West Ham thrills and spills overshadowed by terrace trouble
PUBLISHED: 12:04 27 October 2016
PA Wire/PA Images
Hammers boss Slaven Bilic is left frustrated as superb victory is not the top topic
West Ham boss Slaven Bilic was walking on air after masterminding his team’s deserved, battling victory over Chelsea at the London Stadium.
It was a cup tie full of action, excitement, chances, saves and everything that makes football the greatest sport in the world. He wanted to talk about his team’s effort and endeavour, the way they had out-thought and out-fought their illustrious opponents; about the class of youngster Edimilson Fernandes in only his second game; about the confidence overflowing in the team.
But when the second question in his press conference asked him about the trouble on the terraces you could see the excitement drain from his face.
“Can we talk for five minutes about the game and then we can talk about other things?” said the clearly frustrated Bilic. “I think the game needs to be talked about a little bit more.
“Ask me about the game. It was a London derby, 2-1 to us. Three quarters of this press conference should be about the players. Ask me about Fernandes, nobody knows about him in England, so for the second question to be about things that I have nothing to say about is very unfair.”
Perhaps it was inevitable. The build up to the game had seen some journalists try to build this up as a potential battle of the terraces and Bilic had not taken the bait.
The trouble in and around the ground was worrying and future games against the big teams will have to be handled better, but what it did was deflect from the superb performance that the Hammers put on in this game.
They were at it from the start. Mark Noble put in two crunching tackles in less that 10 seconds and that set the tone and there was some equally forthright play from the superb Pedro Obiang, Winston Reid, Cheikhou Kouyate and wing-backs Aaron Cresswell and Edimilson Fernandes.
It was clear that the Hammers were really up for this match, Bilic had got his team tactics just right.
“It was a great night for us,” he said. “It was a good game of football, a cup game, a London derby against a team like Chelsea.
“It was important for us, not only in this competition, but in general to gain more confidence, individually and even more as a team.
“It is great to beat Chelsea. They are a benchmark, so to beat them deservedly is great. They can’t field a weakened team, so it is to beat them at home in front of 50,000 people was great.”
It felt like a new and exciting beginning at West Ham’s new stadium, a chance to put those great nights under the lights at Upton Park into past memories and create some fresg ones as the club move into a bright future.
It was just a real pity that the actions of some people in the crowd took us not into the future, but back to the 1970s and 80s when this was all too common and Bilic could only shake his head as his team were overshadowed.