15/08/2010

Hammer's new Era? Next game maybe...


We are all disappointed today. After this promising pre-season, after the new manager stepped in and the new owners bought some - at least - interesting players most of us really thought we are heading to a new more positive era.
And maybe we are, but not against Villa.
Against Villa we did no tonly look average at the best, we looked like we did last year during those games we had no ideas, we had no clue, we had no energy, we played far to slow and we did not play like a team. And once again tried with these long balls towards Cole all isolated up front. When we thought Grant had an idea how to play with pace and width we all looked like the old team, maybe worse.
All players underachieved, but I am most disappointed with Parker. The man who is so good that he is not saleable, the man who is our real captain and the man who should push the rest with his energy and strength was totally unvisible for the first half. You can't expect that he should perform all day all night, but you can expect that he should take some responsibility. Noble tried to, but made the team slower and had very hard times to find addresses to his passes. So while noone turned up for the premier, the midfield was totally ut of order.
Even if we have counted to have Hitz out there, we can't start to cry if he is missing. It's not the loss in itself, it's how we played: alright Villa was good, they had a new youngster calle Albright, but: it took us even 20 minutes before we even had the ball. Embarrasing. Did it seem like the players wanted to be out there? "A new season, hurrah!"?

Green 5 - Made some great and important saves, but seemed also like an liability at times, should have handled their first (offside) goal better. Awful punch! Still: Had some good friends in the posts and crossbar. As always I want him to take better control of his area.
Wintson Reid 4,5 - First game for us ever, first game in the PL - and that with just two-three days with the rest of the team. So it was going to be hard. His first game was not a success, at time our new Danish-New Zeeland friend had problems where to be in his area. Often against two men. Still I thought he showed that the RB position will be his. Young and new in a team that underachieves he still showed some composture. Will be fine with better help from a new CB (da Costa) and Faubert playin a bit further down. Welcome Reid to this hard road to travel....
James Tomkins 3,5 - All players do mistakes, but at the moment young Tomkins seems to do at least one huge mistake every game. Not good enough, even if with painfully no support at all from our Captain.
Matthew Upson 4 - I've said it before: You can't be shy and be a captain, you can not possess the experience Upson do have without taking more responsibility. Did not do many mistakes as a player yesterday, but must show much more guts! It may end by seeing Ben-Haim and Da Costa teaming up soon!
Ilunga 5 - May have been standing on his heels at one of Villa's goals, should maybe have stopped one or two crosses more, and Albright was a pain in the ass for everyone, but was otherwise one of few players that I was not embarrassed by at Villa park. Showed glimpses of his capacity and had energy.
Faubert 4,5 - Not good enough, not good at all... Things may have looked different if he had ran one inch further on Cole's terrific pass and scored 1-1. Instead he lost his stamina.
Noble 5 - Was one of the main reasons why we played so slow as he wanted the ball (more than most) but never seemed to pass directly. Slow, slow, slow and bad passes is not a good combination. At least you can give him credit for his effort.
Scott Parker 4 - As stated earlier: May not have been the worst man out there, but the biggest disappointment. If he continues like this (invisible) for another game I would be happy to get 12 millions for him.
Kovac 4 - Did he manage to pass one ball correctly? Well, we can't blame him as he can't give a piss anymore as he was on his way up to Stoke for his new contract, when he was called back (because of Hitz' injury). Subbed.
LBM 5,5 - Tried, but even if he had one or two passes between him and Ilunga on the left few were the finished article. Tread water. After the game against Man City when he re-kicked his career you would have hoped for something like that again. Have not given up on him for next game though. Subbed.
CC 5,5 - Another hard game as he was far to isolated up front and he did not manage to take control of many balls, admitting that few passes at all reached the target man. One really nice move in the first half where he showed that he is fast, gave LBM a clear goalchance. In the second half he was a bit more into the game, but must be better to pick out his teammates, far to often it was like "him against the world". "What can you do but dribble?" And he failed.

Subs:
Pablo Barrera 5 - Can't judge him after just 45 minutes in PL in this new environment. But those 45 minutes reminded me of Luis Jimenez. But, as I am positive, I saw that Barrera will be far more important for us!
Diamanti 4 - Well the man may be a genius at deadballs, may like noone else be able to see the masterstoke of a pass. And: May have new haircuts for every game. But that is not enough, have to convince us in other areas soon. Or be sold.
Piquionne 6 - Our best man today. Had at least energy and some few ideas during those (too few?) first PL minutes in claret & blue. Liked what I saw, and may be able to play with Cole, not instead of...

