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West Ham sack Zola

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Gianfranco Zola

Gianfranco Zola

Gianfranco Zola

West Ham have sacked Gianfranco Zola after narrowly avoiding relegation from the Premier League.

The Hammers finished fourth from bottom, five points above the drop zone, and owners David Sullivan and David Gold have decided a change in manager was required.

The search for a successor to Zola starts immediately.

The club confirmed they had terminated the popular Italian's contract after months of speculation over his future at the club.

Many will see it as a lucky escape for Zola, who took charge in September 2008.

Since Gold and Sullivan arrived on the scene at Upton Park in January, the feeling in football is that they have constantly undermined the former Chelsea hero.

A statement on the club's website www.whufc.com read: “West Ham United confirm that they have terminated the contract of Gianfranco Zola (pictured).

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“The Board of Directors would like to thank him for his contribution and wish him well for the future.

“The club will now be focusing its efforts on seeking a replacement.

“The club will be making no further comment on this matter.”

Former Manchester City manager Mark Hughes and current Portsmouth boss Avram Grant have already been suggested as possible successors.

Sullivan and Gold are understood to have made Hughes their top choice but will take their time over the appointment with interviews for all the candidates.

Grant, preparing for Portsmouth’s FA Cup final against Chelsea on Saturday, is the early favourite with the bookies.

West Ham legend Tony Cottee believes Croatia boss and former West Ham defender Slaven Bilic is the man to transform the club's fortunes.

He said: “The fans want a manager who will bring success. The right man for me is Slaven Bilic, I think he is head and shoulders above the other candidates.

“I would love to see him return to West Ham.

“He has had a great experience with Croatia but they didn't qualify for the World Cup and if West Ham could give him an escape route I think he would take it.”


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