Zola aims for big finish

Gianfranco Zola is thinking only of going for two wins out of two starting with a win at Fulham on Sunday in order to finish an eventful Barclays Premier League season on a high.

The West Ham United manager was delighted to see safety all but secured with last weekend's 3-2 defeat of Wigan Athletic but will not be celebrating just yet. Similarly no discussions will take place about plans for next season until after the 9 May home fixture with Manchester City.

"Everybody is much more relieved. I knew that we were going to stay up. I knew it would have been difficult because of all the things going on. I was 100 per cent convinced that this club would stay up. I never had a doubt about that.

"Despite everything, the players, the staff and the supporters have stayed close and we thought very hard. We fought also against the difficulties that were around us. So that is the very good thing about it. That is really what makes a big difference.

"We have been through many things. Everybody was expecting us to do more but, considering all the situations, at the end of the day when I look at my players I will say 'Well done'. It wasn't easy. There were a lot of things not working very well. Despite that we stuck together and we fought all together."

"One thing is to be relaxed. Another thing is to be sloppy. We are more relaxed because we can play and we can train. Now we are training with a little more freedom but still working hard.

"We have 34 points and we have the possibility to pass other teams that are in front of us and teams that they have been saying have done such a good job. When they speak about West Ham they say it has been a terrible year.

"There are teams a point in front of us and they say it has been a terrific year. We will see. Maybe if we pass them they will be talking differently."

He also found time to praise his opposite number on Sunday, with Roy Hodgson having just steered Fulham to the UEFA Europa League final next month. Zola was at Craven Cottage on Thursday night to see them win through with a 2-1 defeat of Hamburger SV.

"He has done a brilliant job. I watched them and they were really good considering the team he has got. Roy has done very well. I was really impressed. Personally I voted for him to be manager of the year.

"I am not an envious person. I appreciate and I admire what he has done because he has achieved a big result with his team. I just respect what he has done and I will tell him Sunday when I see him.

"Fulham have been working hard, they have a good manager. They have had a very good atmosphere. All of these things create a perfect recipe to have success."

Fulham may well rest players after their midweek exertions, while Zola could have the fit-again James Tomkins and Luis Boa Morte back in contention. He agreed with the view that it may not be a bid time to be making the short journey from east to west London. "It is maybe a good time to play them.

"They have just won a very important game and hopefully on Sunday they will rest players. At the same time we will be playing with a little more freedom. We are not tense like we were before so it is a perfect time to play this game.

"You can put this season in different ways. We have been struggling as much as the teams below us. We have been lucky and we have been good to fight against the end and never give up.

"Before we played Everton, not many people had the opinion that we could have done what we have done. It is a matter of opinion. Considering all that has been going on, this team has done to still be Premier League."