“Slaven Bilic, ‘The Special One’, should come to Andorra.”
Those were the words of Xavi Roura, the head coach of Andorran outfit Lusitanos who lost 3-0 to West Ham United at Upton Park in the first leg of their Europa League first qualifying round match on Thursday.
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Roura felt that Slaven Bilic’s decision to not take charge of the Hammers was disrespectful to his side, as West Ham’s new Croatian manager instead let academy director Terry Westley pick the team and he oversaw the victory.
Bilic claims he did not mean to disrespect West Ham’s opponents and the only reason he let Westley take charge was because he had taken the team on their preseason tour of Ireland, not Bilic, as the former West Ham defender was only appointed in charge of the Hammers less than a month ago.
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He instead sat in the stands and watched on as his team fielded five teenagers — one of which was Reece Oxford who became the youngster player in West Ham’s history at 16 years and 198 days old — and comfortably overcame the Andorran side in front of a sellout 35,000 plus at the Boleyn Ground.
Nevertheless, Roura wasn’t happy.
“I imagine that he has won many titles and maybe he thought he was the ‘Special One’. He is the West Ham coach so I expected him to be on the bench,” Roura said. “Slaven Bilic, ‘The Special One’, should come to Andorra. The minimum thing I can hope for is that this won’t happen again.”
Well Roura, here’s some news that will get you even more fired up: Bilic doesn’t plan to attend the second leg as he continues to build a new squad for the east London club.
The Hammers play the return leg against Lusitanos next Thursday, July 9, and a win will see them play either Maltese side Birkirkara or Lithuanian outfit Ulisses in the second qualifying round.
Of course, West Ham qualified for the Europa League after finishing top of the Premier League’s Fair Play rankings last season but that mean their 2015-16 campaign begin on July 2. Just 39 days after the 2014-15 PL season concluded. They must get through three qualifying rounds and a playoff round to seal a spot in the group stages alongside other PL outfits Tottenham and Liverpool.
Tougher tests await Bilic’s Hammers, but surely he won’t face any criticism as bizarre as this in the upcoming season.