Manager on Monday
Slaven Bilic says the Hammers must build on Saturday's victory over Swansea
Gaffer has 'minimum goal' of 40 points in his sights
Hammers can move to within a point of that target with win at Sunderland
Slaven Bilic says focus is important after his team ended a run of five
straight defeats with a 1-0 win against Swansea City on Saturday. The
manager was keen to stress that the Hammers had not yet got the job done,
despite moving eight points clear of Paul Clement's side thanks to Cheikhou
Kouyate's stunning long-range strike. That goal eased the tension, and a
two-month wait for victory, and now Bilic wants West Ham to move ever closer
to his 'minimum goal' target of 40 points by claiming another win at
Sunderland next weekend. He said: "We need this week in, week out. It's
three points, but over a season you need 50, 55, 60. Or a minimum of 40. "I
talk about 40 points as the metaphor for securing the minimum goal, and
let's do it as quickly as possible to ease the pressure. Then hopefully, we
will be under the pressure to try and climb the table. "We made a gap six
games ago. Suddenly in no time, we had five defeats and there was no gap
that we want. Now, we don't want that situation to come again. "We need to
do everything we can and put it in like we did on Saturday. From today, we
start the big preparation for the Sunderland game. "Still, we can finish in
the top half. We are only one point behind tenth. We want to finish as high
as possible, but let's get the minimum job done very soon. "This season
could be one of the most valuable seasons, for growing for the team, because
this experience that we've had first of you makes you motivated not to be in
that situation again and it makes you believe you can do it with the
Westley hopes for season prolongment
West Ham United PL2 host Middlesbrough at London Stadium on Monday evening
Admission is free for season ticket holders and you can book your tickets
Boss Terry Westley thinks his team can bounce back to winnings way against
Academy Director Terry Westley has backed his Premier League 2 side to
bounce back to winning ways when they return to action on Monday evening.
The Hammers welcome Middlesbrough to London Stadium for their penultimate
league match of the regular season, having not won any of their previous
After beating Fulham on 20 February, Westley's youngsters have lost at
Brighton & Hove Albion and Newcastle United and drawn with Stoke City in
Premier League 2, and also suffered an agonising 3-2 Premier League Cup
defeat by the Magpies at St James' Park.
Those results have seen the Hammers drop to fifth in Division Two, but they
remain just three points behind second-place Fulham and Westley is eager to
end the campaign on a high.
"The players felt disappointment after the Newcastle game because it was a
game that we were in and the players had the intention of retaining the Cup,
so to take it all the way to extra-time and to lose it to a great goal was
not easy to take," he confirmed.
"I have to say that, after a couple of days off, they have responded well in
training and we fixed up a behind-closed-doors match against Stevenage in
which they all played a minimum of 45 minutes after the international break,
so they're refreshed and ready for a very important game.
"We have two games to go and everything to play for to try and get in the
play-offs and you would suggest that a win and a draw would probably be
enough, but it's absolutely vital we get the right result on Monday."
Should West Ham win on Monday, they will almost certainly qualify for the
promotion play-offs, with one-off semi-finals and a final to be played to
decide who joins champions Swansea City in Division One next season.
With their future development in mind, Westley is looking forward to seeing
his young team perform in a 'must-win' match on the big London Stadium
"You've got to expose the players to pressurised situations," he observed.
"Although this is not a big pressure, relatively, it would be nice to be
able to keep your nerve and play very well in a game you have to win, so the
demands are a little bit different.
"We will play on Monday with the thought process of 'If we can win, we can
remain in the play-off positions' and it will then be up to the teams around
us to catch us. If they don't win, then one win might prove to be enough.
"It's a different type of environment on Monday in London Stadium, so we'd
like as many people as possible to come along and watch the young players.
Our sole intention is to win and take it into the last round of games, with
the aim of prolonging our season as long as we can."
Noble - The fans really helped
Mark Noble praises fans for creating the 'best atmosphere' at London Stadium
West Ham United players fed off the noise created to score a vital 1-0 win
over Swansea City
Captain proud to chalk up an important win on his 400th appearance in Claret
Mark Noble has praised the Claret and Blue Army for creating an atmosphere
in which the Hammers could thrive under the severest of pressure on
West Ham United went into their Premier League clash with Swansea City
knowing a win was imperative to stave off fears of relegation, and the
55,000-strong contingent of home fans made London Stadium a cauldron of
Captain Noble said the players fed off their surroundings, defending
resiliently despite being without a host of first-team regulars and scoring
a spectacular winner through Cheikhou Kouyate's long-range strike to secure
three much-needed points.
"I said a few weeks ago about social media and how much the negative
comments can damage the players' confidence and stuff like that but I've
seen a lot of positive stuff over the last couple of weeks, with people
saying 'We have got to go to the ground and support the lads and get behind
them because we're all in it together'," Noble told West Ham TV
"That was probably the best atmosphere, for a game of that pressure against
Swansea, that we have played in at this Stadium and I thought the fans were
great and really helped."
