-off against Sunderland; a game which will see the return of former manager Sam Allardyce to the Boleyn Ground. Bilic plans to make full use of Sunday’s win at Ewood Park to get his team firing on all cylinders for the Black Cats’ arrival.
“We had a normal week between Norwich and Blackburn so it was normal training and it gave us the chance to refresh some players. This week will be the same.
“These kind of weeks coming up are like pre-season as the players will be on a massive high and it’s going to help us in the Premier League as well."