Zola loving the challenge

Gianfranco Zola has emphasised his faith in his West Ham United squad on the eve of the derby meeting with table-topping Tottenham Hotspur.

The manager has every confidence his players can build on the fine opening-day win at Wolverhampton Wanderers last weekend when they welcome Spurs on Sunday and said the positive atmosphere was not just down to himself. Certainly the attempts to improve the squad and lay the foundations for future success rely on cooperation at every level.

"I have had a perfect understanding with [CEO] Scott Duxbury and [technical director] Gianluca Nani. We work very well. All that you see here is a creation of all of us. It is not just me or Steve Clarke or whatever. It is a creation of everybody.

"It has been a very good relationship and I have trust. If we do anything it is just because we would like to try and reinforce the team and it will be done all together."

Clearly focused only on making it six points out of six, Zola said his main role was to coach and pick a side capable of challenging every week. He added: "That is what I want to do. If someone has to be sold or bought they ask me … but I don't want to interfere in other things. I believe my main strength is to work on players out on the pitch."

The manager is fast approaching a year in the Hammers hot-seat and has revealed he would not swap his squad for any other in the game. The response came in answer to a question about whether he was envious of managers, like his opposite number this weekend, who have had significant resources to spend in recent months.

"I am not jealous of Harry Redknapp," he said. "I do admire him, I do respect him. He has done a great job and has a good team but I wouldn't change my team with any other team.

"I like my players, I trust them. They are improving. They are working hard they are doing everything to be successful and I admire these qualities in the players."

Zola admitted that he was not a big fan of the transfer window and was clear that he has faith in the players that have served him so well since his first day at Chadwell Heath on 15 September 2008. "If we are all fit we can compete with anybody, I could write that team down but the problem is in the Premier League you have got 38 games to play plus the cup.

"It is a very competitive and condensed schedule so you can't rely on them all the time plus in the team we have players that have been coming back from a long time out injured. Kieron Dyer and Danny Gabbidon are like that so you can't really expect that they are going to play 40 or 50 games."

Along with Dyer and Gabbidon, who are being treated carefully on their return to regular action, Zola could have Valon Behrami back in first-team contention by early September. Herita Ilunga's fractured jaw will keep him out for at least Sunday's game though but the manager has not been surprised by his resilient attitude.

"Herita should have been in bed but he was here today working around us. He is a very determined and strong guy. I wouldn't be surprised to see him coming back earlier."

Injuries naturally give chances for others and the manager is predicting one or two unexpected gems to emerge from the Academy or elsewhere this season. "We have some young players that are doing very well and we have some others that might be surprises but among them we have some certainties.

"My duty is to try and rely on the resources that I have got and try to make the best out of that. The challenge for me is to do the best I can with these players."

New faces may well arrive sooner rather than later though to give extra options with Zola admitting "we are trying to reinforce the team and in order to do that we might need some other operations. That is the idea, it is as simple as that".

While he would love to bid for a Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, he is realistic and more than content.

"The project was to work on this team and make it better and improve the players and also to allow the possibility for young players [to come through]. Last year it worked very well, this year we want to improve. We are trying very hard and it is not finished yet. We will see what happens in the next few days."