Saturday 20 January 2018

Relieved Gold urges boss Zola to stay on at Hammers after trip to ‘hell and back’

Ilan 31, Kovac 45, Parker 77
Spector og 4, Rodallega 52

Mike McGrath

WEST HAM UNITED co-owner David Gold hopes that Gianfranco Zola will remain as manager at Upton Park next season but accepts the Italian may want a sabbatical after going to "hell and back" this season.

Victory over Wigan Athletic virtually ensured Premier League survival for Zola, although he has endured a chaotic campaign following the change of ownership at the club.

“I would hope he stays,” Gold said. “He has been through hell and back. It has been a very difficult season for him. He has had new owners, owners before who were not participating. Now he knows he is part of West Ham, whereas before he was isolated. So I hope that this moment of success we are enjoying will continue.

“I would have thought that he deserves another crack. But he’s also a man who might feel that it’s time for him to take a sabbatical. I don’t know. You would have to ask him. But I’m very optimistic that we can come together and go to the next step.”

Zola’s position has appeared under threat since Gold and David Sullivan’s arrival. Gold did speak to his manager during the team’s run of poor form.

Gold, however, added: “At no time did I feel that there was any requirement for a change, for a number of reasons. I asked Franco after what was I think our fifth straight defeat, ‘Are you okay? Are you on board?’ You are always fearful that a manager may be finding it difficult. But he said he could keep us up. He’s kept his word and he’s done that. We couldn’t ask more.”

Meanwhile, Scott Parker expects to be on the beach this summer rather than in South Africa, but he has put together a strong case for an England call-up after guiding West Ham towards safety.

The 29-year-old won his last cap more than three years ago against Croatia, and admits his only focus at the moment is keeping his club in the top flight. Should Fabio Capello ask members of his squad such as Robert Green about Parker’s qualities, he would be told that West Ham would still be in deep relegation trouble without the midfielder.

“He has given everything he can for the club, will win player of the year by a country mile, will win goal of the season, players’ player of the year,” Green said. “He’ll win everything going.”

Against Wigan, Parker unleashed a 30-yard drive to seal maximum points, before breaking free of his team-mates’ celebrations to embrace Zola on the touchline.

Parker, though, is not expecting an international recall soon. “I think if I had a chance to go to South Africa I would have been called into the squad more than I have,” he said.

He had to inspire his team-mates after they fell behind to Jonathan Spector’s own goal. Ilan and Radoslav Kovac struck before half-time, then Hugo Rodallega struck before the winner.

West Ham United (4-4-2): Green; Faubert, Upson, Da Costa, Spector; Noble (Daprela, 90), Kovac, Parker, Behrami; Ilan (Franco, 71), Cole. Substitutes not used: Kurucz (gk), Gabbidon, B McCarthy, Diamanti, Stanislas.

Wigan Athletic (4-5-1): Kirkland; Melchoit, Bramble, Caldwell, Figueroa; J McCarthy, Diame (Scharner, 90), Watson, N’Zogbia (Scotland, 90), Rodallega; Moreno (Moses, 38). Substitutes not used: Stojkovic

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