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West Ham prepare for life after Zola

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Dan Roan | 15:51 UK time, Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Whatever the fate of West Ham's desperate bid to retain their Premier League status, I understand Gianfranco Zola's tenure at Upton Park is almost certain to end soon.

A leading agent with close ties to the club at the highest levels tells me that Steve McClaren, Martin Jol and Avram Grant are the leading candidates to replace the Italian.

Another contender, a current international manager, is also strongly in the frame, but his identity is shrouded in secrecy. It is not former West Ham fans' favourite and current Croatian boss Slaven Bilic.

If West Ham are relegated, a senior club source has told me that former boss Alan Pardew, now at Southampton, could also be in line for a shock return.

In the wake of the club's dismal capitulation to Liverpool this week, co-owners David Gold and David Sullivan have now begun actively considering the contenders to replace Zola at the end of the season.

Zola could still save himself by masterminding victories over Wigan, Fulham and Manchester City in the final three games of the season. But relegation would certainly mean the end of the Italian's tenure. Even if West Ham stumble over the line and avoid the drop, the agent is adamant that Zola is "80 to 90% certain to go".

Sullivan and Gold expect Zola, such is his integrity, to resign, even if this costs him a large amount of money in compensation. Zola has three years to run on a contract thought to earn him around £1.9m a year.

The co-owners seem loathe to sack him, something their record at Birmingham indicates. In 17 years, the pair dismissed just one manager - Barry Fry.

However, if Zola fails to jump - and he came close to resigning last month - he is almost certain to be pushed.

West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola
West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola is under severe pressure to avoid the drop

Sullivan, who has been fiercely outspoken of his players after previous defeats, declined to talk to me earlier when I rang him, despite frenzied speculation over his manager's position. But I am reliably informed that a shortlist of four candidates has been drawn up in the event of West Ham staying up.

The owners' preferred option is Steve McClaren, whose remarkable resurrection from 'Wally with a Brolly' to Dutch Master is almost complete. His redemption will be confirmed if his FC Twente side beat NAC Breda next weekend to claim the Eredivisie title for the first time since 1926.

If McClaren does become the first Englishman to win a major European league championship since Sir Bobby Robson won the Portuguese title with Porto in 1996, demand for his services will intensify throughout Europe.

That means West Ham could struggle to lure him back to the Premier League. But McClaren is aware of their interest and, with family still in England, could favour a return back across the North Sea.

With one game to play, Twente are a point clear of Ajax, now managed by former Spurs boss Martin Jol. The Dutchman is also on Gold and Sullivan's radar and is keen on a return to the Premier League.

But I'm told that he has less chance than Avram Grant, a new name on the club's wish-list. The Portsmouth manager has not yet received an approach from West Ham but has impressed with the way in which he's defiantly hauled the club to the FA Cup final despite financial catastrophe and enforced relegation.

Another former Chelsea boss, Glenn Hoddle, has also been linked with the West Ham post after coming close to managing Nigeria at the World Cup this summer. But there has not been an approach to him. Even if there was one, he is not interested, preferring to concentrate on growing his academy business.

Replacing Zola is one issue, but of much greater concern to West Ham is the savage impact that relegation would have on a club £110m in debt. A senior club insider told me today: "These three matches are the biggest in our recent history. Hull have reported they would have to axe 90 jobs if they go down. Well, the impact here could be twice as bad. It would be very, very painful."

West Ham's players said sorry to Zola after their insipid display at Anfield on Monday and vowed to respond this weekend in the showdown against Wigan.

But one suspects that, ultimately, their apologies will not prove enough to keep him in his job, whatever the result this Saturday.


  • Comment number 1.

    Shame he can't don his boots for West Ham they might win the next 3 games then!!!

  • Comment number 2.

    "Wally with the brolly" tells me all i need to know about your understanding of football. Go get a job with the Daily Star.

  • Comment number 3.

    3rd... A personal best

    I'm really lookig forward to Wigan v West Ham - such a huge match and although i think Zola is a decent guy he's not right for West Ham...

  • Comment number 4.

    It seems as if being a great player doesn't guarantee you'll be a good mamager; look at Zola, Maradonna and Paul Merson. Even if you have no experience at all you can be a great manager; Mourinho, Wenger. Sometimes a poor player can do ok as a manager; Alex Ferguson. But then good players can be good managers; Guardiola, Ancelotti.

    it's a lottery

  • Comment number 5.

    Must be a first Sullivan/Gold declining an interview, you sure you got the right number?

  • Comment number 6.

    Sullivan declined a media interview... Surely not, are you quite sure???

  • Comment number 7.

    WHU should stick with Zola, anything other than this would be a big mistake. If they stay up, who do they turn to? A new manager who will want to spend all the clubs resources on establishing his own new team. 11 new players. The problem starts again. Zola's biggest obstacle has been to inherit and change an ageing and overpaid squad that he inherited from Curbishley. It seems Curbs decided to spoil himself with the Hammers after a decade of working (Brilliantly) within a tigh budget at Charlton.

    What Zola is doing well, is implementing change, and changing the dynamic of West Ham with a yount spirited side. Yes they have struggled but this is the transition period. If they survive the struggle, they would be in a marvellous position and WHU could progress under Zola.

    Let me give you an example with my team...Everton. Moyes had a wonderful debut season with us. We finished 7th in 2002/2003 and performed well in the league (akin to Zolas first season). Moyes then followed that up with a season where we finished 17th with a record low number of points for survival. Fewest goals scored etc...but we survived. In that season, Moyes had tried to bring through youth, new players, and move on the likes of the ageing Gemmill, Campbell etc.

