We dared to look up for most of the season
West Ham will be at Turf Moor tomorrow to bring the curtain down on the season with their manager Slaven Bilic taking charge of a game at Burnley for the first time.
It’s been an up and down time for his team in their first season at the new London Stadium following their move from the Boleyn Ground and there have been times when Bilic has looked a man under pressure. He’s come through that and they are well clear of the relegation positions but he sees the game as important because a difference between a win and a defeat could be as much as £9.5 million in merit payments.
“It’s the last game of the season and we can still improve our position,” he said. “We have injuries and all that, but we need to give everything to try to win the game and finish in the best possible way, so it’s a very important game for us.
“The players should be motivated by themselves, because it’s the Premier League and it’s the last game of the season. It’s 90 minutes that is also going to affect the season and our finishing position.
“The last game is always the last memory you have of the season, so I’m expecting the players to be like that. I’m certainly very, very motivated for this game. We want to finish on a positive.”
Despite injuries ruling out such as Mark Noble, who has scored the goals to beat us on the last two occasions the sides have met, Winston Reid and Andy Carroll, Bilic added: “We have leaders in our team and good vocal players and also have a good core of, let’s say, British players who are leaders, plus some foreigners who were skippers at their previous clubs.
“They are also the reason why we made it in the difficult times. The reason we made it is because when we needed to show that character before and during the game, we did it.”
Speaking ahead of a game for the last time this season, Burnley boss Sean Dyche reflected on the achievements of the team in 2016/17 and admitted: “We can enjoy Sunday and so can the fans because we’ve all enjoyed that right. But there’s professional pride and we need to remind ourselves to finish in a very good position.
“This is another chance to put points on the board and, in theory, finish in a very good position. Any positions that keeps you in this league is a good one because that’s the original marker, but anything we can do to improve upon that is going to be well looked upon.”
He added: “We dared to look up for most of the season. We’ve only been in the bottom three on the opening weekend, but it’s nice to have the freedom to say we are in this division next season and I’m extremely pleased.
“It’s a tough ask, the Premier League, and we’ve been down this road before and not quite made it. We’ve had a deeper, more rounded squad this year and I knew we’d learned from last time out, so it’s pleasing that everything has come together and allowed a team to operate enough to get the points needed.
“We had a tough run, but we knew we would, but when we have needed to get important wins, we have and when we’ve needed to get draws at the right time, we’ve done that. We’ve had a few things go against us with decisions, but we’ve overlooked that and got on with it, so for many different reasons I’ve been pleased.
“We’ve seen through all the noise of what we needed to do, and most of all the players have delivered at what is a very tough level of football. The fans have stayed behind the team, home and away, so from a collective viewpoint it’s been a pleasing season on so many levels.”Follow UpTheClarets:
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