Banking on Birmingham

Gianfranco Zola predicted his players would 'come out of the situation in style' as he made his final preparations for Saturday's trip to Birmingham City.

Zola has been impressed by his squad's effort in training this week ahead of the St. Andrews match, which he considers to be more signficant than last weekend's fixture with Manchester United. An away victory could potentially lift the Hammers five places higher in the league and towards mid-table.

"I know the fans get excited when you play teams like Manchester United, but we have to get excited to play in games like Saturday's," Zola said. "It is vital and is an opportunity to get the three points in our situation. Our aim and focus is on that."

West Ham United went down to just their second defeat in seven games last weekend when the champions won at the Boleyn Ground, but Zola has been impressed by the manner in which his players - including the available again Mark Noble - have responded.

"I've already forgotten about last week as it was a tough game. Saturday is the game that is on our possibilities. It is a big game and we are prepared. We trained very well this week and I saw the boys quite focused and tuned in and that is very good thing for me."

Much of the post-match coverage of the last few weeks has concentrated on the goals West Ham United have conceded rather than their impressive attacking displays and Zola wants everyone, including himself, to focus on the positives. That is not to say there has not been plenty of analysis at both ends of the pitch.

"I want to shift it. After we beat Burnley everyone has been talking, including myself, and I want to punish myself for that, about the three goals we conceded rather than the five goals that we scored. That was wrong and I think this team is going to come out of this situation in style.

"The boys have seen the situations and they have seen it again. The point is it is a moment when every mistake we make is punished. But I want to shift it and I want to point out other things that are going very well. We know we are not perfect but the things we do well we want to do even better.

"But we know this moment will pass. There have been moments in the past like last year when we defended better than we have defended right now but the momentum was on our side and our attention was more on good things and that is my point.

"We have to do the things that we do well, even better and we'll overcome all the other problems we have right now.

"I think we have done some defensive work. I must say against Manchester United it was a different story. I think we should be focused on what we are doing very well right now, playing and scoring goals. I think it's more important than emphasising too much the fact we are not defending very well.

"Probably we are not defending very well because everybody is giving a lot going forward. I don't mind. I just want to score one more goal than the opposition. That's the point really."
If things are not going well, Zola is clear that his players have been and will continue to be made aware of his feelings.

"I think unless they are blind they see I am not very happy about the situation. Whether I'm going to change myself because of it, I don't think so, I am what I am and I've got good results with the person that I am and the way I have conducted myself and I don't see how I can change it.

"Now if you are intelligent you have to understand there is a thin line where you know I don't have to cross and they don't have to cross it. I don't think it's a point, it is a point because I'm dealing with intelligent people and they understand what is right and what is wrong.

"Even if I seem nice, that doesn't mean that I am not able to able to distinguish that line and make sure that nobody crosses it. But I won't change myself because of it. I know my job, I know my duty and I'll do it myself. I'll do it the best way I can being myself, not being somebody else."

Zola would not be drawn on speculation about transfer window activity. Instead his faith was in his squad to deliver when necessary.

"I don't want to talk about January. Before then we've got five or six games before then. We will consider everything but before that happens we play five games and our minds and focus must be about getting points from those five games. After that we will see what we need."