Ogbonna hails Hammers game-changers

Angelo Ogbonna praised Slaven Bilic, Dimitri Payet and Enner Valencia for changing the course of Tuesday's win at AFC Bournemouth
Angelo Ogbonna praised manager Slaven Bilic and match-winners Dimitri Payet and Enner Valencia for inspiring Tuesday’s 3-1 Barclays Premier League victory at AFC Bournemouth.

The Hammers trailed going into half-time at the Vitality Stadium, but a change in tactics from Bilic and three sublime goals from Payet and Valencia turned the game on its head.

Speaking to West Ham TV, the Italy defender hailed the decision made by Bilic to change the formation, as well as his teammates’ ability and desire to score three goals and secure a third straight league win.

“The manager changed something, but that is why he is the manager and he is really clever about that because he can read the situation,” said the centre-half, who produced another physically-dominating performance. “In the second half, we changed a lot of things.

“The free-kick of Dimi was perfect, as was the second free-kick of Valencia as well. We have got some really good players to change many situations in the game.”

West Ham did not just overcome an in-form Bournemouth side, but also inclement weather conditions and a vociferous home crowd.

A strong, biting cold wind helped pen the visitors in their own half for much of the opening 45 minutes, but with the blasting air at their backs in the second period, it was a different game after the interval.

Ogbonna also thanked the 1,400-strong Claret and Blue Army for playing a huge part in helping the Hammers to secure a victory, with the fans’ non-stop urging their team forward at every opportunity.

“We started and maybe we were a little bit unlucky because the wind didn’t really help us and every shot, every pass and every tackle was really bad, but in the second half we showed a really different class,” the No21 explained.

“Our supporters helped us to do what we did. I want to say ‘Thank you’ to our fans because the support was really, really good and I thought we had 12 on the pitch. It’s really beautiful in this situation.

“The first half was difficult because of the wind but we have a different class, so in the second half we put in everything. Thank you to Dimi, thank you to Valencia and thank you to everybody for doing what they had to do.”

Next up is another lengthy away trip, with Newcastle United the hosts fresh from their own inspiring comeback against Manchester United on Tuesday evening.

The Magpies came from two goals down to draw 3-3, while Saturday’s opponents have also signed England midfielder Jonjo Shelvey and Senegal winger Henri Saviet this week to bolster their own battle against relegation.

“We are really clever and we are really intelligent and we have to read the situation and keep our feet on the ground and take it step by step,” he concluded.

“The manager knows what is best for us, so it is time to enjoy this game but we have to focus on the next game because it will be really, really difficult away from home.

“In England, there are no easy games, so that’s why we have to focus because Newcastle know our team. I think they will prepare everything well, so we have to focus because we want to beat them.”