Slaven Bilic admits West Ham’s turbulent season has been one of the toughest of his career – but he would not swap it for a boring one.
The Hammers have had to deal with moving to the London Stadium, fan unrest, crowd trouble, an early exit from the Europa League and the Dimitri Payet saga.
They also suffered some heavy early-season defeats which left them in the relegation zone with questions being asked about Bilic’s future.
But West Ham have emerged from that tricky period to climb into the top half ahead of Monday’s visit of Chelsea.
And Bilic, who has also managed in Russia and Turkey as well as his national team, Croatia, says he and his players are stronger for the experience.
“I consider this season as a great one for me individually, and for the team, and for the club, because this season we experienced a lot of negatives, a lot of positive things, but mainly a lot of new things,” he said.
“I was manager of my country and I was manager of Besiktas in Turkey where the pressure is basically bigger than here.
“So I got used to the job a little bit. But was it hard? Yes. It’s still hard. But you know that saying: ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’?
“It’s great because now it’s a great experience. For me personally, for every player, for the team and for the club.
“We don’t want to start next season like we started this one. Was I enjoying September? No, of course I wasn’t enjoying September. Or October.
” But I wouldn’t change it. I would change September and October. But after that, when you’ve made it and you get out of that, the experience is priceless.
“I wouldn’t swap when I was under pressure or the team was under pressure. I wouldn’t swap it for a steady season.”
Fit-again striker Andy Carroll will replace suspended winger Michail Antonio in the squad to face leaders Chelsea.