Manager on Monday



West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic is backing his side to overcome a tricky looking fixture list when the Premier League campaign resumes in mid-November.

The Hammers return to action from the latest international break with a run of games that sees them take on Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United twice, Arsenal and Liverpool, but Bilic is confident his team can use that as inspiration to start climbing the table.

It was from that kind of game last season that the Hammers made their mark, and Bilic has reason for optimism from a run that has seen the east Londoners take eight points from their last five matches.

Following Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Stoke City, the manager said: “It is a very tough schedule, but we have seen what we can do against top teams last year and even this year when we played one of the top teams in the cup – Chelsea – and we beat them.

“On paper it looks like a tough four games, plus another one in the cup, but we have to get ourselves ready for them.

“There are no easy games in the Premier League though, every team is good enough to harm you if you are not on your top level. We are going to make sure we are at the top of our game and then I’m sure we can get something out of these games.

“In our last four home games we have two wins and two draws, although we are not happy with Saturday’s result because we were aiming for the win.”

It might have been the three points the home side were aiming for had they not let their lead slip when Adrian failed to reach a pass forward, allowing Jonathan Walters to set up Bojan Krcic’s leveller.

However, Bilic chose to reflect on the many times the No13 has got his team out of trouble over his 101 Premier League games for the Club.

He explained: “It was a mistake from him. He misjudged the ball and it’s a mistake but we shouldn’t forget how many times he’s been a key man for us.

“You don’t judge your players, especially your goalkeepers, because of one mistake. I’m always saying that we have a couple of really good goalkeepers, it’s a fact, but you want all your players confident. Adrian made one bad mistake in the game and that happens.

“He knows that it was his mistake but mistakes happen. He is my number one.”

At the other end of the pitch, Andre Ayew made his first start at home after shaking off his thigh injury and Bilic is looking forward to having him back fit and firing, with Diafra Sakho and Andy Carroll not far behind either.

The manager explained: “It was hard for Ayew, because we were not coming into the situations [high up the pitch] in the first half, so he was dropping into midfield.

“He’s only just come back from a long injury. He’s a great player and like any player he needs time to hit his form again.
“He was one of our top signings, if not our top signing, and it’s his position, whether he plays there by himself, in a pair or around the striker. He can cover all those positions.”

“Sakho is back in training and if Saturday’s game was one week later he would have been in the squad, so he should be ok for after the international break.

“Andy started running a few days ago so we are going to see how he progresses now.”