Zola slams Gudjohnsen over West Ham snub

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The Independent Online

West Ham boss Gianfranco Zola admits he has lost respect for Eidur Gudjohnsen after the Iceland forward chose to snub the Hammers at the 11th hour in favour of a switch to Tottenham.

After holding talks with Zola, Gudjohnsen is believed to have agreed terms on a loan move to Upton Park and undergone a medical before Spurs swooped late to secure his signature.

The normally placid Zola could not hide his disgust at the actions of Gudjohnsen, who played alongside the Italian at Chelsea between 2000 and 2003, and admitted he had been let down by the player.

"I am disappointed with Spurs and disappointed with Gudjohnsen. I was expecting good behaviour from him," Zola said.

"They keep telling me that football has got like this right now and I keep saying that when I'm dealing with people, I always expect for the people that I have got in front me to behave in a certain way - with respect.

"Okay, that wasn't the case here. But we move on. We have a lot of things to achieve here this season and we can still achieve them anyway."

Zola has made the signing of at least one striker his priority as the January transfer window draws to a close.

Gudjohnsen, who completed his move to Spurs today, has been scrubbed off Zola's wish-list but West Ham are very close to confirming the acquisition of Benni McCarthy from Blackburn.

The South Africa international wants more game time ahead of this summer's World Cup and Zola is willing to give it to him.

"The deal is not done yet but it's very close," the former Italy forward added.

"He is a player who will fit in with our philosophy very much. Hopefully it will be all right."

Since the takeover of the Hammers earlier this month by former Birmingham owners David Sullivan and David Gold, a host of strikers have been linked with moves to the east Londoners.

Manchester City's Benjani Mwaruwari, Scott McDonald of Celtic and Egypt striker Mido are among the names to have cropped up but Zola is remaining tight-lipped.

"Mido and others are names that are circulating but as far as I'm concerned, Benni is the only one close to us," he added.

"He's the only one I want to talk about. I am sure the club will be linked to many names but Benni is the real target for us."

Zola also confirmed forward Luis Jimenez is set to leave the club and return to Italian football.

The Hammers are fifth from bottom in the table ahead of tomorrow's Barclays Premier League match at home to Blackburn but there is a much better atmosphere around the club following the change in ownership.

They have lost just one of their last five league games and a win this weekend should give them some breathing space as the relegation dogfight continues.

"This team is getting a kind of possessiveness and we are getting stability on and off the pitch, which is good news," Zola said.

"The owners have their own mentality, their own way of working, but they are respecting my wishes.

"They are working close to me and that is the best way. We're all working to make this club successful."

Carlton Cole came on for the final 17 minutes of West Ham's 1-1 draw at Portsmouth in midweek and the England striker could start tomorrow.

Zola welcomes back Scott Parker, the midfielder and club captain, as well as left-back Herita Ilunga from hamstring injuries and they should also make the starting line-up.

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