Manager happy to ignore the cracks

AS Burnley winger Chris Eagles swept the ball past Robert Green to make the score 5-3 at Upton Park on Saturday, a huge groan rang out among the West Ham faithful, writes DAVE EVANS. The three points may have been secure, but that goal made it nine conced

AS Burnley winger Chris Eagles swept the ball past Robert Green to make the score 5-3 at Upton Park on Saturday, a huge groan rang out among the West Ham faithful, writes DAVE EVANS.

The three points may have been secure, but that goal made it nine conceded in the last four West Ham matches, and 15 already at home with Manchester United to come to east London this weekend.

It sends a shudder down the spine to think what the United attack will do to the Hammers on Saturday, but for the moment, manager Gianfranco Zola does not want to talk about it.

"I know, I know there are problems," he admitted. "But for today, I don't want to worry.

"We scored more than the opposition and that is the most important thing. I know that we have to get better in that, but it is okay, we will focus on that."

Those three late goals certainly took some of the gloss off Saturday's win, and ruined West Ham's chances of getting a positive goal difference, but like a political spin doctor, Zola showed he is adept at avoiding the problem.

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"I would like some time to find a positive thing," he said. "If you keep watching everything under a microscope you can always find something wrong.

"Today I want to see good things, then we will keep working with the faults we have, but today is a day to celebrate."

Celebration is perhaps too strong a word, but if you are looking at the positives, here goes.

West Ham's 15 conceded at home may be joint worst with Bolton, but in overall goals conceded Wolves, Bolton, Blackburn, Hull City, Wigan and Burnley are all ahead of the Hammers.

Their goal difference of -2 is better than everyone from 12th place downwards and as good as 11th place Birmingham who they play on December 12.

But on the minus side, they have only managed two clean sheets all season, both way back in August and that despite having the England goalkeeper and centre back in their midst.

In four games this season they have held leads, but failed to hang on, costing them nine points, which would now see them in seventh place in the table.

So is Zola having sleepless nights over West Ham's predicament?

"It is very stressful, but you need to cope with it, you need to get to the point where you can handle the pressure and show focus," he said.

"I try to do normal things with my family. My family is the best way to relax."

It's just as well, you can't relax watching the West Ham defence.

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