Monday 19 March 2018

Bilic focuses on Hammers' home victories as pressure mounts

Under pressure: Slaven Bilic. Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images
Under pressure: Slaven Bilic. Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Jason Burt

Slaven Bilic has targeted at least six points from West Ham United's next three Premier League home matches as he attempts to shore up his position as manager.

West Ham face Huddersfield Town at the London Stadium tonight, their first home match of the season, after three away defeats - and 10 goals conceded - left the Hammers bottom of the table.

Following the 3-0 loss at Newcastle United before the international break, serious consideration was given by the hierarchy to sacking Bilic, who is in the final year of his contract and has come under mounting pressure.

Following talks, it was decided that Bilic would be given four more league matches, until the next international break, to turn things around.

But if West Ham were to lose against Huddersfield, the Croat - who turns 49 today - would be in danger of losing his job before then. Coincidentally, both Newcastle manager, Rafa Benitez, and Huddersfield's David Wagner are among those believed to be admired by the West Ham hierarchy.

"When we were talking in the beginning about three away games, we said, 'It will get even by the end of September'," Bilic said.

"After seven games, you will come into a normal routine. Home, away, home, away. We are not targeting like that, like minimum four or seven points from the next four games.

"From the next four games, we have three at home, and we are looking to win at least two of them. Then we would have a chance in the third one and then we would have a chance in our away game."

Bilic said West Ham's home form is "key" to their prospects. "You need to get the points at home. That's a must," he added.

"This isolated game is doubly important because we have zero points from three away games. So, we need the points, whether we play home or away now. Home form is the key."

After Huddersfield - who are yet to concede a goal in the top flight and have made an impressive start - West Ham visit West Brom and are then at home to Tottenham Hotspur and Swansea City.

Bilic knows that he is coming under real scrutiny, but, crucially, he retains the full support of the players and has proved that he has the ability to produce results under pressure.

Matters have become more strained following the failure to sign Sporting Lisbon midfielder, William Carvalho, during the summer transfer window and West Ham have since become involved in an unseemly row with Sporting.

That has also put the spotlight back on West Ham's owners and the mood inside the London Stadium tonight could have a bearing on Bilic's future. "I am expecting us to build from where we stopped last year," Bilic said. "We accept the new stadium as home for us." (© Daily Telegraph)

West Ham v Huddersfield, Live, Sky Sports, 8.0

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