Gianfranco Zola before the English Premier League football match between West Ham United and Birmingham City at the Boleyn Ground on February 10, 2010. AFP PHOTO
LONDON, Feb 11, 2010 (AFP) - West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola drew a line under his row with the club's new owners after his team climbed out of the Premier League relegation zone with a crucial 2-0 victory over Birmingham.
Zola on Tuesday criticised David Gold and David Sullivan for the timing of their announcement of close-season wage cuts for players and staff, but, after the victory at Upton Park, he urged the club to move on and show unity in their survival fight.
"What happened (on Tuesday) doesn't matter, the important thing is that we won the game," Zola said.
"The points that have been made are in the past and now we need to work together, me, the team and the chairman doing their job, to give the team a good position."
The popular manager was mobbed by half of his team after the Hammers' first goal, but claimed this had nothing to do with recent events and was instead a sign that the players and staff were united.
"I appreciated it very much," Zola said of the celebration. "It is important to have a good connection between the staff, the players and myself. It means we are all going same direction and that is vital.
"It wasn't to do with what has gone on, it is because we are going through a difficult moment. We care about this club, we are in a position we don't like and we want to succeed."
The Hammers were nervous in a scrappy first half but went in front when Italian striker Alessandro Diamanti curled in a 25-yard free-kick on the stroke of half-time.
Victory was sealed halfway through the second half when England forward Carlton Cole latched onto Julien Faubert's right wing cross to head into the goal.
It was the London club's first win in six and the first of 2010, lifting them four places up the league to 14th place.
Zola is hopeful the win will prove to be a springboard for the Hammers as they look to put some daylight between themselves and the bottom three.
"It is a massive win. The psychology in football is unbelievable, you can't imagine, it changes your body." he said. "It's a huge boost for the atmosphere around club.
"It's a starting point and the great thing is we have another home match coming up to give everyone a big boost.
"I believe we are playing to 70 percent of our potential and we can do much better when we play with more freedom."
Birmingham manager Alex McLeish was disappointed after seeing his team slump to only their second defeat in 16 league games, but backed his players to put the defeat behind them.
City more than held their own in the first period and despite the loss remain in an extremely respectable eighth spot.
"They've shown before that they can bounce back. They've shown that they've got that in their locker time and time again," McLeish said."
"The challenge is to show it again in the FA Cup at Derby at the weekend, that's a big carrot for the players. They know they can do."
McLeish refused to be drawn on former employers Gold and Sullivan, who spent 16 years in charge at St Andrews and had a stormy relationship with the Blues boss.
"I'll keep my views private. I respect them and they did a good job at Birmingham over a long period of time and I'm sure they'll stabilise West Ham," he said.