Zola ready to dig deeper

Gianfranco Zola was determined to retain a positive outlook following another luckless away day.

Zola looked on as his West Ham United team produced a spirited display at Birmingham City, only for the Hammers to go down to a 1-0 Barclays Premier League defeat.

Despite watching his side, who lost Mark Noble to a second half red card for two bookable offences, drop into the bottom three, the manager insists their luck will improve soon.

"Did we deserve to get anything today? I thought we did. Whatever I say is pointless but I just feel bad for the players because they're trying very hard and they certainly don't deserve this. It's one more reason to dig in even deeper to find something out. It's a question of finding solutions.

"I have more certainty that we'll find a solution than a worry that we won't and I'll stand by that.

"It's very important not to panic about being in the bottom three and we're certainly not panicking. We don't look like a team in panic and it's important to keep calm.

"There's a long way to go but obviously we need to do better because, right now, it's costing us dearly. Please, no panic!"

Two players who impressed in the Midlands were Kieron Dyer, who hit the post after emerging as a second-half substitute, and match-winner and former West Ham midfielder Lee Bowyer. Both drew praise from Zola.

"Kieron Dyer is all about fitness. Right now we don't think he can play the whole game at the moment because it might impact on his injury situation - that's we try to use him as best as we can and when the opposition is going down, he can be an impact player late in the game. We'll use him that way until he gets to the stage where we can use him even more.

"When Lee Bowyer left in January, he wasn't playing very much for us and was coming back from an injury and he needed to play. He didn't have the possibility to play for us regularly and that was one of the reasons why we let him go.

"I know how capable he is. He's a player, who can score goals and it's painful to say that today but I have no doubt that he's a good footballer."

Zola was typically unwilling to blame injuries for his side's defeat. Instead, he was focusing on those he does have available ahead of the busy Christmas and New Year period.

"The players I've got are fine and I'm not going to complain about that. Obviously, we are missing important people but it's not in my nature to sit here and moan about what I haven't got.

"I have to make the most of what I have now and I appreciate very much what the players are giving me. They are trying very hard, they're committed and, for me, that's the most important thing."

One complaint Zola did have, however, was with the decision to send off Noble. The midfielder's 100th league appearance for the club was marred by referee Lee Mason showing the 22-year-old yellow cards for dissent and a challenge on Blues forward Christian Benitez.

"I think that the referee had a day off today! I'm sorry to say that because referees are human beings and they make mistakes.

"He said that Mark Noble's second booking was for a bad tackle. Come on, please, he just took the ball! For the first one, referees have to be above everything and understand that players are under pressure. Sometimes, they have to say something but I haven't asked Mark if he said anything to offend the referee.

"Before, in this country certain free-kicks were never given but now they give them for everything. I really don't understand it."

On a more positive note, Zola is hoping to see his side bounce back at Bolton Wanderers on Tuesday evening. The Hammers were beaten 3-1 after extra-time at the Reebok Stadium in the Carling Cup third round in September, and both the manager and his players will be determined to turn the tables this week.