Monday, 19 July 2010
Zola's reign - a disaster from beginning to end
Many mistakenly believe that things only started to go wrong in Zola's second season. The Italian's supporters point to the 9th place finish in our first season under his stewardship and claim he can't be a bad manager. He was a victim of circumstances, the argument then runs. It wasn't his fault. Blame the owners, blame Iceland, blame Duxbury, blame Nani, blame the players, blame Dame Fortune, blame anybody other than the lovable little Sardinian!
Well if people were to look a little closer at the facts, they would see that the "successful first season" of Zola is a chimera, an illusion, a mirage!
Zola took over 4 games into the season, 5 if you count the league cup game against Macclesfield. Indeed, Zola did not pick the team that beat Newcastle 3-1 in the first game after his appointment, so we can reasonably say that we were five league games into the season before he effectively took control. By that stage, tables are pretty representative on the whole and we were sitting in the top 5 of the Premiership. Had we won against Bolton seven games into the season, and just two games into Zola's reign, we would have been at the top of the table. We lost, of course, 3-1, with Green having an absolute mare.
Amazingly, from the position of being able to go top of the table after 7 games, we found ourselves in 17th place in the table in December, a truly startling collapse of form! Tottenham, who were rock bottom when Zola took over, were, by that stage, on our shoulders! Considering the head start Zola was given over Tottenham and Fulham, it was a remarkable achievement to manage to finish behind both by the end of the season!
The truth is, that apart from one "purple patch" spell under Zola, we showed relegation form during the rest of his first season tenure. During that wonderful blip, we won two Cup games and secured 15 points over an 8 game Premiership spell. Take off those 15 points and we would have finished the season with 36 points. Take off the 9 points we had already banked before Zola took effective control, and we would have finished with 27 points! Outside of these two windows, the Curbishley guided start and that one purple patch, Zola's team only averaged just over a point a game! If stretched out over the whole season, that would have seen us finish in 16th place, just 5 points clear of relegation!
Suddenly Zola's first season doesn't look so shit hot does it? Chuck in a pathetic surrender in the League Cup at Watford and the inept exit to relegation fodder Middlesborough in the F.A.Cup and suddenly that wonderful first season assumes true perspective!
Zola backers then claim that Zola was undermined by Sullivan and Gold. The argument goes that he stood no chance of succeeding because the owners were knifing him in the back. Well, again, the facts do not fit with this. Prior to the arrival of the Davids, Zola received 100% support from Duxbury but what good was that? Our results under S&G saved us; during the time that Zola had backing from above, we were utterly crap. In fact, it was the intervention of Sullivan that turned things around. He delivered the home truths that Zola wasn't man enough to deliver, and so ruffled the feathers of our Zola coddled players that they actually played with some fire in their bellies.
People argue that a comparison of Grant and Zola is impossible because of changed circumstances. What cobblers! We still have the debt. We have basically the same team. The big change is the removal of Zola. Yes there are other variables but they are minor by comparison!
Zola's win ratio as a manager is the WORST in the club's history. THAT says it all. If Grant cannot better that, then he should be shown the door in even quicker time than Zola!
Posted by Hammersfan at 20:07