By Ed Elliot, PA
West Ham boss David Moyes is loving life in European football but has vowed not to take his eye off the ball in the Premier League as he bids to juggle a packed fixture list beyond Christmas.
The in-form Hammers continued their Europa League adventure with a 2-0 win over Rapid Vienna on Thursday evening, a repeat of the result they achieved at Dinamo Zagreb a fortnight ago.
Last season’s surprise sixth-placed finish has placed greater demands on the London club, leaving Moyes with a tricky balancing act.
But the experienced Scot, who must swiftly switch his attentions back to domestic duties ahead of Sunday’s visit of Brentford, insists he is relishing the challenges posed by the hectic schedule.
“We want European football – I wish it was the Champions League because it would mean we had Wednesday-Saturday (fixtures) – but if we’re getting Thursday-Sunday, I’m taking that all day long,” he said.
“We’re loving being in the European competition. We’ve got a lot of players who have not been in European football before.
“I’d like to be in European football after Christmas time, that’s my goal with this competition at the moment.
“I can’t take my eye off the ball with the Premier League, but I’m doing my best to juggle the squad and give everybody minutes and hope to try and win the games by using as may players as I possibly can.”
West Ham have so far coped impressively with the packed programme, with a narrow top-flight loss to Manchester United their only defeat of the campaign to date.
They sit seventh going into the weekend, two points and as many places above their newly-promoted visitors.
The fixture will see Hammers forward Said Benrahma reunited with the club he left just under a year ago.
Algeria international Benrahma took 31 games to score his first United goal but has already struck four times this campaign, including the clincher in the Rapid Vienna victory, prompting praise from Moyes.
“Since he’s come to us, he’s taken a bit of time (to adapt) but I say this quite often about the players who come up from the Championship and even players we bring in from abroad, coming into the Premier League is not an easy one to step into and hit the ground running,” said the manager.
“Some players do, some don’t.
“I think it’s taken Said a little of time to understand his roles and how he has to play at this level.
“But we’ve been really pleased with him, he’s been a big positive for us since the start of the season.”