West Ham United’s players must embrace the emotion of the club’s final game at the Boleyn Ground against Manchester United on Tuesday, manager Slaven Bilic said on Monday.
Fifth-place Manchester United need to win if they are to keep their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League in their own hands, while West Ham are seeking to return to the Europa League places.
The home side will be running out at the Boleyn Ground — also known as Upton Park — for the 2,398th and final time, and Bilic is hoping that his players rise to the occasion.
“It’s impossible to lose the emotion,” the Croatian told a press conference on Monday.
“Let’s say if the game didn’t mean a lot to us or to Manchester United, in the sense of this season, it would be big anyway because it’s the last game at Upton Park.
“But it means a lot to them and to us — both things have clicked, so it’s big, big. It can’t be bigger.
“If they beat us they are very close to fourth place and for us, if we want to secure a Europa League slot, we need to beat them. It’s massive.
“So the players would be emotional even if just one of those couple of things were involved. But there’s nothing wrong with being emotional.”
West Ham’s unexpected 4-1 home defeat by Swansea City on Saturday left them in seventh place in the Premier League table, a point below Southampton with a game in hand.
Only the teams finishing fifth and sixth are guaranteed to qualify for next season’s Europa League.
Seventh place could yield a Europa League spot at the season’s end, but only if Manchester City finish in the top four and Manchester United beat Crystal Palace in the FA Cup final and finish in the top five.