Slaven Bilic has played down West Ham’s prospects of finishing in the Premier League’s top four – but believes positive thinking could help them play with confidence and challenge the elite.
The in-form Hammers have won their last three matches to move within a point of Tottenham in fourth place.
Upton Park boss Bilic is continually playing down their chances, insisting no one at the club is thinking about a top-four finish despite their fine season so far.
But even the laid-back Croatian had to admit, in his own inimitable way, that there is no harm in trying.
“If you ask me if we are thinking about it realistically and starting to be a little bit big-headed about the Champions League, no, we are not,” he said.
“We know that we are West Ham and we are enjoying the season and we are respecting every opponent without being afraid of them, and that’s it.
“Are we favourites now to finish in the top four? We are not. But nobody can take the hope and the belief out of you.
“My philosophy in life is that there is nothing wrong with being confident, optimistic or positive. For me, on the contrary, you have to be like that if you want to get any chance to make it, whatever you do in your life.
“If you go to take a driving test and you say ‘I can’t do it’, of course you’re going to fail. If you got on a date and you’re approaching a girl in a nightclub and you think she’s going to tell you off and all that, no chance.
“But if you are positive, you have a chance. For the Champions League, or whatever – top 10, or staying up. Sunderland believe they can stay up. You have to do it, without that there is no chance.”
West Ham travel to Newcastle on Saturday looking to set a club record of nine straight unbeaten Barclays Premier League matches.
Steve McClaren’s side are in deep trouble lying second from bottom, but showed signs of life when they battled back to draw 3-3 with Manchester United in midweek.
“They are definitely improving,” added Bilic. “They had a slow start; a new team, a new manager, new everything.
“They are a massive club which in recent seasons had slow starts or difficult seasons. But they have improved, they have a good squad, great individuals, great strikers.
“They made a good comeback against Manchester United and they are on a high, so I expect a difficult game at a great stadium.”