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Delaney: Chelsea will only get better


Roma's chance to bounce back

AS Roma
By ESPN Staff

Duxbury predicts bright future for West Ham

West Ham director Scott Duxbury insists yesterday's FA Cup final appearance is the first step towards achieving the club's main target - Champions League football.

The West Ham board failed to build on their success under Harry Redknapp in the late 1990s, when he led the Hammers to fifth place in the Premiership.

The end result was relegation from the Premiership and the loss of a whole generation of young stars, including Michael Carrick, Joe Cole, Glen Johnson and Jermain Defoe.

But Duxbury has vowed the same will not happen on this occasion.

The likes of captain Nigel Reo-Coker and Anton Ferdinand have all signed long-term deals and money - believed to be around £15million - will be available for manager Alan Pardew to strengthen his squad ahead of next year's UEFA Cup campaign.

'We've clearly got to invest in the playing squad and keep pushing the club forward, but there is no reason why we can't move on from here and enjoy regular UEFA Cup football and have a long-term target - if not medium-term - of playing in the Champions League,' said Duxbury, West Ham's legal and commercial director.

'I don't think anyone should be ridiculed for aiming to reach the top and, in my opinion, that is where this club is heading.

'Everything about this club is geared towards success. People talk about how quickly we have gained success this season and, yes, it is fairly unusual for it to happen so quickly, but our position shouldn't be an unusual situation for a club like West Ham United.

'We should be in the top 10 of the Premiership, we should be in FA Cup finals, and we should be playing European football.'

West Ham chairman Terence Brown revealed last week that in terms of income, West Ham are the 18th biggest club in the world. The challenge now is to translate that success onto the field of play.

'We've enjoyed a fantastic season by anyone's estimation and it really has exceeded expectation, but our appearance in the FA Cup final is certainly not the end of the story - in fact it's only the beginning,' he told the club's official website.

'We did say at the start of the season that we wouldn't be happy with just surviving in the Premiership, and that our goal would be to invest in the playing staff and invest off the field via our commercial activities to make sure that we actually flourished in the top flight.

'Our aim was to secure European football for next season and, while some people may raise an eyebrow about that, we always felt it was a realistic ambition.

'Unless you have goals and targets, then you're never going to achieve them.

'I am sure there is more to come. People say to me: 'How can it get any better than this?'

'But why? I believe it can be better.'