Gianfranco Zola left East London earlier this week leaving behind him a side who had failed to live up to the promise shown after the 2008/09 campaign.
The diminutive Italian led West Ham to within two points of European qualification that year but has paid the ultimate price for the chronic underperformance of his newly assembled side this term and the arrival of new owners at the Boleyn Ground hell bent on getting their names in the papers.
Gold and Sullivan courted controversy from the very start of their reign in January this year by publicly criticizing players and manager alike. They made their wariness of Zola obvious by refusing to back him publicly and not even consulting him before announcing that the whole squad was being put up for sale bar Scott Parker.
Whilst Zola’s amiable personality and youth should ensure a speedy revival of his career, the identity of his replacement at West Ham looks less certain.
The rumour mill has been doing overtime as you would expect with early front runner Paolo Di Canio ruling himself out whilst he continues to work towards his official coaching qualifications. The Hammers’ legend would have been a popular appointment amongst fans yearning for the passionate displays and goalscoring prowess that he is best remembered for but that has been sadly lacking in the Hammers camp this season.
Former West Ham defender Slaven Bilic has also been touted as a potential candidate but has vowed to stay with Croatia despite their failure to qualify for the World Cup. With his contract up in the summer, he could perhaps be swayed to join the Londoners if the money’s right and could do well in the Premiership after masterminding England’s downfall in the fateful Euro 2008 qualifying campaign.
Avram Grant has also emerged as a strong contender having led relegated Pompey to the FA Cup final despite their substantial financial problems. With the unappetising prospect of Championship football at Fratton Park next season, the Israeli may well not want to stick around and could do a decent job at West Ham with proper backing.
Still held in high regard after his harsh treatment at Manchester City earlier in the season, Mark Hughes is available and has a proven record in the top flight. He has no connection with the Hammers but could be just what they need.
Steve Clarke I would say is the outside bet as Zola’s former assistant at West Ham is unproven as a manager in his own right. A promotion to the managerial hot seat would seem unlikely given the owner’s seeming desire for a fresh start but stranger things have happened.Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!