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Zola reign excites Neill

PUBLISHED: 14:20 18 September 2008 | UPDATED: 13:38 05 October 2010

Lucas Neill believes Gianfranco Zola will bring an exciting new era to West Ham as he prepares for his first game in charge of the club against Newcastle.

Lucas Neill believes Gianfranco Zola will bring an exciting new era to West Ham as he prepares for his first game in charge of the club against Newcastle.

Former Chelsea forward Zola watched from the stands at the Hawthorns as the Hammers slumped to a 3-2 defeat at West Bromwich Albion last Saturday.

The Italian will take his place in the dugout for this weekend's match at Upton Park and officially took charge of training for the first time at Chadwell Heath on Monday.

Hammers skipper Neill admits that the squad "can't wait to get started" under the new manager, who enjoyed an illustrious career as a player.

"He is someone we have all looked up to as a player and admired his ability on the pitch," said Neill.

"He's come in and said he would like to teach us a few things that have stood him in good stead in his career and he can't wait to work with us because he likes the squad that he's inherited.

"He can't wait to get started - as can't we to learn the gameplans and other things he wants to teach us."

Zola has promised to bring stylish football to Upton Park and Neill has revealed that the Hammers boss has already begun work on installing his attacking philosophy in the team.

He said: "[The manager] has already expressed his desire to play out from the back and play a more creative brand of football, a bit more patience and passing, which we all want to play anyway.

"It's just a case of getting us confident enough to do it. So it's going to be interesting - there's a lot of work to be done on the training ground.

"But I want to assure the fans that everybody on the training ground is extremely focused on doing a good job, working hard and not letting all the hype and speculation affect them.

"The changing room is still very tight, very happy and confident and bubbly - even more so now.

"We're lucky to have a great bunch of lads who want to be successful at this club, so let's hope we can come up with the winning formula under our new manager."

Matthew Upson has also backed Zola to be a success - and says he can have the same impact that fellow Italian Fabio Capello has achieved with England.

"I think he will bring a really good culture to the club," Upson said. "He wants people to enjoy playing in a good atmosphere and it will be interesting to see how he develops that. I think it is a very positive move.

"I think the Italians, having just spent 10 days with England and Fabio Capello, have very sure and very sound thoughts on football. They spend a lot of time on technical and tactical play.

"I know the Premier League is a lot about the physical challenges but I think Italians are very organised and will bring a different type of culture to West Ham that it hasn't had before.

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