GIANFRANCO ZOLA can strike Gold when West Ham’s takeover is completed – as expected – later today.
The club’s new owners, David Gold and David Sullivan, will make sweeping changes off the pitch, starting with a new vice-chairman, Karren Brady.
The new regime will almost certainly spell the end for chief executive Scott Duxbury, financial director Nick Igoe and technical director Gianluca Nani.
But, on the pitch, fans’ favourite Zola can expect to carry on as team coach, even though his struggling side are still 16th in the Premier League.
With the ex-Birmingham City supremos at the helm, there will be no firesale of key players like Robert Green, Scott Parker and Matthew Upson.
In fact, Zola can even expect a modest transfer kitty of around £8million to bring in new blood during the January transfer window.
Gold, Sullivan and Brady are huge admirers of the Italian and feel he has done a magnificent job in trying circumstances.
Despite a takeover saga that has dragged on for months, crippling debts and the never-ending Carlos Tevez saga, Zola has somehow managed to lift the club out of the bottom three.
And his battling point at high-flying Aston Villa on Sunday further enhanced his reputation.
Gold, Sullivan and Brady were bewildered by rumours that they did not rate the former Chelsea forward as a manager.
In 15 years at St Andrew’s, they employed just four managers – Barry Fry, Trevor Francis, Steve Bruce and Alex McLeish, who has since taken the club on an amazing run of results.
Zola can expect the same level of support from owners who know that to change managers at this stage of the season could be suicidal.
Zola has been in transfer limbo because of the club’s massive debts and was desperate for it to be sorted one way or another.
He said: “These players, this team, they deserve to be helped.
“Stability for the club would be massive. Right now, we can’t do anything – we just have to wait for something to happen.
“Once we know where the club is going, then we have a chance.”
With fellow strugglers Portsmouth, Blackburn and Wolves up next it is a perfect opportunity to get out of trouble.
Midfielder Parker is confident they can take advantage.
He said: “We are all trying to push in the right direction to get up the table.”
While there has been plenty of movement off the pitch, Green reckons West Ham’s meagre resources mean they are giving a whole new meaning to the term ‘rotation policy’.
The Hammers keeper said: “People talk about squad rotation but our squad rotation is to literally move the same players around the pitch into different positions every week – that’s about it!
“That’s all we’ve got at the moment but it won’t detract from what we’re trying to do.
“The takeover is of no interest to me – but it would be nice to have more fit players.
“Beyond that there’s not much we can do.
“But this is West Ham isn’t it? It wouldn’t be West Ham if something wasn’t happening off the field.
“I’d be waking up in the morning and thinking something wasn’t quite right.
“It’s obvious what needs to happen, I’m sure the people in charge are taking care of that.
“All we can do is put the work in and shift ourselves away from the bottom three. I’ve got no control over what goes on off the field, so what’s the point in worrying about it?”
Green believes the emergence of 18-year-old striker Frank Nouble is one positive from the Hammers’ current plight.
Nouble impressed on his first Premier League start against Villa. And Green said: “Frank did an amazing job on his own up there and one that surpassed what we could have hoped for.
“To last as long as he did and put in as much energy as he did typified the performance with the lack of numbers we have.
“But our defence was fantastic, Faubert is a right winger at right-back, Spector a right-back at left-back and the two lads Upson and Tomkins in the centre were great. The performances are building.”
By Hugh Southon
Published The Sun Newspaper 19th January 2010