Zola on WHUTV

In an exclusive interview with WHUTV, Gianfranco Zola explained that although he was pleased with West Ham United's performance in the first match of their pre-season tour in Austria, the hard work is still yet to come.

The Hammers shared the spoils with opponents Flavia Solva in a 1-1 draw, thanks to a penalty from Jack Collison which cancelled out Mario Ploschnik's opener.

Although the game was not of a particularly high tempo, the West Ham manager was delighted with the efforts of his side, considering the hot and humid conditions and high altitude.

"It wasn't a great game but we have been working very hard," Zola told WHUTV. "Even in the morning [before the game] we trained very hard and with the temperature so high, it doesn't make it easy.

"But that is what we want, tough conditions and matches, we want the players to play in this, because they can only get better for it."


The West Ham United manager echoed Steve Clarke's sentiments before the game, emphasising that match results on the tour are not the first priority.

"From these matches, I can get a lot of indications from the players, their match fitness, how they apply themselves and how they cope in different conditions and situations, so these games are vital to what we want to do for the season in front of us."

Among the players getting another 45 minutes under their belt was defender Danny Gabbidon, who was paired up with his Wales international team-mate James Collins for the first time in over 18 months.

"Danny is doing very well and I am so pleased to see him on the pitch. Although he was injured when I arrived at the club, I heard so many positive things about him from everyone and so could not wait to see this for myself.

"It is great to have him in the team again and I am especially pleased for him."

The hard-working performances of young players Ollie Lee, Anthony Edgar and Georg Grasser in midfield caught the manager's eye, as did the solid display from youngsters Jordan Spence and Bondz 'Gala, who paired up in the heart of the West Ham defence in the first half.

"You want to have a look at their characters and attitudes as well as how they play. This is so we can help them improve in every way possible and keep them progressing.

"I can see what they can do, get to know them better, where they can play and for me that is very important."

Also impressing the manager is the strong spirit among the squad, who have all settled in well to their surroundings in Bad Radkersburg since arriving on Monday afternoon.

"It is good, all the team are working well together," he said. "This is only the beginning, there is much hard work yet to be done, but the atmosphere is excellent and they are all showing me how well they want to do."