From the Terraces - Ollie Hirst

West Ham fan blogger Ollie Hirst looks at the Club's qualification for the UEFA Europa League

Fan blogger Ollie Hirst looks at the Hammers' qualification for the UEFA Europa League...

Qualifying for the Europa League through the Fair Play is like being told you can still go on holiday, only much, much earlier when none of the big clubs are open yet and the only other people in your hotel are annoying kids from countries you've never heard of who ask you to throw their stray ball back every five minutes.

But hey, a holiday's a holiday and it'll be an extended one if we put up with the rubbish bits at the start (i.e. the qualifying rounds). In fact, we'd be in for the trip of a lifetime if we won the thing, with a place in the Champions League up for grabs as of this season. It's fair to say my feelings are mixed at this stage.

The timing of it all would be my main concern. A 2 July start when we don't have a manager in place and a busy summer, in terms of player recruitment, is anticipated. Had it been a month later, it'd be less of an issue, but the Europa League has too many games as it is (15 from the group stages to the final, so 21 for us) - so there's little chance of that happening.

But there are plenty of good reasons for us to give this competition a real good go. For starters, it's nine years since the old Boleyn saw European football and even that was short-lived - the Hammers dumped out in round one after an under-the-lights defeat to Palermo was repeated and exacerbated in Sicily. That's far too long for a club of West Ham's size and ambitions - one that hopes to be a regular fixture in Europe when it relocates to the Olympic Stadium in a year's time.

How great it would be to depart Green Street on the high of doing well in Europe, against such continental heavyweights as Marseille, Napoli, Athletic Bilbao and Borussia Dortmund, even if we didn't quite make it all the way?

People talk of European football being a distraction from the league but that's a complete myth, for me. You only need to look at Sevilla for proof the juggling act can be performed - fifth in La Liga two years running, having reached back-to-back Europa League finals (which became back-to-back titles on Wednesday evening). Only for English clubs does this seem to be an issue - a free pass to players doing the bare minimum because they've got a ready-made excuse in hand.

Despite this, it would be no good going into Europe with a squad as threadbare as ours was at times last season. The last thing we need is to be trudging through six Europa League group matches with a patched-up squad from the previous weekend. We don't want our new era kicking off in the Championship. Ensuring our squad is as competitive as possible come next term is therefore paramount to us competing on the continent. If we're going to do this, we might as well do it properly.

Over to you, West Ham United.

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The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of West Ham United