LONDON, February 13 – West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola insists his long-term future lies at Upton Park after the Italian was linked with a move to Chelsea.
Zola found himself thrust into the spotlight when Chelsea fans displayed a banner after last weekend’s draw with Hull proclaiming that he and fellow Blues legend Roberto Di Matteo should replace Luiz Felipe Scolari at Stamford Bridge.
Scolari was subsequently sacked, with Russia coach Guus Hiddink handed the Chelsea job until the end of the season.
That left the door open for Zola to make the switch across London in the close-season, but he is adamant he wants to see through the West Ham project he only started in September.
"I am here and that’s the important thing. That’s all I can say about that," said Zola, who added that former Chelsea assistant Steve Clarke, now at West Ham, is also happy in east London.
"Chelsea is a club that I wish they do very well and I think Clarkey feels the same, but I would like to talk about West Ham. I am very happy with what I am doing here. We have a project and we are still starting. There is a long way to go and I have got a lot to learn and a lot to give to the club."
Zola refused to be drawn on what he thought had gone wrong at Stamford Bridge under Scolari.
"It is very difficult for me to get into the opinions," he said. "Chelsea are a winning side and want to stay on that side most of the time. It is not easy because things are so competitive, but the club has got its own way of running things and if they believe it’s not right, they can change.
"I am sorry for Scolari. He went to a team where they want to win the whole time, and there is a price to pay. A manager cannot do a job that easily in football. You need to plan and work, you need to be allowed time to change players and shape of team."
"It took me a long time and maybe I would have been sacked at a different club after two months, so you definitely need time."