Michael Dawson was delighted to see us finish the 2010-11 campaign on a high and has already set his sights on another challenge next season.
The 2-1 final day win over Birmingham at the Lane secured a fifth place Premier League finish ahead of Liverpool and Europa League qualification.
Reflecting on a tense afternoon in which Roman Pavlyuchenko’s double also relegated our visitors, the captain said: “Before the game we knew what the rewards were if we went out and won. In the first half we needed to move the ball a bit quicker but in the second half it opened up.
“We’ve seen all season teams that come and sit in against us, and the longer the game goes on the more confident they get.
“We knew Liverpool were losing 1-0 but Pav got two top goals and it’s nice to finish the season on a high, but for Birmingham it’s hard times.”
For us it was two straight wins to end a memorable season, following up the previous weekend’s 2-0 win at Liverpool.
The fifth place finish that resulted meant we avoided qualifying for the Europa League via the Fair Play route – which would have meant an early start to next season.
And although ‘Daws’ admits to being disappointed at missing out on a second straight season in the Champions League, he insists regaining a place among’s Europe’s elite will once again be the aim in 2011-12.
He added: “Going into the Liverpool game last week, we knew we needed two wins and we went and got them, so credit to the lads.
“The Club wanted to be in the Europa League and the players want to play in tournaments all the time, but starting in June wouldn’t have been the best preparation for a long season. Luckily we don’t have to do that because we got the win to finish fifth.
“We wanted to finish fourth but we know how hard it is. After the run we had in the Champions League, we wanted to finish as high as we could and to finish fifth means it’s been a good season overall. I’ve certainly enjoyed it.
“As players we want to be in the Champions League, but we’ve been on a great journey this season having finished fourth last year. Unfortunately we couldn’t quite do that again this year, but that’s the aim next year.
“We’ll come back ready after a good rest and hopefully we can do it, as tough as it will be with the good teams that are in there.”