Sam Allardyce is yet to discover whether he will remain West Ham manager next season, but he is planning ahead regardless.
The Irons boss is out of contract in the summer, leading to speculation over his long-term future at the east London club, who are set for a move to the Olympic Stadium.
However, despite the uncertainty surrounding his position, Allardyce will remain ever professional until told otherwise.
“We sat down yesterday and began to plan for next season, when we’re coming back for pre-season, where we’re going to go and who we’re going to play. It’s not fully evolved yet but the plans are in place,” he said.
“No I don’t (know if I am going to be at West Ham next season), but when you are contracted to a club you do the job that you’re paid to do, one of those roles is to plan for next season.”
Allardyce, 60, has worked under scrutiny all season, having made a conscious effort to improve the team’s attacking style.
Earlier in the campaign, the Irons had climbed into the top four following a good run of form, only to dip again at the turn of the year when hit by a run of injuries to key men and picked up only 11 points.
Co-owner David Sullivan this week made public his disappointment at that form, a situation which Allardyce accepts and is determined to put right, starting against Stoke at Upton Park on Saturday.
“The reality is there is a difference between the performances and the results. Having said that the bottom line is winning and getting results and we haven’t done enough of that recently,” he said.
“We’re all disappointed in the last few results and I accept that.
“I have to emphasize results because we’ve come close to winning some major games of football. We have to look at the season as whole, not just a few games and I think overall it’s been terrific, it’s been very exciting.”
Allardyce accepts perhaps the Irons became somewhat victims of their own success earlier this season, which saw them beat the likes of Liverpool and then Manchester City at the Boleyn Ground.
He added: “We are disappointed a little bit because we built up expectations by being in the top four and not managed to maintain that.
“However, realistically it would have been hard to maintain that over a season even before we had injury problems.”
Ecuador forward Enner Valencia is set to return to the squad after surgery on his big toe, needed when he stepped on a broken tea cup, so will boost the Irons’ attacking options.
Allardyce understands the need for a positive finish, with Stoke level on 42 points in the battle for a place in the top 10.
“We have to make sure we finish higher than we have ever done in the league and get more than 46 points,” said the Hammers boss, whose side were beaten by bottom club Leicester last weekend.
“Looking at the table, the maximum we can finish is eighth, unless we go on a brilliant winning streak – which I think we are capable of, it is unlikely we can finish higher than that, so winning on Saturday becomes the all-important thing.”
Allardyce added: “Our creative ability has been endless all season, we’re creating the same amount of chances as we were when we were in the top four, we’re just not finishing as many. Against Leicester we created more than our usual average number of chances. So we need to convert more chances.
“At the other end we need to make sure we keep our concentration and not let the opposition sneak a goal. That has ultimately been our Achilles heel over the last few games.”
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