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Tony Cottee: I'm glad Zola has admitted we are in a relegation dogfight

PUBLISHED: 10:56 10 December 2009 | UPDATED: 15:22 05 October 2010

West Ham's Italian manager Gianfranco Zola during the English Premier League football match between West Ham United and Burnley at the Boleyn Ground, Upton Park in East London, England, on November 28th, 2009. AFP PHOTO/Olly Greenwood  FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY Additional license required for any commercial/promotional use or use on TV or internet (except identical online version of newspaper) of Premier League/Football photos. Tel DataCo +44 207 2981656. Do not alter/modify photo. (Photo credit should read Olly Greenwood/AFP/Getty Images)

West Ham's Italian manager Gianfranco Zola during the English Premier League football match between West Ham United and Burnley at the Boleyn Ground, Upton Park in East London, England, on November 28th, 2009. AFP PHOTO/Olly Greenwood FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY Additional license required for any commercial/promotional use or use on TV or internet (except identical online version of newspaper) of Premier League/Football photos. Tel DataCo +44 207 2981656. Do not alter/modify photo. (Photo credit should read Olly Greenwood/AFP/Getty Images)

2009 AFP

Gianfranco Zola said after the loss against Manchester United that West Ham are in a relegation fight and I am happy he has admitted it,"" says Tony Cottee

Gianfranco Zola said after the loss against Manchester United that West Ham are in a relegation fight and I am happy he has admitted it.

People might think that by saying that the boss is being negative, but we as fans have known for a while this is the case and if you don't believe it, then I am sorry but you are just kidding yourself.

Gianfranco is an honest manager and I would prefer to have a boss admit there are problems and they are in trouble, rather than one who would rather bury his head in the sand and continually commends and backs his players.

Personally I always felt this season would be a tough campaign for us and that we would not hit the heights we did last season, when I thought we over-performed to finish way up the table.

We have had no investment in the playing staff and when you are in the Premier League, generally if you don't spend, you don't progress.

Now is the time where as a player you work even harder in training and battle for your life on match-days because every point is important.

Most players at some stage in their career have to go through what the squad at West Ham are going through now, it is just what happens in football.

There are not many people who have the opportunity to play for Manchester United or Chelsea throughout their whole career.

I played the game for 20 years and in all that time I would say a quarter of it was battling against the drop.

In fact, the only club I did play for which I did not go through at was at Leicester and even when I went into management at Barnet we were fighting to beat the drop.

I remember when we went through it at West Ham and the great John Lyall was in charge, he just made us work a lot harder and that is what Zola will have to do with his players.

The longer you are down there the more intense it becomes and while it is pretty big on those on the field, the pressure is intense on the man in charge.

At the end of the day, the buck stops with the manager and for whatever reason, he is the one that usually gets the blame if things go wrong. But I have great belief in Zola and I feel the players he has at the club are more than good enough to get us out of trouble.

Carlton Cole will be back in February to lead the line again, but even though I have great faith in Franco, it would be good if we could bring in another striker in January.

Although, if you fail to create chances like last Saturday it won't matter who you bring in.

It was disappointing that we failed to test the keeper at the weekend, especially as the Manchester United back-line was so depleted.

The goal they scored just before the break was a real killer and up until then we were well in the game and quite comfortable.

To concede just before the half is a real killer for the players and when they scored their second goal, I feared the worst.

We have conceded more goals at home then any other club in the Premiership and that for me is a worry.

And when you are missing your top scorer and you have no funds these things start to add up.

Again we conceded a couple of goals from balls into the box and we have to do more to stop crosses from getting into the area.

This is not just the full backs, but those in front need to do more to help them out and we have to defend better as a team.

Unfortunately we are catching Birmingham at exactly the wrong time and they are in fantastic form as we head to St Andrews next Saturday.

However we need to capture a point from that game and hopefully get a win at Bolton the following Wednesday and to get six points from the next couple of games will ease the pressure, especially if we beat Bolton.

They have had a tough time of it recently and in total contrast to Birmingham are in big trouble themselves so the match will be a real six-pointer.

I WAS really looking forward to seeing the World Cup draw on Friday and I was absolutely delighted with England's group.

USA are certainly an improving team, but you would be very confident of beating them, while you would expect us to be far too good for the likes of Algeria and Slovenia.

If we do win the group it would be likely that we would avoid Germany as well, although a game against Ghana would not be an easy contest.

We might also have to play France, but I think they are on the wane and I believe we would be too strong for them.

What I was most pleased with about the draw is that we have managed to avoid Spain and we would only play them, were we both to get to the final.

They are a team I really worry about and with a frontline of Fernando Torres and David Villa with Iniesta and Xavi in midfield, you would have to say they are the favourites.

We could face Brazil in the semis and although they are a really good side, I genuinely believe we would beat them.

I have been saying for a long time that we can win the World Cup. I'm not saying we will, because it will be really tough, but I have great confidence in the side.

To win a World Cup, it is important to have a lot of luck, have all your players fit and that your very best players perform outstandingly well.

We have three of four world class players in our squad, plus a lot of very good players and although it's unlikely that everybody manager Fabio Capello wants will be available, there are plenty waiting in the wings who won't let anyone down.

It's a good time to be supporting England.

Tony Cottee was talking to Matt Diner


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