The Hammers achieved their short term goal to survive the drop in the Barclays Premier League, but Zola still felt the axe of co-owners David Gold and David Sullivan. Not only has he lost his job, he has received no compensation on a contract which was worth £1.9m-a-year and had three years left to run, which was signed under the previous owners.
Most would probably agree that Zola had to go and his time at Upton Park was slightly disastrous during his first full season in charge as West Ham arguably stayed up default because Burnley, Hull and Portsmouth were so bad. However, it is unfair to sack the manager without compensation, especially considering the way he has been treated by the co-owners.
Gold and Sullivan believe they have grounds to sack the manager as his post match comments following their final game of the season against Manchester City were a breach of contract. Now, I know Luis Boa Morte had a bit of an outburst, but what did Zola say that was so bad?
After the final game of the Premier League season Zola revealed to the press how hard things have been for him. The former Chelsea star said: “There were moments, honestly when it was tough for us. For me personally, football has always been a joy, always a pleasure. I played until I was 39 and never considered it as a job.
He added: “Football has always been part of my life, always one of the main things. I need it. I need football in a certain way though,” then said a farewell to the press: “See you in the future.”
Unless they are talking about something else he has supposedly said West Ham are clutching at straws and hopefully the League Manager’s Association help Zola to fight for his money.
As for Gold and Sullivan, why would anybody want to work with them after the way they have treated Zola with disdain and disrespect?
Sullivan (the bad cop in this scenario) in particular has done much to undermine the former coach. Back in March during a relegation dog-fight he lambasted the players calling them both “pathetic” and “shambolic” following the 3-1 defeat at home to Wolves. Whilst the performance was awful the timing was even worse and although he argued he wanted to motivate the team it isn’t his job, it was Zola’s job.
The club also went over the coach’s head by making an approach for West Brom’s Graham Dorrans, which Gianfranco obviously had no idea about as he said that it was “quite a surprise.” It was almost embarrassing to see his authority undermined in such a way by the powers that be and was a clear and ominous sign of his departure.
Meanwhile, Gold (playing the good cup) up until recently was telling anyone who would listen around Chadwell Heath that Zola was still his man and that he hoped he would stay on as coach in future, but then contradicted himself by suggesting that the Italian coach needed a “sabbatical or something.” Zola certainly got something and it wasn’t a sabbatical, it was the sack.
As a Chelsea fan I feel for Zola and I would like Ancelotti to bring him in as an assistant or forwards coach as a lot of the young players could learn a lot from him particularly players like Gael Kakuta. He was not ready for a management role and it is understandable that he was sacked from his post at Upton Park (it was always going to end in tears considering his connections with hated London rivals Chelsea), but that does not excuse the way he has been treated.
The Hammers’ faithful will be hoping for a fresh start under a new manager and hope that the owners don’t interfere with the new boss so much. Many of the press are touting another former Chelsea man Avram Grant, who is set to quit Portsmouth after their FA Cup final against the title winning Blues, as the man to replace the little Italian.
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