    We have not looked back since. Management involves a long term plan, I believe Zola has this.

    Players like Green, Diamante, Cole, Upson, Behrami have real quality. Collison, Noble, Hines add youth and the spirit of WHU. What they need is one or two more, and a bit more luck. What they really need is an experienced Centre back and midfielder. Throw in there bog standard players like Michael Brown and Ryan Nelsen and WHU would be mid table

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    Surely you can't post a blog about rumours?

  • Comment number 10.

    Zola is the sort of manager that all fans would love to see succeed. However, if he goes, and that does look to be more than likely, I am underwhelmed with most of the names suggested here to replace him. Jol and Grant look to be the pick of that bunch - and definitely not a wally, with or without his brolly, please.

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    Pretty disappointing the names we are being linked to if zola does leave. Hoddle or Mclaren? No thanks! I think it is obvious that zola will leave at the end of the season, whether we stay up or go down. Avram Grant wouldnt be a bad choice, he has done a great job with portsmouth and has stuck by them thick and thin.

  • Comment number 13.

    I wholeheartedly disagree. If he was gone, he would have been out the door ages ago. Zola will be at Upton Park for at least until 2011.

  • Comment number 14.

    By all accounts Zola is a nice guy with great integrity.

    However these results just aren't good enough given the talented squad he is coaching.

    I think he'll walk out at the end of the season, and retire to some seaside village in Italy. Reappearing occasionally as a pundit in a few years time.

    Shame, but as the saying goes, nice guys finish last.

  • Comment number 15.

    International manager - Joachim Löw

  • Comment number 16.

    Keep going Gianfranco, you can pull the hammers clear and get their side stronger for next season, the prem needs teams like WHU, this from a chelsea supporter.

  • Comment number 17.

    er..........where are the mods?

  • Comment number 18.

    So what you've done is list a number of either out of work, or potentially available managers and said they'll maybe get the job because Zola might be out.

    Incisive Journalism only a former Sky correspondent could come up with.

    Well done.

  • Comment number 19.

    Alan Pardew is on the list?! Whose next Harry Redknapp? Alan Curbishley? Glenn Roeder!!!

  • Comment number 20.

    The irritating thing is Sullivan and Gold are forcing him out, Sullivan won't stop moaning about pay and the players, just moan moan moan and West Ham are struggling. They will stay up with ease if you ask me, he'll leave and they'll appoint a new boss who will want new players who will want knew staff which will mean more being payed to Steve Clarke and co even Zola. I expect a court case coming between West Ham and Gianfranco also, the way the owners have treated him as been awful. If Zola wasn't in charge I think football fans everywhere would have been happy for West Ham to disappear with those to hapless jokers in charge.

  • Comment number 21.

    Why would McLaren or Jol leave there jobs with European competition and title challenges for a poor Premeirship club who are lucky that teams like Burnley and Hull are in the Premiership, otherwise they would be going down?

  • Comment number 22.

    I really don't understand what has happened with West Ham this season. A lot of people want to put blame at the feet of Zola but how can that make any sense. Was he not the manager last year when they finished 9th? Whatever is going wrong with West Ham at the moment can't just be down to him. Seems like a classic case of a manager taking the fall since it's a lot easier to blame poor results on one man that 11+.

  • Comment number 23.

    If West Ham go down, I am sure Zola will resign. If they don't he shouldn't resign. Its West Ham after all, not Real Madrid.

    McClaren won't take the job. He'll want a crack at the Champions League and feels a lot of loyalty to Twente after they took a chance on the wally.

    Jol will cost money to get so it will be Grant.

  • Comment number 24.

    I do hope McLaren doesn't come back to England. At the first sign of trouble - and all football clubs have trouble at some point - the media will jump on him like piranha devouring a hapless cow.

    Other countries don't have press as piranhaic as England's - for the sake of McLaren's sanity, he should stay on the continent, preferably in Holland at Twente. It's not like he really needs the money, is it?

    He deserves better than England. He deserves respect. He'll never get it in England - most people here haven't heard of the miracle he's pulling off in the Netherlands.

    And what's his family doing still in England? Holland's a great place to live, 95% of the population there speak English, and they don't care about celebrity so much.

  • Comment number 25.

    With all the problems WHU have had getting rid of Zola will just increase these. A new manager will demand funds that WHU don't have and if he doesn't work out he will have to be sacked, costing the club more money. Zola should stay and his future should be decided next season when there isn't the costant money threats.
    He has brought through some good new players and if he is able to retain some of the clubs stars i feel WHU will have a good season IMHO.

  • Comment number 26.

    Pretty weak blog, this, full of nameless sources and rumour. I could write one just as well. No wonder Sullivan gave you the cold shoulder.

  • Comment number 27.


    I wonder if perhaps your source could be Barry Silkman - Sullivan's best mate? To a previous comment about Steve McClaren being a poor manager - look at Twente's squad compared to the others, look at the league table. Now come back to me and say hes a poor manager. True, he wasnt ready for the England job but if someone came and offered me it I would certainly have a crack at the whip.

  • Comment number 28.

    WHU's appointment of Zola really surprised me. One would expect that WHU's first foreign manager would be a more established name or a promising prospect with more pedigree. I remember that Bilic was linked with the role, and even though he claimed to be concentrating on his role with Croatia, I think more should ve been done to secure his services. He is a great motivator, a decent tactician and most importantly knows WHU through and through having played there. I support Chelsea, but I would be the first to tell you that a happy go lucky disposition doesn't a good manager make.Yes Zola coached with the Italian U-21s and yes, he led WHU to 9th place last season, but this has been an ill-fit all along, and beggars the question, why was Curbishley sacked in the first place?

