West Ham cast doubt over Zola but insist his job is safe for now

Owners say keeping manager until end of season is best option to protect Premier League survival chances

The joint owners of West Ham United have agreed not to replace Gianfranco Zola as manager in the immediate future but they are understood to be in disagreement over his long-term suitability. David Gold is keen to give the Italian more time while David Sullivan is less enthusiastic about Zola's attributes as a Premier League coach.

The pair have agreed, however, not to sack Zola in the wake of West Ham's disastrous 3-1 home defeat to their fellow relegation battlers Wolverhampton Wanderers on Tuesday night. The joint owners met with Zola, along with the vice-chair Karren Brady, late on Tuesday evening to discuss his short-term future.

Sullivan and Gold have noted fellow strugglers Hull swapped Phil Brown for Iain Dowie and they do not see the point in making a similar switch at such a crucial stage of the season. The owners have conceded that Zola represents West Ham's best option at present, given that they are still three points above the relegation zone with seven games to go.

Sullivan, however, has raised doubts about Zola as a Premier League manager after the pair bought 50 per cent of the club in January. Last month he suggested the former Chelsea striker might be "too nice" to be successful. The club's fifth defeat in a row has made a change of manager far more likely in the summer, but the owners are unwilling to make change for change's sake, especially as there is a lack of viable alternatives. Zola and his assistant Steve Clarke both signed three-year contracts in May last year.

Zola's case for a longer stay of execution will not be helped by damaging dressing-room revelations from the striker Benni McCarthy, who after Tuesday's game told of how his team-mates are "hiding".

In a startling but honest admission, McCarthy, 32, revealed that morale in the side is at "rock bottom" and that players even hid their heads inside their shirts during half-time. The South African said: "Everyone started hiding a little bit and that's no way to go about it when things are not going your way – when you need to try to give back a little bit of what you've been given, and we didn't do that.

"The manager tried. Everyone's head had dropped. We didn't really perform. Everyone's heads were in their shirts and everyone was shy to show their faces. It was really hard. We have reached rock bottom because we can't get any lower than this. It's hard to know what to say any more because it was just shocking. You play a home game you had to win, needed to win, especially against Wolves. No disrespect to them but we should have won. You lose it and you think 'Where does it go from here?'"

McCarthy's damaging revelations concerning the fragile state of the West Ham dressing room could prove to be the final straw for Zola. The manager was taunted by home supporters on Tuesday night who sang "You're getting sacked in the morning".

Both the owners spoke publicly about the defeat yesterday. Sullivan said: "We're all shell-shocked and deep in thought. I still don't think we'll be relegated but it is more likely now."

Gold described West Ham's situation as "looking at the abyss". He said: "I had a chat with [Guillermo] Franco after the game. Obviously people are going to question the manager because they are looking for someone to blame. Every West Ham fan will be saying 'Who can we blame?' They start off blaming the players, then the manager and finally the owners. It's just the way of things."

The players were booed off the pitch by their own fans on Tuesday, with many supporters singing "You're not fit to wear the shirt" during and after the game. It was the first time this season that the fans have turned on the team, and the effect has been devastating for the players who can normally rely on vocal support, at least when they play at Upton Park.

The Hammers' captain, Matthew Upson, admitted that the crowd's response added to the stresses. He said: "Is it helpful? Probably not at this time but it's a test of us as a team and if you can't deliver then you shouldn't play for West Ham. There is pressure, of course.

"The supporters and everyone around it demand a certain quality and we haven't delivered that in the last two or three games. Yes, there is pressure but if it gets to us then we are not going to survive it. So it is a big test for us as a group."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Life and Style
tech Manband spurn Spotify to stream album exclusively with Google
Sport
footballArsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 0: And they can still top the group
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
News
Albert Camus (left) and Jean-Paul Sartre fell out in 1952 and did not speak again before Camus’s death
people
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
Arts and Entertainment
'Felfie' (2014) by Alison Jackson
photographyNew exhibition shows how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Fright night: the board game dates back to at least 1890
life
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?