Zola up for cup

Gianfranco Zola can still fondly recall the memories of winning the FA Cup - twice - from his playing days - but now wants to create a new set of memories as manager of West Ham United.

Zola leads his team into the fourth round tie at Hartlepool United on Saturday, knowing victory would leave them just three wins from a Wembley final. For now, though, he is only focussed on getting past the next hurdle in the shape of the League One side.

"It's a wonderful competition and I like the formula where everyone has a chance," the West Ham United manager said. "There are small teams which are always getting the opportunity. I hope all the clubs, including the top clubs, value the competition. It's not just about them, the value of the cup.

"I've always said that winning the first FA Cup was the best achievement in my career for satisfaction because it was a surprise. I never knew the crowd would be so enthusiastic when we went out on the bus to celebrate. When we won the cup, my father was hanging from a lamppost to get the best view! In Italy, the cup is not the same and people aren't bothered. So for me, it was one of the best moments of my career."

Zola can remember the tight bond that existed within the cup winning teams he was part of and is pleased to see the same unity developing in his West Ham United side. "The environment where you work is vital to success. What we tried to do is to create the right environment for everyone to work and then you can achieve what you need to achieve. You want to make it into a place you can enjoy. If you stick to these principles you'll be ok."

The Hammers go into the Saturday's game at Victoria Park in red-hot form, having won four of their last five games. The main talisman in West Ham United's recent successes has been Carlton Cole and Zola believes his goalscoring exploits - a goal in each of his last five games - have done wonders for the striker's confidence. He said: "A lot is down to the fact that he believes in himself more. Now it has got to a point in his life where he's 26 and more mature. The experience he has had has made him stronger and I believe he likes working with us.

"We are trying to work on him every day - myself, Steve Clarke and Kevin Keen - and we are always trying to find new drills with him to improve his skills.

"He is a player with so many qualities and we said at the beginning that potential-wise, he was one of the players who could make the difference for us. Now he's doing it we're very pleased. It's not really down to me or Steve Clarke, it just down to him. He's got qualities and he's just learning how to use them and so I'm very pleased to say that it's him that is making the difference."