Zola staying put at Hammers

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LONDON, March 29 – Gianfranco Zola announced Monday that he had decided to carry on as manager of West Ham, 48 hours after he admitted he was on the verge of quitting after six consecutive defeats left the club battling for Premier League survival.Zola flew back to his native Sardinia to contemplate his future following a 1-0 defeat by Stoke on Saturday.

But after a couple of days of soul searching, he has opted against walking away from his first managerial job.

"I am determined to carry on," the former Chelsea star said Monday, adding: "Losing on Saturday was emotional for everyone but I know we can turn it around and we have the ability to achieve our objectives."

West Ham’s recent performances had been severely criticised by co-owner David Sullivan but Zola says he had a supportive conversation with him and co-owner David Gold after the Stoke defeat.

"They have backed me and I am grateful," Zola said. "My only thought for now is to keep this club in the Premier League and that remains my goal. I’ll give everything I can to make this happen between now and the end of the season.

"I have had time to think and we will have to work harder than we have before. I know we can get the results we need and it is just a question of making it happen. The performance was better on Saturday but it is still not the level we should be at. We can, and will, do better as a team."

Only goal difference is keeping Zola’s squad out of the bottom three and the side below them, Hull, who appear to have been revitalised by the installation of Iain Dowie as manager, have a game in hand.

But Egypt striker Mido insisted Zola had the backing of his players and sufficient quality in his squad to beat the drop.

"Everyone is working so hard for the manager," said the striker. "We’re behind that man. He is a top manager, in my opinion, and we’re all behind him.

"I think we have a very good chance of staying up. If you look in the dressing room and you see the faces in there, you don’t see a team that is going to get relegated.

"By experience, by names and by people who want to work hard for this club, I don’t think this team is going down."

Anyone who watched Saturday’s performance at Stoke might dispute Mido’s optimistic outlook however, and West Ham’s prospects of survival are not helped by a testing sequence of matches between now and the end of the season.

A trip to Everton on Sunday is followed by fixtures against Sunderland, Liverpool, Wigan, Fulham and Manchester City, who could be playing for a Champions League place on the final day of the campaign.

Zola added: "We will go to Everton determined to get a result.

"People might not expect us to get something from the match but we will be positive. No-one should write us off. Although we are in a serious position we have time to sort things out and be in control of our destiny at the end of the season.

"We said before Stoke that one game would not define the season but we know each of the games left will be cup finals," he added.

West Ham’s problems on the pitch are being played out against a background of severe financial difficulties which would mean relegation would have calamitous consequences for the east London club.

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