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Parker ponders Sullivan's Hammer blow

If David Sullivan was playing mind games with West Ham United's players when he criticised their salaries and questioned their manager's style, then he gambled and won.

The team's 2-0 Premier League victory over Birmingham City on Wednesday was notable for the emotion generated by the players and their clear support for Gianfranco Zola after the West Ham co-chairman's scathing assessments.

Certainly Scott Parker believes it is plausible that Sullivan was toying with the team. "You could look at it as reverse psychology," Parker said of Sullivan's doubts over whether Zola is "too nice" to save the club from relegation.

The players responded with ebullient football and an emotional display of backing for their manager after the first goal, a free kick by Alessandro Diamanti, was scored.


"Everyone has massive respect for the manager and that was clear to see," Parker said. "We're all pushing in the same direction. Nothing was planned. It was just the emotion coming out. He's a good man."

The obvious exception to Sullivan's rule about player wages needing a trim is Mido, who is on a basic salary of £1,000 per week.

"We are fully behind the manager," the Egypt striker said. "I haven't fought long for him, but I can see how everyone loves him around the place. He's a great character and the players wanted to fight for him."

David Gold, the other co-chairman, described the victory over Birmingham, the club he previously owned, as "a quite surreal but an amazing experience" now that he helps to run the side he supported as a youngster.

"Very few people experience that in their lives," he said.

"One minute you are rooting for the club you have been involved with for 17 years and then a few months later you are rooting back for your old team. It is extremely unusual."