Zola has a Euro vision
WEST HAM boss Gianfranco Zola is aiming for a European place in this campaign, but he admits it will be even harder to achieve than last season, writes DAVE EVANS. The Hammers were pipped to a Europa League place by Fulham last time round, but with the li
WEST HAM boss Gianfranco Zola is aiming for a European place in this campaign, but he admits it will be even harder to achieve than last season, writes DAVE EVANS.
The Hammers were pipped to a Europa League place by Fulham last time round, but with the likes of big-spending Tottenham and Manchester City also looking to propel themselves into the European spots, it will be a tough task for West Ham to achieve.
"The target obviously is to improve again on what we did last year," said the Hammers boss. "Last year we came very close to getting into Europe, so ideally the target would be to achieve Europe - that is very important to the club."
West Ham finished in ninth place last season, a remarkable position considering the injury problems they suffered - especially towards the end of the campaign, but Zola is under no illusion at the size of the task he has to overcome this time round.
"Last season, Fulham ended up going to Europe, and behind that Tottenham were just in front of us, and there was also Manchester City just behind us, so Tottenham, Manchester City are certainly going to be better this year," he reflected.
"We have to really go in front of those two teams, plus you have also Everton in front of us, Villa, and Fulham are very close, so it is going to be a tough one, but I do like the challenge, I do like that.
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"It will be an opportunity to push ourselves harder as well."
West Ham certainly played some good football last season, though their lack of goals proved their undoing in the race for a European spot, but the little Italian is fully aware of the anticipation among the Hammers fans, for the team to push onwards and upwards.
"People must understand, we are working very hard and we are trying to match their expectations," he explained.
"I'm sure the expectation is high for next season, and we will try to match that, but we need the support of the fans. We need them to understand that is not going to be easy."
It certainly won't be easy for the Hammers, because, like last season, they are currently lacking the firepower to make a real impression.
Unless they can secure two quality strikers before the end of the month, then Carlton Cole will be under too much pressure and the Hammers may find themselves in the lower reaches of the table.
There is still plenty of confidence in Zola and Steve Clarke, but they can only work with what is in front of them and at the moment, there is not enough strength up front.