West Ham boss Slaven Bilic feels talk of Champions League qualification and easy Premier League victories contributed to his side’s poor start to the season.
The Hammers failed to qualify for the Europa League group stages and only picked up three points from their first six top-flight matches of 2016-17, having finished seventh last term.
However, West Ham have now won three and drawn one of their last four in all competitions to steady the ship ahead of Sunday’s trip to Everton.
A frustrated Bilic believes it was lofty expectations and a hint of complacency that caused their early season struggles.
“We got a bit of that complacency – I smelled it,” he told Sky Sports.
“I smelled it during the pre-season when I spoke to the press. You have press conferences even in pre-season and before our qualification games for Europa League and 70 per cent of the questions were about Champions League. ‘What are you talking about?’ was in my head.
“On one hand you don’t want to be pessimistic, but on the other hand – and I was talking about it to my staff – if they are asking me those kind of questions they are asking the players the same kind of questions.
“What is the reason? We are not afraid of anyone, but why are we talking about Champions League?
“We played at home against Watford and in a pre-match interview I was asked, ‘Are you thinking of an easy 3-0 win?’ and I was like, ‘What are you talking about?’
“This is the Premier League and we are West Ham. Nobody can talk about an easy 3-0 win.
“Those kind of things got us in a state of a little bit of complacency. You don’t do it deliberately. You don’t even notice, but it comes.
“Just five per cent, with a little bit of bad luck, is enough to get you in serious problems. Thank God we reacted well and on time.”
Despite increased expectations, Bilic does not regret West Ham’s impressive results last season.
He added: “We are the victims of our own success, but what should we have done?
“Lose a few games once we are safe? Then it wouldn’t be a great season, it would be OK, and we would be on our toes? No.
“We are not the first and we are not the last team to be a victim of its own success.
“We are a club that is moving places. We have a new stadium. The board and the whole West Ham family is trying to move this club to another level.”
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