Bilic: We are looking sharp for this stage of pre-season

Slaven Bilic


Slaven Bilic says his West Ham United side showed glimpses of Premier League quality in Saturday’s 2-2 Betway Cup draw with Werder Bremen in Germany.

The Hammers came from behind to lead in Lohne, with well-taken goals from full debutant Marko Arnautovic and young striker Toni Martinez, only for a late equaliser to secure the trophy for the Bundesliga side.

Manager Bilic told he was pleased with many aspects of their performance, but knows they will need to iron out the mistakes by the time they head to Old Trafford on 13 August.

“It was a good game of football and exactly what we wanted and what we needed and we played really good,” he began. “We came out with a stronger side than last time in the first half as we wanted to mix it and to be fair they also played with a very strong side.

“We were missing a few players who we didn’t want to risk and I’m really pleased with the way we played. We played really good against a much better opponent but we didn’t win, which is a shame.

“Also, in the second half when the ‘kids’ came on, they continued to play really good, they were dangerous up front and we scored the goal, we hit the post and then it’s a shame we couldn’t capitalise on that because at the end of the day we deserved to win, which is really good.”

It was a good game of football and exactly what we wanted and what we needed and we played really good

Slaven Bilic

The boss was particularly pleased with the combinations between his three summer signings and the established members of his squad, but knows his team will need to be even more creative and even more ruthless when the top-flight campaign kicks-off.

“That’s why we got them, to be honest, because they are good players,” he continued. “They know the league and they are top players so that’s what we expect from them. OK, they are going to need time to gel with our old players but it was very, very promising.

“For this stage of the pre-season we are sharp, especially in the first half, but also in the second half. We switched the sides really well, especially through our back four and one in the middle, usually through Pedro Obiang.

“We were dangerous down the sides so we got them tired by switching the side two times, then on the third time we had space on the side to be one-against-one or to make a cross. Our crosses were not the best and we have to improve on them, but from one of those crosses we scored a goal.

“So the patterns, energy and understanding are there, but we just have to show a bit more quality with the last touch or the key ball. We also have to stop making mistakes because, in the first half especially, we lost three or four balls in areas you cannot really afford to lose them.”


Slaven Bilic and Marko Arnautovic


Goalscorer Arnautovic unsurprisingly won praise from his new manager, not only for his goal but for his overall contribution, which included the Austrian’s trademark strength and ability to deliver quality in the final third.

“It was important for him in that he made the difference today,” the Croatian confirmed. “At the end of the day, I hope and am sure that this was just the beginning.

“This was one of the reasons why we bought him and we have to help him, of course, but I’m expecting him to make the difference week-in, week-out.”

Bilic has given his squad a rare day off on Sunday before they return to training in Rotenburg ahead of Tuesday’s visit to Hamburg to take on Altona 93.

West Ham complete their pre-season schedule with a prestige Super Match meeting with Manchester City in the Icelandic capital, Reykjavik, on Friday 4 August.