| 8.6°C Belfast

Slaven Bilic: West Ham return was a risk worth taking


Slaven Bilic is enjoying life back at West Ham

Slaven Bilic is enjoying life back at West Ham

Slaven Bilic is enjoying life back at West Ham

West Ham manager Slaven Bilic has acknowledged that returning to Upton Park was a risk, but he always believed it was one worth taking.

Bilic, who enjoyed a brief but memorable spell with the Hammers as a player in the 1990s, took charge in the summer and has steered the west London club to eighth place at the start of the new year.

The 47-year-old knows it could have gone differently and a poor spell as manager may have ruined his legacy with West Ham fans, but he relished the challenge at a club he "loves".

"With everything there is one per cent, five per cent, 50 per cent risk that you ain't going to turn out that good," he told the Telegraph.

"But that's no reason not to take a job. There is turbulence. But it is basically a choice and I opted to make a choice and to make a choice to enjoy."

His brand of football has gone down well with the West Ham faithful, who have enjoyed impressive wins over Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea already this season.

Bilic admits the life of a Premier League manager is full-on and it "drains you", but he revels in the competitive nature of the English domestic game.

He added: "Okay, you still have Spain, the Bundesliga, but this Premier League is the NBA. This is the NBA of football. Although the best teams are maybe not from England - you are talking about Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich - but the actual league, this is the league to be in. It is very competitive."

With Leicester second only on goal difference after 19 games and Watford also surpassing expectations many have been surprised by the 2015-16 campaign so far, but Bilic believes it may be the start of a new status quo.

"This season is kind of logical. I will try to explain," he said. "Clubs like Leicester, Palace, West Brom, Stoke, West Ham, Watford, all of them. Every single club is in a situation to buy good players. Good enough players. And those clubs that already have (good players), the gap was like this [hands apart]. Because in Chelsea you had Costa, Fabregas, that one, that one, Hazard. But Crystal Palace didn't have Cabaye.

"And next year is going to be even more the possibility that these clubs can buy these players to close the gap. And these clubs (the traditional big ones) can't buy more of these. You can't buy Messis, there are not plenty of them. They already have 15 good ones, they can't buy 30, there is no space."