    WHU has in 4 years gone from an FA Cup finalist to a relegation scrapper. They have lost the spine of the team that lead them to the final, with Reo Coker, Anton Ferdinand and Harewood having moved on. Having sacked Curbishley and decided to go the foreign route, it was important for the appointment to be the right one. Zola has tried to get them playing continental football, but I fail to see why there was a need for a steep change in the system. WHU famously refered to "the team that won England the World Cup" has had players like Joe Cole and Defoe come through their ranks. There was never a fundamental problem with the way they were playing. All West Ham needed and still needs is more investment in the squad especially in defence, to get a right winger and to trim the dead wood. Also needed was an experienced manager to blend the team and move them up the table from mid table/relegation, and consolidate by challenging for the top-half. I feel Zola has come into Premiership management a bit too early. A tier below, Di Matteo his ex-Chelsea teammate is getting it right by guiding West Brom to promotion.

    Speaking of potential candidates, Avram Grant would be a decent replacement. Plus he could bring some of his players from Portsmouth with him. Piquonne, Ohara, Belhaj and Yebda will fit nicely into claret and blue!

  • Comment number 29.

    im sorry, but why would maclaren come to west ham? FC Twentenwill be playing CL footy next season if they win the next game, so why would he join a side that could be in the championship next season?

  • Comment number 30.

    #7 is spot on. You need to give managers time. Everyone coming out with the old "Zola's a nice guy and a great player but not a great manager" rubbish should look back to his 1st season where he did a good job with the Hammers. This year he's had to work under terrible circumstances. Give him a break he could become an excellent manager given time.

    I think it would be a terrible shame if McClaren came back to these shores so soon. As someone above said, why would he want to go from fighting for the Dutch title to joining a relegation-threatened club who can't really hope to do any better than top 10 (at least on a consistent basis). Staying in Europe woulld be a much better move for him (he's been linked this week with the Hamburg and Sporting Lisbon jobs) and more English managers should do the same.

  • Comment number 31.

    Zola in my opinion should and will remain at Upton Park, he has worked too hard to walk away from it and deserves another crack with less injuries and some good decent Premiership signings, and next year could be rosy. the biggest problem we face is keeping hold of the likes of Green, Cole, Collison, Noble and Parker, this is I feel the backbone of the whole team, forget Upson he is too old and too slow now, bring in another Central Defender keep green in goal, the Frenchman at right back and then move through the squad... simples... Gold/Sullivan show your true love of WHUFC and keep him on...

  • Comment number 32.

    A nice nice guy ......but players need to respect their manager. "My players gave everything" simply does not wash, week after week. Anfield summed up the apathy - apart from the away support of course, who show what real WHU passion is all about.

  • Comment number 33.

    Having left the UK - and it's poisonous media, not to menion one or two other things - McLaren would be as mad to return as West Ham would be to have him!!!

  • Comment number 34.

    In any poor season, both the manager and the players have to take the blame, but in the case of Zola he has not shown any tactical nous or ability to motivate the team. The display against Liverpool was not wholly down to the players; Zola (and Clarke) showed a complete lack of understanding of the game facing their team. Furthermore, Zola's selection policy has been questionable at best, preferring Ilan, for example, to Franco; something I find incomprehensible. I know you can only work with what you have, but the defence has been a shambles this season, and Clarke is supposed to be the defensive genius.
    The 9th place finish last season was more down to the poor run of results of the teams around West Ham - if you examine the latter's results at the end of the season, they were poor as well. Only Spurs put in a late surge and leapfrogged the Hammers from virtually the bottom of the table.
    So much of Zola's appeal comes from the fact that he is "such a nice guy" - well I'd rather have a complete b'stard in charge who gets results.
    The Chav Davs come in for a lot of criticism, and perhaps rightly so, but they are entitled to a return on their sizeable investment, so therefore have the right to change something that isn't working, and with the basis of the team being Green, Upson, Parker and Cole, it's obvious that something is very much amiss.

  • Comment number 35.

    Re #2 I think you will notice that 'Wally with a Brolly' was actually in quotes..You can't blame Dan for coming up with it and its a useful phrase to use when putting Maclaren's 'resurrection' in context. Unfortunately for West Ham the reason Twente could win the Eredivisie is because the overall standard is just shocking. Anyone who hasn't seen domestic Dutch football recently would find it hard to believe this is the same country that produced the great Ajax and PSV sides. Twente are very well organised and efficient and thats enough to grind out results in modern Dutch football, Maclaren needs to either make Twente a force in Europe or do a similar job at a much bigger club in Europe (Porto or Borussia Dortmund say) before his resurrection is complete.

    West Ham are where they are ultimately because their players aren't good enough,not many managers would have got better performances out of them this season. Zola should be given a few quid to bring in 4 or 5 of his own preferred players and then judged on how well THEY do, not the shower he inherited.

  • Comment number 36.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 37.

    No.22 (ericstevens) - You forget that Curbishley had us (WHU) higher than 9th before he was forced out. I resent my club being chosen as a training ground for a foreign novice.

  • Comment number 38.

    OK, so Zola is a decent guy, high integrity but a top class manager? Maybe not, he maybe just to nice!

    As for Messrs Gold and Sullivan, well I reckon they deserve heaps of praise and a massive thank you for the supporters. We were looking at almost certain relegation if they had both not dug deep into their pockets in January, £110m in debt, Green, Upson, Parker, Cole, Bahrami would all almost certainly have been sold to keep the Banks from closing us down. As for the David's having a go at the players and the manager, well to be honest if I had shelled out £25m of my own cash and then watched the performaces against Stoke, Bolton and Wolves (all very winnable games) at home, I would have done my nut as well.

