Here are all the questions and answers from Bilic’s press conference earlier today.
What is the latest with Andy Carroll?
He had trained on his own for a few days. He joined the squad yesterday and we still have four days until the match. So he feels good and altogether it will be a week of good training which should be enough for him to be fit for the game. I am very optimistic that he will play but it looks good. So far so good.
How important is it to have him fit for Chelsea?
It is very important. We have done well against Chelsea without him before but he is one of our key players and it would be great to have him on the pitch on Monday. It would be a big blow for us if he didn’t make it. I am always optimistic but this time it is not crazy optimistic. I am confident we will have him on the pitch on Monday.
Is it true that the club gave permission to his agent to sell him to do a deal with a Chinese Club?
No, no way, you know how much I rate him, how much we rate him and I said a couple of minutes ago he is one of our best players and we want to keep him. As far as I know the Chinese club’s sent their representatives to watch a game and other players and they fell in love with Andy. It is not the club who asked the agents to sell him.
How has Andy been? Did he ask you about it? (The move to China)
No not at all. He probably heard it but I suppose he was flattered, it is nice to have options. It is good to have other clubs want you but we didn’t talk about it at all.
Is it a relief to have the window shut now?
Well we haven’t been loaded with offers from China so it didn’t affect me, I didn’t wait for it to finish.
Did the club turn down an offer from China?
Yeah but you told me about them closing the window, it’s not like we had 4, 5 or 6 offers for our players. We had an offer for Andy but as we told you we didn’t speak about it so that’s it basically. Not a lot to talk about.
In terms of team news for Monday, Antonio is out, is anyone struggling?
No it is just Micky who is suspended for us which is a big blow. Only Sakho and Ogbonna are out. Sakho is coming back he is going to see the surgeon in Bordeaux and if that meeting goes well he could be available in 3-4 weeks and Angelo is doing really good after his surgery on his knee. There are a few knocks, like you always, have but we are good.
Can you clarify the situation with Antonio’s contract?
I told you last time, he has a contract but the club wants to reward him with a new contract to show recognition because he has done great for us. It will be done very soon.
What about you, will you get a new deal?
I have spoken about this, I am happy, I have a contract and I am very happy here. I treat my next few games as my contract. I don’t think that much about it.
It would be nice to get it done?
As I told you I have a year and a half contract and nowadays in football, contract lengths do not make much difference in football nowadays. Ranieri is the best example of this. Before the season we would say he has the safest job in football and then what happened. So I am not bothered to be fair.
You are one of the few clubs to have beaten Chelsea this year, do you have the measure of Chelsea?
It will be harsh to say this. We beat them and this was well deserved, some would say they didn’t play with their strongest team but in the second half they brought subs on and did and we beat them. It means a lot, we have done it recently and they have improved since then and we have improved. It is a game that we are knowing we need to be big time on top of our game.
Do you think some teams think it is impossible to get something from Chelsea?
No, no. I watched the game v West Brom. They gave them a very hard game. They didn’t have a shot on target in the first half. In the Premier League anyone can beat anyone which is why this is the best league in the world.
Can anyone catch Chelsea?
It is still very open, there are still many points. There is a chance if Chelsea slip up.
Can I ask you about Victor Moses, has he surprised you?
Not surprised, I am pleased for him. He has said he has good memories of his time here, I am glad for him. His potential, his characteristics were always amazing. His pace, stamina, everything….he is top top class. Sometimes you have to push him to do it day in and day out and now he is doing it. Once I spoke to Payet and Payet said including himself; Victor and him are the best players at West Ham.
Just a question on Lanzini, how important is he?
Of course when your best players improve, you improve as a team. He is making all the players around him better. He started the season with a big injury and a big disappointment that he couldn’t go to the Olympics with Argentina. He took a while to get back into the team but he is a top player and he makes the players around him feel more confident alongside him.
Has this been one of the hardest seasons for you as a manager?
It was a hard season but every season is hard. I see this season as great for me individually and for the club. This season we experienced a lot of negative, positive and new things. We moved stadiums, training grounds and we had a strange pre-season because of Euro 2016 and the Europa League. We were then hit with a lot of injuries. We didn’t have some players in some positions. We started the season ok but we lost four games in September which we had to come through and we want to improve but things look much stronger now. This gives you experience for the future.
What was the turning point and do you have a points target from the remaining games?
No the plan is simple, guarantee safety and then try and approach each game. We can talk about the Palace away game, or the Hull and Burnley hard fought wins, we can even talk about that period when we approached those 5 big games and we got a couple of away points against Liverpool and Manchester United. You could pick them but there was no turning point as we continued to believe. The only way to get out was by sticking together.
What have you made of the job Conte has done at Chelsea?
I am surprised by the streak that they are on as it is not very common. I was expecting him to have a strong impact because he had it at Juventus. I knew him at Juventus and I studied his game and I expected him to do great long term. In the first season it is a surprise that they are 10 points clear but he is a great manager. He did it at Juve and at Italy.