West Ham fans will have yesterday awoken to the news that former Birmingham owners David Gold and David Sullivan have completed their take-over of the East London club and it appears that the financial saga at Upton Park has finally come to an end. The pair emerged as the stand out favourites ahead of Lotus F1 Chief Tony Fernandes and have secured a 50% holding in the club, giving them final say ahead of the other shareholders. The news will come as very welcome to West Ham fans, who have been waiting for an end to the dramatic episode so that their side can concentrate on matters on the pitch, including their main goal; Premier League survival.
Prior to the take-over, many fans and pundits had touted Gianfranco Zola as the next managerial casualty, believing that the new owners would wield the axe on the Italian. Some bookmakers even went as far as to close the market on Zola leaving Upton Park yet Sullivan and Gold today proved the bookies wrong as they insisted that the Italian will remain in East London. Sullivan said:
“Gianfranco’s position will be all right hopefully – I think with the style of football they play all the fans will be very supportive of him staying. We appointed four managers and parted company with two at Birmingham in 16 years. We believe in our managers and give them the time and support they need.”
Sullivan’s words show the pair’s belief in standing by their managers even when the going gets tough, but have the former Birmingham owners made the right decision in sticking by the Italian?
Now as a life-long Chelsea fan myself, I am obviously a huge fan of Zola, however, bias aside, it is the right decision to let him finish the job he has started.
West Ham currently lie just outside the relegation zone on goal difference yet have flirted with the drop zone all season long. This season has been a stark contrast to Zola’s last campaign as the Italian guided the Hammers to an impressive 9th place finish yet the east London club are realising the grim reality of financial debt and a lack of activity in the transfer window that have seen fortunes at the club drastically turn around.
However, the former Chelsea legend has transformed the squad over the last year and a half and has now constructed his own side, one that are more than capable of battling relegation. Last weekend’s draw against high-flyers Aston Villa epitomized the fight and belief that Zola has installed into his side. The Italian has been responsible for the signings of first team regulars Radoslav Kovac, Guillermo Franco and Alessandro Diamanti and if he had been relieved of his duties then West Ham would be left with a squad that has been largely constructed by Zola and Clarke and thus it is hard to believe they would be left in good stead to fight for their Premier League status.
Furthermore, during these times of financial disaster, the Italian has given the youngsters a chance to help fight for the cause and many of them have impressed. He has adapted admirably with the current climate at the club and the majority of the blame should not lie on his shoulders.
It is all good and well to sack a manager when things are not going well but you really have to ask yourself whether that is due to the manager himself, or matters outside of his control and in Zola’s case it is definitely the latter. It would have been a foolish decision to prevent Zola the chance to finish the job he has started and if the Hammers retain their Premier League status come May then it will be largely due to the work achieved by the Italian under very awkward circumstances.
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