Gianfranco Zola was sacked as West Ham manager at the end of last season. The Italian spent close to two years in the Premier League with the Hammers and in that time developed strong feelings for the club. Here’s Zola talking about his time at Upton Park…
So what have you been up to since you left West Ham?
Gianfranco Zola: I’ve been spending a lot of time with the family, and I’ve just focused on that. I’ve also still been working on my UEFA pro licence and watching a lot of games. I’ve decided to spend this time trying to improve on what I did at West Ham and get ready for the next adventure.
So when you say you’re still working on the pro licence, is that something you were working on at West Ham as well?
GZ: Yes it was part of the plan. When I joined West Ham I needed permission to manage from the Premier League and there an agreement made with the Premier League that I had to complete the UEFA pro licence within a certain amount of time.
Looking back at your time as West Ham manager how do you reflect on your time there?
GZ: When I first joined the club, despite a difficult time at the beginning, we managed to find the right balance. We found a way, and everybody was performing at his best. The second year my plan was to try and build on what we’d done the year before. Unfortunately things didn’t work out like that. The West Ham fans were amazingly passionate and I am very proud to have managed the club.
How would you describe your style as a manager, in terms of how you treat your players and the kind of football you like to play?
GZ: I’m a manager who tries to make sure his team enjoys the football that they play. I believe that every single player plays more than anything for the fun of it, for the pleasure that they take from playing football. So I try to create an environment where the players are enjoying what they are doing and therefore they give their best. That’s my philosophy. That’s what I try to do all the time.
You were a creative forward who tried to play attacking football, but not all managers are like that. A lot of managers who were strikers are defensive coaches or the other way around. Why do you think that is?
GZ: It’s just a philosophy, you know. Some people think they can give their best by thinking how can I score a goal, others think they can give their best by thinking how they can stop the opposition from playing. It’s just a matter of how your mind works. There’s no explanation, and I don’t think one is better than the other. You have to choose the one that suits you best.