Zola wants Europe for youngsters

02 May 2009 06:22
West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola believes qualifying for next season's Europa League would be a boost for the younger players in his squad.The Hammers, who beat Stoke 1-0 on Saturday, occupy seventh place in the Premier League, which would be enough to qualify for European competition. "Some teams do not want Europe because of the number of games," said Zola. "But we have so many young players that Europe would be a big thing for them. They would improve very much." The victory at the Britannia stadium pushed Zola's side above Fulham and a point above fellow European hopefuls Tottenham and Manchester City. The West Ham matchday squad for the game included six players under the age of 21: Jack Collison, Zavon Hines, Josh Payne, Freddie Sears, Junior Stanislas and James Tomkins. "We will try hard until the end. I know the players are very determined to achieve this," said Zola after the win. "To be honest I am quite surprised to be in this position. "I was dreaming of doing a good job but I was not expecting to be pushing for Europe. It is going well." Zola's enthusiasm for the Europa League contrasts with some Premier League managers' apparent concern over the number of matches modern-day European competition demands teams play. Manchester City played 16 times simply to reach the quarter-final stage of this season's Uefa Cup, the competition which the Europa League will replace from next season. By contrast, City required just nine games to win the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1970. Following his side's 1-0 home victory over West Bromwich Albion, Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp admitted he was no fan of hectic European schedules. Redknapp said it would be "hard" to qualify for the Europa League, adding: "West Ham have two home games next, now we have to win away. We need six points to have a chance. "It would be lovely from a selfish point of view," he said, "but the actual competition is draining. Thursday to Sunday is not easy."

Source: BBC_Sport