Bilic's unhappy New Year

  • Slaven Bilic frustrated with decisions as his side are beaten 2-0 by Manchester United
  • Hammers lost Sofiane Feghouli to a controversial red card early in the first half
  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic's goal is also allowed to stand, despite the Swede being clearly offside

Slaven Bilic did not mince his words after West Ham United’s controversial 2-0 Premier League defeat by Manchester United at London Stadium.

The Hammers endured an unhappy New Year as Sofiane Feghouli was sent-off inside the opening 15 minutes, having been deemed to have been guilty of serious foul play by referee Mike Dean for a challenge on Phil Jones.

Having battled gamely for more than an hour and gone close to taking the lead on more than on occasion, Bilic’s side conceded a Juan Mata goal before a clearly offside Zlatan Ibrahimovic made the game safe.

“I’m pleased with the performance,” the manager began, focusing on the positives before being asked for his reaction to the big decisions which went against his team. “We fought very hard and if we gave everything and I told the guys that if we put in this work for each other then we’re going to be very good in the table.

“Of course I’m gutted about the result but to do what we did with ten men against a very good team is very difficult. Despite that, we nearly found a way. We had one or two chances when it was still 0-0 and in these moments when you are one man down, you have to score. We didn’t score and then they scored and won the game.

“I’m very frustrated with the result and very frustrated with the way we lost it, but very proud of my team.”

Slaven Bilic

So, what did the manager think of the decisions to send-off Feghouli on his first Premier League start and allow Ibrahimovic’s goal to stand?

“I am with the majority of what the football fans think and that is it was never a red card, to be fair,” he observed. “It was a challenge from both of them and it is the other way around. The more dangerous foul is by Jones, because he went with the scissors.

“Feghouli very rarely makes a foul and his foot was not high in the air. It’s not deliberate and, for me, that was the crucial decision in the game. That early, it killed us and killed the game and put the game into a totally different perspective.

“The decision for the other one [to award Ibrahimovic’s goal] was totally unfair to us and totally wrong.”

Overall, having seen his team create a number of opportunities to open the scoring after being reduced to ten men, the manager was proud of the way they reacted to the setbacks they faced.

“We started really well,” he said. “They were also good on the ball and for 15 minutes it looked like a really, really good and open game and I fancied us, to be fair.

“After the decision, we played the only way you can play against a really good side and that is defending with numbers deep and letting them come with the centre-backs in your half. We were really good, but it’s very difficult to do.

I am with the majority of what the football fans think and that is it was never a red card, to be fair

Slaven Bilic

“In the first half we were dangerous on counter-attacks and we forced their ‘keeper to produce a great save from Manuel Lanzini, then in the second half we started like that as well and limited them to one or two chances, especially in the first half when Randy made a great save.

“Then we a great chance with Antonio and in those situations when you are defending, it’s very hard and you lose energy, so you have to score that goal to give you extra boost of everything, especially at home. If we’d scored, anything would have been possible for us, including winning the game because they would have needed two goals.

“We had to score, but we didn’t score and from one of those attacks that they had, they scored a goal and then we conceded another one. It’s frustrating because the second one was offside and then it’s hard to come back.

“To be fair, it was totally different to the Arsenal game. We didn’t sink. We showed the character and we played as a team until the end and I told the guys that if we played like this in every game we will be higher up the table.”

Finally, the manager told broadcasters not to read anything into his decision to replace Dimitri Payet with his side trailing by a single goal in the second half.

“Dimi is our best player, but we played a couple of days ago and the way he is playing in the game the position he is playing where he needs to go up and down, it drains you, so his substitution was tactical,” he confirmed.

West Ham will hope to return to winning ways when they host Manchester City in the Emirates FA Cup third round on Friday evening.