West Ham United are hoping to ride a wave of emotion all the way to the FA Cup semi-finals when they host Manchester United tonight (13 April), in the last cup tie to be held at their historic Boleyn Ground. Manager Slaven Bilic said the atmosphere inside the ground would give his players an extra boost for the quarter-final replay.
The Hammers will be moving to the Olympic Stadium next season after more than a century at the Boleyn, which is also known as Upton Park, and still harbour hopes of finishing in the top four and qualifying for the Champions League.
"It's the final FA Cup tie at Boleyn Ground, it's Manchester United, it's not the fourth round, it's the quarter-final, so it can't be bigger. We are of course fully motivated and we want to go through," he told reporters on 12 April.
"It's a massive game, of course. It's massive for them, it's massive for us. We are in good form, they are – OK, they lost their last game 3-0 but they are Manchester United and they have great players and selection and everything. They showed throughout this season that they can... for their standards of course they were not very consistent, but they are still above us in the table, so they are very capable of meeting any team on their day," Bilic added.
Bilic also heaped praise on striker Andy Carroll, who scored a hat-trick in Saturday's (9 April) 3-3 league draw with London rivals Arsenal.
"When he's fit and in form he is a very special kind of player. He's different, it's hard to mark him, it's hard to cope with him. But for us he's done really good every time he was fit, you can feel his presence, he's one of them who can change [a game]. He doesn't have to score of course, but his presence on the pitch gives us another quality and another dimension," said the 47-year-old.
Bilic will be tempted to start with Carroll against a vulnerable United side who may have skipper Wayne Rooney on the bench after his recovery from a knee problem.
Additional reporting by Reuters