Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Zola to accept West Ham role

Gianfranco Zola is expected to be announced as the new coach of English Premier League side West Ham United by Thursday.

Gianfranco ZolaThe West Ham board unanimously agreed Zola, who was on a shortlist with former Italy coach Roberto Donadoni, was the man they wanted to replace Alan Curbishley who resigned last week.

"We are now negotiating with Gianfranco, although a final decision will be subject to board approval," a senior club source told BBC Sport.

"We were very comfortable with the three options we had - Zola, Donadoni and [John] Collins - but Gianfranco was the first choice.

"The board gave (chief executive) Scott Duxbury authorisation to approach him and will meet Gianfranco before any contract is signed."

The 42-year-old, assistant coach of the Italy Under-21s, was this evening helping guide the Azzurrini to the European Under-21 Championship play-offs with a 1-1 draw against Croatia in Varazdin.

And after the match, Zola hinted this was his last game in the Italy set-up.

"I did not want to talk about West Ham up until now out of respect for the Federation, as I owe them so much because they gave me the opportunity to have this extraordinary experience," Zola said.

"I will decide tomorrow and then I will talk."

The London club interviewed Zola last week and club officials then travelled to Rome to hold further talks on Sunday.

West Ham believe the Italian; who has played at Chelsea, Parma and Cagliari; has the attributes to be a big success at Upton Park.

"It's true that he has no experience of managing a club side, but he knows the Premier League very well," the West Ham source added.

"His English is very good and he can talk about football with English players and inspire them.

"He has a record of developing young footballers, which is very important to us, and was obviously a world-class player.

"Experienced players like to have a manager they can respect as a footballer."

There is speculation that Zola would like to bring colleague Pierluigi Casiraghi, the current Italy Under-21 coach and teammate at Chelsea, as part of his backroom staff.

Former Italy boss Donadoni was among the front runners before he withdrew his application earlier today.

"I would like to thank West Ham United Football Club for approaching and speaking with me," said Donadoni.

"I welcomed the opportunity of speaking with such a prominent Premier League club and of course, the opportunity of coming to the English Premier League.

"However, it does appear that the board have not yet, after some time, come to an agreement and a conclusion on who the successful candidate should be.

"It is important for me to feel that I have the full support of the club and I have therefore taken the decision to withdraw myself from the candidate shortlist for the club."

Source: BBC

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