Zola keeps Tevez trauma at bay

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West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola insists the ongoing Carlos Tevez saga is not having a detrimental effect on him or his players.

The Hammers could be forced to pay compensation to Sheffield United after an arbitration panel ruled that Tevez should not have been permitted to play in the final matches of the 2006-07 season, when he helped his side avoid relegation at the Blades' expense.

But amidst the unrest, Zola declared: "As far as I'm concerned I know the club is strong enough to deal with it and the players and manager are not concerned about it."

The east London club argue they have already been punished by the Premier League - they were fined £5.5million - but the matter will return to the High Court next year.

In March the two parties will meet the arbitration panel to agree a compensation figure, but in the meantime the matter could be settled out of court.

Sheffield United are said to want £50million, but even a fraction of this sum would impact on West Ham's already shaky finances; their owner Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson has suffered huge losses following the collapse of several of his companies in his native Iceland.

Zola's ability to sign players in the January transfer window would doubtless be hampered, but for now the Italian is focusing on on-field activities only.

"For now, it's nothing," he said. "I've been assured the club is all right, the club is fine, so I'm focusing on what is important for us which is getting points for the club.

"Of course I read about it but I very much trust the club. They tell me we are fine, we are going to get through this so I trust them.

"It's my duty to make sure on the pitch everything goes well so doing this is the best thing I can do and I'm focused on that."

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Carlos Tevez
Premier League
Gianfranco Zola
Sheffield United
West Ham United

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