Slaven Speaks – WBA
Author: Matthew Kirk. Published: 28 April 2016 at 3:29pm
Slaven Bilic was asked about refereeing decisions, the top-six race and Aaron Cresswell’s future
According to a national newspaper report, if ‘bad refereeing decisions’ hadn’t happened this season, your side would be second in the table…
“What can I say? On one hand it’s nice to know we should or could have been second in the table, but OK, here we are. The most important thing is that we are playing good and we’re very motivated for the last four games.”
Do bad and good decisions even themselves out over the course of a season?
“According to that table, no they don’t! I don’t think they do, but it’s part of the game to be fair, and you will see that it’s not only England – it’s everywhere. I read that Barcelona should have been awarded a penalty and the referee said he’d made a mistake – it happens, and it’s part of the game unfortunately.”
Is top four still your aim?
“Top four will be very hard for us. Mathematically, it’s still there, but we didn’t approach that subject in that matter ten weeks ago or eight weeks ago. We are still looking at it the same way, in that let’s play against West Brom and win that game and see where that will take us.”
So, is the top six now a minimum?
“Yeah, it is a target. It’s been a target for quite a while now. It wasn’t a target at the beginning. With four games to go, we have a gap, but we can’t afford not to win game or lose games. The top six is the one we’re looking for now. It will be hard, as we have four tough games – and Liverpool and Southampton are playing well and picking up points – but we’re on a good run and we’re fully motivated. If we continue to play how we have been, we have a good chance.
If Manchester United win the FA Cup, there could be a safety net of another Europa League place…
“Of course I would like to see them win it, because it would give us a bit of a cushion. The good thing is that everything is in our hands, though. I’d rather we did it ourselves that wait a week after the end of the season and be a Man United fan!”
People will say West Brom will be on the beach, but they proved against Spurs that wasn’t the case.
“No, that’s not the case. Teams are playing for pride, fans and themselves. Once I played in Germany, and we had to win the last game to get to Europe. We played a team that had been relegated in February or March and they beat us 5-1! West Brom with Tony Pulis and the English mentality; we’re expecting them to play at their maximum. They are safe. West Brom it looks like they’ve never been in trouble. That shows they have a good team and a great manager.”
Are there any new injuries in your squad?
“No, we have a full squad. We have done for a good period now. OK, one or two were injured, but it’s a big boost for us. The pitch is full of players when we train, which is really good. I have to praise the players and also the medical team who have done an excellent job.”
Aaron Cresswell has been linked with a few big clubs – what’s your view on his situation?
“He’s having a great season. Last year, he was Hammer of the Year. First of all, he’s a great professional and it’s a privilege to have those kind of players. He has improved a lot. On the ball, with his crosses and technique he was always good and he is almost like a playmaker on the left side, but defensively, he has improved tremendously and he has become a great player and a great full-back. Of course, that attracts interest of so many clubs, but I spoke to him, and first of all he’s under contract, and secondly, he is really happy here and he loves it here. He can’t wait for the new season. He is going to stay with us for a long time, hopefully.”
Reece Burke won the Bradford City Player of the Year – is he someone you’ll look at for next season to play a part with the first team?
“I like Reece. He already played some friendlies and in Europe for us. He’s a very clever player. It was and still is part of the plan for a few to go on loan, minimum one year, maybe two, for them to improve, and them to come back with a clear situation. To say, you will play a part for West Ham and be an important player for the squad. After that, we will decide if he’s going to do another year, and that has to be at least the Championship, or he’s going to stay with us. He will stay with us only if he has a good chance to play.”