West Ham boss: Sullivan always rated Charlie Austin
PUBLISHED: 09:30 06 February 2016 | UPDATED: 10:22 06 February 2016
2016 Getty Images
As West Ham travel to Southampton, Slaven Bilic insists that Austin will not need extra motivation
West Ham come face to face with Southampton striker Charlie Austin tomorrow at St Mary’s and manager Slaven Bilic thinks that the former QPR frontman will not need the extra motivation of his spat with Hammers co-owner David Sullivan.
Last summer, the chairman claimed buying the striker was a gamble, stating. “He failed a medical at Hull a couple of years ago. They say he has no ligaments in his knee, who knows? To sign a player for £15million is a big risk.”
Understandably, Austin did not take too kindly to those words and he moved to St Mary’s in a cut-price £4m deal in the January window.
Bilic was looking to smooth things over before he lines up against the Hammers tomorrow.
“I don’t think it will affect him what the chairman apparently said before,” insisted Bilic this week.
“I spoke to Mr Sullivan back in August and Charlie Austin was a name that was big time on our list and at that time he spoke very highly of him.
“When you are in the Premier League, you don’t need extra motivation. He definitely has enough quality to play for West Ham, but there are different targets.
“We have really good strikers and we were looking for a slightly different type of player. It was nothing to do with his quality.”
Austin has never scored against the Hammers in his career, coming closest when Adrian saved his penalty at Loftus Road last season, but Bilic says that he is a quality striker.
“He is a great player and he has proved himself,” said the West Ham manager.
“He is not one of them who has proved himself in the Championship and then there is a question mark, he has done it in the Premier League too.
“He scored many goals in a team that got relegated, so to get him for that price he should be a great buy and he has already scored the winner at Old Trafford.
“I was a little bit surprised that he went for such a small fee.”
Bilic knows that it is a tough time to take on the in-form Saints and he picked out goalkeeper Fraser Forster as one of the secrets of their success recently.
“The goalkeeper is flying,” said Bilic. “He came back after a long injury and to be fair they already had a good, experienced goalkeeper.
“But since Forster came back, they haven’t conceded a goal. I can only imagine how confident not only he is, but the whole defence and the whole team.
“It is a difficult time to play them, but it is also a big challenge for us and so far we have answered those challenges really well.”
The match kicks off at 5.30pm and will be screened live on Sky Sports.