Slaven Speaks - Middlesbrough
Slaven Bilic faced the media ahead of the big game against Middlesbrough on Saturday and says the players are working even harder in training and remain positive as they look to turn the season around.
Bilic was asked about the team meeting which took place on Monday and also provides the latest team-news ahead of the game at London Stadium.....
Can you clear up what happened with the team at the start of the week and do you feel like it has improved team spirit?
SB: “It was completely my idea. After the Southampton game we had a big meeting and spoke and at the end of the meeting I told Mark the skipper to take the guys out to dinner, to spend time together which is always good.
“I've been there before, it's definitely a good idea and good to do it. If you are asking, it was completely my idea and I told them to do that.
“For me it's a good thing, not every week but in a great situation or a bad situation it's good to stick together and its a good thing to do. It's good for team building and that's it.
Are you hoping it will have a positive effect on the team when they play Middlesbrough on Saturday?
SB: “After that night we had a day off. Training yesterday was really good, but training last week was really good without bonding. I have been saying we now have to produce it in games.”
How concerned you have been by the start to the season?
SB: “I am concerned. If we are talking about the last five Premier League games it's simply not the way we expected it to be, it's definitely not good and that's why the only thing we are thinking about is the game on Saturday against Middlesbrough.
“With one win we can build everything back and we have a good chance at home. We are a team that is alive, the players are good together, they train, they listen, we talk about it a lot.
“But we need to do it in a game and not for half an hour, or an hour, or when we are one down or four down. But we have to do it for 90 minutes.”
Do you question how you can change the situation around and help the team get back on the winning trail?
SB: “Of course - you are questioning yourself when you are doing great so of course I am asking myself a lot of questions. I did last year when we were doing well and one short spell when we were doing not so well. We were seventh so that means we were losing games as well.
“This year you have to change, you can't sit still and think it's gonna change by itself. But also you can't lose your head and change everything. I am questioning myself and I'm trying to be very open with that. But I'm a big believer in being calm, a strong philosophy which worked so well last year here. But of course you have got to change something.”
What is the latest team-news ahead of the game and can you provide updates on Aaron Cresswell and Andre Ayew?
SB: “We are almost the same as last week. The left-backs are not back yet. Aaron Cresswell is going to start training with us Monday and should be okay after the international break.
“Ayew is another three to four weeks minimum. We also have a couple of players doubtful but we will see today. Nordtveit's got a bit of a problem. We will see tomorrow.”
Who takes responsibility on the field for the current situation?
SB: “The captain and of course the best players. We can't expect it from the young ones. They can bring something, they don't feel the burden like the experienced players so they can be match winners and all that.
“But I'm expecting the most experienced players to take responsibility.”