Bitter taste of defeat will not alter Zola philosophy

PUBLISHED: 16:03 09 October 2008 | UPDATED: 13:41 05 October 2010

By JONATHAN CLEGG GIANFRANCO ZOLA announced last week that he wants his West Ham team to play in the same way as Arsenal – and it seems his players have taken the Italian at his word. Despite dominating possession against Bolton last weekend, the Hammer


GIANFRANCO ZOLA announced last week that he wants his West Ham team "to play in the same way as Arsenal" - and it seems his players have taken the Italian at his word.

Despite dominating possession against Bolton last weekend, the Hammers slipped to defeat in a manner that bore a passing resemblance to Arsene Wenger's side, whose own struggles against the Lancashire outfit have been well documented.

For all their control of the ball, West Ham were outmuscled at Upton Park.

The slick pass-and-move football that had yielded consecutive wins in Zola's first two games in charge was easy on the eye - but all too simple for Bolton to resist as West Ham's unbeaten home record collapsed against a team without an away victory all season.

Yet Zola remains undaunted. The Hammers boss admitted that his first league defeat had left a bitter taste, but pledged to stay true to his principles of stylish attacking football.

"It is more painful to lose when you think you didn't deserve to lose, but it will make us stronger and I will become stronger from this," he said.

"The important thing is that you are always confident in what we are doing and still stick to your game, because they are the right things to do for us."

The West Ham manager also appeared to have taken a leaf out of Wenger's coaching manual in a post-match assessment that was critical of Bolton's limited ambition and somewhat reminiscent of the Gunners boss.

"Until the goal we were completely in control of the game," Zola said. "They were sitting with six players on the back line so it was very difficult for us to find any moves.

"We tried to find a solution but it wasn't easy. There were too many bodies around there. The only way around them was to create space on the flanks and we tried to do that.

"The players were doing exactly what they were supposed to do and had chances to score, but their goals really destroyed the confidence."

Zola will now work on reinforcing the squad's confidence during the current international break.

The Italian is convinced that self-belief is the key to unlocking his team's potential and believes that his faith in attractive football will be rewarded when the West Ham players develop greater resilience.

"I said to the players we need to improve the mentality - sometimes you're 1-0 down but you have to react to it and not accept it," said Zola.

"But this is football and we need to improve and we need to believe that it won't be like this all the time.

"Sometimes games like this can be one step back for two steps forward.

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