Bilic didn’t expect West Ham’s Euro challenge

Date published: Sunday 1st May 2016 11:51

Slaven Bilic: Has a list of targets

Slaven Bilic has admitted he did not expect West Ham to challenge for Europe this season when he took over at Upton Park last summer.

Mark Noble’s double, after Cheikhou Kouyate’s opener, earned West Ham an impressive 3-0 win at The Hawthorns on Saturday to move them up to fifth in the Premier League, although United will move back in front if they avoid defeat at home to leaders Leicester City on Sunday.

Seventh will be enough for a Europa League spot if United win the FA Cup, however, leaving the Hammers in a strong position to host European football at the Olympic Stadium next season.

Bilic said: “Now a European spot is a realistic target for us. It wasn’t at the beginning of the season, but we’re not going to deny it or be big-headed.

“Unfortunately it’s not safe still and the gap between us and Liverpool and Southampton is less than the gap to the Champions League.

“We are talking about Europe, it’s all in our hands and it’s very simple. You don’t have to be a genius to do it.

“If we beat Swansea our target is going to be closer for us and then we have a game against Manchester United, that is and was our approach from the start of the season and it’s the only logical approach.

“There’s no point to calculate but we are in good form.”

Noble netted his sixth and seventh goals of the season and now has four in his last two games following a brace against Watford.

Bilic added: “If we are going to talk about Mark we will have to talk for a long time, not only today but the way he trains, plays and behaves since the start of the season – he is basically unbelievable. His personality, not only his captaincy, his role and the number of yards he runs.

“With the ball he is exceptional. I knew he was a good player who would give you everything on the pitch and run like crazy but he has surprised me. But his finishing in training and here, the second goal, didn’t surprise me. I expected it because he did it in training.”

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