Bilic starts re­build­ing job in ‘the most cruel league’

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

IN a gloomy start to the sea­son on and off the pitch, there fi­nally ap­pears to be some light shin­ing through. Not even West Ham’s war­ring fans, who have spent the ma­jor­ity squab­bling with them­selves, could have a cause for ar­gu­ment.

The only fight­ing was seen by their play­ers on the pitch as they put their bod­ies on the line to de­fend Manuel Lanzini’s 19th minute strike with their lives.

The first win since 21 August moved them out of the bot­tom three and eased the pres­sure on Bilic fol­low­ing their the worst start since 1989. “This league is so cruel that you don’t have to lose a lot, only a lit­tle bit and you are dead,” said West Ham boss Slaven Bilic (pix).

“It’s the most cruel league in the world if you are 10% be­low par in any as­pect of the game.

“Hope­fully that’s over now. But we are still in a po­si­tion we don’t want to be.”

A change of for­ma­tion, to keep Crys­tal Palace’s wingers quiet and stop the am­mu­ni­tion to Chris­tian Ben­teke, worked a treat even if the vis­i­tors had to ride their luck at times once Lanzini had di­verted home Aaron Cress­well’s search­ing cross.

That was the start of an event­ful evening for the out­stand­ing Cress­well, back early fol­low­ing a knee in­jury that had side­lined him all sea­son.

Cress­well’s 75th minute red card, pick­ing up two book­ings in­side 51 sec­onds via a dive and a min­i­mal tug on Wil­fried Zaha, was the wrong call by ref­eree Martin Atkin­son.

Cap­tain Mark No­ble, who had not held back in brand­ing his team­mates as laugh­able last month, said: “Be­cause I’ve been at the club for so long and care so much about how we play and how our re­sults go, I felt I needed to be hon­est and say how it was.

“We’ve had meet­ings as play­ers, with the staff. We got ham­mered for go­ing out on a night out, but since that night out we’ve picked up four points. So is it a bad thing? I don’t know.” – The In­de­pen­dent

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