West Ham's Slaven Bilic wants Premier League power shift to continue
West Ham manager Slaven Bilic hopes that this season's rise of the lower clubs like his own will be more than a one-season phenomenon.
The Hammers have been impressive all season, and a 3-2 away win at Everton on Saturday sees them sitting in fifth place, just one point off Manchester City who occupy the final Champions League qualification spot.
Along with league leaders Leicester City, West Bromwich Albion and the other traditionally mid-table clubs, they seem to have breached the top-six club mentality in England, and Bilic hopes this will continue into next season.
"This is a permanent shift at the top -- at least I hope it is," Bilic told The Telegraph.
"Clubs like us with the [TV] money -- Crystal Palace, West Brom, Leicester -- we can still improve. Two years ago, West Brom could afford Salomon Rondon, but they would have had to sell [Saido] Berahino to get him. Now they can keep Berahino. Next year with more investment you can keep those players. Crystal Palace can keep [Yohan] Cabaye and bring another one. So all those teams and us have bigger room to improve.
"Big teams like Man City and Chelsea -- if they want to buy a striker -- there is no big gap for them to improve. Say City buy [Karim] Benzema, they have [Sergio] Agüero already, so there is no big space to get much better. Chelsea can sell Diego Costa and buy [Robert] Lewandowski, yes. But they are only different, not better."
While Bilic's fortunes continue to rise in what has been a stellar first season as a Premier League manager, his counterpart Roberto Martinez is facing a deluge of criticism after his side's seventh home loss came at the weekend.
Despite taking a two-goal advantage, Kevin Mirallas' red card and a final quarter comeback by the Hammers proved too much for the Goodison crowd, who vented their frustrations at the Spaniard tactician after the game.
"Seven defeats at home is not good enough," Martínez admitted. "That is where we feel so hard done by because you look at the attitude of the players, the talent of the players and the desire of wanting to please our fans at Goodison is incredible. With the seven defeats we can analyse every one and, apart from Manchester United, in every one we performed in an incredible manner and deserved a lot more.
"Are we good enough, do we do things right enough? The away form tells us that we do. It is just we need to make sure we find a way to change the little bit of a difference between performing well and not getting the wins at home. We are not where we should be because of the defeats at home."
Both team's next opponent will be Chelsea, with Everton hosting Guus Hiddink's team on Sunday in the FA Cup quarterfinal before West Ham travel to Stamford Bridge the following weekend to face their London rivals.