Zola sacked as West Ham manager

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

The 43-year-old, who was appointed as successor to Alan Curbishley in September 2008, only just managed to keep the club in the top flight and was today removed by the club's new co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold.

The Hammers finished 17th to narrowly avoid relegation and Zola's time ran out. His dismissal is a far cry from his first year in charge, when, with no previous managerial experience, he guided the club to ninth place in the Premier League and was rewarded with a new four-year contract.

But it was never an easy ride for the amicable Italian who many critics claimed was too nice to cope with managing at the top level.

The success he enjoyed during that first season was always overshadowed by financial problems off the pitch under their former Icelandic owners.

But, as the team struggled in his second season, Zola's position was questioned time and again, especially when Gold and Sullivan moved back into the East End and took control of the club in January.

As Zola attempted to steer the team out of danger at the foot of the table, he was also having to deal with comments from Sullivan.

The co-owner apologised to supporters for a "shambolic" and "pathetic" performance against Wolves in March and Zola's position became increasingly isolated.

Zola also said he was unaware of moves to make the entire first team squad, except for Scott Parker, available for transfer and kept in the dark over a bid for West Brom midfielder Graham Dorrans.

But instead of sacking Zola on their arrival the co-owners stood firm and publicly backed him.

The Italian clearly had the solidarity of his squad but he had garnered little support where it mattered and the end was not unexpected.

A statement from the club read: "West Ham United confirm that they have terminated the contract of Gianfranco Zola.

"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."

The search for Zola's successor is likely to be a long one with Sullivan and Gold determined to make the right decision.

Former West Ham striker Tony Cottee would love to see Croatia boss and former West Ham defender Slaven Bilic back at Upton Park.

"The fans want a manager who will bring success," said Cottee. "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. He has a lot of passion for the club and still has a place in London."

Former Manchester City boss Mark Hughes and current Portsmouth manager Avram Grant have also been linked with the post.

Hughes could be top choice for the co-owners although he has also been linked as a possible successor to Rafa Benitez at Liverpool should the Spaniard decide to quit Merseyside.

Cottee, meanwhile, applauded the board for dealing with Zola's future swiftly.

"I am pleased they haven't messed around and it dragged on for months," Cottee told Sky Sports News.

"If they are going to do it, get it done, but the fans will judge it on the calibre of the manager coming in.

"I think Gianfranco has done a decent job in difficult circumstances.

"It hasn't been easy for him, everything that could have gone wrong at West Ham has gone wrong.

"And at the end of the season Gianfranco and the players have done well to stay up. But having said that the results haven't been good enough and obviously the board have now made a decision."

"What I would criticise them (the board) for is not sacking him when they first arrived at the club.

"It did appear right from the start that Zola was not their man. Various things have happened through the season that have undermined the management and the players, emails and things getting into the press. That doesn't make for a happy camp. I don't think the board handled it very well."

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
beauty
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
transfers
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
film
News
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
News
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Sport
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Sport
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
tv
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
tech
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice