Europa League qualification to slash West Ham summer break

 
Frank Dalleres
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WEST HAM’S need for a new manager has gained greater urgency after it was confirmed that they will enter next season’s Europa League and therefore start the campaign in less than five weeks.

The Hammers, who qualified by topping the Premier League’s fair play rankings, are due to enter the competition at the first qualifying round, which takes place on 2 July.

They will have to progress through four rounds before reaching the Europa League first group stage, but there is an incentive in Champions League qualification should they go on to lift the trophy.

West Ham opted against retaining Sam Allardyce after four years in charge, having finished 12th in the top flight. His departure was confirmed minutes after Sunday’s final game of the season.

Mooted successors have included former Liverpool and Chelsea boss Rafael Benitez, though he looks Real Madrid-bound, and ex-Manchester United manager David Moyes, currently at Real Sociedad in Spain.

Upton Park favourite Slaven Bilic, a former Hammers defender, has been tipped for a possible return to east London in a coaching role, having just departed Turkish side Besiktas.

West Ham join Tottenham and Liverpool in qualifying for the Europa League.

Southampton will also advance if Aston Villa do not beat Arsenal in Saturday’s FA Cup final.