Up for the fight

Gianfranco Zola has vowed to 'fight like a crazy man' to help West Ham United to climb the Barclays Premier League table.

The Hammers will be cheered on by 2,000 travelling fans at Portsmouth on Tuesday evening, and the manager is desperate to repay their unwavering support by scoring an important victory at Fratton Park.

Tonight's match is West Ham's first since joint chairmen David Sullivan and David Gold took commercial and operational control, ending the uncertainty that has surrounded the Boleyn Ground since Zola was appointed in September 2008.

With the club's financial future now stable, the manager said he, his coaching staff and his players were free to focus all their energies on winning Premier League points.

"For this team, I will do everything," he confirmed. "I have a great commitment to the players and the supporters and I won't let them down.

"Obviously when you do this job and have responsibilities, you have ups and downs and I've had them, no doubt about it. But it is my fighting spirit that is there. I don't like to give up on things, and I don't like to step back on difficulties, and that's why I'm here and I'm still alive and still fighting like a crazy man."

West Ham sit 16th in the table ahead of their trip to the south coast but, with home games against Blackburn Rovers, Hull City and Wolverhampton Wanderers and a visit to Burnley to look forward to over the coming weeks, Zola believes now is the perfect time to start a rapid ascent of the standings.

"Considering the fixtures we have in front of us, tonight's game is going to be massive because it could start another run of games where we can pick up vital points," he said. "I think the fixtures are suitable for us. We're going to play teams, even though there are no easy games in the Premier League, they are suitable for us. We have an opportunity and we have to take that opportunity."

Central to taking that opportunity will be the form of the club's senior professionals, including fit-again striker Carlton Cole. The 26-year-old is due to return at Portsmouth after two months out with a knee injury, but Zola insisted the burden will be shared by the whole squad.

"This is a team and it is not only him," the manager confirmed. "It can be spread out by others. We have the likes of Matthew Upson, Scott Parker and Valon Behrami who are massive personalities and they will help to share the responsibilities. Carlton Cole is much more mature than he was. He started slow the first few games and then he started scoring and scoring. When we have him and everyone back, this team has enough to play in a different position."

Zola continued by insisting that, with the new owners in place, there was no need for any of the club's big names to be sold to balance the books.

"I believe that the players want to stay here and are committed to here. We are not selling anybody. That is my position and that is the club's position, so I think this is not going to happen. I'm not surprised because they are good players who are interesting for big clubs."

Zola, who revealed that he holds daily conversations with Mr Sullivan and Mr Gold over possible transfer targets, said he was happy to have received the backing of the new joint-chairmen. With them behind him, the manager spoke of his ambition to repay their faith over the coming months.

"It's very important and it's OK. I know in my position that I have to always produce good results. The new owners will be very demanding on the team and on me, but I like it. That's the way it has to be. It's a challenge and I take it. It's been good that they say they have faith in me to do this job and in my staff. That's a very good start and now it's down to me to make that trust stronger.

"It's been a difficult situation because I came here [in September 2008] and one week later all the trouble started, and despite all the trouble, we came through. We thought we were through, then you have seen there were so many other problems.

"To find out now that you can really focus on your work and get on with it on the pitch is a massive release. Believe it or not, my main qualities are on the pitch and I want to use them. If I can get everything sorted, I can focus on that and put across all my 20 years of experience in football and that's what I'm looking for."