West Ham manager Slaven Bilic is worried by the threat of Southampton and Liverpool in the pursuit of Europa League football, insisting his focus was never on achieving a top-four finish.
The Hammers were beaten 4-1 at home by Swansea City on Saturday, all-but ending any lingering hopes of Champions League qualification.
That defeat leaves sixth-placed West Ham two points ahead of Southampton with two matches left to play and four clear Liverpool, who have a game in hand.
As things stand, only the top six in the Premier League are guaranteed European football next season, although that would extend to seven if Manchester United win the FA Cup.
Asked whether a top-four finish was beyond his side, Bilic added: “Theoretically not but, to be fair, the only reason I didn’t rule it out before is because it was basically there, the chances were there.
“But for me, what I’ve been saying for the past three or four weeks, is that the gap between us and the top four is bigger than the gap between us and Southampton and Liverpool.
“That’s the gap that worries me, concerns me, or that I’m concentrated on, more than the gap to fourth place. And I’m talking about before this game.
“But Champions League, you have to say it – I couldn’t say ‘no, we don’t want it’. We were trying to approach it individually game by game.
“Now we are in a good situation but we have to react. We are still in a brilliant position but we want to finish high.”
West Ham face Manchester United in the final match at Upton Park on Tuesday, before travelling to Stoke City on the final day.
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