Imports will not run out of steam

07:50 31 October 2015

West Ham United's Dimitri Payet and Chelsea's Cesar Azpilicueta battle for the ball

West Ham United's Dimitri Payet and Chelsea's Cesar Azpilicueta battle for the ball

ChelseaFC/Press Association Images

Bilic backs West Ham new boys to avoid history repeating itself

West Ham United's Manuel LanziniWest Ham United's Manuel Lanzini

Cast your mind back to Christmas last season and West Ham United were in a very similar position to the one they find themselves in now.

From the off in the 2014-15 campaign, the Hammers had been proving the pundits wrong and were fourth by the time Santa was delivering presents.

This year too West Ham are in a lofty position in the Premier League after a superb start under new manager Slaven Bilic.

For Big Sam in his final year in charge, it was Alex Song and Diafra Sakho who had come to Upton Park and had the east Londoners dreaming of a top four finish.

Likewise the charge up the table from Bilic’s Hammers has been led by the summer imports such as Dimitri Payet and Manuel Lanzini.

As soon as the festitives began last year though, West Ham’s form suffered as they eventually finished in a disappointing 12th.

With the current campaign nearing the Christmas period, a lot is being made about Bilic’s signings and whether they can last the season.

The Croatian admits compared to other leagues his additions have played in, the Premier League is the most draining, but he has backed the likes of Payet and Lanzini to keep firing in the second half of the year.

“The season is too big. In every league, you have surprises. It’s very difficult, but every year you have a wonder or a surprise package,” said Bilic.

“Most of them are there only for a part of the season. You have Celta Vigo in Spain. If you are talking about the wonders, it is doing it the whole season.

“It’s very rare, but it is possible. All the clubs outside of the ‘Big Six’ should hope or dream or plan, but not in a negative way.

“Or else, what’s the point in playing?”

Both Payet and Lanzini have taken quickly to life in the Premier League, forming two-thirds of an attacking midfield that has been impressing on a weekly basis.

There is a fear that the more the duo play, the quicker opposition teams will find a way to stop them having such an impact on proceedings.

Bilic, though, is having none of that and insists that quality players will always find a way to impose themselves on a game.

He added: “Finding out how someone plays, I’ve never brought into that cliché. We all know how Messi and Ronaldo play.

“It’s all part of my job as manager to keep the players on their toes and keep them motivated. That is what we are focussed on besides analysing and planning training.

“We’re trying to make sure we don’t lose that few per cent that could be crucial.”

Bilic’s next task is a trip to Watford tomorrow (Saturday) when he could welcome Victor Moses back after he was ineligible for the win over parent club Chelsea.

Other than that, there are no fresh concerns for the Croatian as his side travel to Vicarage Road, but Andy Carroll is pushing for a starting spot after his goalscoring cameo against the Blues.

Alex Song is nearing a return to full fitness and is expected to begin training with the first team again next week.

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