Former West Ham boss Slaven Bilic has criticised the club’s decision to leave Upton Park for the London Stadium.
Bilic, now in charge of West Brom – who travel to the London Stadium in the FA Cup on Saturday – managed the Irons at both grounds before his dismissal in November 2017.
“It’s not an excuse but if you ask me what was it better to play at Upton Park or not then there’s no discussion. It was more home, it was more hostile. Not one opposition player enjoyed it when they had to go to Upton Park. That’s a fact. The Olympic Stadium is very different for an away team. You enjoy it more,” he said
“Wenger said: ‘We left our soul [at Highbury].’ And it’s true. Atletico – their new stadium is too nice. Upton Park made you [roll up your sleeves]. Highbury made you, the old Atletico stadium made you. Everything is on top of you; everything is close. You have those memories. This is what we did there and there. It’s different.”
The former Croatia international oversaw one of the club’s finest seasons during their final campaign at Upton Park, with Dimitri Payet’s 21 goal contributions leading the way as West Ham amassed 62 points in 2015/16 – more than any other Premier League campaign.
After overseeing 109 matches as Hammers boss, Bilic went on to manage Saudi Arabian outfit Ittihad for a short while, before his return to English football with West Brom.
The Baggies boss will be hoping he’s not eating his own words come Saturday evening after their visit to the London Stadium.
His side are, however, in a little bit of a slump at the moment – failing to win their last six Championship encounters. But despite their poor form, they remain top of the table and Bilic will be hoping to kick-start a resurgence in the second half of the season with a win against his former club.