West Ham manager Slaven Bilic heaped praised Thursday afternoon on his Newcastle counterpart Rafa Benitez, but did not feel sorry for the Spaniard’s current transfer issues with owner Mike Ashley.
In his weekly press conference ahead of an already pressurized third league match of the season Saturday at the Magpies, Bilic expressed his excitement over no one else joining Winston Reid on the injured list throughout the week. It means that, besides his New Zealand centerback, the Croatian tactician will have a full squad available at his disposal. It is a feeling that he isn’t taking for granted.
“Health wise we have a full squad on the pitch,” Bilic said. “It’s the first time in ages.”
One of those notable returns to action for the Hammers is of course Argentine Manuel Lanzini, who is also celebrating his second call up to the Argentina national team and his first for meaningful matches, the penultimate stretch of the CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifiers.
“He looks really sharp,” Bilic said of Lanzini. “Of course he is really hungry. Definitely he’s going to be involved in the squad and we’re going to see how much we use him.”
A player that could be Lanzini’s new teammate is William Carvalho. But Bilic had no new updates on the Sporting Lisbon midfielder’s possible move to West Ham, although he did something he rarely does: admit a transfer target of his publicly.
“Nothing new, nothing new,” Bilic said. “I’m not frustrated, but it’s the position that we have been trying to do for a couple of seasons. We need that position and why we offloaded some places to get the budget for him, or the player for that position.”
When asked if he had sympathy for Benitez over his issues with Ashley, in regards to Newcastle’s transfer strategy and spending being different from what was promised back when the side won The Championship in May, Bilic had none.
“No, here’s a big manager,” he said. “He’s done it in Spain with Valencia, done it with Liverpool, done it with Napoli. They spent more money than we spent, if we are talking about net money. Ok, they needed maybe more to improve because they came from The Championship. Maybe they were unable to get those targets, maybe they were thinking ‘too big.’ Maybe they (players) didn’t want to come.”
With both teams in need of their first league points of the season, and Newcastle continuing their forgettable start to the season with a loss to Nottingham Forrest in the EFL Cup that sawed them booed off in their home stadium, Bilic knows it will be a spirited contest. But he believes fully in his side securing victory.
“They need points, I need points. It’s much better if you win those games or any game. But they have very experienced manager and they should recover for the game on Saturday.”
“We should be very optimistic and know what to do for the Newcastle game.”
LIVE: Slaven Bilic reveals team news ahead of Newcastle
Slaven Bilic reveals team news ahead of Newcastle United...Posted by West Ham United on Thursday, August 24, 2017