Manager on Monday

Gianfranco Zola is heading into a busy week that features two away trips back to back in a positive frame of mind -  despite the weekend defeat by Liverpool.

The manager was pleased with the way his team held their own against the title-contenders with only the world-class talent of Fernando Torres proving the difference in a 3-2 win for the Reds. To make things harder, Zola had lost captain Matthew Upson with a calf complaint - although it is thought not to be too serious.

Zola believed his team should have had more than four points from their first five outings - with the Liverpool match having echoes of the 2-1 loss against Tottenham Hotspur last month. This weekend also marked a new look for the manager, as he donned a suit rather than his usual training wear - "with a tracksuit it looks like I want to go on the pitch with the fans a little bit," he explained.

It could get its next airing for Tuesday's Carling Cup date at Bolton Wanderers before the league trip to Manchester City next Monday. As usual, a strong travelling band of fans is expected and the manager also paid tribute to those who roared on the team at the weekend.

"The fans were terrific," he said. "They deserved a game like this and I promise that soon they will see the team getting more points. For me, it is important how the team plays and how they look on the pitch. I was very satisfied. Soon it will be a different story in terms of points."

Zavon Hines also earned praise for his exciting play on the left-hand side of his attack - not least in hitting the post in the opening stages and then winning a penalty. "He has done very well. He was terrific. He worked a lot offensively. He was dangerous all the time.

"He was also helping the team defensively. It is very good, the boy is making himself more and more important for the team. Zavon has been terrific. I was really impressed with him."

While Hines may not have scored, the manager was pleased to see his side register twice with home debutant Alessandro Diamanti converting from the spot and Carlton Cole heading in his second goal of the season. Both forwards felt the effects of a physical contest but are thought to have no lingering problems.

With Luis Jimenez and Junior Stanislas set to be part of the attacking options for the week ahead along with new recruit Guillermo Franco, the manager said he expected to see more goals flying in. "Franco might help, Diamanti also will make a difference with goalscoring. We posed a threat all the time to Liverpool. I believe we are improving on this.

"I normally like to play with one striker and two small ones behind him. I am looking forward to having a little bit of consistency so I can put my ideas a bit more. From now on, I know who I am working with. I can start shaping the team and am looking forward to that a little bit more.

"There is a lot of positive things from this match. We gave everything, we gave a lot. In the end it was very tiring. The players are on the right way and as a team we are growing up a lot.

"Soon we will have all our best players present which will make a difference. Torres made the difference but I think my team did well and I am confident that if we keep playing this way we are going to get better.

"We were holding up very well but unfortunately in the end it didn't work. There are a lot of positives to take out and the next game will be better for us. I think it was a good performance and we also played well against Tottenham. What can I say, we are willing. These are games that give us a lot to work on."