Bilic prom­ises fit­ting send-off af­ter dress re­hearsal falls flat

The Daily Telegraph - Total Football - - PREMIERE LEAGUE - By Ben Fin­don at Up­ton Park

At the end of an af­ter­noon of burst bub­bles and fad­ing dreams, West Ham man­ager Slaven Bilic pledged that his side would still serve up a cracker in to­mor­row night’s grand farewell to his­toric Up­ton Park.

Satur­day’s dress re­hearsal was a com­plete flop, with un­her­alded guests Swansea steal­ing the show to all but end West Ham’s am­bi­tion of claim­ing a top-four place, but Bilic main­tains it will be a dif­fer­ent story against fifth-placed Manch­ester United.

West Ham bring down the cur­tain on a 112-year stay at their me­mory-steeped Bo­leyn Ground to­mor­row, when a re­peat per­for­mance of

Satur­day’s de­ba­cle seems un­think­able.

It seemed as if the in­ten­sity of all the emo­tion sur­round­ing the club’s de­par­ture for the Olympic Sta­dium next sea­son had drained the play­ers of pas­sion and en­ergy but Bilic in­sisted they would bounce back.

“I don’t think our play­ers are think­ing a lot about it in a neg­a­tive way. I think they are ap­proach­ing the day like it is a priv­i­lege to be in the last game ever to be played here. It should be an in­spi­ra­tion and I think it will be the in­spi­ra­tion,” Bilic said.

“When you are los­ing 2-0 at home it is hard to play good and main­tain the shape be­cause you feel the crowd on your back. But I wouldn’t think that’s any ex­cuse for to­day. We want to give a good farewell to the fans and the Bo­leyn Ground.”

For 20 min­utes on Satur­day all seemed well for West Ham. The party mood was in full swing with Dim­itri Payet test­ing Swansea goal­keeper Lukasz Fabi­an­ski in the first 90 sec­onds be­fore go­ing close with two free-kicks. Up­ton Park lux­u­ri­ated in the sun­shine and awaited the goals but lively Swansea had a shock in store, strik­ing twice within six min­utes to punish their hosts’ ca­sual at­ti­tude to giv­ing away pos­ses­sion and even more lax ten­den­cies over penalty-area mark­ing.

Crosses from full-backs Kyle Naughton and Stephen Kings­ley from op­po­site flanks were turned in with the great­est of ease by the un­marked Wayne Rout­ledge and André Ayew.

When the out­stand­ing Ki Sungyueng volleyed home a spec­tac­u­lar third early in the sec­ond half there was no way back for West Ham.

Home sub­sti­tute Di­afra Sakho forced an own goal off the luck­less Kings­ley mid­way through the sec­ond half but Swansea’s coun­ter­at­tack­ing threat con­tin­ued and Bafé­timbi Gomis grabbed their fourth goal in added time. West Ham sup­port­ers could not quite be­lieve their eyes as their side, im­pres­sive on a 10-match un­beaten stretch in the league be­fore Satur­day, sur­ren­dered so meekly.

Bilic, how­ever, is cer­tain that af­ter such a per­plex­ing per­for­mance, they will re-emerge a dif­fer­ent propo­si­tion against United.

“It can’t be a re­peat but of course we have to play much bet­ter than we did to­day. The rea­son why we lost the game was be­cause we were not do­ing the sim­ple, ba­sic things,” he said.

Mark No­ble, one of the few West Ham play­ers to show up against Swansea, was de­fi­ant, say­ing: “They took their chances, we never – sim­ple as. I’m not go­ing to dwell on it be­cause we’ve been fan­tas­tic this year We are itch­ing to get back out there and put things right. It’s the last game ever at this place and it’s go­ing to be spe­cial. There’s peo­ple out there who want to put the boys down but the way we’ve played this year from where we’ve come has been fan­tas­tic.”

Swansea had taken one point from four pre­vi­ous away matches and with pre­vi­ously ever-present cap­tain Ash­ley Wil­liams rested from their last two games to re­cu­per­ate be­fore his de­fen­sive du­ties for Wales at Euro 2016, their first league vic­tory at Up­ton Park since 1956 was all the more re­mark­able.

Cen­tral de­fend­ers Jordi Amat and Fed­erico Fernán­dez snuffed out the aerial threat of Andy Car­roll, standin cap­tain Jack Cork was fault­less in the hold­ing role and Ki was full of good ideas go­ing for­ward.

Cork said: “Ev­ery­one has been say­ing what a bad sea­son we are hav­ing, but to­day’s win has taken us to mid-ta­ble. It has been a hard sea­son but we have pulled to­gether and turned it round.”

Bounc­ing back: Slaven Bilic says his team will be ready for to­mor­row

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