Bilic accused of lacking respect

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Published: Thursday 2nd July 2015 by The News Editor

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New West Ham boss Slaven Bilic saw his side ease to victory in their Europa League first qualifying round clash with FC Lusitans – but was then accused of disrespecting the Andorran outfit.

Diafra Sakho scored twice and captain for the evening James Tomkins headed home to wrap up a 3-0 win for the Hammers, who will now head to Andorra next Thursday all-but guaranteed of progression into the next qualifying phase.

Sakho and Tomkins were joined in the side by fellow first-team regulars Joey O’Brien, Morgan Amalfitano and Matt Jarvis in a team selected and overseen by academy director Terry Westley.

Bilic, presented to a packed Upton Park before the contest, preferred to watch from the stands having returned from a training camp in Ireland earlier in the day.

The decision not to be involved did not backfire as he saw his team comfortably overpower their opponents – but Lusitans coach Xavi Roura was angry with the Croatian for sitting out of the contest.

“Slaven Bilic showed a lack of respect by not being on the bench,” he said.

“It does make me sad, in a country where fair play was invented that something like this could happen. I think he must have thought our team was not important for him to be present.

“I imagine that he has won many titles and maybe he thought he was the ‘Special One’. The minimum thing I can hope for is that the club like West Ham – this won’t happen again.

“I think he is the West Ham coach so I expected him to be on the bench. Slaven Bilic, ‘The Special One’ should come to Andorra.”

Despite Roura’s plea for Bilic to turn up in the principality, Westley – addressing the media as he had in the build-up to the tie – admitted he is likely to be disappointed.

“I wouldn’t have thought so, he can’t be in two places,” Westley said when asked if Bilic would be present for the next leg.

“He shows his respect for the tournament and the game by the group of players we had out on the pitch. Not every manager sits in the dug out.

“The manager has flown back from a training camp, got here this afternoon, spent all afternoon with the players.

“He was in the dressing-room for the team talk. We presented (Lewis) Page and (Reece) Oxford with their debut shirts and the manager and the chairman did the talk.

“They said ‘Wear these shirts with pride and some honour. You are following some outstanding players, (Geoff) Hurst, (Bobby) Moore, (Frank) Lampard, (Rio) Ferdinand … it’s time for you to create your legacy.’ The manager did that speech. He was very respectful for the game.”

As well as giving a much-needed run out to those senior players who missed the end of last season through injury, Westley was also pleased to blood a number of youngsters from the academy – most notably 16-year-old Oxford, who became West Ham’s youngest ever first-team player.

The game, brought about as the Hammers reached the Europa League courtesy of the Fair Play League, came just 39 days after their final fixture of last season and the departure of former boss Sam Allardyce and Westley felt it was close to perfection.

“We have won 3-0,” he said.

“What would have been ideal, a perfect night – I think 4-0 and getting academy players on the pitch and senior players not getting injured would have been a perfect night.”

Published: Thursday 2nd July 2015 by The News Editor

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