Manager on Monday

Gianfranco Zola said West Ham United are "ready to face the challenge" of next season whether the team has European football to contend with or not.

The manager has helped guide the club to seventh place with just three games to go, a position that would mean UEFA Europa League qualification were things to stay as they are. The manager suggested such a continental campaign would only be a positive for the club although was keeping precise details of his squad plans close to his chest.

"That is another question that I would love to answer you," he said. "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. We have a good base over here. Of course if we qualify we have to play Europe it will be more important to have a bigger squad so that might be a possibility.

"Don't forget the most difficult job was to be done this year to make the basis now. In my opinion it is going to be easier to do something in the future. I believe that it won't be necessary to have big spending but some players I am sure the club will consider buying."

From back to front at the weekend, Zola's men displayed the determination to see the club over the finishing line and he paid tribute to the character shown. "The desire to get to our position is very important. It is vital. We are going to be fighting very hard to get it. We will see in the end.

"They showed a lot of steel as we did when we played Wigan away. We mixed the two styles and also we did it at Blackburn. We just decide what we have to do [on the day]. We know that when we play football we are better but if we are necessary we are willing also to fight and get points that way."

That ability to switch styles would be necessary in Europe and the manager thinks his young players particularly would benefit from coming up against new players and ideas. "Football is about knowledge. The more you see, the more you compete with different players - the better you get. It happened to me when I started playing international football, my level went up so much. I believe it would be the same for my players."

Zola is relishing the prospect of his first full season to come at the Boleyn Ground and as well as already putting the early markers down in discussions with Steve Clarke and his coaching staff, he is firmly engaged in transfer talk with technical director Gianluca Nani and CEO Scott Duxbury. Already the trio are working on the manager's identified targets for the coming campaign.

"For me it is huge. It is normal like this season. Next season I will have to start from the beginning. I will have to establish more things straight from the beginning. I will have to make some choices, buy some players. It is a different job and it is very important for me. My mentality is I like the challenges so I am ready to take it and don't worry I am always positive. I believe I can do it."