Slaven Bilic believes Tottenham Hotspur could struggle when they make their temporary switch to Wembley next season. Spurs will play their home games there while work continues on their new ground and Bilic, whose West Ham United side have won only six league games at the London Stadium after leaving Upton Park, warned of a tricky transition.
“I would not be surprised if they had problems,” said Bilic before West Ham’s game at home to Spurs on Friday night. “It is going to be very hard to replicate the atmosphere at White Hart Lane and the feeling that anywhere you turn you [feel] close to either goal.
“Tottenham felt [the difference] in the Champions League [games Spurs played at Wembley]. Although the pitches are the same it’s a totally different perception and the perception is the key. We needed a few games [to get used to the new ground].”
Mauricio Pochettino is anxious to learn from Bilic’s experience. “It’s a great opportunity to listen to him,” Tottenham’s manager said. “It’s always important to listen, to be open and learn. He can maybe advise us on different things. I have a very good relationship with him – he’s a great guy and manager. It’s always difficult when you move stadium. We have started to see this at Wembley, what happens when we played. We must make it our home and it’s so difficult.”
Bilic said he was calm and concentrating only on Friday’s game after it emerged his future depends on performances against Spurs and Liverpool in the final two home matches of the season.
“It is not the time to talk about that,” Bilic said. “It is not about individuals, it is about the club. I am calm and totally focused on the game. The only thing I am thinking about is the match against Spurs.”
West Ham’s woeful displays at home to the Premier League’s leading teams this season have particularly troubled the club’s hierarchy.
“This is a big match anyway,” Bilic said. “It is a derby, whether you need the points or not; it’s a derby game against Spurs at our stadium. They need points, we need points, so it is a massive game for us and a massive game for them. We will try to get the points that will mathematically secure our status.
“You don’t need extra motivation when you play against Tottenham. Last season’s game at Upton Park, when we beat them 1-0, was one of the most electric atmospheres. It is a big game for us, a big game for the supporters, it is under the lights which is always a special one, and we are ready for it.”
Andy Carroll, who has been absent for three games with a groin strain, will have a fitness test. “Andy has been training for a couple of days. I don’t know if he will be ready but we will see how he is in training,” said Bilic, who added that the left-back Arthur Masuaku was also a doubt after missing the second half of the goalless draw at Stoke last weekend. “Masuaku has a knock on his foot. There’s nothing broken but it’s sore. We will try him and see.”
One player definitely not available is the striker Diafra Sakho, whom Bilic confirmed would miss the rest of the season after suffering another back injury in training.