Zola reflects on Wolves loss

Gianfranco Zola is ready to stand up and be counted ahead of Saturday's vital home match with Stoke City after the major disappointment of losing to Wolves on Tuesday.

The manager said he would take the criticism for the 3-1 defeat that left the club just three points from safety, having previously accepted the plaudits when guiding the club to a tenth-placed finish last season. "The team is not performing very well right now and I take the responsibility for that," he said.

"Last year when we were playing well, the fans were giving me the compliments and I took them. Now, they are blaming me and I have to take that as well because that is part of the job. I have no problem with that."

He also had no issue with the fans voicing their displeasure publicly during the match, describing it as "normal" for the situation facing the team. Rather than dwell on the negatives, he recognised "there is only one way to react".

He added: "We have got another big game on Saturday. That is going to be even more difficult than this one. We will have to play against a Stoke team that is strong and also we will have to get the crowd behind us which is going to be another big thing to do.

"Wolves were certainly better than us. Whether they were more up for it I don't know. My players tried their best but we did it in a disjointed way and we made it very difficult for ourselves.

"That is very painful for me because obviously that is my duty to correct. I take full responsibility for that."

James Tomkins does not turn 21 until next week and the manager said the Academy graduate, who was at fault for Kevin Doyle's opener, had the will and desire to put things right. "He is 20 and he made a mistake that has been very costly. He has to learn and become stronger if he wants to survive in this competitive world.

"We are all in this together and we have to react all together. The younger ones have to grow up quickly because the situation requires that."

While acknowledging the fans' right to vent their frustration, Zola said he wanted to be the focus of that feeling rather than his men. "Come to me, not the players. The players have to go on the pitch and they have to feel confident. If people want to pick on someone, they have to pick on me. I am responsible for the team."

The manager will have plenty of options to ponder at the weekend with more players returning to fitness and Manuel da Costa back from suspension. He also found some positives in the form of the "excellent" Scott Parker and goalscorer Guillermo Franco who "played very well, was professional and gave his all".

Before turning his thoughts properly to Stoke, Zola admitted he would be in for a "long night" of reflection on the Wolves performance, while stressing as well that he would not allow himself to linger too long on the negatives.

"I try to do my work as best as I can every single day. I have no time or desire to worry about things. Worrying won't help me do a better job. I am concerned but I try to think only about the things I can change. I am still very confident in this team."