Slaven Bilic admits West Ham’s season was not enjoyable – but expects them to benefit hugely from the experience.
The Hammers fell back from their impressive seventh-placed finish of 2015-16 to end their latest Premier League campaign in 11th after a 2-1 final-day win at Burnley.
It was not a straightforward season with the club’s move from Upton Park to the London Stadium proving problematic and other factors, including dressing-room unrest and injuries, also hampering the side.
There was never any real danger of relegation, however, and manager Bilic views the year as one of transition that can be built upon.
He said: “It is not a season to talk about and hail as one of the best seasons, it is nowhere near the season of last year, but there is something between great and bad and we have done it.
“We never lost belief, it was permanent. The confidence was up and down – it varies because of results – but belief was there.
“It wasn’t enjoyable but, individually and as a team, I am sure we will benefit from this season a lot. It was a great experience.
“We had a couple of black holes in the season but we had eight major surgeries and we had 10 players who were out for a minimum of two-and-a-half months. This is scary, it is too much.
“Considering that and considering the move to the new stadium – that is definitely, long-term, the best thing the club has ever done but it needs time to adjust – we have done well.
“We were never in real trouble but five times we were one game away from being in real trouble. Every time we really needed it we showed the character and showed the quality.”
A second-half winner from Andre Ayew ensured the Hammers ended on a positive note by coming from behind to win at Turf Moor.
Sam Vokes put Burnley into a 23rd-minute lead but that was quickly cancelled out by the impressive Sofiane Feghouli.
The hosts spurned a number of chances to reclaim the lead and West Ham capitalised when Ayew pounced on a rebound after an Edimilson Fernandes shot was turned onto the bar by Tom Heaton.
It was a response Bilic had demanded after a 4-0 hammering by Liverpool last week had ended a five-game unbeaten run and spoiled a solid run-in.
Bilic said: “I wanted to avoid the factor of complacency, but it was there (against Liverpool). It wasn’t the same step, the same players like it was the week before against Spurs.
“But, at home, in 2017 it was only Man City twice, in the cup and league, and Liverpool that we were really not on the same level with. I am happy the way we finished the season.”