    As they said at their initial press conference, they were mad to take West Ham on but they are passionate lifelong supporters and felt an obligation and it is the club they always wanted.

    If Zola goes, either by resigning or being sacked so be it. Gold and Sullivan are shrewd men, football men and they know who the right Manager is going forward.

    I would love to see Jol in charge. West Ham fans should remember what a judas Slaven Billic was when he jumped ship for Everton and I for one think he is highly overrated as a Manager.

    Here is hoping for 3 points and a step nearer safety on Saturday!!!!

  • Comment number 39.

    Good riddance to the Italian Glen Roeder!

  • Comment number 40.

    Curbs had the 6th highest wage bill in Britain and got us to 10th in the league and nowhere in the Cups.

    Zola is just a terrible manager.

    For once, please, appoint someone who is competant!

  • Comment number 41.

    A very insightful post from a fan of another club. The parallels between Moyes and Zola is interesting. A lot of fans seem eager to dismiss all Zola's sucesses, to justify his dismissal.

    With the club's money worries, we need a manager prepared to work with young players and make the most of what he has got. We have had little in reserve this season, and poor luck with injuries.

    With a big squad it is possible to cope. But when the club starts the season owning 1 senior striker and no full time right back, the writing is on the wall.

    We are trying for mid table results on a relegation budget. The only way to make this work is to develop youth. If Hines had not been injured, I am sure we would be safe by now. Failing that we should have splashed out and bought a recognised fit striker, and not chanced our arm with loans and McCarthy who was not fit and ready to go when he came.

    Zola has made mistakes, but they are not the main reason we are down with the strugglers. Two transfer windows with quality going out and journeymen coming in is not a recipe for success.

  • Comment number 42.

    After the publishing of Portsmouths finances its even more disgraceful that again clubs are announcing there finances are so badly managed that in the face of relegation their first announcement is that they would be unable to employ the root staff, always the first to go in the bad times as a result of mismanagement in the search for glory.

  • Comment number 43.

    35. At 7:18pm on 21 Apr 2010, mischievousCheesy101 wrote:

    Re #2 I think you will notice that 'Wally with a Brolly' was actually in quotes..You can't blame Dan for coming up with it and its a useful phrase to use when putting Maclaren's 'resurrection' in context. Unfortunately for West Ham the reason Twente could win the Eredivisie is because the overall standard is just shocking. Anyone who hasn't seen domestic Dutch football recently would find it hard to believe this is the same country that produced the great Ajax and PSV sides. Twente are very well organised and efficient and thats enough to grind out results in modern Dutch football, Maclaren needs to either make Twente a force in Europe or do a similar job at a much bigger club in Europe (Porto or Borussia Dortmund say) before his resurrection is complete.

    @ MischieviousCheesy

    What a truly mischevious statement.

    Yes, the Dutch League is not as big as the Premiership in terms of exposure, quality of teams and players or revenue, but to insinuate that McLarens achievements are not that remarkable is absolute folly. In the past decades, Dutch football has been dominated by Ajax, PSV and Feyenord. Under the guidance of Van Gaal, AZ won the championship last year which was seen as remarkable feat. For McLaren to guide Twente, one of Hollands smaller club to the top of the Eredevisie is awesome. Twente, probably has less than half the spending power of Ajax or PSV. Remember that Ajax is renowned for its youth academy that has produced many greats, too many to mention here. Their team contains many players presently sought after now around Europe by bigger clubs including Prem teams, like Suarez. PSV has always produced great players (Ronaldo, Gudhonsen and Ruud Van N all started there) and until recently have always been competitive in the Champions League, reaching the semi-finals some years ago. Feyenord, maybe has fallen off a bit, but won the UEFA Cup in 2002. All three clubs are all past Champions League winners.

    If Maclaren wins the Championship with Twente, it ll be a huge feat and one which won't be diluted by any need to prove himself further to "make his recovery complete". When was the last time an English manager won a Championship? In any European league? Don't get me started on when one has won the Prem. Please the success of any English manager should be celebrated, because Dutch, French and Italian managers are more succesful and in higher demand. Its shameful that out of the top 7 ( Chelsea, Man U, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham, Villa, Man City) only one is an English manager. The same media and press that call McLaren the "Wally with a Brolly" seem to ignore that fact totally. Martin Oneill was celebrated for winning titles in the Scottish League, which is a far less competitive League, so why should Lord Wally's achievement so far be different.

    If Twente win, he would be assured of competing in the CL. In any case Hamburg and Lisbon are interested in him, so why would be want to return to a debt ridden club not competing for silverware.

    McLarens success did not come out of the blue; he won the league cup with Middlesborough and reached a UEFA Cup final. He was also part of the Man Utd set-up during the Treble win. So, he couldn't qualify England for EURO 2008; these things happen in football. Giovanni Trapattoni wasn't successful as coach of Italy, and Sir Alex had a not so good spell as Scotland manager.

  • Comment number 44.

    #7, #30 and I all agree. The undoing of the club has been the turmoil surrounding it. So stability is needed, and that means keeping the manager.

  • Comment number 45.

    On today's evidence, Hull won't catch up with West Ham, and I don't think Burnley will either, so they will should stay up. And if they do, I hope they stick with Zola.

  • Comment number 46.

    West Ham won't go down as Burnley and Hull are worse......and as Portsmouth are already down, I think West Ham will have done enough to stay up. It's a shame that Zola looks like he'll be going though. I just wonder who West Ham are going to replace him with......Martin Jol as some have suggested?

    All things considered, Ajax are not the force they were five years ago let alone fifteen years ago (when they won the Champions League), but would Jol really swap Ajax for West Ham.....a club who while no longer among the cream of the crop are hardly relegation material like West Ham.

