Win, lose and draw as Zola targets European berth
Gianfranco Zola believes West Ham must take four points from their final three matches this season to guarantee a place in next season's Europa League
By JONATHAN CLEGG
Gianfranco Zola believes West Ham must take four points from their final three matches this season to guarantee a place in next season's Europa League.
The Hammers returned to seventh place in the Premier League after last weekend's win at Stoke are currently a point ahead of fellow European hopefuls Spurs, Fulham and Manchester City.
Now Zola has targeted a return of four points from the club's three remaining matches to reach the total of 52 points that the Hammers boss reckons will secure a berth in the rebranded UEFA Cup.
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He said: "I still believe 52 points will still make it. We will try hard until the end. I know the players are very determined to achieve this.
"Some teams do not want Europe because of the number of games. But we have so many young players that Europe would be a big thing for them. They would improve very much."
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The West Ham manager is convinced that the experience of playing in Europe would be a major boost to the development of the club's youngsters, such as Jack Collison, Junior Stanislas and James Tomkins.
And Zola is adamant that the continued progress of his young stars would negate the need for major additions to the current squad.
"I am sure that the club is going to be ready to face the challenge and, trust me, we don't need much investment in what we have," Zola said.
"We have a good base here. Of course, if we qualify, we have to play in Europe - it will be more important to have a bigger squad, so that might be a possibility.
"Some players I am sure the club will consider buying, but I believe that it won't be necessary to have big spending."
Meanwhile, West Ham have until the end of the month to gain the UEFA Club licence required to enter European competition.
The Hammers missed the initial April 30 deadline for licence applications after failing to declare their accounts and would be barred from European competition if they do not satisfy the demands of the club licence.