After a tough start to life in their new home at the London Stadium, manager Slaven Bilic has written in his column for the Evening Standard:
“A lot has been said and written about the London Stadium but now, I think, all that has to stop. I said in last week’s column that we were going to train in the stadium more often and today we are due to complete our preparation there ahead of Saturday’s match. That will help. It is a great stadium and all we need is a couple of victories and good performances to banish any negativity.”
The best way to stop such negativity will be with victories, such as yesterday’s late win over Sunderland, the Irons’ second Premier League victory since their stadium move.
Discussing the game, Bilic told BBC Sport:
“It was a dramatic end. The first 25 minutes it was by far our best 25 minutes, including last season. We were good, sharp, created chances and we deserved to be two up. Then they came back… I cannot say it was a goal from the training ground. You expect Winston Reid to score a header but it was a great decision to come in on the edge of the box… It is a boost. It was still early days but we had to react. Now we have two wins, two clean sheets, nothing can give you a bigger boost than wins. We have to build on this.”
The Croatian finally seems to be finding some momentum for his side after they went five games without a win and speculation mounted that his job could be under threat, though things now slowly seem to be turning around with two back to back victories using a new system since the end of the international break.
If the side are really to get going though, Bilic will need his strikers to start finding the net, and he is keen to support loan signing Simone Zaza as he told the Evening Standard:
“The goals will come for Simone Zaza but his link play with Dimitri Payet and Manuel Lanzini was different class. Simone has come from football in Italy, which is different to here, and it takes time to acclimatise but maybe the bigger issue is that he was not a regular for Juventus last season… In Simone’s case perhaps the expectation level was less at Juventus because of that but now the pressure has increased because everyone is expecting him to decide games.”
It may well be too early to write off Zaza, but he is now six games without a goal and has completed 90 minutes just once in claret and blue. He is yet to convince, though he does slowly seem to be settling in to the Premier League and Bilic’s line-up.
Featured Image: All rights reserved by Craig Ballantyne.