Zola laments slow start

With 14 matches of the Barclays Premier League season remaining, Gianfranco Zola has told his West Ham United team that they need to start winning - and start winning now.

Zola's Hammers were hugely unfortunate to lose 2-1 at Burnley on Saturday, hitting the crossbar and the post and seeing Clarets goalkeeper Brian Jensen make a string of important saves in the closing stages.

However, the visitors' stirring comeback came only after David Nugent and Danny Fox had fired Burnley into a two-goal lead. Despite a debut goal from Brazilian forward Ilan, West Ham were left to rue a slack opening that allowed Nugent to nip between Matthew Upson and Robert Green to lob the home side ahead.

Fox doubled the hosts' lead ten minutes after the break with an audacious free-kick, leaving the Hammers with too much to do in the closing 35 minutes.

"To be honest, only during the first 20 minutes of the game today were we really poor. We didn't start the way we should've done and that gave them an advantage. They deserved to score in those first 20 minutes but after that, it was us who had so many chances but, unfortunately, we didn't convert them.

"Their second goal was one of those which you can only applaud, when somebody puts the ball in the top corner like that.

"After that it was chance after chance for us. We got one goal, saw another disallowed and had so many chances. I don't think that we could've done better than that. My only regret was the first 20 minutes. It wasn't enough.

"Mistakes are always very costly and, obviously, we have to make sure that we cut them out as much as possible. I think that's been the story of our whole season. Sometimes we play some good football and sometimes we've lost games through mistakes."

Saturday's defeat saw West Ham drop into the Premier League relegation zone, and Zola knows he, his coaching staff and his players are the only people who can lift the club out of the bottom three.

"I'm more disappointed about being in the bottom three than worried but we have enough to do better and we saw that today. We have to be quick to get the three new players into our system and it was encouraging in that way, today. We have to start using the whole 90 minutes that we have at our disposal.

"When you come up against teams like Burnley, who are playing for their lives, it's difficult because they will come out firing and we have to do the same. After those first 20 minutes, we wanted it as badly as Burnley."

While Zola was not happy with his side's start, he had reason to be encouraged by the performances of his trio of debutants - Ilan scored, McCarthy saw a shot cleared off the line before being forced off at half-time and Mido hit a post late on.

"Benni McCarthy tried very hard. He had an opportunity and then he had a problem with his knee. I'm sure that Benni can do much better. His knee shouldn't be too bad but we'll assess him on Sunday.

"Mido was excellent. He really did well. I'm pleased with him, and Ilan came on and scored. It's all very encouraging but now we have to be quick because time is running out and we need to start winning games. The table requires that."

"In recent weeks we've improved but today we've taken a little step back but we will come back stronger. I'm sure about that.

"Burnley won the game and, psychologically, it was very important for them to win. They did well but there are still a lot of games left this season and there's still a long way to go."