West Ham should keep faith

Trevor Steven
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THE KNIVES are out for Gianfranco Zola but I think West Ham should stick with him and his assistant Steve Clarke – even if the Hammers do get relegated.

Clearly, however, there is something going wrong at Upton Park.

One of the problems, I think, is that West Ham don’t really see themselves as relegation material. That mentality coupled with the hard run of games they’ve just had has left them in a precarious position.

Then there are the signings which, Alessandro Diamanti and maybe Guillermo Franco aside, have been dodgy. Others than Zola may deserve a share of the blame, but I don’t think the likes of Benni McCarthy and Mido are the type of characters suited to fighting the drop.

But there are factors against Zola. The Italian has had to contend with injury problems and the loss of form of certain players, as well as a gruelling sequence of fixtures against the best teams.

They may have lost their last five, but three of those were the toughest of tests, away to Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.

Off-field matters have also been a distraction, with focus being taken away from results and put onto things like talk of moving to the Olympic Stadium.

The club was in financial meltdown and then new owners came in who did not immediately offer the manager their unequivocal backing. They and Zola seemed to get off on the wrong foot, with some of their comments appearing to cause unease on his side.

Now David Sullivan and David Gold should get behind him and Clarke. I like Zola; he seems honest and well-respected by the players. On paper, he and Clarke should be a fantastic team, especially with the latter’s experience of success on the coaching staff at Chelsea. I firmly believe that, in the long-run, they are the men to take the Hammers forward.