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Slaven Bilic has big plans for ambitious West Ham

Published 02/10/2015

Slaven Bilic knows West Ham's ambitions must extend beyond a shiny new stadium
Slaven Bilic knows West Ham's ambitions must extend beyond a shiny new stadium

West Ham need more than the Olympic Stadium to be a big club, according to Hammers manager Slaven Bilic.

The Rugby World Cup has already hosted two matches at the 54,000-seater venue and will showcase a third when Ireland play Italy there on Sunday.

The tournament has shown what awaits West Ham when they move into their new home for the start of the 2016-17 season, with capacity crowds enjoying an excellent atmosphere in the Stratford arena.

The Hammers have made a strong start, sitting third ahead of Saturday's trip to Sunderland, and Bilic wants to ensure it is not just the new stadium that excites fans in 12 months' time.

"If you go to a nightclub and have to pay hundreds of pounds to walk in, you can't go in with £100 - you're going to have to go to the toilet to drink water," Bilic said.

"We have a great stadium now but the stadium by itself will not make us a big club.

"Today you can't become big without one but it's not only the stadium, it is everything - the whole infrastructure.

"When you are building houses you need a school, a hospital, a cinema, a swimming pool - it's the same with a club.

"When you're building a club you need a team to match that. You can't expect the same team to play better just because you move into a stadium."

West Ham's owners were desperate to secure top-flight football ahead of the big opening next year but relegation no longer seems a concern after early wins at Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City.

A top-six finish and a European place may not be beyond Bilic's side this season and the Croat insists it is what happens on the pitch that remains most important.

"We have London, the Premier League, West Ham is a good club - but this isn't going to be enough to attract big, big players," Bilic said.

"Dimitri Payet is this kind of player. Very few people believed he would come here.

"And we had big players sign for West Ham before. For example I signed for West Ham - I am joking - but (Paolo) Di Canio was a big name."

Bilic added: "It's a great step up for the club but you can't say just because of the stadium we suddenly become a big gun - but we have a good platform to build on."

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