Zola pleased with display

The old football adage goes that it is performances that matter more than results in pre-season.

That was certainly the case for Gianfranco Zola after watching his West Ham United side fall to a 1-0 defeat by SSC Napoli.

Napoli, the club Zola represented with honour himself as a player, stole victory with their only effort on target. When it arrived with 12 minutes to go, however, Fabio Quagliarella's acrobatic header was a joy to behold for the 1,200 supporters who had made the journey from southern Italy to east London.

Despite the disappointment of defeat, the Hammers manager was in upbeat mood following the final whistle, telling the assembled press - including many old friends from his homeland - that he had been pleased with his team's performance.


However, Zola revealed that he had told his players that they will need to show a more ruthless streak in front of goal when the Barclays Premier League season gets under way at Wolverhampton Wanderers on 15 August.

"I thought we played very well. I told the players that what I saw in the first half and some parts of the second half was, between our box and their box, the best I have seen West Ham play," he said.

"There were some quite good movements so I was pleased. We just need to improve a little bit and maybe take chances to shoot more. Sometimes it is so easy for us to get into those positions that we think it is easy to get the ball into the goal. I think we should be more clinical but that is something we will improve.

"It was a very good game. I didn't expect the team to improve so much from the last game [against Beijing Guoan] in such a short time. I think we played a very good team because Napoli can finish in the top-six of the Italian league next year."

Having put his squad through their paces at an arduous Austrian training camp, Zola is convinced his players are fully prepared for the rigours of the new campaign.

New signing Luis Jimenez was particularly bright against Napoli, while the likes of Carlton Cole and Scott Parker have shaken off the effects of the injuries that affected them towards the end of last season.

"I'm very pleased," said Zola. "Physically we are okay. Most of the players played the full 90 minutes and they were very good. I think we're at a very good point and we're going to be ready for Saturday, absolutely."

While Zola is generally happy with the make-up and physical condition of his squad, the manager did admit the club were still eager to sign a new forward before the end of the summer transfer window.

"Everybody knows that that is a position where we need a bit more cover but I rely on the club and the club knows that," he said. "The club is trying to strengthen the team so maybe this week something will happen.

"This team can improve. The good thing about this team is that after the last game, I said we needed to improve certain things and they just did it. It is very encouraging for me and I'm absolutely convinced this will be a positive season."