For Noble, as a lifelong Hammer and captain, ending a run of five straight
defeats and seven games without a win lifted a weight off his shoulders.
"To be honest, it's been a horrible week for me personally because I can
never relax," he admitted. "We knew Arsenal was a tough place to go on
Wednesday night and we played well in the first half and wanted to get a
result there, so to lose and make it five losses in a row and then play like
we did under a lot of pressure was brilliant.
"We had a lot of players who haven't played a lot of football - Ginge has
played three games in a week now, Arthur Masuaku hasn't played a lot, nor
has Sam Byram, so I'm just really, really proud of the lads.
"You never know what's going to happen. I've had that feeling in my belly
the whole week where I just wanted the game to be over and done with and to
sit on Saturday night and enjoy a win. Saturday was fantastic and it was
just a pure relief."
The skipper revealed that he sat the team down at half-time and gave them a
pep talk, leaving his colleagues in no doubt of the importance of securing a
victory that took West Ham eight points clear of the bottom three with six
games to play.
Noble was delighted with the response, saving words of praise for Jonathan
Calleri, who replaced the injured Michail Antonio and put in a relentless
shift as the lone striker.
"I said to the lads at half-time before the gaffer came in and said his bit
'Look, this is probably the most important 45 minutes you'll play for a long
time and you need to get your head around that and around the fact we need
to win this game, simple as that'," the captain continued.
"And I said to Jonny that we needed him desperately and I thanked him after
because I thought he was incredible. Jonny came on and massively helped us
win that game.
"Sam Byram was unbelievable and some of Ginge's heading in the box was
fantastic. It was a back four chucked together because we've got so many
players out, but they were really good."
With all the pressure on the team to win, the landmark of Noble becoming
just the 19th West Ham player to reach 400 appearances was almost lost, but
now the No16 will be able to look back on the game he joined the 400 Club
with pride, joy and no little relief.
"You don't really count, you just play every game as it comes and give
everything and to have played 400 for this great club and captain it,
obviously is an honour," he confirmed. "We've had ups and downs this year,
but I'll always give a million per cent out on the pitch and on Saturday it
wasn't just me, but all of us who dug in and got the three points."
Noble did mark appearance number 400 with his tenth yellow card of the
season, though, which means he will miss next weekend's trip to Sunderland
and the home game with Everton.
However, the skipper plans to travel to the North East next weekend to lend
his support to the squad at the Stadium of Light, where victory would all
but secure West Ham's Premier League future.
"I'll be going up with them, for sure," he confirmed. "I wouldn't be able to
relax otherwise. My Saturday would be the worst Saturday in history if I
didn't go. I need to be there, so I'm pretty sure the manager will be happy
with me travelling up with the lads and supporting them, because obviously
we're in this together.
"We'll take a lot of fans to what is another important game for us and I
believe we can go there after Saturday and get a result."
Fonte - The hard work doesn't stop now
Amid the joy of Cheikou Kouyate's stunning strike and the subsequent relief
that greeted the final whistle, it was easy to overlook a crucial aspect of
West Ham United's 1-0 victory over Swansea City on Saturday.
A first clean sheet for Slaven Bilic's men since mid-January provided the
solid platform that the manager had demanded in the build-up to the game,
and came courtesy of a back four defensive combination playing together for
only the second time.
However, for one member of that quartet - Jose Fonte - any personal
satisfaction in blocking out the visitors was overtaken by the sheer
magnitude of the result.
"I am very pleased, above all for the fans and everyone involved with West
Ham," said the Portuguese defender. "The clean sheet was important, but the
three points was more vital. It was a big game, and we are pleased with the
"There was a lot of pressure, everyone knows we have been through a bad
patch, but we have worked hard.
"We are still working hard, there is a lot still to do, but this was a good
day and we are grateful for the three points."
Those three points took the Hammers into 14th place in the Premier League
table as the only team in the bottom half to win this weekend, eight points
clear of Swansea in 18th.
Despite that leap towards safety, Fonte was adamant when asked if he and his
team-mates could now consider their top flight status secure for next
"We don't look at it like that," he insisted. "Our aim is to win the next
two matches, then we can start to look at things a little differently.
"Not to relax, but to be more comfortable and to play in a way that we
perhaps haven't been able to while the pressure is really on.
"You can't take your foot off the gas in this league," he added. "It's a
tough league, the best in the world, and if you are not 'at it' every single
game, you are not going to win.
"So it's about giving everything we have in every game, and if we do that we
will pick up points."
West Ham's James Collins admits players have been hiding behind manager
Slaven Bilic during run of poor form
The Hammers ended a run of seven games without a win by beating Swansea at
the London Stadium on Saturday
22:50, 9 APR 2017
James Collins reckons West Ham's players have been taking the easy option
and hiding behind boss Slaven Bilic. Bilic has shouldered the blame for the
Hammers' recent slump and seen his position come under scrutiny. The
mounting pressure was getting to the Croat after five straight defeats,
Collins revealing: "I could see it in his face". But Bilic's players finally
gave him something to smile about by nicking a vital win in this pivotal
game against Swansea thanks to Cheikhou Kouyate's first-half winner.
