Football

Zola criticises Euro formats

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Gianfranco Zola believes West Ham are four wins away from Europe - but he has launched an attack on the format of UEFA competitions and feels they have been devalued.

Zola's men are seventh in the Barclays Premier League and in the hunt for a place in next season's Europa League, the revamped version of the UEFA Cup. Although there is a new name and schedule, there will still be plenty of games before the knockout rounds start.

"Years ago, this competition was more attractive and that is something that maybe should be thought about for the future," said Hammers boss Zola.

He continued: "For me it is nonsense. But I have the same idea about the Champions League really. For me, It does not have the same attractiveness as it had before.

"Before it was a proper Champions League. To participate, you had to come first.

"It had a different value and it was the same for the UEFA Cup. It was much more attractive. A knockout competition already makes it more interesting."

Zola may feel European qualification has been devalued but he is determined to guide West Ham there in his first season as a manager, with his players benefiting from the experience.

They have already reached the 40-point mark for safety and could edge towards their target for Europe with a win at Blackburn this weekend.

He added: "We need to push because we want to achieve the estimate of 52 points if we want to go to Europe, we need to push ourselves hard because we have a few injuries.

"It is achievable. You have to think in this way. You have to have a target and you have to give everything to achieve that."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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Topics:
Europa League
European News
Football
Blackburn Rovers
Premier League
UEFA Champions League
Gianfranco Zola
West Ham United

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