Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

England are far and away the best: Zola

The domination of the Premier League over Serie A in last week’s Champions League fixtures came as no surprise to Gianfranco Zola.

The West Ham manager, who welcomes West Brom to Upton Park tonight, said: "It is a great moment for English football right now.

"In this country you can see that the top teams are producing results, quality football and big performances - not only at home but abroad and internationally.

"The football played in this country is the most competitive in Europe so it’s not a surprise to me that they went through against the Italians.”</>\[Peter Hutcheon\]"They prepare the teams and the player to a higher level and that is why they are cruising in Europe, not just against the Italian teams but the Spanish also."

Zola’s side currently have strong designs on entering continental competition next season themselves, with seventh place likely to be enough to book a place in the Europa League.

And the Hammers boss is also daring to dream of taking the club to the next level.

"Of course I hope one day to be there, competing with them in the Champions League," he added.

"We will see though, it depends how well I work, how well I do my job and how well the team does their job but that is one of the targets we have.

"It might be possible that seventh spot is enough for Europe this season and that would be a great thing for this club. Not just for the club to be in Europe, but for the players to play games internationally makes them better.

"I played many times as a player in European competition and I know how it can make a player better to play those kind of games."

Zola admits it has not always been plain sailing since taking over from Alan Curbishley at the Boleyn Ground, but he praised his squad for their positive attitude when faced with adversity earlier in the season.

He continued: "I remember a time this season when we went to play Sunderland away and we were two points from the bottom. We won that day.

"But even in the difficult moments this team kept believing in what we are doing, stuck together and kept with our idea of how to play football.

"Now we are playing very well and that is down to the mental strength we showed in those times

"The plan is still to strengthen the team this summer. But first of all we need to achieve our targets this year, then we can think about going on and pushing the team on.\[Prestige\]Story 'westham16' fetched from queue '\BELFAST\WIRE\Sport\Soccer News' on 15/03/2009 17:11:36

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