Defender -Collins, key to West Ham's first clean sheet in 11 games, said:
"It is a weird one because I don't see why in football the managers get so
much stick sometimes when the players need to take -responsibility. "I said
that to the boys. A lot of our boys have played in the Premier League for a
long time. "And we need to take -responsibility, step up to the plate,
perform and take a bit of pressure off the gaffer. "Hopefully three points
has done that. It is easy to hide -behind the manager. "I have been at
clubs before where the manager has taken a lot of stick when the players
ain't performing. "I am big enough to come out and say maybe I haven't
played well enough, and we needed to look at ourselves. "He is one of the
best -managers I have worked for in my long career. Such a nice guy and
everyone wants to do well for him. You can see how -passionate he is about
this football club on the sidelines. "He is a legend here and has been
getting a lot of stick. I'm delighted we've done it for him to ease the
pressure because I could see it in his face it was getting to him."
Having come into this game looking over their -shoulders, the talk from both
Bilic and Collins was about a possible top-half finish. Bilic said: "This
could be one of the most valuable seasons for the club, as a team and for
individuals because this -experience makes you first of all motivated not to
be in this situation again - and it makes you stronger." Paul Clement's
honeymoon period is over with third--bottom Swansea in dire trouble after
taking just one point from their last five games. Keeper Lukasz Fabianski
said: "Things are really tight at the bottom of the table and a bit of fear
is showing up -somewhere because we are back in this relegation fight. "This
should be a wake-up call for us."
Slaven Bilic aims for top-half finish after West Ham move away from the
Bilic wants to reach the 42-point mark first
Slaven Bilic, looking a broken man last week with his job on the line, is
now buoyant enough to be targeting a top-10 finish. How the storyline can
change in a short space of time at West Ham, this season's soap opera club.
Five successive defeats and almost as many votes of confidence from his
employers had seemingly put Bilic on the brink but thankfully the fixture
list threw him a lifeline in Swansea, a club whose players were even more
paralysed by the fear of relegation than his own. The only goal of the game,
a belated yet timely first Premier League strike of the season from Cheikhou
Kouyate, put the Hammers eight points clear of third-bottom Swansea, whose
season, having initially been revived by the January arrival of Paul
Clement, now appears to be flatlining. West Ham's points tally of 36 may
already be enough to secure safety, although given that they went down in
2003 with a record 'high' of 42, Bilic could not be blamed for being
But what is clear is the West Ham are now part of a cluster of clubs all
jostling for 10th place. "Still we can finish in the top half," the Croat
said. "Watford are one point ahead of us. I want to finish as high as
possible but let's get the job done very soon - 40 points. "It would be good
if 36 is enough but I know since my playing time that 40 points is a
metaphor to secure the minimum goal. And let's do it as quick as possible to
ease the pressure. "And then hopefully we are going to be under pressure to
try to climb up the table. We made a gap six games ago and then suddenly in
no time, there is no gap. There is, but not the gap that we want. "And now
we don't want that situation to come again. We are not 'OK, we have done the
job' - we haven't done the job, we are nowhere near doing the job. So at
least let's do that kind of a job. Do everything we can like we put in
Kouyate's 44th-minute strike, following a one-two with Robert Snodgrass was
the highlight of a game that was short on quality, especially from the
visitors, who performed as if in a trance and managed just a single shot on
target. West Ham can all but confirm their top flight status by winning at
Sunderland on Saturday and consign their brief brush with relegation to a
long list of unexpected troubles in their London Stadium debut season, which
began with civil strife over the facilities themselves and spiralled into
clashes with rival supporters too, most notably Chelsea. That what does not
kill you makes you stronger, or so they say, and Bilic, who will have a hip
operation at the end of the season, was certainly hoping so. "This season
could be one of the most valuable seasons growing for the club, as a team
and for individuals because this experience makes you first of all motivated
not to be in this situation again, and it makes you stronger," Bilic said.
"But it is after you are through them of course."
Clement's spells as number two to Carlo Ancelotti make his CV an impressive
one but he also has a false start as a manager at Derby on that list and
knows that confidence levels at Swansea are so low they can't seem to do the
one thing that has kept them up over the last few years, namely pass to each
Wednesday night's 3-1 home loss to Tottenham appears to have dealt a
stinging blow, not least because they were actually winning going into the
Clement was hopeful a week on the training field would be enough to stop a
run of five successive away defeats at Watford on Saturday "It's the same
for all the other teams but when you play three games in a week you get less
preparation time," he said. "It's about recovering and moving on quickly and
for Watford there won't be any excuses about preparation because we've got
five days training. "Every game everyone's asking me is this a must win game
for the last 12 games. It's going to be the same next week, the same the
week after and that brings its own pressures. We just have to focus on our