Cautious West Ham boss hopes to scrape past Maltese minnows Birkirkara in Europa League

Europa League Final

West Ham United boss Slaven Bilic says one goal should be enough to make it past Maltese minnows Birkirkara in their Europa League qualifier.

The Hammers hold a slender 1-0 advantage from the first leg of the second qualifying round match at Upton Park last week and Bilic has been speaking in a press conference ahead of the reverse fixture.

Bilic's east Londoners were expected to steam roller their opposition under the lights at the Boleyn.

But they put on a disappointing performance and were grateful to centre back James Tomkins for sparing their blushes with a goal at the death.

West ham are desperate to make it to the Europa League group stages so they can give supporters some memorable European nights and a fitting send off to their Boleyn Ground home of 112 years as they get ready to move to the Olympic Stadium next summer.

A tough Maltese nut to crack

Birkirkara were well drilled in the first meeting and Bilic told the pre-match press conference in Malta - which was reported live on West Ham's official Twitter feed - he would be happy to win 1-0 as he is expecting more of the same.

"The score was not ideal. We were hoping to have one more goal but I wouldn't dream it was going to be an easy game," he said.

"We should have scored earlier, which we deserved, but in the end we had a positive result and it should be enough if we score.

"In the first leg, they went on the pitch as a unit and that impressed me most, as did the two centre-halves and the 'keeper.

"I wish they would change their approach but I don't think they will. They might press, but it's down to us how we let them play."

Are Bilic and Allardyce so different after all?

It is interesting to hear Bilic's thoughts on his new side's approach to the match.

Playing against a side lacking any real quality, some West Ham fans may see Bilic's comments as negative.

After all a section of fans had made it quite clear they were not happy with the former Croatia boss' predecessor Sam Allardyce for what they saw as an overly cautious and negative mindset, particularly away from home.

Those same fans would argue a club boasting the squad West Ham have should be going out there to make a statement with a big win.

While it will take a while for Bilic to imprint his style and methods on his new team, fans have been hoping for a more attacking and positive outlook under their former defender.

But Bilic is an experienced international and European manager and knows that playing in the intense heat against highly motivated opposition can often make all the difference.

Should the Hammers progress to the next round, they will play either Scottish Premier League side Inverness Caledonian Thistle or Romainian outfit FC Astra next. Inverness currently trail 1-0 from the first leg.

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