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West Ham boss Slaven Bilic expects tough test from ‘safe’ West Brom

PUBLISHED: 11:04 29 April 2016

West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic on the touchline during the Emirates FA Cup, Quarter Final Replay match at Upton Park, London.

West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic on the touchline during the Emirates FA Cup, Quarter Final Replay match at Upton Park, London.

PA/Press Association Images

The Hammers travel to West Brom with a fully-fit squad

Sam Byram of West Ham (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)Sam Byram of West Ham (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

The Champions League places may be just out of reach for West Ham, but manager Slaven Bilic is still targeting the top six as the season reaches it’s conclusion.

The Hammers will look to win their last four games, beginning with West Brom at The Hawthorns tomorrow (Saturday), but despite the Baggies having nothing much to play for, he is expecting a tough fixture.

“The top six is a target and has been for quite a while, though not at the beginning of the season,” said Bilic. “With four games to go we have a little bit of a gap, but we can’t afford to lose games or not win them.

“It is going to be hard because we have four tough games and Liverpool are playing good, but we have had a good run and are fully motivated.”

Jose Salomon Rondon, West Bromwich Albion.Jose Salomon Rondon, West Bromwich Albion.

West Brom grabbed a surprise draw at title hopefuls Spurs on Monday night, and Bilic believes a Tony Pulis side will never relax in safety.

“They are not on the beach,” he said. “It can happen, but a lot of the time teams are playing for pride or their futures.

“Once when I played in Germany, we played the last game of the season and needed to win to get into Europe. We played a team, who like Aston Villa were already relegated, but they beat us 5-1.

“Make no mistake, West Brom are going to be up for it, They have quality in the last third and they are safe with a cigar. It looks like they have never been troubled at all.”

West Ham have certainly not been in trouble this season and a new report from former ref Keith Hackett suggests that if they had got all the decisions they deserved this season, they would be second behind Leicester with Spurs and Man United third and fourth.

Does Bilic think that these decisions even themselves out? He smiles. “Well, not according to that table they don’t! It doesn’t even out, but it is part of the game and it is not only in England it is everywhere,” he said.

“Barcelona weren’t given a penalty in their last game and the referee 
apologised and said he made a mistake.

“In Turkey they have tried with two extra referees, but that doesn’t always work.”

So what is Bilic’s solution?

He added: “For me, there is no other option but technology, but only up to a limit You can’t be waiting for two or three minutes like in other sports.

“Something like goal technology where you don’t even stop the game is good, but if it harms the flow of the game, I would rather have the mistakes.”

Bilic has a fully-fit squad for tomorrow’s trip to the Black Country, but he is unlikely to make many changes from the team that won 3-1 against Watford at Upton Park.

Right back Sam Byram played in the under-21’s Cup Final on Monday, but the manager seems keen to stick with winger Michail Antonio in that position.

Both he and Dimitri Payet have looked a little tired in recent matches, but a week and a half of rest should see them return fresh and ready to go.


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