Zola hoping for swift return

Gianfranco Zola has set his sights on a quick return to management after finally reaching a satisfactory financial settlement with West Ham.

Gianfranco Zola has set his sights on a quick return to management after finally reaching a satisfactory financial settlement with West Ham.

Zola was sacked after the end of the season despite keeping the Hammers in the Barclays Premier League.

The club have since appointed former Portsmouth boss Avram Grant as Zola’s successor.

It was Zola’s first managerial post and although he enjoyed a fine first season, guiding the club to a ninth-placed finish and earning a new four-year contract, the Hammers struggled to avoid relegation last term.

David Gold and David Sullivan took over the club in January and Zola was apparently on borrowed time.

A number of negative public comments from Sullivan did not help Zola’s situation and it was no surprise when the amiable Italian was relieved of his post.

But now Zola is looking forward to making a swift return to management.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time at West Ham and I will always be very grateful to the club for giving me the opportunity to manage in the Barclays Premier League, especially at a club with such a great tradition in positive and attractive football,” said Zola.

“I am looking forward to finding a new challenge in the game and returning to management as soon as possible.

“I would like to offer my sincere thanks to all of the players, staff and fans who supported me so well during my time at the club and I wish them every success for the future.

“I would also like to thank the League Managers Association for their support and hard work during the difficult period of my contract termination process.”

LMA chief executive Richard Bevan backed Zola to make a quick return to the dugout.

“He is a talented young manager and I am sure he will be back working in the game, passing on his knowledge and sharing his enjoyment of football with a new group of players,” said Bevan.

“The LMA shares Gianfranco’s disappointment at him leaving West Ham but would like to acknowledge the club’s assistance in resolving matters quickly and amicably.

“In his time as a manager Gianfranco demonstrated the passion and enthusiasm for the game that shone through when he was a player. He also achieved success in his first season with the Club, guiding West Ham to a ninth place finish in the Barclays Premier League.”

A statement from West Ham concluded: “West Ham United would like to thank Gianfranco Zola for his efforts during his time at the club.

“We would like to thank both him and the LMA for their professionalism in reaching a satisfactory settlement and we wish Gianfranco well for the future.”

West Ham also confirmed that Zola’s assistant, former Chelsea coach Steve Clarke, has parted company with the club by mutual consent after nearly two years at the Boleyn Ground.

The first-team coach arrived in September 2008 as assistant to Zola.

“I have enjoyed my time at West Ham,” said Clarke. “I was looking for a fresh challenge in football before I arrived and certainly got that.

“It was a good experience which will help me in the future. I would particularly like to thank the fans for all their support and the players and staff for their efforts.

“I will follow the club’s progress with interest and I am sure, with the new stability off the pitch, that the team will have every opportunity to do well next season.”

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