WEST HAM co-owner David Sullivan last night refused to apologise to Gianfranco Zola after suggesting the manager was overpaid.
Sullivan also riled Zola for hinting he would ask all of the hard-up club’s staff to take a pay cut in the summer.
The Italian hit out at the comments yesterday, criticising the timing, ahead of tonight’s clash with Birmingham, and the lack of consultation.
But despite reaffirming his admiration for Zola and insisting he sympathised with his reaction, Sullivan stood by his remarks, saying he hoped they would have a positive effect.
“I hope it galvanises the team and the manager together,” he said. “I’m not going to take offence at Zola taking issue. He’s a lovely and honourable man, so is quite entitled to his opinion, and in some ways I sympathise with his view. I partly agree with it, but it is very much a subjective view, and if it wins us the game, then I will be happy to have said it.”
Zola had earlier said: “It would have been better to say that another time, not just before a match, and maybe talk to us before talking to a newspaper.”
Sullivan also insisted he wants to keep Zola in charge despite the Hammers being 18th in the Premier League.
He added: “I have no thoughts of changing the manager in the next few days, or for the rest of the season, for that matter. And hopefully for many years to come.”