West Ham manager Slaven Bilic expressed Tuesday how “happy” he is with his current squad, despite not signing Brentford’s Scott Hogan on the final day of the January transfer day.
The loquacious Croatian tactician expressed that Hogan, who eventually stayed in the Skybet Championship by moving to Aston Villa on deadline day, was good enough to become a Hammer, but wasn’t a necessity.
“He’s definitely a good player,” Bilic said. “He’s young and scoring goals in the Championship but it’s not a question of 'Is he good enough?’ It’s a question of what we have. We have Andy Carroll, Michail Antonio, Ashley Fletcher and Jonathan Calleri and plus players who can play second striker like Andre Ayew and Robert Snodgrass. We have to stay fit but that’s the reason behind my decision.”
When former Hammers star Dimitri Payet was mentioned in the press conference, Bilic made sure to praise his now ex-talisman instead of slam the Frenchman for forcing his way out of the club to Marseille.
“He’s gone, it was obvious from the day I announced it openly that he would go that we want to get the best price possible of course, “ Bliic said. “I want to thank him for everything he’s done for us. He was brilliant last year, and we were brilliant for him also. And now that story’s finished. And I wish him luck and all the best in Marseille.”
In other transfer news revelations, Bilic admitted that the club searched for additional right back depth behind Sam Byram, but stated that West Ham “couldn’t find someone who could improve our starting XI.” He also heaped accolades on Reading manager Jaap Stam as the right destination for Reece Oxford to go on loan for the second half of the season.
“He’s going to a club who are trying to get promotion and what’s really important for me is that the manager is one of the best centre-backs to have played in the last 20 years in the world,” Bilic said. “It’s a move that we should all benefit from; Reece, Reading and West Ham. I’m expecting him to come back here and play for us.”
Bilic mentioned that left back Arthur Masuaku is close to returning and that Diafra Sakho would be back in mid-March. Those two, along with Havard Nordtveit having a slight knock and Ayew still away on African Cup of Nations duty, will be unavailable to face Manchester City Wednesday evening.
But Bilic’s new marquee signing will be ready to contribute, as his optimism for the former Hull City standout is apparent.
“Scoring goals and creating chances are Robert Snodgrass’ strengths,” he said. “I expect him to be a great signing.”
Bilic hopes Snodgrass will be able to prevent West Ham for having a repeat thrashing at the hands of Pep Guardiola’s side on Wednesday, after they were slammed out of the FA Cup by City in the Olympic Stadium 5-0 almost a month ago.
“We were good for half an hour and then we crumbled in about 10 minutes. So it will be very difficult.”
Despite another candid press conference, Bilic’s words weren’t as good as his “F—ks sakes” line from two weeks ago.