    If he does leave Ajax for West Ham he'll have some rebuilding job, but in all honesty he'd be mad to trade Amsterdam for the East End. Ajax are not about to be European Champions any time soon, but the Hammers will be lucky if they're playing in Europe before the end of the decade.

    West Ham are just about too good to go down, but at this point in time not good enough for much more than that. Zola has tried but when he's been working with a budget that championship clubs would blanch at it's no surprise he may be on his way. I'm sure he'll bounce back with another club 9if he does go), whoever that club is.

  • Comment number 47.

    Zola and Clarke are excellent and neither impatient directors nor fans should kid themselves that hitting the reset button will make things better. The best guys need plenty of time to bed in and swing the ship around - Wenger at Arsenal, Ferguson at Man Utd are just two recent examples of which there are many others - and Zola & Clarke will be the names everyone will talk about in 10 years' time, if only the directors have got the brass balls to grow the team the right way. People who say that Zola & Clarke aren't good enough are talking out of their behinds.

  • Comment number 48.

    The side went downhill when the Argies came in and Pardew got the sack. Pardew was an excellent scout and built a fine team on a shoestring. Curbishley brought in injury-prone players generally. The Icelandic owners brought in nani who loaded up on midfielders, and they sold off defenders. The new owners said they knew the team needed a right back, a central defender and two strikers. They went out and got three strikers. Zola's cupboard at the back is bare. No wonder we keep losing. Keep Zola and rebuild or bring back Pardew!

  • Comment number 49.

    I personally think that its a bit poor that Gold and Sullivan are thinking of telling Zola to go, if he does not leave on his own accord. As the previous poster stated Gold and Sullivan came out and said they knew the type of players they needed then give Zola the complete opposite-how does that work?

    To add to that, how many players were sold off, players that would have helped West Ham this season? Also the players who are injured and would have made a difference. I know he hadn't played in along time due to a persistent injury, but if Ashton had been fit, WHM would have scored a lot more goals than they have, but then again he might not have socred a barrel load.

    Zola is unfortuante in the way Grant is at Portsmouth-both these guys are having to versee a firesale ino rder for the clubs to stay alive, but then bring in players of a lesser quality to try and stay in the Prem and in Zola's case being told that what he is doing isnt good enough.

    If Sullivan and Gold were the fans that they say they were they would be doing everything to support their manager, not undermine him in public, let the press have a field day when it comes to speculating about the next manager at West Ham will be, and slating the players in public. Yes they might have 'saved' the club and be willing to do everything possible at boardroom level to save money where possible in order invest in playing staff, but they ought to have a bit more class whilst doing it, instead of blaming everything on the previous owners and current manager. They knew exactly what they were letting themselves in for, so they should shut up and get on with the job instead of trying to pass themeselves off as some sort of heroes.

  • Comment number 50.

    No 37 Bazofthebolyen, Curbishley took you to a 10th finish in his only full season in charge, the 2008-2009 season was only 3 games old when he left so the league position didn't mean a great deal.

    I don't agree with the way Curbishley was forced out either but getting rid of Zola wouldn't help or change that. I really don't think Zola's experience is nearly the only thing at play here, since if anything that would have affected his first season in charge. The fact he's foreign, which you seem to think is important or why else would you mention it, has nothing to do with it.

  • Comment number 51.

    Absolutely, under no circumstances should Gold'n Sullivan sake Zola. West Ham are in transition and Zola needs the time and a bit of cash to make that happen. If they stay up then continuity with the coach that started the transition is crucial. If WHU go down, albeit I generally think they will remain up, then Zola will return them to Premiership withing a season. He is respected by the players and most of the fans. The prolonged uncertainty of WHU sale hurt the clubs moral. The final sale didn't happen until the 11 hour so how can you blame the whole-shoot'n-match on Zola. WHU will need Zola whether they go up or down. Let him finish his work and he will happily surprise the nay-sayers with club success over the years left on his contract.

  • Comment number 52.

    Now then, i think it's time we put this to bed...

    Firstly, i would like to point out that my preference would be for Zola to go.
    Zola is a proud man of legendary status on the field and i (in all honesty) was intrigued and excited by his appointment although i was not stupid enough to realise he had very little management skills but as someone has already said, it can be a lottery as to whether you become a great manager.

    Guardiola at Barcelona i feel has been very fortunate as he was loved by the club, he loves the club, he knows the club inside out, they're loaded and they have the buying power straight away because they had the players, they had the high profile and they had the money to buy more players.

    If Zola had taken over such a club like Barcelona, generally i feel it would've looked after itself but also, the attacking knowledge of Zolas would've been implemented by the players with ease. Unfortunately he took over as manager of a club which as it happens, was on the decline as we now know. Zola wants the team to play like Arsenal or Barcelona but if you don't have the quality in the team and in depth to start with, it's not going to work. All you get is a bunch of big time charlies who think they're great and skillful and slick passers of the ball but they fail to realise they're not that precise at passing, they're supposed to pass to their own players and they've gotta stick to what they're capable of doing. There's no harm in trying to develop the players but Zola has tried to speed up this process and when you're doing it with the likes of Stanislas, Kovac and Faubert, you might as well all wear blindfolds and earphones because they are absolute tosh. Faubert has never and will never be a right back. He's not a bad right winger but i can't see him breaking into the French starting 11 can you? The start of our downfall was when Bellamy left just over a year ago. I know people may disagree because he's a thug with attitude and i agree with that but is it just a coincidence that we went downhill and dropped out of the europa league placings when he left. You have a look at the results after bellamy went and you'll see the majority of the results were draws and losses. Not massively different to this whole season. we wasted the money on Savio who initially looked promising but far from the finished article which is what we wanted and could've got with the £14million we got for Bellamy. I know this wasn't Zolas fault as Nani was the wheeler dealer of whom i am glad has left the club now and not too soon either but Bellamy was 1 player. I argued this with many people when they all said Tevez kept us up when in reality, Lucas Neil (that one season anyway) Robert Green, Mark Noble and Bobby Zamoras link up play with Tevez was the key. If they didn't help Tevez get the goals he wouldn't have got those 7 in 9 games and we would've gone down. If you're a manager of a club and your results begin to dramatically change for the worse because of that 1 player leaving, i think you should take a long hard look at yourself, a bit like Benitez at liverpool when he let Alonso go.....don't get me started on Benitez though.

