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Bilic wary of new stadium struggles

Slaven Bilic has called on his West Ham players to shape the club’s future as they get set to play their first competitive game inside their new stadium. 

West Ham said goodbye to Upton Park – a place they called home for 112 years – following the end of the 2015-16 Premier League season, electing to move into the bigger-capacity Olympic Stadium.

Ahead of the first game at the new ground – the second leg of their Europa League qualifier with Slovenian side Domzale on Thursday – Bilic has urged caution with the move. 

“Yes this is an opportunity for West Ham to establish themselves but as well [to think like] this is dangerous,” the manager said.

“I am an optimistic person but somebody has mentioned it that we experienced some bad examples of stadium moves. Fifty-two thousand season tickets sold are not going to get you a throw-in in the game. They are not going to get you a corner. They are not going to get you a point.

“The pitch is the same and you have to prove it. The stadium brings so many advantages and everybody is buzzing. But it also has some minuses compared to Upton Park. It is up to us to use this great situation that we are privileged to be in.”

Bilic said he is staying positive ahead of the move despite highlighting the likes of Arsenal and Southampton, who took time to adjust to their new surroundings after moving into the Emirates and St. Mary’s respectively. 

“I’m aware of that, some teams don’t struggle but need time to adjust,” he added. “I thought about it a few months ago during the process but I don’t think about it now, it is there.

“We have to be positive and I’m totally positive, the players are not afraid of it, they like it. They liked it from the start, we have moved just 10 minutes, it is still east London.

“It is going to be hard to replace the Boleyn Ground like it was hard to replace Highbury or at Southampton, it is a different kind of stadium.

“There is no reason to approach that issue in a negative way. On the contrary, it is a privilege to play in such a great stadium in front of a big crowd and we are looking forward to it.”

Thu 4 Aug, 2016
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