Gianfranco Zola insists West Ham's financial woes are not to blame for their problems on the pitch — but is not surprised to see two other clubs with money trouble keeping them company in the Barclays Premier League drop zone.
The second-bottom Hammers are still desperately looking for a buyer for the club, while basement boys Portsmouth have been hit with a transfer embargo over their debts and 18th-placed Hull's cash trouble also came to light this week.
“I don't know if it is a coincidence,” said Upton Park boss Zola.
“As far as I am concerned our financial situation is not affecting our performances. I can't judge for the others.
“Certainly it does not help, but you can do it without. Last year we did it and this year we can do it as well. I don't want to use it as an excuse for any of my players.”
The plight of Pompey and the Tigers has taken some of the heat off Zola and West Ham, but the Italian added: “I don't feel pleasure when the spotlight is on other people, or on other people's problems. I just focus on myself and even when the spotlight is on us I try to be real - I look at problems without allowing the pressure to get to me.”
The Hammers are still without a win since the opening day of the campaign, but they showed they may yet be up for the fight this season when they came from 2-0 down at half-time to draw 2-2 with Arsenal last Sunday.
They head to Sunderland today — the scene of their first win in eight attempts at the beginning of Zola's reign last season.
“It's a game we will try to win but it is not going to be easy,” added Zola.