Zola taking long-term view

Gianfranco Zola has restated his firm intention of being a key figure in the long-term project to bring success to West Ham United.

It is exactly three months to the day that he took charge, and the proud Hammers manager is working hand-in-hand with CEO Scott Duxbury and technical director Gianluca Nani. All three are focused on the bigger picture and the future prosperity of the club. The trio share a common goal, namely to bring the world's finest young talent to the Boleyn Ground - and keep them - in a squad that is constantly evolving for the better.

As well as being tasked by the CEO to put in place an improved technical and medical infrastructure, the project for Nani and Zola is all about the development of quality players and securing them on long-term contracts. Since Nani's arrival from Brescia in July, the rapidly expanding scouting network has led to the signings of Valon Behrami, Herita Ilunga and a host of encouraging youngsters.

Zola believes the strategy of bringing in potentially world-class talent from across the globe to complement the homegrown Hammers produced by Tony Carr is the right one to bring about sustainable, long-term success. The early signs of that bearing fruit were shown by the youthful midfield trio of Behrami, Mark Noble and Jack Collison more than matching the likes of Frank Lampard, Michael Ballack and Deco on Sunday at Chelsea.

The manager said: "When I came here the programme was to develop the young players that we had and keep them to help get to the point where we could compete with bigger Premier League clubs. There are a lot of things going on and I'm told the plan hasn't changed. It would be fantastic if we could be challenging the top four and our plan could work, that would be great for the club.

He has spoken at length about his relationship with the CEO - "I have a very good relationship with Scott and what we are trying to achieve can only happen if everybody is together" - and is also in no doubt that Nani will succeed. "He is doing a great job but he needs to be given time just like me to make sure his project works," Zola explained. "He's not going to go out there and spend £30 or £40 million. He is looking for young potentially good players which we can develop and for this he needs some time.

"I like working with him. One of the reasons I came here is because I like the project and that got my interest, not because I want to become the manager of Chelsea, Barcelona or Real Madrid. I am here because I like what they told me about developing young players in the team and that's the kind of thing I like. We need to work and we need some time to make it work."

Zola's three months have also seen him make an impression on the West Ham United fans, and he was grateful for their noisy support at Stamford Bridge. "The fans have been fantastic for us," he said. "Part of the reason we are working so hard is to make the fans pleased and we want every single game to be enjoyable. Right now there is a very good atmosphere in the team and with the supporters."