12 May 2010

Hammers dump Zola

7:09 am on 12 May 2010

West Ham have fired manager Gianfranco Zola after a season in which the club barely avoided relegation from the English Premier football League.

Zola has responded by referring his dismissal to the League Managers' Association.

the Italian says he's extremely disappointed to be leaving and in recent weeks has been the subject of various adverse comments, from within the club, which have been widely reported in the media.

Although Zola was popular with the West Ham fans, the former Chelsea star - who took over at Upton Park in September 2008 - was unable to bring any success to the club in his second season.

He signed a new four-year contract in April 2009 that was supposed to keep him at the club until 2013, but was instead fired two days after the end of the season.

With Zola on his way out of Upton Park, there was immediate speculation that Portsmouth manager Avram Grant, whose team finished last in the Premier League but made it to this weekend's FA Cup final against Chelsea, might be a replacement.

Former West Ham managers Alan Curbishley and Alan Pardew are also contenders, along with Mark Hughes, who has been out of a job since being fired by Manchester City in December.