Grant:
+ Liked his subs. Fast (compared to Zola) and showed what he disliked. His postinterview showed that he saw the same mistakes that we saw.
- His lineup. Parker, Noble, Kovac in the middle of the park together made us very very slow. He must have been the one to tell Green to show all his goalkicks up towards Cole. It looked like last term. Was da Costa really injured? How come the sleepy players didn't look like Jack Torrance i "The Shining"? It is a new season for God's sake!

If you stay positive you see that we only won one game away from home last year, and that was the first one of the season. So this year this has to be our only loss on away ground!












09/08/2010

The Sale ranking list

So maybe with the exception of Sulejmani, we have no more incoming players. Still I guess we need to get rid of some faces, I suggest in this order (the new players are not included) and what I think we need to sell them (= less is of no interest, more may give a higher ranking). I have no idea what the players different salaries are so I've excluded that in my ranking.... I do however as long as possible want balance in the team.



1. Jon Spector (500 000)
2. Rado Kovac (1,5 mill)
3. Valon Behrami (6 mill)
4. Mat Upson (4 mill)
5. Freddie Sears (2,5 mill)
6. Benni McCarthy (1,5 mill)

--- for me: Stop here: So 16 millions in---

7. Kieron Dyer (1,5 mill)
8. Danny Gabbidon (2 mill)
9. One of the young keepers Stech/Kurucz (3 mill)
10. Diamanti (5 mill)
11. Mark Noble (6,5 mill)
12. Scott Parker (12 mill)
13. Junior Stanislas (3,5 mill)
14. Julien Faubert (6 mill)
15. Herita Illunga (4 mill)
16. James Tomkins (6 mill)


New players (or new contract): Hitz, LBM, Piq, Barrera, TBH, Reid.
Non sellable players with this squad: Green, Cole, da Costa, Daprela, Collison, Hines, Nouble, Edgar, Lee, Spence, Stech/Kurucz.

Of course things can change if we exchange players or buy for instance buy a new world class-striker. (As it looks right now I would NOT sell CC! - and certainly not for Yak) But this ranking is with the squad we possess right now.

What's yours?



28/07/2010

Communication and Smart Money?

Co-chairman David S writes on the OS "I made a promise that I would not sell Scott and I will not, for any amount of money, break that promise to the West Ham supporters”.
And that is less than 24 hour after his co-chairman colleague David G says to the BBC "I don’t think that anybody ever can give a 100 % guarantee about anybody.”… “There is a never never in football, I learnt that many years ago in football”.
Obviously Sullivan never went to that lesson.
Still, that is more of a funny observation than anything else. The moral of both stories is that Parker will stay.

I must say that the symbolic value the Davids have given Scott is huge and so is, according to rumors, the pay they are offering him to sign an extension to his current deal. I should know better than to bite at that kind of rumors but if they are even close the Davids will be guilty of signing players on exactly the kind of money that they have ridiculed ever since they started to comment on West Hams finances.

Previous talk of huge salaries to Ruud v N, and what have you, I've dismissed as publicity stunt bluffs that never ever ran the risk of being called. But this?

Is Parker really a player we could never do without? Is it really wise to use a very very significant part of the money available for wages on Parker? For 5 years? ...or are there some risky clauses in his current contract they want to get out of and are willing to pay some money to do so, while securing a great footballer and winning the fans over? Again, they have previously strongly cracked down on expensive long term deals made by the previous owners, pointing out the big economic risk to the Club that these £50.000+ deals have presented. And those contracts were signed during the champagne-era while this certainly is not!
I can’t see Gollivan making that big of an exception from their own way of running a football club just to secure Parker for an additional 2 years. They are shrewder than that, right?

24/07/2010

Who is attracting the most attractive players?

One should do what one does best and I am fairly good at worrying and being a bit pessimistic. Maybe that’s why I caught on to the Icelandic problems ahead of some optimists, and maybe that’s why I’ll miss out on the first signs of an upturn.

