Zola: I took my problems home
West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola admitted he became "unbearable" to live with at times during a turbulent season at Upton Park. But Zola's wife, Franca, knew better than to advise her husband to walk away from the stresses and strains of trying to keep West Ham in the Barclays Premier League.
Zola did take time to consider his future after West Ham lost at home to Wolves and Stoke in the space of five days at the end of March. But deep down Zola knew he would never walk away from the club - and so did she.
"My wife has been very important. This year I have been a pain in the backside because when things don't go very well you take the problems home. I was unbearable at times," said Zola.
"I was frustrated because I really don't like to lose and when I go home, you keep working things over inside until you find a solution and sometimes it is not good for the people around you. During the season, there were difficult moments and that was a particularly painful week. I had to think about what the right solution was for the club. I didn't want to be here just to take the money.
"But she (Franca) knows that I don't give up. Sardinians never give up. We had to finish in a positive way. I felt it would have been an injustice if this team had gone down. I know the quality of the players and I know the circumstances in which we were playing."
Zola refused to quit when the going got tough and he saw West Ham to safety, despite a turbulent season in which he was forced to sell players to raise casH. The genial Italian has also had a rocky relationship with the club's new owners, fuelling speculation he could be replaced as manager in the summer.
Zola is contracted until 2013 but has repeatedly refused to discuss his future until after next week's meeting with David Gold and David Sullivan. His position appeared to grow increasingly fragile last week when it emerged the club had been conducting transfer activity without telling him.
Zola was surprised when Sullivan revealed in an interview the whole squad, bar Scott Parker, was up for sale and he only learned of West Ham's bid for Scotland midfielder Graham Dorrans when it was reported in the newspapers. But Zola insists the whole experience has not put him off management - quite the opposite. He has often said this season has given him the experience of five years in the job.
"It has made me even more focused and determined to improve," said Zola.
"It has been a test and I will get better." If Zola is to leave then tomorrow's clash with Manchester City will be his final match in charge. A victory could see the Hammers finish as high as 14th.
The West Ham fans have taken to the former Chelsea striker and 14,000 supporters gave him a rousing ovation when he made a 20-minute cameo appearance in a midweek testimonial match. "It is not for me to say (whether the owners pay attention to that). Everyone takes on board what they want," said Zola.
"People are allowed to doubt my job because it might not have been good - but the passion, work and effort we put into the job was massive and the people understand that, which I appreciate. What we do is not just about money. We do it because we enjoy it and we want to give pleasure to the supporters. The reception was fantastic. It meant a lot."