Zola cautious despite Irons revival
Gianfranco Zola insists it is too early to judge whether West Ham’s season is turning around after they posted a 3-0 win over Hull to go 13th.
The Hammers’ victory over their relegation rivals was achieved with goals from Valon Behrami (3), Carlton Cole (59) and Julien Faubert (90).
But the victory was helped by the dismissal of Hull’s Craig Fagan in the second-half and, after the visitors had used all three of their substitutes, the loss of City captain Anthony Gardner with a serious leg injury.
However, even after victories over Birmingham and Hull, Zola is cautious about their upturn in fortunes, particularly with a trip to Manchester United looming on Tuesday.
"It is too early to say but the last two results have been big for us not only in terms of points and position in the table but in terms of confidence for the whole team," said Zola.
"But we have some massive games coming up, especially at home, and we have to stay focused. It is a very good indication today that it is not over yet.
"When there was a little bit of doubt in the game it was because we allowed those doubts. I am talking about the last five minutes of the first half when they came back and had a couple of chances.
"It was because we made it easy for them. I think we controlled the game very well. We are getting better and better. It was an excellent game for us.
"We are looking better but need to keep a focus. This is a team that when it plays with confidence, can be a surprise.
"We don’t know whether 37 or 38 points will be good enough to be safe. There have been some surprise results like Tottenham losing against Wolves, but we will try and get 40 if we can.
"I must say the whole team performed very well. It was a team performance, especially the way we started the game was fantastic. We needed to set the tempo straight away and the way we started was excellent. It made the game easier for us."
Hull boss Phil Brown admitted the full extent of Gardner’s injury was yet to become clear but the initial indications were not good.
Gardner was stretchered off with a leg injury late in the game after an innocent challenge with West Ham substitute Mido.
City had earlier used all their substitutes after replacing Stephen Hunt, Tom Cairney and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink with Nick Barmby, Jozy Altidore and Seyi Olofinjana.
"Anthony’s injury is not good but I don’t know the full extent of it," said Brown. "But there was a tibia and fibula mentioned, so that does not sound too clever."
Brown was critical of his team’s self-inflicted loss, which included an early goal along with Fagan’s red-card. The defeat leaves them remaining just a point above the relegation zone.
"The performance was self-inflicted from minute one," added Brown. "What we did in the first couple of minutes was inexcusable and inexplicable as well.
"One-nil down in two minutes gave them a fillip and us a mountain to climb. We steadied the ship to certain extent and got a grip of the game in the last 15 or 20 minutes of the first half and then more self-inflicted damage with the red card.
"Consequently I had to make three substitutions and bring players on who could add some energy to the performance and then we find ourselves down to nine men by a cruel twist of fate. That highlighted a bad day at the office I am afraid.
"Certainly the way one or two players performed under pressure today was not pressure put on them by the management staff, it was pressure put on them by themselves.
"I have to take that pressure away because players don’t perform under pressure, they tend to choke. There was one or two uncharacteristic performances.
"We have got a fortnight to put it right and hopefully arrest the damage we are causing ourselves at Everton.
"All I want people to do is understand the severity of the situation and if we get that then we will get better performances."