Slaven Bilic defends decision to rest West Ham players for defeat in Romania
Last Updated: 07/08/15 2:43pm
Slaven Bilic stood by his decision to rest a host of first-team regulars as West Ham crashed out of the Europa League to Astra Giurgiu.
The Hammers boss had said in the days leading up to the game that he was prioritising Sunday's Premier League opener at Arsenal over this third qualifying round tie, and the much-changed side picked in Romania slumped to a 2-1 defeat.
Having come from behind to draw 2-2 at Upton Park last week, Astra finished the job on Thursday evening to advance to the play-off round, while West Ham's latest jaunt into European football ended prematurely.
Everything looked to be going well as Bilic, seated in the stands after being sent off towards the end of the first leg, saw debutant Manuel Lanzini open the scoring for his side inside the opening three minutes.
But two quick-fire goals from Astra skipper Constantin Budescu before half-time did for West Ham's hopes, however Bilic was not left regretting his call.
"You can't be sorry," he said. "You can't be like that. I said it was tempting but when you make a decision you stand by it and you know the consequences.
"I have to make decisions. It is me who is making them and then when you make it you stand behind that.
"I said (on Wednesday) that we had more chances to win with some of the players who stayed in London but I think the boys not only did everything, the effort was there, the quality was there as well - especially until they scored two goals."
Bilic will now be under pressure to prove his decision to leave his key players in London was justified by recording a positive result at the Emirates Stadium - but he did not back down from his original call.
"We would want a result (against Arsenal) anyway," he said. "When the Premier League starts, we have a game and of course we are looking to get a positive result.
"Do I need to justify the result here? I told you it was my decision. I have spoken with the people from the club about the Europa League and about next season, which is a huge one. I made this decision, not only for this game but for the game in Malta (in the second qualifying round against Birkirkara).
"I wanted to go through. I believed that we could go through with this team. I'm very proud of the effort they put in and disappointed with the result."