When I finally read the intro and highlights of the Deloitte Annual Review of Football Finance that was released in June (the whole report is £600!) I couldn't stop myself from worrying about the future of English football in financial terms, which we all know is intimately related to the quality of football.
The report discusses the reasons for the relatively low impact the financial crisis has had on economics of football in general and the English game in particular. This is very encouraging indeed especially as there are quite few economically strained clubs at the moment who are relying on an increasing, or at least not a shrinking, flow of money to sustain their existence. It also says that the English Premier League is one of the most equal of leagues with an internal revenue spread of “only” 6 times between the richest and the less fortunate clubs. As far as I understand the reason for that being the equality in the division of TV-money. It does "bite the hand that feeds it" as "The Swiss Rambler" says in his article on the same subject by pointing out that an unhealthy part of the money made is going to player wages, threatening the financial stability of teams. The Guardian also ran a decent piece on the report.

One of the sentences that made me a bit uneasy was “A key driver to the Premier League’s success is that it’s revenue enables member clubs to attract the world’s best players, who in turn help to boost the leagues popularity”.

But are the teams in the PL attracting the best players in the world presently?
The answer to that one is not easy for anyone to give as the term “world’s best players” is more than a little subjective as well as unclear. How many players falls into this category?
If you’ll accept the votes of the international Journalists 2009, however, the 7 best players in the world all played in Spain. These were, followed by a handful of Premiere League players (although Torres and Fabregas are both linked with a move to Spain).
The 2009 Fifa Pro World XI – a world all star team based on the votes from 50000 professional players - include 5 players from the EPL (Terry, Vidic, Evra, Gerrard, Torres) and 6 from La Liga (Casillas, Alves, Xavi, Iniesta; Ronaldo, Messi).

One can conclude that the fight to be the most attractive league in the world is a two horse race, something that is further emphasized by a “most attracting league” poll done on Fifa.com where La Liga and EPL gets 41 and 36 percent respectively (yes La Liga won the poll), followed by the German Bundesliga with a distant 13 percent.
Another way to look at it may be to see if a top-class player is working in a league outside his own country. All England players in the WC get their wages from EPL clubs whereas 4 in the Spanish team found offers from foreign clubs more pleasing – premiership clubs.
‘Nuff said about this, I think I made my point that there is hardly a solid argument for the thought that England is undisputed when it comes to attracting the best players.

To get back to the original thought – if “A key driver to success” is highly debatable, isn’t there reason to worry?

The Engish cause may recieve unexpected help from.... La Liga! La Liga seem to be in an even worse financial state than the Premiership, reducing the power of the worst competitor, at least that is what Stefan Szymanski, football economics guru at the Cass Business School said in a radio interview. He said that, with the possible exceptions of Real Madrid and Barcelona, all the teams in La Liga are in financial trouble…
All but Madrid and Barca? He must be having a laugh. Barca, the team paying the wages of 5 of the 7 top ranking players in the 2009 Ballon d’Or, revealed in may that their debt was € 489 million, and that was before signing David Villa! I thought that the general consensus, and one of the main reasons for Platini’s initiative to straighten out the finances of football clubs, was that Barca and Madrid are financially unsound.

Now there are obviously other "drivers" to PL-success. The fact that the league has established itself on many foreign markets is one. These foreign markets are so important that the EPL is tipped to soon make more money abroad than domestically.
But are these markets faithful?

We may be right back where we started - what league has the most attractive players?

23/07/2010

Just leave (him be)

Why do the Potters keep on upping their bid for Cole?
It must mean that they feel they are getting signals from G&S that they are getting close or are they just testing our resolve? I certainly can understand the reason for Stoke to want him. He is a very good player to hoist it to when nothing else seems to work, something we did way too much when he was on the pitch last season (making him look bad in the process). That is more than likely the kind of quality Stoke needs as that situation will occur even more often with them.

I read a lot into Cole being used as a “top model” for our new away kit. Flanked by players more or less guaranteed to play for us during the next campaign (Noble, Hitz, Junior) I got lured into looking forward to see Cole get to “gel” with a striking partner with pace.
I have a feeling that, given time, Remy and Cole would make a cracking partnership. I always thought that Coles target playing capacity should be a perfect platform for releasing a pacy striker. Cole had limited success with Bellamy, Sears and Hines, but they really never got a chance to build anything, and Cole seem to need time to get used to changes in the playing environment. Most of last season Cole was played alongside strikers with, let's say, other qualities. The threat a quick striker would present would take some of the defenders off Coles back, making his job a bit easier. Last year the oppositions defenders were allowed to focus on Cole too much, again making him look bad.
Benni or Piquionne are not viable options, but if the Caraglio deals comes through so is Cole I'm afraid. But at least we are doing business in the right order, getting the replacements in before we sell the "original".

21/07/2010

I dare you! I double dare you...?

