Manager on Monday

The manager says the Hammers' focus remains on reaching the 50-point target

Sam Allardyce says that the focus will remain on looking to beat Everton at home in the next match to reach the 50 points target and remain on course to secure the aimed-for top ten finish.

Much is being discussed on whether the amount of possible bookings that may or may not be picked up by either the Hammers or the Toffees when the two teams meet at the Boleyn Ground on Saturday, may affect who could take the final Fair Play Europa League place.

But Hammers boss Allardyce will have his players only focusing on bouncing back from the 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa at the weekend and getting three points in what is the final home of the 2014/15 season.

“I am not going to look at it in that way, whether we are going to get any less cautions or more than Everton. We just want to go out and play them to beat them, that’s the only thing we will be looking at.

“I am not going to start saying to the players, watch what you do, don’t get cautioned because we might not finish number one for European fair play place. It will be all about going out there, playing our best and trying to win. And if we do that the right way, hopefully we are still in the position for the fair play place."

Big Sam emphasised concentrating on the targets and aims that has been the mainstay all season, having been in the top half of the table throughout the current campaign.

“Our position is to finish with 50 points or better and finish in the top half where we have been all season. It would be very disappointing to me if we don’t manage that.

“I know we have got more points than we have ever got since promotion - we have one more point than in year one back in the Barclays Premier League - but we have to get to the 50 point mark and stay in the top half of the table."

The manager was ruing not being able to stick the ball into the back of the net at Villa Park on Saturday and knows that and keeping a clean sheet will be a key for facing Roberto Martinez’s men this weekend.

He also said the continuing strong performances of young West Ham defender Reece Burke, who featured in his third straight league match for the first-team against Villa was fantastic for the club and said it further enhanced the long-admired academy the club is famed for.

“When you look across the Barclays Premier League today, there are very few players under the age of 21 that are actually playing [in first team] on a regular basis.

“In fact, probably less than double figures I would have thought. If you look across the whole of the Premier League, it’s a pity but it shows you how difficult it is for youngsters to break into a Premier League team when he is an under 21.

“Obviously Reece has got in our side out of the fact we have two of our main defenders injured [James Tomkins and Winston Reid], and when you get your chance, you have to grasp it in this game.

“For me, he [Reece] has done that, he has grasped his chance, he has done a fantastic job and I think that West Ham finding this lad from age of nine, is very unusual now, because when you see youngsters breaking in, you will see that they have probably been bought in by the bigger clubs when they are 14 or 15 not when they are eight or nine like Reece.

“It’s great for him, it’s great for the reputation of the club, he played a part in making sure we didn’t give anything else away in the game at the weekend and that is great.”

Big Sam added that being more clinical in front of goal would be the main key to undoing an Everton side.

“Like I have said, we can’t score a goal at the minute from open play, we’ve gone so long, I can’t remember the last one, it’s that long ago. The last goals we have scored were with Mark Noble from the penalty spot and Aaron Cresswell from a free kick. It’s been a long time since we scored from open play.

“We have to know, that when we play Everton on Saturday, if we don’t keep a clean sheet, it’s unlikely we are going to win because we are struggling to score goals at the minute, so the need for to go back to being more clinical as well as keeping a clean sheet is vital.”