The perfect response to critics
Zola said West Ham United had delivered the perfect response to their critics – inside and outside the club – after his relegation‑threatened team ended Everton’s seven-match winning run at Goodison Park and eased the pressure on their besieged manager.
The draw put the Hammers a point ahead of third-from-bottom Hull City, albeit having played a game more. Zola has endured a turbulent spell of public criticism from the West Ham co-owner David Sullivan.
“This is the right way to respond,” said Zola, who had questioned his future at the club following a defeat by Stoke City last weekend. “What matters is what we do on the pitch. The only way to respond is through football. We cannot stop the criticism. People want to give their opinions and judge us but we showed today that we are 100% focused on football.
“I’ve no other feelings apart from being pleased for my team. It is a difficult situation but we don’t want to stop fighting. That was what we said to the players before the game. All the team decided to fight until the end. No matter what, we’re going to fight until the end of the season and today was a clear demonstration of that because we never gave up.”
While the result at Goodison has not improved West Ham’s survival prospects dramatically – and while they will be without the influential Scott Parker for their next two matches, after the midfielder collected his 10th booking of the season – Zola believes the point gained will have a major influence on the morale of his squad.
Zola, who saw his striker Mido miss a first‑half penalty, said: “We are still very much in [the relegation battle] but getting a draw here was very important. It will lift spirits and will give us strength and confidence for the next game. The timing of Everton’s second goal could have been a blow for everyone but our response showed that we don’t give up.
“No matter what we will fight to the end. I wouldn’t say the last five games are going to be life and death but it’s very close. But we can go into them with confidence. I spoke to David [Gold] afterwards and he was very pleased with the performance and for the players.”