Monday 11 December 2017

Bilic hails Hammers' response to mounting pressure

West Ham United 1 Swansea City 0

Slaven Bilic finally had something to celebrate after West Ham beat Swansea.
Slaven Bilic finally had something to celebrate after West Ham beat Swansea.

Slaven Bilic saluted his West Ham players for standing up to the pressure after they sank Swansea 1-0. Cheikhou Kouyate eased their relegation fears, and lifted the heat on manager Bilic, with his first Premier League goal of the season.

Five straight defeats had left West Ham in serious danger of being sucked into the battle at the bottom, and a sixth would have left them just two points ahead of Swansea, and possibly signalled the end for Bilic.

Swansea City's Wayne Routledge (left) and West Ham United's Arthur Masuaku battle for the ball Photo: John Walton/PA Wire
Swansea City's Wayne Routledge (left) and West Ham United's Arthur Masuaku battle for the ball Photo: John Walton/PA Wire

But instead they can breathe easier after moving eight points clear of the drop zone.

"Forget me, it's part of my job, but with the amount of pressure the players were under they gave everything," said Bilic.

"They are the ones performing in front of 60,000 people. I'm pleased with the way the boys did it. It wasn't easy for them. They are well paid and all that but they are in their 20s, the pressure was huge, so I was more than pleased. But we are the ones who put ourselves under this kind of pressure."

Kouyate scored the crucial goal, moments after Michail Antonio went off with a hamstring injury, just before half-time.

West Ham United's Mark Noble in action with Swansea City's Jack Cork Photo: Reuters / Eddie Keogh
West Ham United's Mark Noble in action with Swansea City's Jack Cork Photo: Reuters / Eddie Keogh

The Senegal midfielder embarked on a marauding run into Swansea's half and exchanged passes with Robert Snodgrass before taking aim from 20 yards and lashing the ball inside the near post.

Bilic was given another vote of confidence by David Sullivan before the match, and he got a pat on the back from his other co-chairman, David Gold, afterwards.

"Mr Gold was just in my office and he is delighted," added Bilic. "I speak to Mr Sullivan the day after every game. It was a good day for us."

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