Sixth in the league with wins against Arsenal, Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea. You must be pretty satisfied with the way things are going?
Definitely. You can argue we've lost to Bournemouth, Watford, but those dropped points (6) are more than made up by the gaining of the points to the big boys (12) so when you factor in the draws as well - we're technically 'up' on our points tally rather than if we'd won those games. Hopefully that makes sense, and, hopefully my maths is right there, ha!The passion is there, the creative flair is there, the goals are there. A manager which embodies the club is in place. I guess it's all going pretty well!
What were your initial thoughts when Slaven Bilic was appointed and have they changed since?
Skepticism at first, I admit. However, this may have been due to the fact it was clear Bilic was primed and ready to sign even as our 'back up' option. We were all but ready for Rafael Benetiz to sign before Real Madrid came calling. That, is not a tough choice by any stretch of the imagination. However, Bilic has proven himself extremely quickly, even to those who may have originally doubted him and his credentials for the job. There are still a few things he has to iron out, but, a lot of them are minor things which he wil undoubtedly pick up along the way of managing in the PL.
How have West Ham’s tactics and style changed under Bilic compared to big Sam?
Tactically, we're not too disimilar in terms of favouring one up top, and two holding midfielders. However, it's the sheer upgrade in personel which means this is a much more fluid and exciting system than it was under Allardyce. Though, any side would be more exciting if it had Moses, Lanzini and Payet in it.
Style wise, we've almost reverted to the successful ways of Alan Pardew who set us up brilliantly as a counter attacking unit. Our best football has undoubtedly been played on the counter, which is why we've done a lot better against the 'big' teams, who would have felt they could steamroll us so to speak, but left us, especially our creative players, far too much space.
You have memorably beaten four of the division’s top clubs but also lost to Watford and Bournemouth – why is that?
Bournemouth was horrendous for the fact it was a game which showed we needed more width and protection of our fullbacks. Jenkinson and Cresswell were two of our most consistent performers last season, but they were ripped to absolute shreds by Bournemouth as they had wingers who would take on their opponent, doubling up on them with their own fullback on the overlap, and got great success from it.
Watford, we didn't get going/didn't turn up. It was a strange one. Also, again individual errors played a part, with Andy Carroll attempting a cruyff turn inside his own box. You can't compensate for moments of sheer madness like that.
We've already seen Watford be hard to break down, and, it plays into the fact we've played better when counter attacking. We didn't have many moments of countering in the game as they were i) in such control ii) never really went at us full throttle as they didn't need to, as we pretty much presented the game to them.
Do you see it as a blessing in disguise that you went out of the Europa League?
A lot of fans were miffed to say the least. However, I think it was the right decision to 'risk' it with weakened/youngster bolstered squads. Blessing in disguise, perhaps, as we certainly hit the ground running in the League. Then you could argue we lost Enner Valencia who is still working his way back to full fitness who would definitely be in mine, and many others', starting XI every weekend.
How do you feel about saying goodbye to Upton Park at the end of this season?
Gutted. Every single fan will miss it, and wish we weren't moving. That being said, there a lot of fans are coming round to the idea and the potential behind the OS move. Hopefully all that potential comes to be, but, we'll have to wait and see.
There are still those who bemoan it, and claim its just for the owners to sell up shop and make a tidy profit. Again, we'll have to wait and see, but I genuinely see the David's here in some capacity until they're physically unable to anymore, even if they do sell percentages off.
A lot has been said of Dimitri Payet’s impact this season – but who else should we look out for on Saturday?
Manuel Lanzini. Whilst Payet has got all the plaudits, Lanzini is just as dangerous on the ball going forward. The added benefit he has is that he is also a workhorse, you won't notice him going forward and will begin to think "is he actually playing?!" - then realise he has sprinted the whole of the pitch to cover his fullback in our own corner. He is a very gifted player, and Payet aside, probably our most dangerous.
West Ham are also known for bringing through young talent – who is the next talented youngster we should look out for?
Reece Oxford. Started the first game of the season at 16, weeks before getting his GCSE results and had Ozil in his back pocket. He is a player who has been talked about for some time within the youth set-up and although he has not featured much more this season, it's good to see the club trying to ease him into this.
Having known about his talent for a while, the thing which made me think he could well be the next to 'really' make it was post-Arsenal when he was allowed by the club (as they know what a level-headed young man he is) to speak to Sky reporters. Quite an eye opening moment when watching that to be honest, but spoke absolute volumes for the type of character he is, and I'm sure that will stand him in good stead.
Given your fine start to the season have your hopes for the season been revised? And if so what would be considered a successful season for West Ham?
No! It's always dangerous to get carried away with a good run. The easy comparison is we were fourth at Christmas last season, look how well that turned out. That said, I don't think for a second that Slaven would stand for that sort of dip of form and results in any which way.
The hope for the season still has to be a solid top 10 finish. If we can get a top 8 finish, which seems reasonable if we continue playing as we are, then that'd be brilliant. Talk of Europe etc, is much like what happened last year, only for us to qualify via Fair Play....which I can definitely say we won't be this year!!!
What are your thoughts on Everton’s season from what you have seen so far?
Mixed. Some weeks when I've seen highlights of your games you've looked hapless in every aspect, then you'll look good but not be able to get it over the line, then, you score 6? Yeah, a mixed bag for sure, ha! I've really liked the look of Galloway, your young fullback, impressed when I've seen him play this season. I've really enjoyed Kone's return to fitness and doing so well, always nice to see someone whose had a tough time get a bit of luck go in their favour after a long spell out etc...
Apart from Lukaku scoring, what is your prediction for Saturday?
Even if Lukaku came on in the 93rd minute and we had a GK, he'd still score. So yeah, Lukaku will score, but I feel it'll be a high scoring score-draw. Slaven will be right on them to put right the Watford performance though, so who knows. If we start Carroll again it may well hamper our chances as he didn't look ready to start against Watford.
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