THEY used to say that Italian beauty, Sophie Loren could hold a room … well her Italian counterpart and Sardinia-born Gianfranco Zola certainly falls into that category too.
The Italian and ex-Blues great held court with the media for over half an hour at Fota Resort hotel last night to help promote Watford’s clash with Cork this evening.
“We are at work in progress at Watford but I have been happy with our pre-season so far and we have been working ten days and we have been trying to do things in a different way than the players used to do and the response has been excellent,” said Zola whose Championship side are spending the week at Fota Resort hotel in east Cork.
“Our first two games against Boreham Wood and Wealdstone were excellent and we hope we get another good work-out tonight against Tommy Dunne’s Cork City team.
“To be honest, we are ahead of schedule and I am pleased with that aspect of our training camp here in Cork.
“The hotel and the sports facilities are excellent here at Fota and while this arrangement was put in place before I became Watford manager, I am delighted to be here in Ireland and I would have liked to stay longer.
“I know we will get a good, competitive game tonight and that’s why we are here,” said Zola who snapped up ex-Arsenal ‘keeper Almunia overnight.
Watford finished up in mid-table – eleventh to be exact – last year and looking ahead to the new Championship campaign Zola said that it’s difficult to predict how the Hornets will do.
“It’s very hard to say because we are in transition, we are a work in progress and we are trying to establish a new mentality with the players and a new system.
It could be very good or it could be the other way. I am positive about what we are doing at Vicarage Road and I feel we can do a good job.
I am looking forward to the challenge and I am hoping that my influence and that of the coaching staff will be seen in the team once the new season is up and running.
We want to play attacking football – it’s the best way to play the game – and I am very confident and I have a lot of belief in this project and I feel it will be good for the team, I am putting all my hopes into this work,” said Gianfranco whose Chelsea highlights included that UEFA Super Cup win over Real Madrid, his first league title success at the ‘Bridge and winning his first FA Cup.
Asked about Giovanni Trapattoni and Ireland’s woeful displays at Euro 2012 in Poland, Zola would not be drawn into the debate only saying: “The Ireland group was very tough. Ireland tried but it was very difficult for them. They were playing at a different level from the qualifying tournament with Spain, Italy and Croatia and it was too big a task.
I think it was a great achievement by Giovanni and Marco to get Ireland to the finals in the first place and that has to be remembered.
The criticism of Trapattoni I felt was unfair because I believe he has done a good job here.”
Zola said that West Ham and Watford are both big community clubs and they also have excellent academies in place.
On Chelsea’s Champions League success, Zola said that it might have been a surprise to some but it was fully deserved.
“It was totally deserved and they did something unbelievable and I am happy for them. In the end, it proves that sometimes in football, you can get a big surprise but it also showed the determination of the players.
The determination and desire of the players can make things happen and, of course, it helps to have a good manager too,” he added.
It’s hard to say if Chelsea will retain it and become the first club to do so but they will be competitive that’s for sure.
Chelsea have won more silverware and trophies than anyone else in the last ten years and what they did in Munich in May was no coincidence,” said the Blues midfield legend.
“When you have that type of quality in the team and those players, you can expect them to win the big games.”
Zola looking forward to Cork City game