Slaven Bilic admits season ticket sales have increased pressure on West Ham

West Ham United's European hopes were dashed with a disappointing home defeat to Swansea City at the weekend.

West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic has spoken exclusively to Sky Sports about how the announcement of the sale of 52,000 season tickets puts huge pressure on his side.

The Hammers have been flying this season under Bilic, and with their move to the Olympic Stadium just around the corner, expectation levels have soared after being linked to some of the world's best players.

Bilic spoke to Sky Sports about the ramifications of having such high levels of expectation, but at the same time, claims he is relishing the responsibility.

"Of course it's a lot of pressure (selling 52,000 season tickets) and next year the bar will be higher - 60,000," Bilic said. "This is a kind of good pressure though, because it's proof that we are doing something good. It's amazing that we are jumping from 35,000 capacity to 52,000 season tickets in one season. It just shows that the club is moving in the right direction."

The East London club suffered their first home defeat in the league since August at the weekend, losing 4-1 to Swansea City, and now sit seventh in the Premier League table, although they do have a game in hand on Southampton above them.

A victory over Manchester United tomorrow night would see the Hammers jump back into sixth position, and move within a point of Louis van Gaal's men in fifth.

The performances that Bilic's men have put in this season have led to many fans expecting at least a Europa League spot, and when the stadium move is complete at the start of the next campaign many pundits feel that West Ham will be challenging for a Champions League place.

That is a lot of pressure in itself, but one thing is for sure, West Ham are now a club with ambition like they have never had before, and they are certainly moving in the right direction. When you progress at the rate the Hammers have done over the past year, there will always be an added amount of pressure that goes along with that. 

Whatever happens, the game against Manchester United tomorrow night will be an extremely emotional one, with 112 years of memories culminating in one final showpiece under the lights at one of London's most famous old grounds.

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch