Zola set for West Ham discussions

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The Independent Online

Gianfranco Zola will meet with the West Ham owners tomorrow to discuss whether he has a future as the club's manager.

But there were few signs yesterday at Upton Park, where the Hammers rounded off a turbulent season by sharing a 1-1 draw with Manchester City, which suggested that he does.

Zola has not seen eye-to-eye with David Gold and David Sullivan on a number of issues in recent weeks, most recently their move to make transfer decisions behind his back.

In March, Sullivan lambasted the squad in an open letter to supporters and there was a distinct lack of support for Zola in yesterday's match programme.

"The current management and team know that what they have delivered was below the expectations at the start of the season and we simply have to do better next season," Sullivan wrote.

Zola, who has three years to run on a contract he only signed last summer, is respected by the players and he was warmly appreciated by the supporters when he took to the field after the match.

But this season has taken its toll on Zola, to the point where he fell out of love with football for the first time in his life.

"This week we will have a meeting with the club, we will talk and see what the outcome will be. We will have a long and interesting chat," said Zola.

"It's been a tiring and exhausting season for us. All of the staff have been under a lot of pressure.

"We wanted to give something different but circumstances, mistakes and other things didn't allow us to do that, to give to the team what we wanted to give. There were moments when it was tough for us.

"For me personally, football has always been a joy, always a pleasure. I played until I was 39 and never considered it as a job or a difficult thing to do.

"But this year, because of all the pressure around us, it was difficult to take it in the same way.

"Football has always been part of my life, always one of the main things. I need it - but I need football in a certain way.

"One of the people I admire most is Giovanni Trapattoni. He was in his 70s and joyful about the game. Sir Bobby Robson was the same. That is the way I want to be.

"I enjoyed it last year, very much, this year a little bit less.

"It was only my second year as a manager and you take in everything. I need to get used to it. I know where the faults and mistakes lie. I will be working on them."

West Ham took the lead through Luis Boa Morte, who was making his first start for a year after recovering from knee ligament damage, before Shaun Wright-Phillips equalised for City with a header.

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini believes that missing out on Champions League qualification will cost them the chance to sign "top players" like Fernando Torres.

Manchester City had been linked with a move for the Liverpool striker.

But Mancini said: "I don't think so. If we finished in the top four, it would be better and easier to attract them.

"In this situation it is different. There are probably some players who want to play in the Champions League and not in the Europa League."

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