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Page last updated at 19:07 GMT, Saturday, 23 May 2009 20:07 UK

Zola praises Hammers turnaround

Gianfranco Zola
Zola admits he started "doubting" his philosophy after their poor form

West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola is happy with his first season in club management after guiding them to a top-half finish in the Premier League.

The Hammers were just one point outside the relegation zone on Christmas Day.

Former Chelsea and Italy striker Zola told BBC London 94.9: "I had to establish my ideas and it wasn't easy as things weren't going very well.

"It's a process that takes time but I'm very happy because the players liked what I proposed and gave everything."

Zola admits that one of the hardest parts of making the transition from player to manager has been the need to set himself apart from his squad.

He said: "In my position, sometimes, you have to be strong, you have to tell a player he's not playing or tell a player maybe you have to go and they are the most difficult things for somebody in my position especially new at the job.

When results are not going your way, you start doubting [your philosophy] but never for a second did I want to change it

Gianfranco Zola

"But it's been OK. I found very intelligent people over here so they understood that whatever I was saying or doing was for the sake of the team. As far as I'm concerned, I get on with that part of the job as well and next year is going to be even better."

West Ham's good form since the turn of the year saw them competing for a place in next season's newly-formed Europa League, until last week's defeat at Everton ended their hopes.

But Zola admits that the bad run before Christmas, that saw the Hammers pick up just one win in 13 games, left him asking questions of his own management and football philosophy.

"It's normal because you're proposing a new thing and the results are not going your way and you start doubting them but never for a second did I want to change it," he said.

"That's because I like it, I believe that is the right way and nothing changes for me. I would rather change my job than change my ideas."

Meanwhile, Hammers striker Carlton Cole admits he has been taking advice from former Chelsea team-mate Didier Drogba and Aston Villa's John Carew on how to add more aggression to his game.

The 25-year-old is keen to catch the eye again of England boss Fabio Capello, who has told the forward to develop more of a nasty streak.

He said: "I talk to Didier a lot. He feels that I can progress even further than I am at the moment and I'm just happy that he thinks of me highly.

There's a lot of forwards that I watch. Obviously there's Didier Drogba. I also watch [Bolton's] Kevin Davies because I think he's one of the greatest in the Premier League at the moment at holding up the ball

West Ham striker Carlton Cole

"I talk to John Carew a lot as well. He scores goals everywhere he goes and hopefully I can do that one day."

Cole also likes to watch DVDs of top strikers in an effort to improve his own game.

"There's a lot of forwards that I watch. Obviously there's Didier Drogba. I also watch [Bolton's] Kevin Davies because I think he's one of the greatest in the Premier League at the moment at holding up the ball," he said.

"You've got [Inter star Zlatan] Ibrahimovic as well, just similar players to me that are big and powerful and cause defenders a lot of problems. These are the kind of players I like to watch."

Cole has been out for two months with a groin injury suffered on England duty in the 4-0 win over Slovakia in March, but will be hoping he is included in Capello's squad for next month's World Cup qualifiers against Kazakhstan and Andorra.



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