Zola happy with start

Gianfranco Zola has reflected on his first five days as West Ham United manager as the squad prepare for the visit of Newcastle United on Saturday

This week has seen some intensive training sessions as Zola looks to get his new ideas instilled in the players as quickly as possible. He said: "I have got my system. I like to train a lot with the ball, with a lot of intensity in the sessions and they are very demanding. They are always with the ball, they are always with a lot of enjoyment. It seems to me that the players like it very much."

Having watched last weekend's narrow defeat by West Bromwich Albion from the stands, Zola felt that the players tired in the latter stages. He said: "I explained to the players not to be too hard on themselves. Up to 70 minutes they were very good and looked the better team on the pitch. Over the last 20 minutes they went down physically, you lose attention and that's why we conceded the third goal."

Despite the taxing schedule, Zola has been delighted with the squad's response. "It's been a very good week and I've enjoyed it. The training sessions have been spot on and the players have been very committed. [On Thursday], for example, it should have been an easy session to recover, but the players want to push it all of the time and that is the kind of attitude that every manager hopes for."

Zola has been aided this week by the new-look management team comprising of his No2 Steve Clarke, Kevin Keen and Antonio Pintus. Clarke has only been working with the players since Tuesday but the manager is delighted to have him on board. "Steve is a great man. His impact with the team has been absolutely positive."

After seeing his new team close-up, Zola, who confirmed that Lucas Neill will remain as captain, believes the potential is there for his vision. "Attacking football? Yes, why not? We're working on that. Obviously we need to improve and get some important players back - Dean Ashton, Craig Bellamy and Kieron Dyer, who are all attacking players. The idea is to get to the point where we are playing offensive football as much as possible but also we have to work on the defence."

Newcastle visit on Saturday and Zola hinted that there may be some changes to the way the team is set up - although he was keen to point out he had no 'magic stick' to change things quickly. "There will be a few changes but I won't tell you now otherwise Newcastle will see! I just like working on the pitch every week so I've been with these players for five days and I'm not presumptuous enough to say everything will be all right," he said.

Ashton will miss the match after picking up an ankle injury while it is not clear if Craig Bellamy will figure as he continues his comeback from a hamstring problem. "Deano will have one week where he will have to rest. Next week we will see his condition but at the moment he needs one week to recover," Zola said. "Bellamy has had a problem, an old problem that is still recovering - hopefully [he will play] - we'll see."

Zola has experienced first-hand how powerful the Boleyn Ground crowd can be and wants to count on their backing. "They need to be patient with us and to back us and support us all the time. We are working on that relationship, we are not there yet. We going to try that, but we need that support," he said.