West Ham midfielder Declan Race claims securing European football is a must for his side as they prepare for the start of the Premier League campaign. Having finished in 10th place in the league last season, the Hammers are looking to make significant progress in manager Manuel Pellegrini’s second season in charge at the London Stadium.
Reinforcements have been brought in through the summer window, with a club record £45m being spent to bring striker Sebastien Haller from Eintracht Frankfurt. Spanish midfielder Pablo Fornals was also signed for £24m from Villarreal as West Ham look to take that step closer to securing European football.
That’s the goal for England international Rice and the 20-year-old is fully aware that anything less than earning Europa League qualification will be seen as a disappointing season for the Hammers. “We have to be aiming for Europe with the squad we have now,” Rice told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“Anything below that is a failure and most of the players would say that. “We finished 10th, but we had so many chances to finish seventh. We have to improve our away form and our consistency.”
After establishing himself as a regular in the Hammers side last season, Rice is hoping he can improve even further this term under the Chilean tactician Pellegrini. “If you had said to me then I would have played three times for England, played nearly every game, won man-of-the-match awards and club awards, I would have said no chance,” he added.
“I am really happy thinking about it, but I know I have to build on that this season.” West Ham are 10.00 to win and 5.20 to draw against reigning champions and 1.26 favourites, Manchester City, in their opening Premier League game on August 10.