Bilic: West Ham showed more character than City
It is a sign of the times and the way the old order is changing in the Premier League that West Ham United considered their draw with Manchester City as two points dropped rather than one gained.
The huge increase in broadcast revenue is leading to an equalisation in terms of quality and expectation. West Ham and Leicester still have a long way to go to catch up with the unrivalled spending power of City, but the fact that they are competing with the traditional big guns for a Champions League place shows what can be achieved with good management, clever use of the transfer market, and hunger.
West Ham looked more up for it than their visitors, and might well have completed their first double over City in half a century were it not for the brilliance of Sergio Agüero at one end of the pitch and Joe Hart at the other.
Agüero twice equalised the leads that Enner Valencia had given West Ham, and Hart made one of the saves of the season to keep out a free-kick from Dmitri Payet, who dominated the midfield.
West Ham’s whole midfield cost less than the individual fees for Yaya Touré, Kevin De Bruyne, Jesus Navas or David Silva, but the City quartet were distinctly second best as they were bullied out of it.
Touré in particular was brutally exposed as a holding midfielder, and it must concern City supporters that Manuel Pellegrini did not agree with criticism of his captain. “I don’t think so,” the manager said.
“I don’t remember too many important saves. So I think Yaya played in that position without a problem.”
Pellegrini, like Touré, might be gone in the summer, which may explain why City appear to lack the desire or urgency to push on and secure the title.
The one ray of hope Pellegrini offers is that they have yet to play their top three rivals at home. “We are just three points off Leicester and we have to play them, Arsenal and Tottenham at home.”
Slaven Bilic believes that West Ham can make the top four, and says City can still win the title – if they show more hunger.
“They have a good team, but today we showed more character than them. But City can win the league.”
City saviour: Sergio Agüero beats West Ham keeper Adrián to rescue a point for the visitors