    so, as a Toffee said earlier, Moyes was kept in the hot seat and it has proven to be a very good decision. I don't feel Zola has the vast knowledge and man management skills as Moyes has though as Zola has still inherited a very good team.
    obviously all the stuff surrounding the club regarding money, ownership and injuries hasn't helped Zola much but look at Everton earlier in the season when they could hardly field 11 players...they still beat us.

    I believe Zola has no command of the dressing room now and the sooner this season is over and he's out the door the better but i wish him luck in the future. Like another guy said on here, he should've done what di matteo done and start in the championship. Mick Mccarthy was ok in that division but it's taken a few attempts to get it right in the prem and it looks like he's only just done it now but only because Burnley and Hull have been worse than both of us.

    I think and hope we'll stay up now following Hulls game v Villa but we need a fresh start next season

    As for the candidates being mentioned in Martin Jol, Steve Mclaren and Avram Grant, if we had to pick one of them, it's got to be a no brainer...surely?

    Martin Jol
    He done quite well to start with but spent millions and got spurs no further. He has been quite successful in recent years with the last couple of clubs he's managed but how can a club like Ajax not win the dutch league? The dutch league is a very poor one and i think the scoring abilities of Kezman and Kuyt have proved it. They banged in the goals over there but can't do it here.

    Steve Mclaren
    Again, he done relatively well in europe one season with Boro but didn't do much else. you can't give him all the credit of Man uniteds treble win, that was a team effort and he wasn't even in charge. If it was all about the number 2 we'd be doing much better because Clarke has been there and done it.

    Avram Grant
    He was the first manager to get Chelsea to the champions league final. Had he been in charge of Portsmouth all season, i think they would probably be out of the bottom 3. He's lost a load of their best players but he has still got them grinding out some good results. He's not the most interesting of people but he commands respect and order in the dressing room, he obviously gets his point across to his players well and he's an ugly chap. You all know West Ham are renowned for their ugly managers and players. To name a few...Harry Redknapp, Billy Bonds, Ian Dowie, Carlos Tevez.

    Sorry for the long blog but it had to be said.

    Hammers til i die!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 53.

    Considering he was our national team manager, you'd think people could spell his name right. Steve McClaren! He's not an F1 constructor.

    I personally feel Avram Grant would be the best appointment of the aforementioned names, he has performed admirably in very difficult circumstances down at Pompey and did a good job at Chelsea.

    Outside bet...Paul Lambert?

  • Comment number 54.

    A load of speculative nonsense not welcomed by this Hammer. To suggest that Zola is now under pressure again because West Ham lost to Liverpool - at Anfield, is just utter rubbish.

    Zola/Clarke to remain until next season, WH to achieve mid-table obscurity next season, after that, who knows?

  • Comment number 55.

    Zola surely has got himself into a muddle in his second season at west ham.! What happened to the form they had last season when they finished 9th and nearing to a european place!!! things ive gone from bad to worse at upton park for such a club of its calibare.

    Surely with the likes of cartlon cole,upson,green,scott parker,and other talants like collision,noble you wouldnt expect them to even be around the relegation places!. I think the years of overspending of players,wages under the icelandic owners has come back to haunt them for example the buys of ljunberg,dyer, and boa moatre were all big money moves. West ham shouldnt have paid over the limits for such players with a bad injury records surely their prices were a joke!.

    Zola 1.9m !!! a year a bit too much for a manager just starting out, im mean surely zola will probably go this summer with all the nonsense the media and the public had to put with of west hams soap drama between the dressing room and the owners!. Its about time these owners stapped a foot on this problem !.

    I believe west ham could have gone for a much experience and proven manager like avram grant,mcclaren or hughes of these names mentioned. but with west hams history and calibare i dont see any manager turning down a job at upton park!. On the other hand the problem would be the owners persistant annoyance and questioning of the teams tactics and the buys you make i mean its not nice when the owner and manager getting into row things just blow up!.

    I believe with all whats go on at west ham utd i dont see zola staying there to be honest thats until the summer even if they stay up!. To blame zola for all this mismatch is easy to do but you go to look at the problem overall in west ham you will know that its not all of zolas fault but mainly the overprice transfers,wages of players,staff and ridicolous debts of the icelandic owners!.

  • Comment number 56.

    We can rule out Jol ... he's already had a snipe at Spurs, saying they're not a big enough club for one of his players to move to. And if Spurs, sitting where they are are too small for him I can't see him leaving Ajax for the Hammers.

    I won't begrudge him such a snipe given his disgraceful sacking after working wonders with the Spurs a few years ago. I certainly didn't want him to leave.

    Truth be told I think Zola's been burned out and worn down by all the back room chaos going on.

  • Comment number 57.

    ..a few comments.

    99.9% certain West Ham will not be relegated and will secure Premier League status by beating a Wigan side that goes from the sublime to the ridiculous results wise week-by-week. Hull and Burnley will drop with Pompey.

