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'Julian needed a bit of muscle!' - Slav recalls FA Cup memories

4 January 2020

Slaven Bilić steps out on a new FA Cup adventure this weekend with mixed memories of the famous old competition.

The Baggies boss is taking his side down to The Valley on Sunday for a third round tie which temporarily interrupts the intense focus on their Sky Bet Championship challenge.

Albion’s Head Coach made it clear he enjoys the famous old competition - with one stand-out episode from his playing days at West Ham always on his personal ‘instant recall.’

“West Ham were drawn at Wrexham in 1997 and it is an easy date for me to remember - I missed the game for the birth of my first son, Leo,” he said. “It was January 4 and we drew the game 1-1.

“What makes it more memorable for me is that West Ham’s goal that day was at 3.44pm - which is the time of Leo’s birth.

“But in the replay, which we were expected to win as Wrexham were then from the lower leagues, it was a bad night. A very bad night, we were beaten 1-0 and the fans were very angry. Not so much at the team but at the board. They wanted more investment I think.

“But I remember I went outside with Julian (Dicks) to help to calm them down. He needed a bit of muscle! That is a very big memory for me.”

Slav’s last FA Cup tie as a player was a 2-0 third round win with Everton at Bristol City but he remembers, too, the huge disappointment as West Ham's manager in 2016 when his strongly-fancied team were knocked out at the quarter-final stage by Manchester United.

The Albion gaffer has to balance the inevitable fatigue - both mentally and physically - in his squad following the exhaustive festive schedule with his enthusiasm for the famous old tournament.

"It’s big competition, the oldest in the world and one you do not need to speak about,” he said. “Every club wants to have a good run and we are no different.”

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