The West Ham icon – who succeeded Sam Allardyce as manager this summer – did not take charge of the side for the Europa League first qualifying round match against Andorra’s Lusitans, leaving team selection for the 4-0 aggregate victory in the hands of academy boss Terry Westley.
Bilic elected to spend his time with the first team at a training camp in Ireland while a team full of youngsters and fringe players were entrusted with the task of ensuring Europa League progress.
The new manager is expected to be in the dug-out for the second qualifying round match against Maltese side Birkirkara on Thursday and the former fans’ favourite is relishing the prospect.
He said: “I’m really excited and looking forward to this job. It’s a big club in a big league and a special club for me personally. It’s a really exciting, special situation and I can’t wait for it.
“This was the place where I played the best football of my life and it’s a big obligation for me. The expectations are huge.
“It’s an unusual balance for us this pre-season, as until now we have had two teams. We wanted to respect the Europa League because it’s a big opportunity.
“So, we had the two teams, with some first-team players who didn’t play at the end of last season and one with the youngsters and they did well. I was flying back and forth, but now we’ll start to have normal preparations for the league season.
“We want to qualify for the Europa League because it’s good for the club, the spectators and the players and it’s good to have a competitive game on Thursday.”
West Ham have brought in four new faces this summer in the shape of Pedro Obiang, Angelo Ogbonna and Dimitri Payet from Sampdoria, Juventus and Marseille respectively. Goalkeeper Darren Randolph has also joined from Birmingham City.
Regarding further transfers, Bilic said: “We are trying to be active in the transfer window and the board have been active. We are still trying to improve our squad.
“Don’t forget the team did well last year, and we’ve brought in the players to make it better.”