'We'll take it to City'

Gianfranco Zola has vowed to take the fight to in-form Manchester City on Monday evening.

West Ham United visit big-spending City, whose first defeat of the season came in last Sunday's Manchester derby, eager to register their first Barclays Premier League victory in four matches.

While some pundits may be predicting that Zola will send the Hammers with a defensive mindset at Eastlands, the manager insists he will tell his West Ham team to play their own game. The possible return of Luis Jimenez and a potential debut for Guille Franco will certainly help. At the same time, Zola insisted that his players would scrap for every ball.

"Last year, there were times when we went on the pitch and we were tough and defended in a rough way. If it's necessary, we will do it again. There's no problem about that.

"I haven't thought yet thoroughly about the way we're going to play, but that's something I'll be considering over the weekend. I think we're in the condition to go there and play our own game and see if they are better than us. That is the kind of thing I want to do all the time.

"I'm not looking for the result itself. I'm looking for the team to get better and better and I think we can achieve that."

Monday's game will see Zola pit his wits against former Chelsea strike partner Mark Hughes, who has guided City into the top-six after spending upwards of £100m during the summer.

Kolo Toure, Joleon Lescott, Gareth Barry, Carlos Tevez, Roque Santa Cruz and Emmanuel Adebayor have all joined Hughes' City revolution, and Zola insists both he and the Welshman are under pressure to produce the goods.

"Both of us are under pressure for different reasons. He obviously knows that, with the budget he's got and the team he's got, that he has to perform and produce good results, and this is a pressure.

"For me, as well, I have all the time to think and find solutions. The edge is how to take it and Mark takes it very well and I'm trying to do the same. I'm coping with the job. To be honest, this situation is making me more creative, and is making the club more responsible for what it is doing."

While Hughes has been bankrolled by the Abu Dhabi United Group, Zola has instead concentrated on developing young players, with the likes of James Tomkins, Jack Collison, Valon Behrami, Mark Noble, Carlton Cole and Zavon Hines flourishing under his direction.

"That's the job I've been employed for and that's the job I like to do. I like to work on the players and to make them better and to get a bunch of players and to make a team. That's my ultimate task and one I like.

"But I don't mind if I get some money to spend on a good player! I think that would make the whole process a little bit quicker, but I don't mind, really. I like what I'm doing and I think this team has got a future."

Zola and Hughes are just two of a host of former Chelsea team-mates to go into management. Romanian Dan Petrescu has taken unheralded Unirea Urziceni into the UEFA Champions League, while Dennis Wise and Gus Poyet teamed up at Leeds United and Gianluca Vialli took charge at Stamford Bridge between 1998 and 2000.

The Hammers boss said he was not surprised so many of the squad had taken up coaching posts, but admitted he was sometimes shocked to find himself in a Barclays Premier League dugout alongside yet another ex-Blue in first-team coach Steve Clarke

"I didn't imagine myself as a football manager and regarding Mark, he was strange because on the pitch he was unbelievable. I'm telling you, it was my fortune as a footballer to have him on my side, but on the training ground, he was the worst training mate I've had in my career! You wouldn't have wanted to have him on your side during training sessions.

"It was difficult to say we'd be managers one day, but I must say he's doing very well in his job. It's not only this year but he did very well at Blackburn and with the national team. I have only admiration for him. I had admiration for him as a player and now as a manager."

"It's unbelievable. You had the feeling that that team was made by intelligent people, excluding me! Dan Petrescu is doing great, and we also had Dennis and Steve. You could see that we went on to the pitch and we didn't need to be told very much. They were thinking players and so it comes not as a big surprise to me to see so many of them doing the job."