Liverpool outcasts Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing have ensured West Ham United have remained in the Premier League, according to Hammers co-chairman David Sullivan.
Carroll and Downing were initially brought to Anfield by former manager Kenny Dalglish for fees of £35m and £20m respectively but were moved on by Brendan Rodgers last summer as part of his overhaul of the Reds' squad.
Downing moved to Upton Park for a fee in the region of £5m while Carroll, who enjoyed a spell on loan at the club last season, joined the Hammers permanently for fee of £18m.
Liverpool travel to east London to take on the Hammers this Sunday having shattered pre-season expectations, sitting top of the Premier League with just six games remaining. But Sullivan believes West Ham could have similarly defied their critics this season and even challenged for Europe had their record signing not been plagued by injury.
"If Carroll had fit all season, we'd have been pushing for Europe," Sullivan told the Daily Mirror. We've averaged two points a game over the last nine games – and he's still not match fit.
"I accept he didn't fit in with the style Liverpool play, but he's still a fantastic player and we're delighted for him. He is an extremely motivated young man who still has his best years ahead of him and we're excited by that. I'm sure he'll be just as excited about coming up against his old club.
"As for Stewart, he has had a fantastic season and has also been instrumental in helping us climb to safety. Success is relative but these two players have helped us to stay in the Premier League and now we can continue to build."
West Ham were tipped as candidates for relegation at the turn of the year but an wonderful unbeaten February saw those worries eased. Although Sam Allardyce has once again come under fire for his perceived negative tactics, back-to-back wins over Hull City and Sunderland saw the club climb to 11th with 37 points, 11 clear of the relegation zone.