Donadoni withdrawal leaves way clear for Zola

GIANFRANCO ZOLA looks certain to become the next West Ham manager after his closest rival withdrew from the contest to replace Alan Curbishley.

Roberto Donadoni, the former Italy manager, pulled out after it became clear that Zola was West Ham’s first choice.

Donadoni issued a statement stating: “I would like to thank West Ham United Football Club for approaching and speaking with me in relation to the vacant manager’s position at the club.

“I welcomed the opportunity of speaking with such a prominent Premiership club and of course, the opportunity of coming to the English Premiership.

“However, is 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 this morning taken the decision to withdraw myself from the candidate shortlist for the club.”

West Ham have opened talks with Zola, meanwhile, and are hopeful of announcing today that the former Chelsea player is their new manager. Zola is likely to be presented at a news conference on Thursday.

Meanwhile Brazil legend Zico has admitted he is “very interested” in becoming Newcastle manager and believes he could avoid the confrontations which forced Kevin Keegan out of the job.

Zico, who has previous managerial experience with Kashima Antlers, Japan and Fenerbahce, has been out of work since leaving the Turkish club in June after failing to agree a new contract.

In his final season in charge of Fenerbahce he led them to the quarter-finals of the Champions League – a performance which later saw his name linked to coaching vacancies at Chelsea and Manchester City.

Now he has issued a ‘come-and-get-me’ plea to Newcastle owner Mike Ashley, and has attempted to boost his credentials by revealing he would have no problem working under executive director (football) Dennis Wise.

Following his departure last week, Keegan claimed it was the signing of players without his consent that forced him to quit St James’ Park.

But Zico is adamant there would be no such acrimony were he in charge. “The Newcastle job is one that I would be very interested in taking. It would be a privilege and an honour,” he said.

Meanwhile Tottenham first-team coach Gus Poyet has insisted there is “nothing at all” in reports linking him to the Newcastle job.

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