    Zola will definately leave simply because he's not the Chairmen's man and he knows it! Shame because finishing 9th last year showed potential if club remained more stable until buy-out he could have moved them on further. I think he would have gone weeks ago but he's a winner not a quitter and knew the club would avoid the drop so why let the new man take false credit?

    Zola needed a few more high profile victories to boost his stock, but was always hampered by injuries and a multitude of off field matters.

    Sven Goran Ericcson (Nigeria) is no doubt the international manager linked..always is isn't he!?

    Steve McLaren would be mad to leave Holland now when Twente are doing so unbelievable and why go from 95% respect in one country to 95% aminosity in another. Cannot see the Chairmen going for his nemesis Bilic either as is untested in club management.

    Zola was tipped to take over at Chelsea after Mourinho if people remember and stayed loyal to the Hammers..but maybe the fans will always see him as a blue?

  • Comment number 58.

    Two observations Dan:

    1) All this information has been in the papers for days.

    2) Your only source seems to be a football agent.

  • Comment number 59.

    I ve never understood why Zola was appointed in the first place.

    Its an appointment as surprising as Boltons appointment of Megson.

    In the spectrum of the kind of temperament a manager should have, Roy Keane is one extreme and Zola is on the other end. Like Ranieri his countryman and former manager, his Mr Nice Guy image may win him nowt but friends. Ranieri has come close many times but has never won trophies at Valencia, Chelsea, Juve. He is at Roma now, but I hope they don't bottle it in the Serie A run-in and Copa Italia final.

    It would be great if a mid-tier Championship club like Forest or Norwich took a chance with him, so he could prove his mettle, just like Roy Keane and Di Matteo had done. This season at WHU does not make him a bad manager.

    If WHU survive, and are thinking of shaking things up for next season, why not take a chance with Jurgen Klinsmann. He has played in England, so is familiar with the Prem. His Germany side played good attacking football in WC 2006, no less than the Uptown faithful expect, and he can use his knowledge of the German market, to get some really good transfers in for WHU. Schweinsteiger and Lahm, anyone? Lol. Seriously, he is a disciplinarian, and an advocate of mordern coaching methods. WHU has a great spine already in Green-Upson-Noble-Cole. If 20m is invested in the team, some of it raised from transfers, it should pay dividends.

  • Comment number 60.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 61.

    post 2 those are clearly not his words, hence the ' '. who are you to comment on his writing when you fail to comprehend things in context

  • Comment number 62.

    A very reliable source has informed me that Zola is lined up to join the backroom staff at Chelsea. Zola and Ancelotti go back a long time and is a win win move for the fans.

  • Comment number 63.

    This is an awful piece ... all speculation & rumour .....

    Lazy 'journalism' .... come back with some facts & substance.

    Good day.

  • Comment number 64.

    "Wally with the brolly" tells me all i need to know about your understanding of football. Go get a job with the Daily Star.

    Clarkeonenil..don't you understand one somebody is quoting another source? If you're a typical Steve McClaren fan then the term ''Wally'' is correctly applied.

  • Comment number 65.

    Steve McClaren would be mad to return to English football at this stage. He should make the most of his reputation in Europe, rather than return to a media waiting for him to fail.

  • Comment number 66.

    Hey bit of a bad blog considering you're making more speculation, plenty of managers have been touted to join us, clearly from what I've seen in other medias nothing better than Zola. The huge problem in my opinion has been a number of things. I.E Zola being tacticly nieve, results we should of won cracked under the pressure. players out of positions. injuries and not to over dramatise but descisions that have gone against us that have cost us. Since Sullivan and Gold took over the pressure has just constantly been tense they seem to get more involved in things than they should of but that's their prerogative. Before they took over I felt we was more than capeable of staying up, since they've took over I'm worried that too many media outburts about wages and other non pitch related issues that come out that really shouldn't of, buying half bit strikers in my opinion other than Ilan are not premierleague quality or West Ham worthy. I'm as passionate as the next Hammers fan but there's too much doubt that's sorounding the club no positives just negatives the sooner all that stuff goes the better for the club and maybe we can move on, fingers crossed in the PremierLeague.

  • Comment number 67.

    He isn't the worse thing at the club, is he? He should at least be given until Christmas and I wouldn't trade him for what's available, although the short list is pretty good.

  • Comment number 68.

    So when we see a piece on Sky News stating "A top media head-hunter tells me that Dan Roan is on the verge of being replaced by the BBC for posting groundless rumour mongering articles" that will be fine will it?

    And you get paid to write this guff...?
    How about adding a name to the source, some evidence to support your so-called-scoop or has the BBC just become the Daily Mail?

  • Comment number 69.

    Avram Grant is the only one i would consider as worth the trouble. Steve McClaren after he wins the league will probably be given a hefty contract and will cost a lot of compensation not to mention he will be managing a team going into the Champions league and the British Media will roast him.

    One thing about Martin Jol - look what he did to Tottenham.

    Curbishley wasn't sacked he resigned due to the sale of McCartney and A.Ferdinand. Both of which are fairly rubbish anyway. Curbishley is the bane of all of our problems now both financially and on the field. Its his rubbish that is clogging up the squad and limiting our finances so we cant bring in any decent players for example Dyer, Boa Morte, Quashie, Davenport (although he recently left - was paid off to leave), Faubert. All of which he paid a small fortune on fees and wages.

    If we lost Zola we would almost certainly go down the fact remains that we have 1 premiership standard right back, left back, centre back, striker, and left midfielder, 2 premiership standard right midfielders and centre midfielders. The rest are ageing has beens or too young and should be gaining experience in lower leagues.

