West Ham boss Slaven Bilic has made the astonioshing, if rather refreshing claim that he would rather win the FA Cup than qualify for the Champions League.
Bilic made the claim ahead of the Hammers’ third-round clash with Wolves at Upton Park, where the Hammers are odds-on favourites to progress against their Championship opponents.
The Croatian’s statement of intent will be music to the ears of West Ham fans, who were angry when previous manager Sam Allardyce fielded a team of youngsters in a 5-0 third-round defeat at Nottingham Forest two years ago.
Allardyce was concentrating his resources on the relegation battle but with West Ham now flying high in sixth, Bilic can turn his attentions to bringing a first FA Cup in 36 years to east London.
Asked if he would rather finish in the top four or lift the famous old trophy, Bilic said: “I would like to win the cup. Of course.
“Over the Champions League? Yes. It is a cup! Win the cup and I can hold it up. Get in the Champions League and I have to buy a magazine to show the league table and shout ‘look where we are, look where we are’.
“The proof is silverware. So I would prefer to win the FA Cup…and then finish fifth or sixth!
“The FA Cup is special. There was a stage before they changed the format of the Champions League when the cup was good because through the cup you would qualify for the Cup Winners’ Cup and only the league champions would go through to the European Cup.
“But then they changed it and made it the Champions League. Suddenly it was more important to finish in the top three or four in the league than to win the cup.
“But in England, the FA Cup for me never lost its value.”