"The situation with Parker has not changed," said Sullivan. "Villa will not have enough money to tempt us to sell Scott.

"He really is not for sale."

One wonders what Sully is out to do. But even though everything Sully has said so far, including "Everybody is for sale except Parker" tells me that we'd sell Parker if a decent bid came along, in a way this is the best feeling I've had for a while when it comes to keeping Parker.

Economics and economics alone

Now a few new citations are flying around in the Olympic stadium post 2012 discussion. Jacques Rogge, president of the IOC, said yesterday during a “how is it going” visit to London that

"We are keen on having an athletics track to remain and I'm confident that they will find the right solution," "We have been assured it will have an athletics track".
However, an OPLC (Olympic Park Legacy Company) official followed up on that comment by saying that

"no final decision" over whether to keep an athletics track beyond 2012 is
taken"

So what does it mean when a IOC president is “keen” on something?
Well that certainly depends on if it would affect an upcoming Olympic games per se or just what happens when the Olympic Circus has moved on.
One way to evaluate such a statement is to try to remember how many times you have seen IOC members, not from the specific country, getting involved in a discussion about what happened to a city or country after the Circus has left. Can’t remember any (bar Beijing maybe)? Me neither. No, the Circus will, as allways, move its focus toward the next Olympic Games and, as is true for any Circus manager, not worry much what the tent site looks like after they have left.

The decisions on who is going to run it after the Games and whether to keep or not to keep the tracks will be based on economics and economics alone.
If the cost/benefit analysis of taking the tracks out say they should stay, they will stay and the talk of the “Olympic Legacy” will get a last outing. If not, Sir Sebastian will have to make do with some smaller venue, maybe better suited to house the 7.500 athletics fans that will come to the annual GP show.

So what is the chances (or risk if you are so inclined) of West Ham moving there?
I’d say the chances are great that we, as I said in this post, will see the first West Ham game there in 2015. Not only on our own merits as I doubt there are any other takers with a concept that is backed by money rather than people. Money talks, and no one else should be bothered to argue with it (Coe/West Ham fans) as they have a very slim chance of winning the discussion.
In March 2011 West Ham will be revealed as the new tenants, or to be formal, there is supposed to be a decision on what the stadium will be used to and who gets to run it. Then we may also have a decision on whether the tracks will remain, but that is still something that may be changed later in the development.

Note: I'm certainly not advocating tracks at any football ground, on the contrary, but Gollivan won't care much what I or other West Ham fans say on this matter. They will be banking on that we will get over it. At least enough to go to the games.

13/07/2010

Swiss sums it up

Well, its better to write your own stuff, but I can not restrain Bubbleview to suggest all it's readers to read another blogg as well, and the article that really wants to sum up West Ham's current economical situation.
Read Swissramble HERE.
I'm not the man to tell if everything is spot on (as a lot of the numbers are from G&S themselves), but at least most of it seems to be in accordance with the truth and is really good reading.

09/07/2010

Between the lines

Avram has been talking as our new manager for the first times.

The latest official statements of our newly appointed manager is in line with every new manager in any team. “Happy to be here”, “relishing the challenge”, it’s a great club” etc. etc.

My favorite platitude is, however, “we want to improve”, which is a reasonable goal for a team avoiding relegation by a hairs breadth.

There are however some grains of information that may be extracted from these interviews and other official produce.
The way he talks about the squad tells us that he by no means takes for granted that there will be any significant additions to it. “If most of the players will make progress we will not need many players” is a statement meant to prepare us for the possible scenario that Hitzlsperger will be the only signing of a “proven” player this window. Or to use Grantish “someone who can play football”.
Late info/rumors points toward Barros adding his £ 5 million worth of talent to our attack but even if these rumors are wrong I guess a signing involving that kind of money may well be in the cards. As far as I can judge he can play football. With him in our books one wonders if Diamanti still will be needed? Also, Gollivan needs to show that they weren’t sh*ting us when they suggested adding additional additions. Also, one or two of the usual suspects will most likely be leaving, more than making up for the money Barros will set us back.

Grant is unusually frank about the necessity to keep Parker. On the OS he says “I can tell you that Scott Parker is important to us . He is a good football player and has quality”. While he is less optimistic about keeping Upson “We will see him when he comes back. Of course we want Matty Upson to stay at the club”.

