Zola agrees three-year deal with Hammers

GIANFRANCO ZOLA has agreed a three-year deal to become West Ham’s next manager.

Senior club sources have confirmed that the 42-year-old Italian will fly into London today to sign his contract.

The Hammers are confident that the former Chelsea star will be formally unveiled at a news conference before the weekend.

His backroom staff will be announced today and it is thought caretaker boss Kevin Keen will continue on the coaching staff — but ex-Hammers striker Paolo di Canio is not part of Zola’s plans.

Zola spent yesterday morning speaking to the Italian FA about being released from his contract as joint coach to the Italy under-21 side.

His lawyer was at Upton Park agreeing the contract and all the details have been settled to both sides’ satisfaction.

Steve Clarke, the Scot who is currently assistant to Luiz Felipe Scolari at Chelsea, has been linked with a move to becoming Zola’s assistant manager — they know each other well from Zola’s time there.

So too as has Pierluigi Casiraghi, his fellow joint coach of the Italy under-21 side, but he has cast doubt on that saying: “If Gianfranco decides to go to England, I will lose a great coach and more importantly, a true friend. But I don’t want to leave this national team.”

Graeme Le Saux, a teammate of Zola’s at Chelsea, believes West Ham have landed a great signing.

Le Saux said: “West Ham have pulled off a major coup. It’s been a bit of an unsettled time for the club but every one of that squad will be excited. They will be looking forward to that first training session.”

Zola has already revealed he is committed to a philosophy which will excite the Hammers fans. He said: “I only know one way to play: on the floor, attacking football, the way things should be done. I want to excite people, that is why we play isn’t it?”

He also urged West Ham fans to cast aside his links with Chelsea after he admitted the chance to manage the east London club was one he could not resist.

“I know there is a rivalry between Chelsea and West Ham, but that is not a problem. My playing career is my past,” Zola added. “This is a new adventure for me. I spent seven years at Chelsea and they were seven of the best years of my career, I loved playing there but the fans must understand that I have a new career now and my playing career is in the past.”

Earlier yesterday Roberto Donadoni revealed he withdrew from the running to become West Ham’s new manager as he felt he was not the right fit for the Upton Park hot-seat.

The former Italy boss, who was shown the door by the Azzurri following their quarter-final defeat to Spain at Euro 2008, impressed the West Ham hierarchy after undergoing an interview in east London.

However, after weighing up his experience in England, Donadoni arrived at the conclusion he was not the right man for the post and subsequently withdrew his application.

“I decided to take my name out of the race because the feeling was that of not being the right fit for the type of programme they (West Ham) had in mind,” Donadoni said.

“I want to thank the London club. It gives me great honour to have been considered. I don’t exclude this possibility. The Premier League is a thrilling competition that has a lot of value.”

The Magpies academy director, who is in caretaker charge alongside Chris Hughton following Kevin Keegan’s departure last week, has insisted there is no discontent among the players.

It is the first time since Keegan’s departure that one of the backroom staff has spoken and Money also called on the Newcastle fans to get behind the team ahead of Saturday’s match with Hull amid claims there could be mass protests amongst the home faithful.

“I’m convinced that the supporters will be behind the team on Saturday and it is so important that they are,” Money said.

“I think that at the end of the day the supporters love their football club and I am totally comfortable that they will get behind the team on Saturday. This football club needs the supporters and the team to be as one, there is no doubt about that.”

No unrest

Money also played down talk of unrest amongst the squad, adding: “That has certainly not been the case.

“What we have to remember is that they are professional people — we have got a lot of experienced players and their attitude in training has been absolutely exemplary.

“This is an important game for this football club and we can’t afford to lose sight of that.’’

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