West Ham fans are thinking – if only this was the beginning of next season rather than the tail-end of this one.
For, in securing, the tumultuous 1-0 victory over Spurs at the London Stadium on Friday night, the headlines were all about the North London club’s fading hopes of clawing back Chelsea.
For West Ham it was a dead game on paper but the evening was anything but, with the full-throated roar of the London Stadium put to good effect, the 12th man for the first time perhaps, and a team that was relentless and gritty and up for the task.
The three points finally managed to secure Premier League status and probably silenced talk of a Slaven Bilic exit. It also served notice that once West Ham – the team and supporters – are at one with their surroundings, all of their lofty ambitions need not sound fanciful.
Premier League status in the bag, it’s now all about inching up the table to the top half to put a respectable gloss on a below-par season. Playing on Friday meant West Ham were ninth going into the Saturday fixtures.
They inevitably slipped back but will be looking to secure a single digit placement with Jurgen Klopp’s stuttering Liverpool heading to Stratford on Sunday and a trip to Burnley on the last day of the season.
Bilic – who has been linked with Fenerbahce – told the club’s website : “We planned it, but it was the guys who executed it brilliantly. We deserved it – we showed character, we showed determination, we showed team spirit, everything. Most of all, we showed the quality to beat a big team.”
Bilic was thrilled with the contribution of Manuel Lanzini who stole the plaudits – and took the single goal – in the televised game. He said: “Lanzini is a young player, but a magnificent player. He works hard, he covers a lot of ground on the pitch and he is very good in the box.
“He’s scored some amazing and important goals for us, he creates goals, the players love him because he is not one of those who wants to be spared the defensive part of the game.
“He works hard and he’s brilliant to have.”
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