Slaven Bilic toasted the perfect birthday present after West Ham hauled themselves off the foot of the Premier League table with a 2-0 victory over Huddersfield.
Second-half goals from Pedro Obiang – thanks to a huge deflection – and Andre Ayew secured the Hammers’ first league win of the season.
Victory came as a huge relief to Bilic, who feared he might go the same way as Frank de Boer at Crystal Palace had his side lost a fourth straight game.
Instead it was a happy homecoming for the Hammers, playing their first game of the season at the London Stadium, and a happy 49th birthday for the boss.
“This was a good present to be fair,” he said.
“It was a top performance, not in the sense of beautiful football, but in determination and in executing the game plan.
“Was De Boer’s sacking on my mind? It was. I ain’t going to lie. But I’m 49, I’ve been in football since I was 18, so I know.
“To be fair, I came into the zone where I don’t care about that – not in a negative way, I care about the team – but I saw them really focused.
“I told them we have suffered for two weeks after the Newcastle defeat and they showed determination in training.
“That’s what I’ve been focused on. The other things are irrelevant.”
Javier Hernadez hit the crossbar as West Ham dominated the first half, but the nerves were beginning to jangle for the hosts until, in the 72nd minute, they got a huge slice of luck.
Obiang hit a speculative, to say the least, shot which Town keeper Jonas Lossl would have had covered had it not looped off the back of Mathias Jorgensen and crept inside a post.
Five minutes later Ayew, summoned from the bench in place of Hernandez, snaffled the second from a goalmouth scramble.
Tom Ince rattled the crossbar late on for Huddersfield but ultimately they were brought back down to earth after their hugely encouraging start to life in the Premier League.
They would have been joint top with a win, but boss David Wagner conceded they did not warrant anything from the game.
“It was a deserved defeat,” he said.
“Defensively we were okay, we were aware of West Ham’s direct style and we defended set pieces okay.
“But football is an offensive game as well and we were not good enough, not brave enough. We looked very nervous.
“The goals were unlucky for us but I’m angry about our performance.
“We haven’t shown today what we are capable of and that’s why I think it was a deserved defeat.”
Published at Mon, 11 Sep 2017 22:23:57 +0000