Thursday, September 11, 2008

Zola at West Ham: Will it work?

I have to start by stressing I really hope Gianfranco Zola performs wonders at West Ham and has a long spell as manager of the Upton Park club. But...I have serious misgivings about whether he should have taken the job.

Former Chelsea star Zola has never managed a football club before - he was previously assistant manager of the Italy Under-21s - so to take a job as big as the one at West Ham has to be seen as a risk. "As big as the one at West Ham?" I heard you snigger! Yes, West Ham, a London club who have been in the Premier League for some time, have to be considered a big club in terms of a first job in management.

Zola himself said he couldn't turn the job down, and who can blame him? If a burger-flipper at McDonald's was offered to become a board member at Burger King, they wouldn't turn it down. While Zola's new job isn't quite such a huge leap, it is certainly a leap of sorts.

The former Italian international's aim appears to be to play attractive and attacking football. Hopefully that works, but recent history has shown teams concentrating on attacking and, in particular, attractive football are rarely the ones at the very top of the table (okay, Arsenal may be an exception, but they had the players for it).

Zola said: "It's my philosophy is to play offensive football if I can as I have always done that so we will try to play this style of football. What we do here is to make it enjoyable for the players and for the club,"

So can West Ham turn back the clock to the days when they "Won the World Cup," as their fans like to claim? Has anything really changed since Alan Curbishley and the club parted company last week? To be honest, no; the only real change is one for the worse.

The appointment of Zola may bring some cheer to the Upton Park faithful, and they are guaranteed some media coverage for a while, but that doesn't win leagues. In my book at least (a book I'll never write!), Alan Curbishely offered the Hammers a far better chance of success than a person whose managerial virginity remains intact.

And the men in suits upstairs are still the same people as last week...