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Page last updated at 09:54 GMT, Tuesday, 11 May 2010 10:54 UK

West Ham sack manager Gianfranco Zola

Former West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola
Zola's West Ham side flirted with relegation from the Premier League for much of the season

West Ham have sacked manager Gianfranco Zola after less than two years in charge at Upton Park.

The 43-year-old former Chelsea player, who had no previous managerial experience at club level, took over from Alan Curbishley in September 2008.

Zola signed a new four-year deal near the end of his first term, as West Ham finished ninth in the Premier League.

But this season they struggled and ended up in 17th place, only five points above the relegation zone.

A statement from the east London 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."

Bookmakers have made Croatia coach and former West Ham defender Slaven Bilic, Portsmouth boss Avram Grant and former Manchester City coach Mark Hughes as favourites to fill the vacancy.

Zola's position with the Hammers was uncertain following the takeover by David Gold and David Sullivan in January 2010.

Sullivan, who previously part-owned Birmingham City with Gold, labelled Zola's team "pathetic" following the 3-1 defeat by Wolves.

And when asked about the Italian's future after the match, Sullivan responded: "I wouldn't like to comment on that - who knows?"

It then appeared Zola was ready to jump before being pushed following the loss to Stoke on 27 March - West Ham's sixth successive defeat.

"I will consider overnight whether I'm doing a good job for this club or not," he said after the match but then stated he was "determined to carry on" the following Monday.

But after all but securing the club's Premier League future with a 3-2 win over Wigan, Zola was dealt another blow by the board when he revealed he had not been consulted over a bid for West Brom midfielder Graham Dorrans or about Sullivan's announcement the entire squad was for sale except midfielder Scott Parker.

Zola, who began his playing career in 1984 for Italian side Nuorese, made his name at Napoli, helping the club to their second Serie A title in 1990.

He moved to Parma in 1993 and played in both legs of the 2-1 Uefa Cup final win over Juventus two years later.

Zola was then brought to Chelsea for £4.5m by manager Ruud Gullit in 1996.

His silky skills were much admired in the Premier League and he won the Football Writers' Association player of the year award in 1997.

He also added an FA Cup winner's medal to his collection when he helped the Blues to a 1-0 win over Aston Villa at Wembley in 2000.

Zola ended his playing career at Cagliari, helping the club to promotion to Serie A in 2004.

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see also
Sacked Zola saddened by comments
11 May 10 |  West Ham
Zola admits West Ham underachieved
09 May 10 |  West Ham
Zola to discuss West Ham future
10 May 10 |  West Ham
Italian managers share the love
09 May 10 |  Football
West Ham co-owner backs boss Zola
26 Apr 10 |  West Ham
Sullivan in plea to Hammers fans
25 Mar 10 |  West Ham
Gold & Sullivan take over Hammers
19 Jan 10 |  West Ham
Zola signs new West Ham contract
25 Apr 09 |  West Ham
Zola ready to take West Ham job
11 Sep 08 |  West Ham

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