Slaven Bilic warns rivals not to underestimate West Ham

West Ham Upton Park

New West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic has warned people not to underestimate the Hammers, revealing they are seen as a 'special club' on the continent.

The former Croatia boss has managed in his homeland, Russia and Turkey and has been coveted by clubs across Europe during his rise to prominence as a coach.

He replaced Sam Allardyce at the Hammers' helm last week and will oversee some of the most important seasons in the club's entire history.

Next season is the last at their famous Boleyn Ground before the big move to the Olympic Stadium the season after.

The Hammers have qualified for the Europa League via the FIFA Fair Play rankings.

And with the added pressures of leaving for Stratford as a Premier League side and a first campaign in Europe for nearly a decade to contend with, many pundits have tipped them to struggle next season.

But Bilic says people in England underestimate West Ham as a club.

He is bullish about the future, dismissing suggestions the Hammers are simply defined by the fact they had the three key players in England's only ever World Cup triumph in 1966.

"‘The one thing about England is there are no small clubs — only big clubs and bigger clubs," Bilic told the Daily Mail.

"On top of that, West Ham has something. I am not saying that because I am an ex-player and now manager.

"They have something special — a cult club. I always believed that.

"People in England might not know but in Europe it is seen as a special club."

That theory will be put to the test in the coming weeks as Bilic bids to lure some of Europe's top talent to Upton Park to ensure his East London revolution is an exciting one.

While some talk of the potential for a struggle against relegation as the increased workload from the grind of the Europa League followed by the Premier League takes its toll, Bilic has far loftier aims.

He says the long term goal is Champions League football when the Hammers move to their new 54,000 seater home.

Achieving that before then he says will be a 'miracle' but it is in his thoughts nonetheless.

"This club has the potential and if you don’t think about the possibility of that then you definitely will not do it," he added.

West Ham will start their season before any other Premier League side on July 2 when they play their first qualifying match in the Europa League.

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