Bilic: West Ham showed more char­ac­ter than City

The Daily Telegraph - Total Football - - BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE - By Gerry Cox at Up­ton Park

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

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