The Sunday Post (Dundee)
‘Be humble’, Bilic tells Hammers
SLAVEN BILIC will keep Michail Antonio at right-back and has called on his players to be “humble” when asked to sacrifice their favoured position for the good of his West Ham side.
Antonio, 26, was signed after impressing on the wing for Nottingham Forest – but towards the end of his first season he was deployed in defence.
He started there in Monday’s defeat to Chelsea, conceding a second-half penalty moments before being hauled off in the 2-1 loss.
“I told him it is going to be a mix,” Bilic said when asked where Antonio’s long-term position would be. “I expect my players to be humble and sacrifice individually for the sake of the team.
“That was our pattern and base last year – it was our biggest strength, the team.
“Of course it would be ideal if we could put all of them in their ideal positions. There’s no democracy like that in this business.”
The Hammers have a readymade right-back in Sam Byram and he could start there today against Bournemouth in the first Premier League game to at the London Stadium.
But Bilic has faith Antonio can be just as good in either role.
“He’s a really good lad, a great professional,” Bilic said.
“And I told him before the season that he’s going to play probably a mix of those two positions, he’s got the quality for both.”
While it remains to be seen where Antonio features today, one man hoping to make his Premier League debut will be Jonathan Calleri.
The highly-rated 22-year-old has signed on a season-long loan from Deportivo Maldonado and was part of the Argentina squad which featured at the Olympics.
Asked if former Boca Junior Calleri can produce in the Premier League, Bilic said: “Hopefully he will. I strongly believe it. Because he scored in the first league there and the Copa Libertadores, both very tough competitions. Not a jolly-up.
“He showed quality, he showed strength, he showed team play, he likes to play with his mates, he’s not an individual. And then his finishing is spot-on.”