Bilic – We want to make our fans happy

Slaven Bilic says West Ham United will do their best to make their American and travelling fans happy by beating Carolina RailHawks.

The Hammers contest their second pre-season fixture at a 10,000 sell-out WakeMed Soccer Park on Tuesday evening, when they will take on the NASL RailHawks.

West Ham come into the game eleven days into pre-season, while their ambitious hosts are just past the midway point of their own campaign, but Bilic told a packed press conference his squad will go out with the intention of putting in a good performance and winning the game.

Slaven, what are your initial thoughts on being here in North Carolina?

“It’s a big honour and a big privilege for us to be here, especially when we see how warm we are welcomed and how many fans we have here, it’s great. We came here as part of our pre-season and we are impressed by the facilities we have been given, which are ideal for us.

“We are looking forward to Tuesday’s game and we think it’s going to be quite a competitive one and we will definitely try to make our fans happy on the night.”
What has been the best thing about your US Tour so far?

“All the players have said that here and in Seattle that we are quite amazed by the people, who are very nice and have welcomed us with their arms wide open. They are really friendly and everybody seems to be happy that we are here.

“The second reason we are so happy is because of the facilities because they are great. Both at the Seattle Seahawks and here in Cary it has really worked for us, plus the weather has given us perfect conditions for this stage of the pre-season.”

What are your thoughts on soccer in the United States as a whole?

“We say it is growing but it has been growing for 20 years. I remember when I was here with my national team [Croatia] in 1991 as a player, and at that time they told us soccer was already the No1 sport in schools and colleges.

“I expected it to not overtake football, baseball, basketball or hockey, but to grow, and 25 years later it is growing. The big proof of that is the league and the fact European players are coming here and it’s big.

“We played against Seattle and nearly 40,000 turned out, then they played LA Galaxy in the MLS on Saturday and 67,000 fans were expected. I know that it will not overtake those other sports I mentioned, but it is not only growing bigger, it is already big in the United States.”