Richard Wright back Zola appointment

FORMER West Ham keeper Richard Wright has backed Gianfranco Zola to do well at West Ham.The Hammers entertain beleaguered Newcastle United today in Zola's first Premier League game in charge at Upton Park after replacing Alan Curbishley who quit over the buying and selling of players.

Derek Davis

West Ham (8) v Newcastle (16)

FORMER West Ham keeper Richard Wright has backed Gianfranco Zola to do well at West Ham.

The Hammers entertain beleaguered Newcastle United today in Zola's first Premier League game in charge at Upton Park after replacing Alan Curbishley who quit over the buying and selling of players.

While Wright was saddened to see his old boss Alan Curbishley leave West Ham he understands the reasons and feels Zola will fit in with the new style of management wanted by the east London clubs Icelandic owners.

Wright said: “I enjoyed working with Alan Curbishley when I was there. I never left with any bad feelings or anything like that.

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“We had a good relationship and we always spoke and we were always able to sit and talk man-to-man.

“I enjoyed his training and being there.”

After working under George Burley, Arsene Wenger, David Moyes and now Jim Magilton, Wright believes there can only be room for one boss.

He said: “It is hard to comment on a manager and I'm not privy to all that went on, but I feel if he had been given the chance to put together the team he wanted then things would have worked out very differently.

“The manager puts out the team on a Saturday and if that team loses then the manager takes the blame so for me it needs to be the manager who chooses the players.

“Then again I'm only 30-year-old and there may be people who have been in the game a lot longer that may feel different.

“But there is only really one person's whose head is on the line and that is the manager. So for some else to be making the decisions makes it very difficult.”

Although the continental coaches seem more comfortable with having a director of football, Wright revealed that Arsene Wenger is the undisputed boss at the Emirates.

He said: “Arsene Wenger was the type of manager and person who, within the board, had a massive say.

“It is well known that when he arrived at Arsenal he changed so much around. He introduced the right diet and the whole way of training.

“He changed the whole training ground and its set up and was consulted in every aspect of how the training ground was going to be.”

But with Zola brought in at the Boleyn Ground knowing how the set up works, Wright is confident the Italian will make his mark.

Wright said: “It must be harder when someone is brought in after the manager. Now with Nani bringing in Zola it will be easier because he knows the situation and how it was.

“I hope it works because West Ham is a great football club with great fans.

“I hope he can go in and do well and I feel he will because he has a certain flair and charisma. He had it is a player and I'm sure the players will respond to him.

“I hope so because I still have a lot of friends at Upton Park and I hope they are successful in the future.”

West Ham will be without Dean Ashton after the striker suffered an ankle injury in training earlier in the week.

Fellow forward Craig Bellamy is a doubt due to a hamstring and groin problem.

Midfielder and Wright's former Ipswich teammate Kieron Dyer remains on the comeback trail following the broken leg he suffered last season.