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What They’re Saying – West Ham: Bilic Doesn't Blame Moyes For Sunderland Woes

In this week's 'What They're Saying' - where we preview what the opposition has to say about the visit of Sunderland - West Ham fans are expecting a win, but there's an element of doubt and Slaven Bilic doesn't blame David Moyes for the mess at the Stadium of Light.

West Ham United v Sunderland - Premier League Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images

The Hammers aren’t sure how to feel at the moment. On the one hand, they recorded their first win in six games last time out at Crystal Palace. On the other, everything somehow is not right with the world.

The post-Allardyce Bilic era and the move to a massive athletics bowl was supposed to be the stuff of dreams. Instead they limped out of the relegation zone last weekend with a narrow win against Alan Pardew and the Olympic/London/Millenium Dome, whatever it is really called, is proving to be a bit rubbish.

Like Stoke last week, the Hammers are also struggling to come to terms with being discussed as current rivals with their visitors (us) for the places in the bottom three.

Here’s what the local press, pundits, manager and fans are saying about the visit of Sunderland this weekend.

The Manager

Slaven Bilic undertook his pre-match press conference for the Sunderland game this morning.

He revealed that Andy Carroll is nowhere near due for a return. Though, bizarrely the West Ham boss admitted that neither he, nor his staff, had noticed the big striker was injured during the game in which he picked it up, and he wasn't even sure of when they realised Carroll was suffering from it:

It was a very strange injury that happened in Romania.

He stayed the whole game on the pitch and we didn't even notice he got injured until end of the game or the next day when we did the scans.

Former Sunderland target, Andre Ayew, is back in training but he won't return to the West Ham first team until late November at the earliest.

Bilic, like every manager we have faced since the start of the season, has sympathy for David Moyes, but his words are notable in suggesting there are clearly other reasons for the now annual state of things at Sunderland:

Of course, he is a terrific manager and he has done a terrific job long-term at Everton, and now he has difficulties with Sunderland, but he’s not the first one who has that experience with Sunderland recently. It’s nothing new for them.

Is it down to him? No, I’m saying he is a great manager, a big name. The pressure is there and it comes with the territory.

The Local Press

The Evening Standard is the standard outlet for all things London and they summed up the mood amongst the once-happy hammers this week with an article condemning the West Ham official twitter account for revelling in victory:

Fans hit out as West Ham’s Twitter Trolls C.Palace – ‘Stop milking it’

Indeed, the Standard was in no mood for squabbles between the cross-capital rivals who make up its readership with wise words to calm the situation:

Plenty of fans - from both sides of the London rivalry - suggested the time for gloating was over given that the Hammers are still just one point outside the drop zone.

It was an odd twist of humility rarely associated with West Ham – the club who won the World Cup and were bestowed a national stadium fifty-years later by the taxpayer as thanks – even Hammers fans requested that the social media bloke at the Olympic Stadium give it a rest in trying to goad Palace fans.

Then, bizarrely, a bloke with Steven Fletcher as his profile picture wandered in to have his say:

And if a punter is having a laugh at you, who thinks Steven Fletcher is so good he has him as his avatar, maybe you really aren't up to much after all.

Meanwhile, the Barking & Dagenham Post has engaged itself in a debate which may be of interest to Sunderland fans who frequent the Stadium of Light on a regular basis.

Big Debate: Should West Ham United fans have to remain seated in the London Stadium?

And if the discussion highlights some of the teething problems West Ham have endured since they moved into their new home, it also highlights a wider debate about standing at Premier League grounds.

At the Stadium of Light, there are pockets of fans who stand all game and it's now simply an accepted feature of that part of the ground. But if those people were dispersed around the rest of the stadium and continued to stand, then it may upset a few traditional 'sitters'.

The solution proposed by the West Ham board appears to be to be that they "may group like-minded supporters together" at the Olympic Stadium.

Aside from the potential comedy-value of assigning tags to groups of supporters - 'sitter', 'stander', 'misery', 'moaner', 'bad-BO', 'talks incessant cr*p', was the Olympic Stadium a chance missed to trial safe-standing in England?

The Local Pundit

West Ham legend and one of those strikers who always seemed to score against us - Tony Cottee - (he played against us in eleven games, and scored eight times!) has previewed Saturday's match for the East London Advertiser:

I am feeling confident about this game and I will be going for a 3-1 home win.

They may be bottom, but when they have a player like Jermain Defoe in their ranks they are always going to be dangerous.

It is a sad state, in many ways, that we still only have one player who opponents think can be dangerous.

The Fans

But, fans-site Forever West Ham have at least managed to find three Sunderland players that they believe their team "has to stop" on Saturday - Duncan Watmore, Wahbi Khazri and Jermain Defoe.

They over-estimate us, but it is perhaps an indication of their lack of confidence and absolute belief that this game is a must-win, that there is a modicum of fear in their previewing of the game.

Many Hammers are still mourning the loss of Upton Park and trying to force themselves to grow to like the Olympic Stadium.

But this video from a few weeks ago, of the old Boleyn Ground being blown up, must have been pretty gut-wrenching. They were only supposed to blow the bl**dy doors off after all (gerrin!). Of course, we can empathise with them, though the destruction of Roker Park was almost a generation ago now:

Plenty of West Hams are still not happy at all with the Olympic/London/Millenium dome and this quote on forum Knees Up Mother Brown (KUMB) sums it up:

The fans kept their side of the deal and trudged along to the wretched new place like were we instructed. But will the board keep theirs? So far its nothing but a clusterf**k with not one improvement that I can see other than the toilets.

Still, like Bob Murray's gold taps when the Stadium of Light opened, this may be good news for any Sunderland fans making the journey this weekend who are weak of bladder. However, be warned - there's a curious device that has been employed which may catch you out:

The toilets? One way in, with the same way out? People standing at the entrance blocking it all up... nope, the toilets are khazi.

Previewing the game, the KUMB boys and girls daren't yet hope that the win at Crystal Palace means West Ham have turned the proverbial corner.

One member, who calls himself 'dodger' (he's a proper artful east-ender you see), summed it up nicely:

I see a 0-1 or 1-1 here. I think Sunderland will be better, and we definitely have a mental fragility when we are expected to win a match. Similarly, their fans will be more up for it than ours, while also expecting less from their players so there will be less pressure on them.

Of course, I hope I'm wrong. If we score first Sunderland could well crumble, but if they score first or it's 0-0 for quite a while it will be them who gain confidence and us who lose any we gained from Palace.

But, some bloke called Buster on WestHamOnline.net sums up exactly what most Sunderland fans are fearing:

They're ripe to receive a fu**ing good hiding whichever team we put out.

Quite.