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Upson backs Zola after 'irrelevant' Sullivan rant

West Ham captain Matthew Upson has backed manager Gianfranco Zola to lead them to safety and hit back at public criticism of the team from the club's co-owner David Sullivan.

In an open letter to fans, posted on the club's official website yesterday, Sullivan unveiled his anger at the team's 3-1 home defeat to Wolves on Tuesday night.

He slammed West Ham's performance as "shambolic" and demanded the team showed its quality against Stoke at the weekend.

Sullivan, who only made a fleeting reference to Zola, also apologised to fans for what he called the team's "pathetic showing".

Many of the club's fans walked out when Wolves went 3-0 up but Sullivan begged for their forgiveness and urged them to get behind the team against Stoke on Saturday.

But his comments cut little ice with Upson who immediately dismissed his comments as "irrelevant" and gave his support to Zola.

"It's testing times and it tests character, but that's something I think the manager has," said Upson. "It's a big test for him at the moment but I'm sure we'll come out of it."

The defeat left West Ham deep in trouble at the foot of the table but while Upson admitted Sullivan "is entitled to his beliefs" he said the players would work out the problems with the coaches and Zola.

"We're doing that and everything else is pretty irrelevant," he added. "If David Sullivan wants to air his views on the website or in public then he does so -- he's the chairman.

"I wouldn't say, from a player's point of view, that it helps. But we only concentrate on what we feel is wrong and how the coaches and manager assess the game, what they want us to do.

"And that's what we'll do, because they're in charge of the situation. They're the people we want to listen to."