Manager on Monday

Gianfranco Zola is still confident his team will be winning games sooner rather than later and moving up the league standings.

After an undeniably disappointing return from the first eight games this season, the manager can justifiably still look forward to the games to come with optimism. Having played just three league matches at home to date, five of the next eight will be at the Boleyn Ground while, more importantly, key players will have bedded back into the side and their influence will increase.

As was the case last season, the manager said it was just a matter of doing the right things and staying strong. He said: "Last year even when we were losing games, we trusted what we were doing. We had belief in what we were doing and in the end as soon as it clicked we started winning games and getting points.

"It is very much the same. To be honest, for the majority of the season so far I didn't have important players like Valon Behrami and Jack Collison that are the soul of the team. Their presence is very good for everybody and having them in the team will certainly make things happen quicker."

For his part, Zola will also focus on the issue of goalscoring this week after admitting his team did not do enough to put pressure on the Stoke City goal in the 2-1 loss at the Britannia Stadium. "That is something that I have to look into. We are in control of the game and this was another example but we don't convert as much as we should."

He also conceded "it doesn't get any easier" with in-form Arsenal to come at the Boleyn Ground next Sunday but he is "encouraged" by the determination he saw post-match in the dressing room at the Britannia Stadium and will also have Scott Parker back from suspension. Zola may have been "frustrated and disappointed" but positives remain - not least the terrific support once again from the away end.

The team were battered and bruised after a physical encounter but certainly not unbowed. "There are things we need to improve but everybody is fighting to make it work and that gives me a lot of confidence. The team played as a team. The off-field stuff is not affecting us. We can only focus on the football and sort things out on the pitch.

"Last season was much worse than this and we came through it. I don't think it is causing us any problems. We try to separate things that happen outside from the things that happen inside. There is no need to talk about that.

"One win will change so many things. We can really improve the confidence of the players. Obviously if you play well and lose games like this it can be a big strike on your confidence. We just need to do that.

"The performance was very encouraging. Other times maybe we would have got a point and I have been disappointed with the way we have played but on Saturday they did everything they could. They didn't deserve to lose. There was only one team that looked like it was going to score until they scored the second goal."