Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Gianluca Nani

News of the World


Zola has been willing to embrace a new "project" to develop the club's best youngsters but his relationship with West Ham technical director Gianluca Nani has become strained.

Nani is in charge of transfers but Zola was bemused when the club sold Craig Bellamy for £14m to Manchester City last January.

West Ham then quickly shelled out a reported £9m for untried, Ugandan-born German Under-21 international Savio.

Despite a rave billing, Savio flopped and has since been involved in a swap deal with Fiorentina that has brought defender Manuel da Costa to the club in a deal that was worth around £3m.

Neither Zola nor assistant boss Steve Clarke particularly rate Da Costa and were upset that the club sold defender James Collins to Aston Villa for £5m.

That enabled Nani to bring in attacking midfielder Luis Jimenez on loan from Inter Milan and striker Alessandro Diamanti from Livorno.

Zola has not been keen on confrontation but I understand Clarke has had several heated debates with Nani over the logic behind some of the signings.

Zola is cutting an increasingly frustrated figure on the sidelines at Hammers matches these days.
And after Monday's 3-1 defeat at Manchester City, which locked the Hammers into the bottom three with just four points from six games, Zola read the riot act to his players.

He regards today's clash against fellow strugglers Fulham as a match that could shape the club's season.

Zola said: "Preparing for this game is like a cup final for us. At Manchester City on Monday, it was the worst we have played all season. We have to improve."

The manager then vowed to act with a firmer fist. He added: "I am going to be more focused and demanding of the players. I am going to be on top of it until I get it right."

Skipper Matthew Upson is set to return today following a calf injury. Clarke said: "You need all your experienced players. Matthew has been good for us since Gianfranco and myself came to the club."

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