    None of this is Zola's fault its the previous board, the previous manager, and the current board (for bringing in 2 sub standard strikers - and one ok one in Ilan)

  • Comment number 70.

    @ 4. "Zola, Maradona and Paul Merson". Now there's three names you never thought you'd see in the same sentence...

  • Comment number 71.

    Can the owners not rise above the gutter in their quest for a new manager? the fact that Alan Pardew's name is even whispered is quite the most luducrous rumour of the year.Armed with a roladex of pathetic excuses, Pardew is quite simply one of the worst coaches ever to drag down football at any level.He is simply inept and clueless when it comes to fluid easy on the eye tactics.They may as well put a bid in for Curbishley,Sanchez and Dowey, surely 3 of the worlds worst managers,whilst they are stooped so low.

  • Comment number 72.

    Looka like you might aleady be obsolete with this. According to the Mirror today, there's a new name in the frame, Jones of Cardiff.

  • Comment number 73.

    I'm glad Grant is being mentioned as a possible successor as he has handled himself so well at both Portsmouth and Chelsea. There's 2 footballing extremes for you!
    Zola has had his crack at it. Unfortunate for him, and maybe the club in other times might have been a good starting point. But learning your trade in the EPL isn't on in this day and age.
    Can we really also totally blame his predecessor Alan Curbishley, as a number on here are wont to do? Curbs did an OK job. We'll never know what might have been, just as why we'll never know why so many Hammers fans took a dislike to a well regarded ex-Hammer. Was it really just the Charlton connection?
    He managed to keep us up, had a steady second term and quite rightly resigned when his authority was undermined by the idiots who owned the club at the time. As Hammers fans, we have to take a reality check here. Our expectations for the last decade can only should only have been 'Survival +'. We can't compete with the top 6, probably soon to be 7 maybe 8 clubs in the division. Not yet, not nnow, and not for the last 10 years.
    Zola got off to a rocky start, but turned it round and got a reasonable mid table finish. So, Curb's crap squad was good enough to get that wasn't it? This year though, admittedly with one hand financially tied behind his back the players have let him down royally. Forced to sell Collins at the outset, the season had hard look about it and the perfomances IMO have been dire. Powder puff football. Fancy at time - no end product and no cigar. I'm amazed the goal difference is so low given the ineptitude at the back at times. We should be thankful that Pompey have had points deducted and that Hull and Burnley have been worse. What an endorsement that is!
    Zola has to go. He can't work with S&G and they won't want to work with him. He's tainted by the old ownership and is on a silly money contract which, nice guy or not, he doesn't deserve.
    Jol is an excellent manager. He had a bad start to one season at Spurs when they expected more and they dumped him. He is a good choice but not right for West Ham. Not now. Grant is the people's choice. He's up for a fight and a straight up bloke. He could be the man even if they go down.
    Pardew - no way. Maclaren. I don't see it. He can only fail at West Ham. He should enjoy Europe. Everyone, the media, will just want him to fail in the EPL and if he fails, so do we.
    No, if it has to be, then I want Avram Grant....but does he want us?

  • Comment number 74.

    Financial basketcase? Nightmare chairmen? Been there, done that - a job tailor-made for Avram Grant. But more than that; what hasn't been suggested yet is that too many of West Ham's players just don't seem to be motivated - Parker aside, they're lying down and dying like Newcastle did at the same stage last season. This is Grant's greatest genius - how he's got those despondent, unpaid players to show such commitment beggars belief. This is what the Hammers need - not a rebuild but instilling self-belief - plus a few Pompey players who need to be offloaded. Am I wrong?

  • Comment number 75.

    I hope he leaves becuase west ham is a great team but shame they have a crap manager

  • Comment number 76.

    Why oh why is it always the fault of the manager when things go wrong? He has to do his best with the players that are available on the match day, and with so many injuries it sometimes difficult to field the best team. I think it would be a crying shame to let Gianfranco go, you just have to see how the players reacted after the third goal on saturday they all rushed to Gianfranco, and that says it all for me.

  • Comment number 77.

    Dan, when you say that the owners seem 'loathe' to sack Zola, is it possible that you mean 'loath'? It is quite a common mistake:

  • Comment number 78.

    Zola should go to allow a more experienced and result oriented coach to tinker the Hammers.Such coaches do not come better than Avram Grant.

  • Comment number 79.

    akaTommySmith - judging by this and other posts you seem to be a frustrated journalist. Job market tough at the moment? (Very... judging by the amount of snide and irrelevant comments.)

  • Comment number 80.

    Give Zola a second chance our beloved chairmen are saying, I would not blame Zola for going and think the only reason they are wanting him to reconsider what now look's a certainty is because he will be looking for some FINANCIAL settlement and rightly so. He may be newish to management but this season he has shown more strength ofcharacter than a lot of managers in his possition would have. Iv'e been a happy and not so happy hammer since 1961, but never been so dissalousioned as I am now , my worst fears are becomming true WHY OH WHY DID the owners of the club not go with the consortium of REAL FAN'S to buy out the club back in January instead of our glorius furhers who have done nothing but wine and groan and UNDERMIND Zola since there arrival and continue to do so PUTTING THE WHOLE SQUAD UP FOR SALE of corse they want Zola to stay now it might cost them a few bob if he goe's. We will have to watch the reserves play first team football with Scott Parker as the only experianced player left at the club. I wish you all the best MR ZOLA where ever you may be next season but me as a W.H U F.C fan for 48 years will be joining you away from this pair of jokers best of luck again I wont blame you for walking.

  • Comment number 81.

    Are you Dale Winton in disguise?


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