Zola aims to bring in Arsenal flair
PUBLISHED: 16:25 30 October 2008 | UPDATED: 13:44 05 October 2010
By NEIL TRAINIS IT is just over a month since Gianfranco Zola arrived at Upton Park sporting a gleaming smile and promising fluent, attacking football - but the Italian s demeanour last weekend spoke of a weariness previously unseen. After an encouraging
By NEIL TRAINIS
IT is just over a month since Gianfranco Zola arrived at Upton Park sporting a gleaming smile and promising fluent, attacking football - but the Italian's demeanour last weekend spoke of a weariness previously unseen.
After an encouraging start to his reign as West Ham manager, Zola has had to stomach three successive Premier League defeats, the latest of which was dished out by a slick Arsenal side he views as the perfect model for playing football with confidence and panache.
In his heyday as a player, Zola possessed a flair for the inventive and the extravagant and he watched with a mixture of appreciation and frustration as Arsene Wenger's young players outmanoeuvred his own team.
"You have to admire the way Arsene Wenger manages. They play the best football of any team in this country and possibly in any other country," Zola insisted in the run-up to the match.
His view in the aftermath of defeat had not changed. The Italian admitted with grudging approval: "For me, Arsenal is a model for the way they play and manage."
The outcome put into perspective how much Zola has to do to bring Arsenal's fluent football to east London, but the Hammers manager
preferred to focus on his own side's success in unsettling classier footballers.
"The players' commitment is fantastic," he said, having watched Lee Bowyer and Scott Parker stretch every sinew to close down the space for Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Robin van Persie to conjure their magic in midfield.
"On the pitch they are doing everything I
ask of them so I have no complaints. We're just not getting the results, which is very
"I told them they have to believe in what we're doing, work on the pitch and stick together. The results won't be far away. I haven't seen teams playing well and losing many games so I have no worries.
"We're going to get through this and it's going to be hard to beat us. We're going to improve and get better and better. I have faith."
Zola can point to the fact that he has instilled a fighting spirit within his players and they made Arsenal squirm until Julien Faubert's calamitous 75th-minute own-goal.
As for emulating Arsenal's style, Zola knows his team are a work in progress.
"You're talking about one of the best teams in Europe," he said. "We have a [big] job to do but we are [going] the right way."
For the moment, Zola may be better
off teaching his team to grind out results
than attempting to emulate Arsenal's stylish football.