Antonio Late Show Provides Hammers with Some Precious Breathing Space; WEST HAM BOURNEMOUTH

The Evening Standard (London, England), August 22, 2016 | Go to article overview

Antonio Late Show Provides Hammers with Some Precious Breathing Space; WEST HAM BOURNEMOUTH


Byline: Ken Dyer

FINAL Premier League game at the Boleyn -- a win. First Premier League game at the London Stadium -- a win. Could Slaven Bilic realistically have asked for more?

Okay, the victory over Bournemouth was no classic -- it wasn't even average -- but there is no doubt about the importance of this match for West Ham. Yes, the 56,977 fans would ideally have liked their team to have purred silkily around their new home with a debut Premier League performance to match the change of environment but that was perhaps asking too much -- especially when you are missing seven players through injury.

Bilic himself was not expecting his injury-ravaged side to out-pass Bournemouth but the manager did demand a performance full of character and conviction -- and his players delivered. His biggest fear was that his team, still coming to terms with the disruptive Europa League, would go into the international break pointless after three Premier League matches.

Michail Antonio's 85th-minute header ensured Bilic, and more importantly the club's co-chairman David Sullivan, now have some breathing space as they try to bring in a quality striker to fill the void caused by the injuries to Andre Ayew, Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho.

A loan deal for Manchester City's Wilfried Bony remains a possibility, as does a firm bid for Juventus front man Simone Zaza. Bilic said he expects Sullivan to be "generous" -- and he will need to be.

Bony, who will go to the Chinese Super League in January, earns PS128,000 a week and West Ham will want City to cover at least part of that sum to make any deal possible. Zaza, meanwhile, seems keen to come to London but West Ham could baulk at the PS20million fee, especially after agreeing a similar deal to land Ayew, who is now out of action until December.

There are signs, though, that Bilic is finally losing patience with Carroll after this latest injury setback. …

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