Wednesday 13 Jul
Updated Wednesday 13 Jul 11:00
US Tour 2016

Bilic - It was a good test

  • Hammers boss Slaven Bilic was pleased with his side’s run-out against the Carolina RailHawks
  • The game finished 2-2 after a 40-minute rain delay
  • Bilic praised the US tour as a whole, describing it as a “working holiday”
Slaven Bilic described the Hammers’ second and final US pre-season tour match as a good test as they drew 2-2 with the Carolina RailHawks.
After Winston Reid had put the ball into his own net early in the first half, the defender atoned for his earlier error by equalising at the other end before Andy Carroll added a second thanks to Sofiane Feghouli’s fantastic cross.
But after a 40-minute long delay as the heavens opened at WakeMed Soccer Park, the hosts pulled one back from the penalty spot to draw after Lewis Page was unfortunate to slip and handle the ball inside the box.
Despite the result, Bilic reiterated the lesser significance in results during pre-season and noted the positive impact of the RailHawks fixture.
He said: “It was a good game – a friendly with a high intensity. It was a good atmosphere and we enjoyed it. It was a good test.
“It is still early for us, of course. The legs are heavy for the players. These tests are more individual tests, because the team that played in the first half have hardly played together all at the same time. It was a really good individual test.
“I said before that the match against Seattle came way too early after just two or three days training. For this, we were more on a level to play a competitive game. The result is always important, don’t get me wrong, but it was not the most important thing today.”
The whole tour has been important for us. It has been more like a proper pre-season for me, because we wanted the good facilities to train
Bilic made only three changes at the break, but the weather halted action just 17 minutes into the second period.
The boss, who praised West Ham’s US tour as a whole, and his players, were keen to not let the conditions ruin their run-out, however.
“We didn’t want the game to be called off,” continued the Croatian. “We got such a warm hospitality from the hosts, so we wanted to wait and finish the game.
“The whole tour has been important for us. It has been more like a proper pre-season for me, because we wanted the good facilities to train. We didn’t want too much travelling.
“When I heard about the possibility to go to the States, it was tempting but on the other hand, we didn’t want to travel too much and get tired. But it has been good, especially because of the facilities we’ve had and the hospitality of the people.
“I’d like to thank the people here in Seattle and North Carolina who have made our stay here like a working holiday!”
Following news of the Hammers’ new signing Ashley Fletcher, reporters were keen to question Bilic on what the move could mean for the Club’s front-line.
“Fletcher and [Toni] Martinez are prospects,” Bilic said about his young forwards. “Martinez has showed that he definitely has a future with West Ham, but we are competing in the Premier League and they are still too young.
“Some of them can do what [Marcus] Rashford did for Man United last season, but to play a full season with them from the start would not be the option we want. They can emerge and surprise and amaze us and the league, like Rashford, but we are still looking to get a striker if we can, but only if he is a better striker than what we have.
“We don’t only have Carroll. We have [Diafra] Sakho and [Enner] Valencia too. Sakho was injured and that’s why he was not here, and Valencia had a longer break because of Copa America.”