Manuel Pellegrini will be hard-pushed to maintain his proud record of never failing to qualify for Europe – but he is not giving up hope yet.
The 65-year-old West Ham boss has previously taken charge of four European teams and led them all into continental competitions every season.
Pellegrini achieved the feat 11 times, four times with Villarreal and three with Malaga, as well as securing Champions League qualification in his one season at Real Madrid and guiding Manchester City through on three occasions.
Making it 12 out of 12 with West Ham will be tough, but with seventh place and a potential Europa League spot still up for grabs, Pellegrini is refusing to play down his chances.
“It would be a very important achievement for the team, the players, for me and for everyone,” said Pellegrini, who took over as Hammers boss last summer.
“In all the years I have worked here in Europe I have always qualified for European competition. We have an opportunity and that is why we need to play so well in these 11 remaining games.
“If we don’t reach that achievement we will work next season to try to do it. That must always be our mentality to try to arrive in one spot for European competition.
“I think if we do it this season it would be great for the club and the fans.”
West Ham owners David Sullivan and David Gold stated European football was the ultimate aim after moving the club from Upton Park to the London Stadium two and a half years ago.
Last week Gold used Twitter to highlight the strength of West Ham’s bench against Fulham now that their injury crisis is at last showing signs of clearing up.
“If you review the bench of the last game we had some important names: Andy Carroll, Samir Nasri, Manuel Lanzini, Marko Arnautovic,” added Pellegrini.
“Not all of them are 100 per cent fit. But if we can play with all of them in a good moment, of course I think we are going to have a strong squad.
“That is what we are working towards and that is why we are looking to achieve European competition, which would be very good. If not, we must continue working. I agree with David Gold.”
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