Bilic and Mancini deliver Hammer blows

THE shortlist of names in the frame to replace Alan Curbishley as West Ham manager appeared to shrink by two yesterday, after Slaven Bilic and Roberto Mancini distanced themselves from the position.

Curbishley resigned on Wednesday, seemingly in protest at the sale of defenders Anton Ferdinand and George McCartney and his own diminishing influence on the make-up of the playing squad.

The prominence of the club’s technical director Gianluca Nani appeared to be at the root of Curbishley’s dissatisfaction and led many to believe a foreign coach, more attuned to such a management structure, would be handed the job.

But two of the most high-profile names linked to the club have played down their chances of taking over at Upton Park.

Former Hammers defender Bilic, who has enjoyed great success as Croatia’s national boss, admitted he would like to return to the club one day but seemingly ruled himself out until at least 2010.

“I always said West Ham will be my choice when I return to England,” he said.

“However, my contract with the Croatian FA expires in 2010 and I am intending to lead Croatia in this period.”

Mancini’s agent also admitted his client would welcome the chance to ply his trade in the Premier League one day, but insists the timing is currently wrong for him to take a job in England.

Mancini was sacked by Inter Milan at the end of last season despite guiding the Nerazzurri to a hat-trick of Serie A titles and still having five years remaining on his contract at the San Siro.

Giorgio De Giorgis claims Mancini will not take on a new team until finalising his compensation package with Inter.

“Until his contract situation is resolved with Inter, Roberto Mancini won’t talk to other clubs: that’s the way he is,” De Giorgis said.

Several other names have been linked with the job including former Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier, Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola and former Italy coach Roberto Donadoni.

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