Manager on Matchday

Slaven Bilic


Slaven Bilic says West Ham United are relaxed but motivated to move three points closer to Premier League safety...


Hello everyone,

I would like to start by wishing the 3,000-strong Claret and Blue Army a safe journey to Sunderland for this afternoon’s game.

It is stating the obvious but this is another big game for us. We beat Swansea City last weekend, which also a big, big game and now we’re approaching the second one with confidence and belief.

Every game is big and Sunderland is in a situation that they are desperate for a win and that’s why it’s a big game for them, but also it’s a big game for us.

We are looking forward to this afternoon’s game to secure, or at least get closer to securing our Premier League status, which we would certainly do with a victory at the Stadium of Light.

Every win gives you a boost, especially in such a massive game like we did against Swansea and after five defeats in a row. The confidence is back. It is belief that is permanent and we never lost it, but confidence comes and go, even in the same game.

Belief is a key factor and that is the reason why we have played so good, but we have to build on that and get the right result today.

We are feeling a little more relaxed now, but relaxed in a positive rather than complacent or laid-back way. You want your players to feel the pressure, but you don’t want them to be anxious, so they need to be relaxed, but also motivated.

I am confident we will get that combination right come three o’clock.

Belief is a key factor and that is the reason why we have played so good, but we have to build on that and get the right result today

Slaven Bilic

One player who is getting the balance right more now is Sam Byram, who we are pleased has overcome a knock to his ankle to be available today.

Sam rolled his ankle during the first half of the game against Swansea, but he is a strong and brave boy and he played the full 90 minutes, making a vital block in the closing stages to help us keep the clean sheet and win the game.

Sam started the week working individually, but thankfully the injury was not too serious and he passed a fitness test and returned to full training on Thursday.

He had to be patient and wait for his chance this season and he really wants to make his mark on the first team and the Premier League badly.

As a manager, you ideally want to build your team around the young players and he is getting better and better with every game. Sam is doing much better in the last few games.

With Sam, Arthur Masuaku, Edimilson Fernandes, Jonathan Calleri, Ashley Fletcher and young Declan Rice, who we have brought with us to Sunderland, we have some talented young players who will only improve.

We also have Mark Noble with us today and it shows his character and passion for the Club and for his teammates that he was travelled when he is suspended to lend his experience and support to the cause.

We will be doing everything we can to win today.

Come on you Irons!