West Ham manager Slaven Bilic has defended his players’ night out and revealed that it was his own idea to help bolster team spirit.
Bilic’s men are 18th in the early Premier League table, having lost five of their first six matches this season, and members of his squad were pictured enjoying an evening out on Monday just a little over 24 hours following their 3-0 home defeat to Southampton.
There were also reports suggesting striker Andy Carroll and goalkeeper Darren Randolph had been drinking the day after the sanctioned team event, which the manager confirmed are being looked into after West Ham stated they would investigate.
“It was completely my idea,” Bilic said at his pre-match media conference ahead of Saturday’s home game against Middlesbrough.
“After the Southampton game we had a big meeting and spoke. I told Mark Noble, the skipper, to take them for dinner.
“For me it’s a good thing, not every week but in a great situation or a bad situation it’s good to stick together and it’s a good thing to do. It’s good for team building and that’s it.
“After that night we had a day off. Training on Wednesday was really good, but training last week was really good without the bonding. Now have to produce it in games.
“There have been some rumours. We will talk about it and if necessary we are going to act. I have spoken to the chairmen.”
Bilic feels concerned about West Ham’s poor start to the season – which also saw them fail to qualify for the Europa League group stage – but insists he is unworried by speculation he could be replaced.
He added: “I am not worried. I am delighted to work here but I will only focus on the things I can have an influence on.
“I am concerned and it has been a bad start. But with one win we can build everything back with a win over Middlesbrough over Saturday.
“One good result can change the whole season, but we cannot think it is just going to happen. We need to earn it.
“Mark Noble said we broke down after we conceded the first goal. These words are heavy words but I know what he means.
“We need to do it for the whole game and that is the only way you can have success in the Premier League.
“I am asking myself a lot of questions even when it was good last season. You think about how you can change things. You can’t sit still.”
Bilic revealed Aaron Cresswell should be ready to return after the international break, while Havard Nordtveit (knock) is a doubt to face Boro.
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