Bilic makes shock admission over West Ham sensation
By Matt Farr
West Ham boss Slaven Bilic has shocked fans by admitting he does not know where to play Michail Antonio.
The England winger has been in sensational form this season, contributing eight goals and one assist from 24 appearances in all competitions this season, and Hammers fans will be surprised that the manager does not yet know what to do with a player that has been at the club for well over a year.
In the absence of the injured Andy Carroll and the inconsistencies of Dimitri Payet for the large part of the season, Antonio has emerged as West Ham’s shining light and star performer.
However, Bilic has often been forced to experiment with the 26-year-old in different roles within his starting line-up, and admits that he does not know his best position.
His positioning within the Hammers’ line-up has not affected his form, however, and the former Nottingham Forest man can set a new record for the number of headed goals in a calendar year if he heads home against Leicester on Saturday.
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Tim Cahill, formerly of Everton, is the current record-holder, with his effort of 11 headed goals in 2010.
In light of the potential milestone, Bilic told the Daily Star: “It is already a hell of an achievement. He is a big player. He deserves everything and is always there to score goals.
“Every time I turn to my staff and ask who has scored a goal, they say it is always Antonio when you didn’t notice.
“He is very versatile and that is why we got him. I would not say that we taught him to score. It’s his sheer determination, his hunger.
“His best position? First I would say centre-forward because he scores goals but then again he is very good on the wing.
“If we play three at the back he can play right wing-back especially in a team that is attacking. He doesn’t like to play at right-back but he has the ability to do it. So very, very versatile.
“If you take him away from the box you will lose his goals, that could be ten, 15, 20 goals a season – nobody wants that.”
Antonio’s goals have been imperative to the Hammers recent revival. West Ham found themselves loitering dangerously near the relegation zone at the start of December, but have since gone unbeaten in their four games since – including three back-to-back wins.
They will be looking to continue their form against Leicester at the King Power Stadium, where they could continue their rise up the table into eighth with a win.
In other West Ham news, the Hammers are reportedly interest in signing this midfielder in January.