Marko Arnautovic wants West Ham to aim higher after they achieved just their second top-half Premier League finish in six years following a final day win at Watford.
The Hammers secured 10th spot by leapfrogging their hosts courtesy of a comfortable 4-1 victory at Vicarage Road.
Having battled against relegation for much of last season, West Ham returned to the top half under Manuel Pellegrini – but Arnautovic, whose future remains uncertain, believes they can do even better next year.
“Every year we want to improve and we want to do better and obviously we want to always be in the top half of the table,” he told whufc.com.
“But I think it’s not our target to be 10th but to be much higher. We played some good football. All through the season we had some brilliant games and we had some bad games.
“We need to look at the good games and to train and learn from the good games because we are a very good side and we have very good players.
“We missed some of those games against the teams around us and lost those games and next year we want to win them and finish higher next season.”
Mark Noble opened the scoring with a fine solo effort before Manuel Lanzini headed in a second before the interval.
The Hornets reduced the arrears just 11 seconds after the restart through Gerard Deulofeu but a red card for defender Jose Holebas just minutes later halted hopes of a comeback.
Arnautovic then slid in to convert a third, with Noble wrapping up the victory from the penalty spot.
The result meant Watford slipped down to 11th having been in the battle to finish seventh for much of the campaign.
Javi Gracia’s side have won just once in the league since beating Wolves in the FA Cup semi-final on April 7 – and that was a narrow victory at bottom club Huddersfield.
They head into Saturday’s FA Cup final clash with Premier League champions Manchester City on a poor run of results – but Deulofeu insists anything is possible in a one-off game at Wembley.
“We started really badly, conceding the two goals,” the Spaniard said.
“We have to be stronger. We have to be more aggressive, more angry.
“It is one game against City and anything can happen. We know our characteristics – we will fight with all our heart and as hard as we can for the trophy.
“We will fight all the way through what will be an amazing battle. It is a final and we have the opportunity to reach Europe and make history. We will go full power in this final game of the season.”
Watford are likely to launch an appeal to overturn the red card shown to Holebas after the 34-year-old was dismissed having been adjudged to have hauled back Michail Antonio as the West Ham forward ran through on goal.
Holebas will miss the cup final if an expected appeal, which Gracia was adamant would be lodged with the Football Association, is unsuccessful.