Slaven Bilic explains why he doesn't want to end up supporting Manchester United at end of season

Slaven Bilic

The West Ham manager wants his side to have European qualification in their own hands by finishing fifth rather than hoping United win the FA Cup.

West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic has told reporters, as quoted by the club's official website, that he wants to see his side take European qualification into their own hands by leading them to a fifth-placed finish rather than hoping another spot becomes available by Manchester United winning the FA Cup.

The Hammers are currently sixth in the Premier League table, one point ahead of Liverpool and three points behind United in the race for a Europa League spot.

As it stands, with Manchester City having won the Capital One Cup and almost certain to finish in the top five, the team who finishes fifth would go straight into next season's Europa League group stage, whilst the team in sixth would go into the third qualifying round.

However, if United finish fifth and then beat Crystal Palace in the FA Cup final next month, the sixth-placed team would go straight into next season's group stage whilst the team in seventh would be the ones entering at the third qualifying round.

After qualifying for this season's Europa League by topping the fair play table, West Ham had a bad experience of the qualifying rounds by being knocked out by Romanian side Astra Giurgiu at the start of August.

Bilic is desperate to see his side take qualification into their own hands this season and joked that he did not want to end up having to become a Manchester United fan if the Irons finish below fifth.

The Croatian boss told reporters, as quoted by the club's website: "Top four will be very hard for us. [Top six] has been a target for quite a while now. It wasn’t a target at the beginning. With four games to go, we have a gap, but we can’t afford not to win game or lose games.

"The top six is the one we’re looking for now. It will be hard, as we have four tough games – and Liverpool and Southampton are playing well and picking up points – but we’re on a good run and we’re fully motivated. If we continue to play how we have been, we have a good chance.

"Of course I would like to see [United] win it [the FA Cup], because it would give us a bit of a cushion. The good thing is that everything is in our hands, though. I’d rather we did it ourselves that wait a week after the end of the season and be a Man United fan!"

The Hammers will be desperate to secure some kind of group-stage European football next season in their first campaign in the new 60,000-seater Olympic Stadium as they look to continue their development into a prestigious Premier League club.

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