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Sep 11, 2008

Zola unveiled as new manager of West Ham

Gianfranco Zola tonight pledged to liberate West Ham's players by putting the smiles back on their faces. Zola beamed his way through a press conference held to announce his appointment as Alan Curbishley's successor and proceeded to outline his footballing philosophy.

In news that will be warmly greeted by those Hammers fans who had grown restless during Curbishley's dour regime, Zola vowed to honour the club's attacking traditions.

And the former Italy and Chelsea favourite expects his influence to be felt by the team sooner rather than later.

"Football is joy. The best part of the game comes when you are enjoying what you're doing,'' he said. "So my first target will be to make it as enjoyable as possible for the players.

"Once they realise that I'm sure their performances will be better. The crowd will enjoy it more too. My philosophy is to play offensive football. I've always played that way because I trust it.

"It will be quicker for my philosophy to take effect than many people think. Once the players realise what I want from them and feel the freedom, it will happen quickly.

"But I haven't seen the players yet. I need to judge the situation with my eyes. I'm aware of the high expectations of West Ham fans. This is a challenge but I like challenges. I'm not afraid.''

Curbishley departed Upton Park in acrimonious circumstances, resigning from a position he held since December 2006 after clashing with the board over transfer policy.

He complained that players has been sold behind his back amid reports of an uneasy relationship with technical director Gianluca Nani.

But Zola, who today became Chelsea's 12th permanent manager after agreeing a three-year contract, does not envisage any difficulty working with Nani.

"I have no problem working with a technical director. My job is working on the pitch,'' he said. "I will develop the players and team, then I'll report to the technical director.

"He's working with me, not against me. We will do what is good for the club.''

Zola is held in high esteem by English football thanks to a seven-year spell at Chelsea that saw him score 80 goals in 312 appearances.

The 42-year-old's coaching CV is far less impressive, comprising of a two-year stint with Italy's Under-21s, but he is confident he will be a managerial success.

"I know I am not the most experienced manager around but I have ideas - I have been in football for 20 years,'' he said. "I know what we're talking about and I will certainly give something to this club - whether it is enough or not we will see.

"But I have a lot of knowledge of the game and the players will help me with this.''

West Ham's chief executive Scott Duxbury denied the club had taken the cheap option in opting for Zola over the more established Roberto Donadoni and Roberto Mancini.

"I agree the lack of experience is a question mark and there were people on the shortlist who had more experience,'' he said. "But meeting him and talking to him at length about his football philosophy, it became clear there was no other choice.

"It wasn't about a taking a cheap option, he was the perfect option. His interview was so impressive that it was clear who we needed.''

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