So finally, David Gold and David Sullivan have got their way. The most inevitable sacking of the summer was instigated in double quick time as Gianfranco Zola left his post as West Ham boss just two days after the end of the season.
The Italian’s popularity will affect many people’s judgement on the matter but even if Zola wasn’t thoroughly likeable, his treatment by the West Ham owners would still be met with disapproving looks.
Gold and Sullivan have only been in charge of the club for six months, but already it feels like a lifetime as their constant media rumblings slowly undermined the club’s management.
It is true that the club was struggling, Zola has made some mistakes and the West Ham’s huge debts mean the future is uncertain. However, it seemed like the owners were doing their best to make things worse by consistently disrupting Zola’s preparations for big games with ill-advised and poorly timed public outbursts.
For example, after a defeat to Wolves in March Sullivan released a public statement labelling the players “shambolic” and “pathetic”. What good was that going to do?
The deep rooted problems at the club were there well before they and Zola arrived, but while the Italian got on with the job with an immense level of dignity, Sullivan and Gold have shown no class whatsoever. Admittedly, the football betting suggested West Ham should have done better than they did, but that’s no excuse for what went on. The owners’ treatment of Zola, in light of the hard work he has put in the name of West Ham and the way in which he behaved, is nothing short of a disgrace.
The question is now who will replace him? It appears clear that the owners will take an overly active role in team affairs, which will put off a numbered of talented coaches. It seems a yes man is the ideal candidate for the Upton Park hot seat.
For Zola it is time to reflect on a mixed two years in the Premier League, before planning a return to football, hopefully to a club where he will be appreciated.
Now though, he can sit back and enjoy the 2010 Football World Cup as a fan, without worrying what he’ll be reading in the papers.