Bilic - 'We want a top-class striker'

  • Slaven Bilic wants a '20-goals-a-season man' to fire them into the UEFA Champions League
  • Hammers have already completed deals for Havard Nordtveit and Sofiane Feghouli
  • West Ham United finished seventh in the Premier League last season
Slaven Bilic says West Ham United will step up their pursuit of a 20-goal-a-season striker after completing the free transfer signings of Havard Nordtveit and Sofiane Feghouli.

Norway star Nordtveit will add steel to the midfield, while Algeria winger Feghouli is a player who can change games from wide areas with his pace and ability to beat his man.

Having secured two seasoned internationals, Bilic and the Hammers’ Board will now focus all of their energies on bringing a prolific top-class forward to east London – with the ultimate aim of challenging for a UEFA Champions League place next season.

“Hats off to the West Ham board for signing Sofiane Feghouli on a free transfer from Valencia!” the manager wrote in his latest Euro 2016 for MailOnline.

“We are proud and glad that he and Havard Nordtveit, the captain of Borussia Moenchengladbach, have signed for us because other big clubs were trying for them.

“Everyone knows we want a top-class striker. And if we can get a 20-goals-a-season man, there’s no reason why we can’t improve on last season and challenge the Premier League’s top teams.”
Everyone knows we want a top-class striker. And if we can get a 20-goals-a-season man, there’s no reason why we can’t improve on last season and challenge the Premier League’s top teams
Bilic also revealed that he is learning new things from the fellow former players and managers he is working alongside as an expert pundit for ITV in France.

The one-time Croatia boss has quickly established himself as a cult figure for his passionate in-depth analysis in the studio, topped by his table-climbing celebration of Dimitri Payet’s goal against Albania.

“I am enjoying the experience of working on TV during the Euros, especially because my family are with me in Paris and we have some free time together in this great city,” Bilic wrote.

“I would of course be watching the games anyway. OK, I am not watching them with my mates back in Split, in a local bar or at home with my son – but I am watching them with football people.

“During the game we talk about the action and you can always learn from people like Ian, Christian, Lee Dixon, Emmanuel Petit and Glenn Hoddle. When I see the coaches of the teams going through agonies down on the touchline, I can empathise, having been in that situation myself in 2008 and 2012.”
As a current manager himself, and one who has featured at the European Championship finals as both a player and a coach, Bilic admits he is being careful not to be overly harsh in his punditry.

“When I have to say something about the coaches on TV I’m trying to be sympathetic,” he explained. “I want to defend them because I know how hard it is for them and how easy it is for me – and other pundits – to talk at half-time or after the game.

“On TV, we talk about the coach after the game and ask: ‘Why did he do this and why did he not do that?’

“I can tell you that quite often the coach is asking himself exactly the same questions, but he has had to make decisions before the game.”

On Friday evening, Bilic’s own Croatia face the Czech Republic in their second Group D fixture, looking to build on their opening-game success against Turkey.

The Hammers boss, who was capped 44 times and led his country between 2006 and 2012, is hoping current Croatia coach Ante Cacic can keep up the good work in Saint-Etienne.

“It is a great job to coach your country but it is also hard because there are thousands and thousands of ‘managers’ who are watching your every move,”

“I have also talked to my friends back in Croatia. They have been very positive about our team. The people and the media were not happy during qualification and the manager, Niko Kovac, was sacked before the play-offs.

“Everything looks positive after the Turkey match, but you know it can all change after one game.”