West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic said he would prefer to lift the FA Cup at Wembley than secure a place in the top four of the Premier League.
The Hammers face a potential banana skin third round tie against Championship outfit Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday (January 9). Wolves, like the east Londoners, are on a good run of form. They are unbeaten in their last three games and have kept three consecutive clean sheets.
Nevertheless, Bilic said: “I would rather win the FA Cup than get a place in the Champions League – all day long. Ideally finishing fifth or sixth as well would be nice. I want to win silverware. I remember the FA Cup about 20 years ago and still now the final can’t be bigger. It’s a celebration.
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“We’re doing well in the Premier League and we’re not looking for anything to make up for it. We’re not in a position to worry about league position so we want to progress in the cup.
“We went out of the Capital One Cup earlier in the season against Leicester City in extra time but we gave out best in that game. We see the FA Cup as an opportunity to progress. The FA Cup has never lost its value and it’s special to the fans.”
As The Wharf discovered , West Ham have a strong pedigree in the cup over the last 70 years but there cup runs this year started with a disappointing exit from the Europa League.
In the past two seasons the Irons have been on the receiving end of some uncomfortable drubbings – first against Championship side Nottingham Forest where they were hammered 5-0 and then a 4-0 thrashing inflicted on them by West Bromwich Albion.
But with added strength in depth to the squad, Bilic reckons he is able to field a strong team against Wolves on Saturday at Upton Park.
“It’s about competition now with a few players coming back from injury,” he said. “I have all my players that are getting good first team action on the pitch. Ideally they need to rest. It gives me the belief they can go far and be a really good side.”
Meanwhile, Bilic disappointed two north east relegation contenders by shutting the door on a deal for resurgent striker Andy Carroll.
Shipping out the tall frontman looked like a good means of creating funds for new players but the manager is not for selling in the January transfer window. A return to Newcastle was suggested but also there were rumours that Sam Allardyce, who secured his services for West Ham, would make a provocative bid to bring him to Wearside.
But Bilic said: “The club are not willing to listen to offers. We want Andy to stay and perform like he does in most games.
“Nobody at the club wants to sell him, he’s a very good player. But whenever he scores a couple of goals the rumours start.
“The only way he can stop the rumours is to play badly, which we don’t want him to do. We don’t want to sell him. He’s very good in the dressing room and I know he’s happy here.”