Monday 23 October 2017

Zola remaining cautious despite upturn in West Ham's fortunes


Adrian Curtis

Gianfranco Zola insists it is too early to judge whether West Ham's season is turning around after they posted back-to-back victories in the Premier League for the first time since March last year.

West Ham's victory over nine-man relegation rivals Hull was achieved with goals from Valon Behrami, Carlton Cole and Julien Faubert. 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."

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."

West Ham, who climb to 13th place in the table, were given a dream start by Behrami who combined with Guillermo Franco to fire past Boaz Myhill in the second minute. Myhill then kept West Ham at bay until the 59th minute, when Cole got on the end of Faubert's pass to slide an angled drive under Myhill to make it two. Faubert made it three in the final minute with a rising angled drive.

"When there was a little bit of doubt in the game it was because we allowed those doubts," added Zola after the game. "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," said the West Ham boss.

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