West Ham manager Slaven Bilic has dismissed Troy Deeney’s claims that Dimitri Payet’s rabona cross was intended to embarrass Watford during the Hammers’ 4-2 defeat at the London Stadium last weekend.
Earlier this week, the Hornets striker claimed that the Frenchman’s moment of trickery to set up West Ham’s second goal was an attempt to “mug us off” and said it inspired Watford to come from two goals down for a remarkable comeback victory.
But the Croatian insisted that Deeney’s statement was “clever” and the timing of his claim made for a good story as Walter Mazzarri’s side secured their first win of the Premier League campaign.
“(Deeney)’s a great player and a very clever player and it was smart to say that,” Bilic said.
“I didn’t see it that way to be fair. It might look like that for some people but I think he said that because they turned the game around. It’s a good story, like they woke up from 2-0 to make it 4-2.
“I’ve been here more than a year and I haven’t seen my players underestimate any team that we have played so far, especially Watford because before the game we knew we were expecting a tough game. It’s just a clever statement from Troy.”
Ahead of their trip to the Hawthorns on Saturday, Bilic remained optimistic about his side’s defensive qualities, despite seeing his side knocked out of the Europa League and sitting just one point above the relegation zone.
The 48-year-old said: “(The defending) wasn’t good of course. It was a bit different than the game against Bournemouth at the same stage last season. Against Bournemouth it was more individual mistakes. The conclusion was the same, you lose confidence as a team. Now, the confidence is okay.
“We are a team, we defend together and I’m happy with that. We will work with that. It is very important to talk about it. We spoke about it before the Watford game. We’ve had a good meeting and now I’m waiting for the reaction tomorrow.
“Mistakes will happen but we have to defend better and defend like we did last season.”
Bilic also feels it would be “an excuse” to say that his team are feeling the pressure of moving to a new stadium after crowd trouble marred their defeat against Watford.
“I don’t like excuses,” he said.
“I didn’t notice until I was told after the game and it didn’t affect my concentration during the game so I’m sure that the players didn’t notice it. That had nothing to do with the performance. Of course I would like (the crowd trouble) to be sorted out. We are playing football for the fans.
“The fans are the most important for the club. We want them to feel good and make them happy with our results and the club wants them to feel safe in our stadium.”