Zola demanding more

Gianfranco Zola is looking for greater application in the final third of the pitch following the 0-0 draw with Blackburn Rovers.

The Hammers competed for much of the match, particularly in the first half, but struggled to create many clear-cut openings against a strong and physical Blackburn team. But, with other results going in their favour, the point moved the Hammers up another place to 15th in the Premier League table.

There were further positives with the likely arrival of South Africa striker Benni McCarthy and the appearance off the bench of Carlton Cole and Scott Parker. Next week's trip to Burnley could also see Kieron Dyer and Herita Ilunga in contention to play but it was Blackburn that occupied the manager's thoughts on Saturday night.

"I was expecting us to create a little more quality but we were not able to do that," he said. "The difficulties of the game, like the tension, caught us a little bit and we couldn't express the quality that we needed to break them down. We knew they would come here to defend with a lot of players and so they did.

"When they come here to do that you need extra quality. You have to be good at taking your player on and putting your right ball in the box. I don't think we played a good game, but considering the circumstances and looking at the other results we step up the table which is a good thing for us.

"Everyone knows it was an important game that we had to win. Sometimes when you are too nervous you can't express yourself at the best and that was the case today."

The Hammers' third straight draw in the league maintains their unbeaten start to 2010 but Zola said the steady improvement in form still had a way to go to rival last season's surge up the table.

"In the last six games we have only one defeat so is getting better but slower than last year. Why I don't know, as the difficulties this year are even bigger than last year. I'm not finding excuses but we could have done better and we will do better."

Although there were no goals to lift the Boleyn Ground crowd, the welcome sight of Ilunga, Parker and Cole returning to the substitutes' bench will have no doubt warmed them on a chilly January afternoon. Parker and Cole were introduced in the second half as Zola chased all three points.

"The crowd were worried as well, everybody was frightened. I was expecting us to lift them a bit more but it wasn't the case. It will be there the next time.

"I knew Scott and Carlton were not 100 per cent fit and it wouldn't be wise to do play them from the start. I thought it would be better to have them coming in late in the game where they could change the game.

The quest for greater quality could be boosted by McCarthy, who Zola revealed is set to formally arrive at the club this Monday. "Benni McCarthy looks like it is done which should be a good thing for us," he said. "I don't know the terms but it looks like the deal is done.

"He will be a threat in the last third. He is a type of player that will score goals. He will be a big help for us."