Zola furious at owners' plan to trade players behind his back

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The Independent Football

Gianfranco Zola's relationship with the owners of West Ham United appeared strained beyond repair last night, when he spoke of his deep frustration at being undermined over transfer policy.

The 43-year-old Italian, having secured the club's Premier League survival last weekend, admitted he knew nothing about a bid for West Bromwich's Graham Dorrans until he read comments from David Gold. Then, David Sullivan made it known every player was up for sale apart from midfielder Scott Parker.

"If I was Mark Noble or Robert Green or Valon Behrami I wouldn't be very pleased to hear that," said the West Ham manager, who is scheduled to discuss his future with Gold and Sullivan at the end of the season.

"What can I make of that? It is not pleasant for sure," he said. "You don't like it but this is the way it goes. We have been through so many things and we will go through this as well."

It is thought that Gold is a huge admirer of midfielder Dorrans, who was the subject of a £4m offer that was rejected by the Baggies.

"I just found out in the newspapers," Zola said. "It was quite a surprise but I have been surprised so many times this year.

"I didn't know the club was interested in him. I don't know what I would have done if he had been signed. I haven't been contacted but this is part of what will happen at the end of the season after I speak to the owners. It is not nice is it?"

An earlier dispute between the owners and Zola appeared to be resolved in the latter's favour yesterday when the Premier League board absolved Fulham, tomorrow's opponents, of fielding a weakened team at Hammers' then relegation rivals Hull City in March. West Ham had officially complained without the knowledge of Zola, who later said he disagreed with the protest.

Despite the problems, which included the retirement of Dean Ashton, Zola has secured safety with two matches to spare. "It wasn't easy," he said. "There were a lot of things that weren't working very well but we stuck together."

For the final week of the season, Zola is focused on finishing as high up the league table as possible. He added: "We now have the possibility to pass other teams. When people speak about West Ham having a terrible year, there are teams just one point ahead of us who say they have had a terrific year."