Boa Morte comes under Zola's spell

WEST HAM boss Gianfranco Zola has already performed some miracles down at Upton Park,WRITES DAVE EVANS. The Italian maestro has turned Carlton Cole into a regular goalscorer; turned raw youngsters into seasoned veterans and turned Alan Curbishley s boring

WEST HAM boss Gianfranco Zola has already performed some miracles down at Upton Park,WRITES DAVE EVANS.

The Italian maestro has turned Carlton Cole into a regular goalscorer; turned raw youngsters into seasoned veterans and turned Alan Curbishley's boring tactics into a team playing exciting football.

But perhaps one of his biggest projects is now reaching fruition.

It does not seem five minutes ago that a tannoy announcement of 'number 13, Luis Boa Morte' would be met by a chorus of boos from the West Ham fans, who couldn't believe that the former Portuguese international had been given yet another chance.


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But in the last two or three games, we have seen a different Boa Morte. We have seen a confident player, willing to run at defenders and looking for the killer pass that will set up a West Ham goal.

Against Sunderland, the 31-year-old looked all set to shoot after storming into the box, but instead chose to square the ball which - perhaps luckily - found Junior Stanislas for the opening goal.

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At Villa on Saturday, he took another step forward in his transformation.

In the first half, he beat his man and then saw his curling left-foot shot deflected inches wide with Brad Friedel struggling.

And then with just 10 minutes to go and the Hammers pushing for a deserved equaliser, Boa Morte was still going strong, forcing a fine save from the Villa goalkeeper as he latched on to a loose ball in the box.

West Ham fans don't want to boo their own players. They want nothing more than to see their heroes show their potential and help the club to success.

With Boa Morte it just seemed to be a symbol of the frustration the fans were showing, especially under Curbish-ley.

The winger has now played 75 games in claret and blue since his inflated �5million move from Fulham, but he has still only scored one goal, and when that is accompanied by poor passing and woeful shooting, then becoming the subject of the boo-boys is inevitable.

But just as Cole managed to change public opinion, Boa Morte is doing the same at the moment, with some stylish performances that surely have their origins in the guidance of Zola.

Better displays mean no more booing, and with that comes a renewed confidence and a willingness to try out some more audacious football, knowing that if it doesn't come off, it will not result in him being hung, drawn and quartered by the baying fans.

It is another small victory both for the player and for Zola and testament to the faith that the manager has shown in him.

He is not great by any means, but he is deserving a place in the West Ham squad.

Now Zola must don his superhero cape once more and turn Dean Ashton into a lean, fit goalscoring machine.

Now that would really be a miracle!

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