England’s lack of success in the World Cup, and the un-applauded individual performances obviously boosted our chances to see our England internationals in claret and blue even in the upcoming season. Whether we want them to or not. I (and a few agents) was hoping for huge positive exposure for Green and Upson so we could mourn their leaving while banking some serious money. If nothing else to be able to keep Parker and Cole. On the international note, I’m sure that Parker would have been lost to us had he been given a chance to show what work rate and moral can do, also on the international scene.

Other secret messages were extractable from the release of the new away kit. Cole, Noble, Stanislas and Hitz were used as fashion plates. The odds on Stanislas, Noble and Hitzlsperger to play for us during the 10/11 campaign are pretty low, but what raised my spirits was that Cole would do a photo shoot dressed in it. I thought he would be reluctant, not only because he was afraid that those hoops that seems to have slid down from the chest to get stuck around the waist would make him look short and chubby (is this why Benni wasn’t asked?), but also because he figured he wouldn't be using it much this season. It kind of tells us that he is not in the middle of wrapping up a transfer. But then he looks a bit depressed doesn’t he? Maybe the transfer talks are not as many and as fruitful as he was hoping? But then Noble and Junior doesn’t really look too excited either in the pics on the online store. It’s all a party though when they realize that they will be offered a free high fat meal! (just go and look at the pics on the OS site if none of this makes any sense to you).

Anyone noted that Avram has been seeing a PR consultant? A bit like Tony Soprano seeing a shrink. Either that or a plastic surgeon. He is smiling like his jaws are unhinged on every picture! A smart move just the same as his trade mark sulky face seem to be the major problem people have with him.

Btw, the name of the post was chosen to lure the writer of THIS blog out of hiding.

02/06/2010

That's better!

The ongoing discussion over whether the new leadership brings a new information policy has been a bit of a farce. The Sullivan outbursts cannot qualify as information can it? Today’s post on the official site indicates that the old rule that “information appears last on the official site” is still true but the delay is reduced.
The post addresses (or rather touches on) the manager situation and gives the official version on some players that are or are not offered new contracts. Both topics that are of genuine interest (Nothing wrong with the “Sign up for Stadium tours” and “ “Noble’s recipe for success” posts but still…). “The worst kept secret in football” is packaged as a selection process. Most likely to make sure that Grant doesn’t get carried away with his demands

The Footballer Formerly Known As the Dead Snake (TFFKAtDS), is offered a new contract.
That is a bit surprising to me considering his comments on the new owners. The offer could well be all but an insult, making it possible for the new regime to say that he chose to leave, and there is no way that it’s anywhere near the 70000 a week he is supposedly picking up today. I kind of hope that it is a decent contract and that the “love for the Club” that he expressed when rejecting that offer last summer is genuine. He is the kind of player we need in the squad, even though I hope that he won’t be relied upon to start.

I’ll be back on comments on the youngsters.

21/05/2010

What's your diagnosis?

As a fan one more or less have to adapt to whatever happens in your Club. That adapting process can be a painful one. How on earth should I feel about the inevitable, and in my view needed, sacking of Zola and the disgusting way G&S has handled it. Can I just see them as separate incidents? Of course not, but where does that leave me?

And what attitude should I have to the economic side of their ownership? I am quite sure that the Clubs economic situation was worse than Duxbury et al. wanted us to think (even though maybe not as shockingly dire as G&S told us after the take-over) and I’m fairly convinced that there was no one else that had the economic muscle to complete a take-over. In that sense they saved us from going into administration and, most certainly, relegation. But then it is as certain that they will limit the spending on players in a way that will burst a few bubbles. We will lose some players that will be able to find better financial deals elsewhere and that is always hard to stomach. G&S will however keep some other bubbles flying as a more conservative salary policy will pave the way for a more balanced squad. Fewer peaks but also less visits to the abyss is my hardly unique prediction for next season. A bit like learning that your depression is treatable but that you will never be as happy as you used to, ever again.

That provides an effortless queue for the Grant part of this post. Grant was not my first choice, but then was he anyone’s first choice? However considering the alternatives I think it has its flipsides. One is that you can read anything you like into his “CV”. One may want to emphasize the success at Chelsea, or say he was never a part of it. One may look at his work at Portsmouth and interpret it any way one chooses. Is he the one that managed a team to relegation or is he the one that against all odds got a relegation doomed team to the FA-cup final? Loser or winner? Talk about bipolar! I see his West Ham gig as the first true test as a manager in the UK, even though his ability to get the Pompey players to perform as they did although they were already doomed to relegation may say something. My guess is that Grant will have me off the lithium and longing for excitement. Fancy that, the team known for its contempt for consistency having an outside chance of stability!

