Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

This Season's Been a Perfect Storm

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

This Season's Been a Perfect Storm

Article excerpt

Byline: Slaven Bilic

WHEN we face Burnley on Sunday, it will be the final game of a very tough season. I have not wanted to talk about it in detail before because it could have been interpreted as excuses and I don't like making those. However, now we can talk about reasons not excuses.

It hasn't been a season to compare to the previous one, but it has been comparable to how West Ham used to be, before the club's plan to move up a level.

The reality is that, apart from the top six or seven clubs, the next eight are very close and could be within a few points of each other, or even a few goals.

Basically, West Ham have usually belonged in that group, although last season gave us the hope of making a step closer to the elite clubs.

It hasn't happened, though, and the reasons are as follows.

First of all, we've had an unbelievable amount of injuries not knocks or strains but 10 players out for a minimum of two-and-a-half months. Because of that we didn't start well and particularly the new signings couldn't settle in the way we wanted.

Add to that the move to the new stadium. You can see what has happened to other clubs who have done it and how it affects them before they can feel the benefit. I have to say, though, that ultimately this is the best decision West Ham have ever made.

Basically, we had two 'black holes' this season: one at the beginning when we won just one of our first five Premier League games, then five successive defeats in March. So now I want to praise the players, because we came back twice following those crises.

Up to now I haven't mentioned the Dimitri Payet situation, but we should not forget that we lost not only our best player but one of the best in Europe. People can be angry at him but we should never forget how good he was for us. He is irreplaceable.

Considering everything, I believe this season has been priceless, in terms of building the character of the board, myself, the staff, the players, the cook, the kit man. …

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