West Ham boss Slaven Bilic looks to give fans something to shout about
PUBLISHED: 08:00 04 August 2016
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West Ham begin a new era at the Olympic Stadium tonight with Europa League clash
West Ham boss Slaven Bilic insists that if they can play well against NK Domzale in their Europa League tie tonight then the fans can turn the Olympic Stadium into home sweet home.
The Hammers kick-off a new era in the club’s history, needing to turn around a 2-1 deficit against the Slovenians from the first leg.
And they will have to do it without the likes of Dimitri Payet, Angelo Ogbonna and James Collins.
Add to that the injured Aaron Cresswell and Manuel Lanzini, plus the wantaway striker Diafra Sakho, and it will not be an easy task for West Ham.
But Bilic is looking forward to it and said: “It is great to be here at long last and now it is up to us to play well.
“We don’t have a mountain to climb, but we have a job to do against a team who showed us they can play good football.
“We are confident that we are going to play much better than we did last week and get through to the next round.”
A crowd of over 50,000 is expected for West Ham’s first match in the Olympic Stadium and Bilic knows that will make the difference.
“It is not going to be like Upton Park, but the pitch is the same size and we are going to have over 50,000 here and that is going to make us feel at home.
“We have to adjust to the new stadium and there is no better way to do that than by winning a game and the players are really looking forward to it.”
This first game at the new stadium has come a little earlier than West Ham would have liked.
Much of area surrounding the venue looks like a building site and it may be difficult for fans to negotiate until they get used to it.
“The pitch is ready and they are letting the fans in and that is what matters,” added Bilic. “Upton Park was a brilliant stadium when you talk about home ground advantage, but I am sure that over time this will become a real home ground for us.
“We are only moving 10 minutes away, it is still east London. We are going to find it hard to replace Upton Park, just as Arsenal found it hard to move from Highbury.
“But this is a positive move, we are privileged to play at such a great stadium and in front of such a big crowd and we are looking forward to it.”
The official opening of the stadium is scheduled for Sunday’s match against Serie A giants Juventus, which kicks off at 1pm following an opening ceremony at 12.30pm.
But the Hammers will be hoping that the party is not spoiled by an exit from the Europa League tonight, something that will severely affect their season.
Hammers defender Winston Reid is determined to make sure they go through this evening.
He said: “For the club and for me personally, we need to play in Europe and have a decent run.
“We didn’t play well out in Slovenia and we need to put that right.”
Reid can’t wait to get out on to the pitch for the first time, adding: “We’ve been talking about it for a long time, so it will be nice to finally get out there and make sure we put in a performance.”
The time has arrived, the talking has stopped and now it is time for the football. This is history!