Then the Olympic stadium. If I feel divided in the other issues I’m split right down the middle on this one. It forces you to answer to the question “Do you feel it is of importance that West Ham can compete with the top clubs for players and trophies or are you fine with letting players that succeeds in our colors go on to build the back bone of ManUre and Chelsea?”. If you have a clear answer to that one, the stadium question is a no brainer. Unfortunately I don’t. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Hand me the Prozac!

Mental state and West Ham

This post transformed to the one above for technical/tactical reasons - sorry about that Allan.

12/05/2010

Same Sullivan...

I think one can separate the team from the owners to some extent. Like the ManUre fans chant "Love united hate Glazers".

G&S are bastards, we all knew this.
However, they are the bastards that were willing to spend money to save our Club from economic oblivion and a Portsmouthian fate. No one else was. If they were forced away from the Club for some reason, what would be achieved? There are no buyers!

Zola was probably unwilling to go - why? Because he believed he had done wonders with the team and deserved another season? Maybe one can argue that one should know when a party is over, but then he was under a contract and had all the rights to try to hang on for the length of it. But he is not quite the first manager to be sacked under that kind of circumstances is he?

G&S was always going to try to avoid paying Zola off. All the abuse during the season had that sole purpose. If the rumours are true really doesn't matter, does it? The lawyers that are, or will be, involved will sort it and it certainly doesn't change my view of G&S. They are and were bastards.

It may have some detrimental implications for the future however.
What manager would like to come to our Club and risk to share Zola's fate? G&S seem to try the "we stand by our players and managers" defining "our" as people that they have hired - let's see how that hangs with the managers they are courting.

Shame Sullivan!

If it is more than a rumour, if it is closer to the truth, I think it is a real shame. If Sullivan has breached Zola's contract by saying that Franco has breached the contract himself (and not paying him a penny) cause the Italian defended his own players and asked a question when Sullivan himself went out to the media and critisised the players openly - then it's not fun anymore. It is filthy oppression. It is acting like a former Eastern dictator, thinking he can do anything he wants with people.

Zola may not have reached any hights with his team, so this is not about finding a new manager or not, it's about how G&S acts. To humilate our servant Zola this way - if the rumours are true - is disgraceful.
It will not get us any new fans, it will not get us any energy, it will probably mean that players are looking elsewhere, it will not improve our team. The opposite. We can be seen as the gready basterds and maybe – if supporting our new owners doing things like this – we are. This is not the West Ham way, no way.

West Ham fans should act and refuse to buy any season tickets before this is reasonable solved. We still got the power.

At least to do something when we find out the truth in this matter.

11/05/2010

Quite Gianfrancly, it's for the best

The OS awards our manager of the last 2 seasons a one (1!) sentence long farewell!!

G&S have no reputation of being soft, but this is a bit too much. It ends the piece with “The club will make no further comment on this matter” – yeah right. Sully is known as the strong silent type isn’t he?
On the note of the sacking itself – I don’t doubt for a second that it was handled lousily as G&S certainly doesn’t share Zola’s suffering when having to tell a player he is not in the team for the next game. But then Zola knew this was coming and I’m sure he will be economically compensated.

“Na├»ve” is probably the word I will use to describe Zola while with us.
I very much liked the way he wanted us to play and his visions for the future was very tempting – all the things a player and a fan wants to hear. The image of an attacking and technically able squad will stick in the back of my mind as a icon and monument over his reign at Boleyn Ground. Unfortunately he never got us to play fluid football on the floor bar a few precious moments.



... and I very much doubt that he ever would.
One could argue that he never got a chance due to dire times. But as our manager during these hard times I still expected more, like adapting o the situation. His inability to learn from his tactical mistakes was one of my problems with him. I would fully expect a West Ham under Zola to gather in the center of the pitch and play 5 yard passes to covered players or a long ball toward Cole also next season.
My “favourite” hang up, however, was the ever-changing team sheet (even though I respect him for trying not to communicate through one as Curbs allegedly did), making it all but impossible to form a team of the players.
He was obviously liked by most in the squad, as a person, and it will be hard to find one that has not pledged his allegiance to Zola and this is what makes it a bit hard to criticize him. It feels a bit like stabbing your friend in the back. Let's see how the players will handle that.

I will most likely miss him if we, as expected, get a manager that (as main qualification) can forge out decent results from a mediocre squad.
Or rather I will miss what we never had.

Best luck for the future Gianfranco!