Keen hails Hammers’ fresh start under Zola

WEST HAM’S caretaker manager Kevin Keen has welcomed the appointment of Gianfranco Zola as a “fresh start”.

Zola officially starts work on Monday, leaving Keen in charge for today’s trip to West Brom.

Three wins in four games have given the club a promising start to the season, but it was not enough to prevent the resignation of Alan Curbishley.

Hammers fans had grown disillusioned with the no-thrills approach under Curbishley, who was locked in conflict with the board over transfer policy.

Keen believes the arrival of former Chelsea and Italy favourite Zola will change the atmosphere around Upton Park.

“West Ham are fifth in the Premier League, even if it’s only three games in,” he said.

“Curbs did a great job in keeping us up with his organisation and I have a lot of respect for what he did.

“But for me this is a new, fresh start and supporters can be excited by Zola’s appointment. The Chelsea connection has been mentioned but I don’t think that comes into it really.

“The majority of West Ham fans will see him as someone as who was a bright, exciting and inventive footballer.”

The decision to opt for Zola over more established candidates such as Roberto Donadoni and Roberto Mancini is viewed by some as a gamble. The 42-year-old’s only managerial experience has been limited to Italy U21s but Keen believes his pedigree will shine through.

“Gianfranco has done his coaching with the Italian U21s and I’m sure he’s learned a lot there,” he said.

Financial uncertainty has a cast shadow over Upton Park during the summer with the club eager to trim the wage bill.

And the Hammers must asses the damage after their shirt sponsors were placed into administration.

The collapse of XL Holidays midway through a three-year contract worth £7.5m has forced the club to seek talks with administrators.

West Ham are believed to have been paid just £2.5m to date, leaving them facing a £5m shortfall during a time of financial uncertainty at Upton Park.

Meanwhile, West Brom manager Tony Mowbray has hailed his relationship with chairman Jeremy Peace and revealed he does not expect to ever find himself in the position which sparked Alan Curbishley’s departure from West Ham.

Curbishley was unhappy decisions were taken above his head to buy and sell players.

However, Mowbray has no such worries about boardroom interference.

“I do not envisage the time when my chairman will buy a player without my knowledge,” he said.

“When clubs bring in players above a manager’s head that is a breakdown in communication. I would suggest that someone is not getting their point of view across.

“I would not put ultimatums at my chairman’s door but that would not happen at Albion because I would like to think at this moment in our evolution as a partnership it has not got to that point.

“As a manager I have never been pushed to the point where I have had that dilemma because the people above me are managing me quite well.”

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