Zola demanding improvement

Gianfranco Zola is expecting a reaction from his squad as he readies them for a "cup final" against Fulham on Sunday.

The West Ham United manager was clearly frustrated after seeing Manchester City win Monday night's Barclays Premier League game at Eastlands. An early goal from Carlos Tevez set the tone and despite Carlton Cole's third goal in six league games drawing the Hammers level, further strikes from Martin Petrov and Tevez ensured City took the spoils with a 3-1 victory.


"It's not good and I am not happy about it," Zola said. "In my opinion in the first 45 minutes we did not play at all. Maybe there were a couple of mistakes from the referee but that is part of the game. The standard that I am expecting from the team is much more than that.

"In the second half we were much better and we tried in a better way. The first half in my opinion was not good enough. You can't afford to come to places like this and just give presents to the opposition. They are too good and will take advantage of a minimum opportunity and that's what they did."

Zola's side now face a big London derby with the Cottagers at the Boleyn Ground, a game in which the West Ham United manager is expecting to see "thunder" from his squad. "We are preparing for a cup final on Sunday so everybody will be picking up the best thunder they can give, including myself."

That kind of reaction should be forthcoming if the manager's steely determination to see an improvement from everyone concerned is anything to go by. "I am angry with myself, with my team, with everybody right now. Not anyone including myself is doing what he is capable of - it is as simple as that.

"I see these players training and the way they train is absolutely fantastic, but we need to take that on the pitch as a team - not as individuals so I am not pleased. First of all with myself. I am the first one. I have blame for myself first."

With a win against Fulham possibly able to lift the Hammers to joint 13th place and the first half-dozen league fixtures this campaign dominated by four awaydays, Zola knows there is certainly no need to panic. But he wants the upturn in form to come sooner rather than later.

"Of course we have a much better team than our position suggests. But at the moment we haven't been able to show. Unless we do more than we are doing it is not good enough. If the belief is not there it is better if we go and do something else. The belief is always the main thing. Along with the belief there has to be a better effort from everybody.

"I know the potential of these players and I have no doubt that we are soon going to come back to the position that we deserve. But for the moment it is not good enough. So for everyone, and I put myself first, we need to ask more about ourselves."

Finally, Zola recognised the gesture made by Tevez after he scored the game's opener. The former Hammer of the Year refused to celebrate and ran over to the away fans in an almost apologetic move, which was roundly applauded by the tremendous travelling support.

"Great players like him are also gentlemen and he showed that so my appreciation to him. Not only for what he did after the celebration but what he did in the rest of the game. I think he had been outstanding for them."