Gianfranco Zola is a nice man. For proof, look
no further than his behaviour on the very day he was unceremoniously sacked by
With reporters camped out on his doorstep,
rather than 'doing a Diego' and reach for the nearest firearm before taking
pot-shots at those pesky reporters, he instead opted to make them all a cup of coffee.
Sky Sports News bod Gary Cotterill could
barely believe it, frothing into his microphone later: "Not only did he
make us coffee, he also offered milk and sugar." (Weirdly, he also told
Zola it had been a pleasure "working with him", despite the reporter never
having been an employee of West Ham United, or Zola of Sky).
The anger may yet come of course, but when
it does it will be measured and likely channelled through the LMA's bid to win
compensation for his dismissal.
Zola has been on the brink of the sack for
months, such has been the Hammers' plight on the pitch, but ED cannot help but
get the feeling that Davids Gold and Sullivan were just waiting for an excuse
to offload him on the cheap.
And so it turns out that Zola's comments
the other week about the Graham Dorrans affair were his downfall, a breach of
contract that the club's new owners were only too willing to pounce on like vultures.
"Dorrans is a good player but I didn't
know the club was interested in him," Zola said at the time.
"I just found out in the newspaper and
it was quite a surprise."
Zola added: "I don't know what I would
have done if he had been signed. It is not a nice situation.
"I have been surprised so many times
this year - so I am not surprised that I am surprised."
Hardly the worst criticism of a chairman
ever uttered by a discontented manager, but bad enough to constitute an act of
betrayal and bad enough for him to be kicked out of the club without a penny in
It was a harsh fate for one of the game's
nice guys who deserves another crack at the Premier League with another club.
But the bottom line was that he did not win
enough games of football this season, and whatever the means of his dismissal, he
probably deserved to go. And no amount of milk and sugar can disguise that.
- - -
Ian Wright, never one prone to hyperbole,
said in his newspaper column earlier in the week that if Fulham beat Atletico
Madrid in tonight's Europa League final, it would beat even Liverpool's
magnificent achievement of winning the Champions League final in 2005.
Now ED couldn't be bothered to read on, so
if that opening gambit was just a way of suckering readers in and it proved to
be entirely unreflective of the remainder of the article, it will never know.
But assuming it did, the question has to be
asked: how exactly? (Perhaps ED should have read on, after all).
Yes, Fulham even getting to the final of
the Europa League, let alone winning it, is a tremendous achievement. Yes, Roy
Hodgson has performed miracles in taking the modest West London club to such
dizzying heights, so soon after they narrowly escaped relegation from the
Premier League. And yes, Fulham have beaten some big names on their way to the
But let's not forget that this is the
Europa League, not the Champions League. This is not a competition for the best
teams on the continent, it is a tournament for runners-up, fallen giants and
plucky newcomers like Fulham.
When Liverpool staged their amazing comeback
against Milan in Istanbul, they became the best team in Europe, having won a
competition containing the best teams on the continent - surely the highest
accolade there is in European football.
Should Fulham become Europa League winners,
it will certainly be a magnificent accomplishment - one which will make Roy
Hodgson a worthy winner of the manager of the year award - but to compare it to
the achievements of clubs who have won the big one detracts from their own feats.
- - -
VIEW: The World Cup squad announcements have thrown
up a few surprises, with several notable names regrettably not going to South
Africa. Some of the best: Esteban Cambiasso, Javier Zanetti, Adriano, Pato,
Ronaldinho, Karim Benzema, Patrick Vieira, Francesco Totti, Samir Nasri and Ruud
van Nistelrooy. And Carlton Cole. It's just not going to be the same without
OF THE DAY: "I don't why if Cheryl is going to
want to support England. She might be a bit anti-England players at the moment.
If she is looking for a new nation to follow at the World Cup she should look
no further than Argentina. We play the prettiest football, have the prettiest
players, and Argentinian men also know how to treat their women." Did
Lionel Messi really say this about Ashley Cole's wife Cheryl? ED finds it
difficult to believe The Sun on this one.
ANOTHER: "Scoring at Liverpool was nice
because I am still a United fan. But if I score against Fulham it will mean
even more to me because it is in a final." Atleti striker Diego Forlan loves
scoring against Liverpool - official.
UP: We'll have full live text commentary on
tonight's big game between Fulham and Atletico Madrid plus the no less
important Championship play-off second leg between Cardiff and Leicester. In
the build-up, we've got Danny Murphy's thoughts on his team's chances in
Hamburg and some classic Anglo-Spanish finals, the view from our colleagues in
Madrid and a look at the key battles. Meanwhile Jim White will also be filing. In
short, it's a bumper day.