West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic has played down a place in next season’s Champions League – saying he takes each game as it comes.
The Hammers are one point behind a fourth place Tottenham Hotspur, who many have tipped for a serious title challenge this season.
Although Bilic is comfortable with the east Londoners place at the top table, he insists it is too early to talk about Champions League football at the Olympic Stadium.
Bilic said: “We are not thinking like that because the league is so tight. I honestly don’t look at the table that much. All I can say is we’re not afraid to be in this position and we’re going to do everything to win every game up until the end of the season – that is the approach.
“If you ask me if we’re being big headed and thinking about the Champions League then no – we are not. We are West Ham and we’re enjoying the season – we’re respecting every opponent without being afraid of them and that’s it.”
In order to maintain an eight game unbeaten run, the Upton Park outfit must surpass a Newcastle United team at St. James’ Park buzzing with confidence after coming back to get a 3-3 draw against Manchester United.
Bilic praised the work of Magpies’ boss Steve McClaren.
“I know him from the beginning of his career. Even from when he was assistant manager at Derby County people were telling me how great he is as a coach.
“Then you start to follow him and he went to Manchester United with Sir Alex Ferguson. He did a great job with Middlesbrough and it didn’t go well for him at England. He came back from that and did a great job in Holland and was unlucky with Wolfsburg in Germany where he didn’t have enough time.
“He’s a football man and is crazy about it. He’s a gentleman and I respect him a lot.”