Zola comforted by past experience

GIANFRANCO ZOLA insists he is unfazed by West Ham s current problems – because he suffered the same experience last season, writes KIRK BLOWS. The Hammers boss endured a difficult start to his management career at Upton Park last term. The Italian watched

GIANFRANCO ZOLA insists he is unfazed by West Ham's current problems - because he suffered the same experience last season, writes KIRK BLOWS.

The Hammers boss endured a difficult start to his management career at Upton Park last term.

The Italian watched his side go seven league games without a win last autumn - a statistic that has been matched this season.

And there was uncertainty about the club's financial future as former chairman Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson suffered huge losses with the collapse of his Landsbanki empire in his Icelandic homeland.


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Once again, there is serious talk about the club changing hands, although it's likely to be better news this time around if new ownership is found.

But Zola is adamant his focus is purely on his football problems - and believes his early struggles last season will serve him in good stead this time around.

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Zola said: "The off-field stuff is not affecting us. We can only focus on the football and sort things out on the pitch.

"Last season was much worse than this and we came through it.

"I don't think it is causing us any problems. We try to separate the things that happen outside from the things that happen inside. There is no need to talk about that."

The Hammers boss is entitled to feel a sense of deja vu after once again realising that plenty of passing and possession in games doesn't necessarily result in victories.

But he persevered with his stylish philosophies and is confident that the same approach will soon reap dividends - especially as key players have returned to fitness.

Zola said: "Last year, even when we were losing games, we trusted what we were doing. We had belief in what we were doing and in the end, as soon as it clicked, we started winning games and getting points.

"It is very much the same. To be honest, for the majority of this season, I haven't had important players like Valon Behrami and Jack Collison that are the soul of the team.

"Their presence is very good for everybody and having them in the team will certainly make things happen quicker."

Once again, Zola's biggest headache is the lack of goals scored and last weekend's

2-1 defeat at Stoke City was another example of his side not doing enough up front.

He said: "That is something that I have to look into. We are in control of certain games and that was another example, but we don't convert as much as we should.

"There are things we need to improve on, but everybody is fighting to make it work and that gives me a lot of confidence.

"One win will change so many things and really improve the confidence of the players. We just need to do that."

SCOTT PARKER'S return from suspension this weekend allows West Ham boss Gianfranco Zola to name his preferred midfield quartet for the very first time this season.

Parker missed the defeat at Stoke after collecting his fifth yellow card of the campaign in the recent 2-2 draw against Fulham. But the key player will be available to line up alongside Mark Noble, Valon Behrami and Jack Collison if Zola so chooses.

Behrami and Collison have both missed recent games through injury, while the latter has also been grieving the death of his father in August.

The availability of all four men will provide a major boost to Zola as he looks to arrest his side's recent slump.

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