Blame me says Zola

HAMMERS boss Gian-franco Zola has taken the blame for Tuesday night s humiliating 3-1 defeat by Wolves at Upton Park, writes DAVE EVANS. And he admitted on a night of disaster, that if his work is not up to scratch then the owners must do what they think

HAMMERS boss Gian-franco Zola has taken the blame for Tuesday night's humiliating 3-1 defeat by Wolves at Upton Park, writes DAVE EVANS.

And he admitted on a night of disaster, that if his work is not up to scratch then the owners must do what they think is right.

In an emotional press conference, the Italian reacted angrily to calls from the fans that suggested his team were 'not fit to wear the shirt'.

"I think it is unfair," he said. "If they want to pick up on somebody, pick up on me, because I am responsible for the team.


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"If they want to shout they should shout at me, but the players, they have to leave them because they belong to West Ham, they are working for West Ham and they are committed to West Ham."

Zola insists he is still committed to the club too, but he was philosophical about his future after one of the worst performances at Upton Park in recent times.

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"The owners can do whatever they feel is the right thing to do," said Zola. "I try to do my work as best as I can every single day. If that is not considered good enough, they can tell me."

They just might. Zola's players certainly let him down on the night, but the Italian's preparations seemed to be flawed.

Carlton Cole, who had been on the bench for the previous two games, looked rusty, Benni McCarthy unfit, while for the second home match running, James Tomkins had a nightmare, gifting Wolves their first goal and being replaced at half time.

Were they ready for such an important game? Was the returning Julien Faubert fully fit? It certainly didn't look like it.

For the first time, the crowd turned on Zola, but he took the criticism on the chin.

"The lucky thing is I don't understand what they chant very well," said Zola with the vaguest hint of a smile.

"That is okay, it is normal. The team is not performing very well right now and I take the responsibility for that, so I have to stand for those critics as well."

To make matters worse, Cole had an unsavoury altercation with a fan as he left the field at the end of the game, something Zola did not witness.

"I didn't see that, so I cannot comment, but Carlton Cole represents West Ham and he is trying," he said.

"Whether he is not playing at his best right now, doesn't matter. The players need to go on the pitch and feel confident. We don't need fans like that."

Zola faces the enormous task of picking up his players for Saturday's clash with Stoke City at Upton Park.

The manager knows that it won't be easy.

"Now there is only one way to react," he said. "We have got another big game which is going to be more difficult than this one, because we will have to play against a team that is strong.

"Also we will have to get the crowd behind us, which is going to be another big thing to do."

Perhaps the only crumb of comfort for Zola is that his team can't get any worse than this - or can it?

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