Bilic vindicated by substitute Sakho's strike
Slaven Bilic felt vindicated after his three substitutes combined to score a vital 1-0 Premier League victory over Swansea City.
West Ham United produced a listless first-half performance at London Stadium, leading to the Hammers being booed off by an unimpressed Claret and Blue Army at half-time.
Bilic admitted he and his players deserved to be criticised, but hailed their ability to come out after the break and produce a better display, inspired by the introductions of Manuel Lanzini, Arthur Masuaku and match-winner Diafra Sakho from the bench.
“We deserved to be booed,” said the manager, who was criticised in some parts for his substitutions in last weekend’s 3-2 home defeat by Tottenham Hotspur. “The fans pay their money and they are entitled to their opinion and we didn’t play good in the first half. In fact, we were poor. It wasn’t good enough.
“On the substitutions, it’s all about the decisions that you make and if you are not happy about the position and you believe in something, you should not be worried about booing.
“It was ten minutes to go and sometimes, a lot of times, it’s not about how the players play on the pitch, but that you have quality players on the bench who can change the game and lift us, and that’s what we did with Manu Lanzini, then with Arthur and with Sakho, and it was what lifted us and it was definitely a good decision.
“We did the same against Huddersfield and it worked. We did the same against Spurs and it didn’t turn the game around, but it helped. Also today, you have to believe in your players from the bench and it was the right thing to do.”
In the second half it was better, especially when we made some changes and we had Lanzini on the pitch
West Ham’s victory was secured with 45 seconds of normal time remaining when Masuaku collected a pass from Lanzini, drove past Kyle Naughton and crossed low and hard for Sakho to slam home at the far post.
All three had been introduced after half-time and Bilic observed that his team got a noticeable lift from their arrival on the pitch.
“It’s a great three points for us,” he said. “It’s a clean sheet, so nobody can say that we didn’t deserve it because, as the game was dragging on in the second half, I had the feeling that it was more us that was going to score the goal.
“In the second half it was better, especially when we made some changes and we had Lanzini on the pitch, because Lanzini is the one that we have been missing so much. He takes the whole team up in dangerous areas.
“We knew we needed to get into dangerous positions on the wings, so that’s why we made the change by bringing on Arthur and Diafra.
“We stopped them having the ball, we stopped them counter-attacking and we put some good balls in. From one, we hit the crossbar and from the second one, we scored the great and very important goal for us.”