West Ham today confirmed that four names remain in the frame to be the club’s next manager: Slaven Bilic, Gianfranco Zola, Roberto Donadoni and Michael Laudrup.
Hammers director Mike Lee said that both Zola and Donadoni had impressed hugely in their interviews, while Laudrup will meet club officials tomorrow.
Lee also made it clear that West Ham would not wait until January for Bilic, though he did not rule out him staying as Croatia coach on a part-time basis for the October matches.
Lee told BBC Radio Five Live: “There’s no favourite at the moment, we have set up a proper selection process.
“We have been surprised and pleased by the number of applications we have had and we are moving towards a short shortlist and ideally have a manager in place in time for the West Brom match next week.
“Slaven Bilic could potentially be on that shortlist but it depends very much upon his availability. If for whatever reason he was not available until January in terms of working with us I’m afraid that will rule him out.
“We have a very strong shortlist and it’s going to be a tough decision with some exciting candidates.
“From the meetings that have taken place so far the two that have really shone have been Donadoni and Zola.”
West Ham are resigned to waiting until after Croatia’s match against England on Wednesday before they can speak to Bilic, but would welcome the chance to talk beforehand and have been in discussions with his representatives.
The fact Zola and Donadoni are Italians could increase their chances given that West Ham’s director of football Gianluca Nani is a compatriot, and that they would be much happier with the continental-style working relationship than Alan Curbishley was.
West Ham’s selection process has already ruled out Gerard Houllier and the former Scotland midfielder John Collins, plus former Ajax boss Martin Olsen.