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. A number of negative public comments from co-owner David 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 am looking forward to finding a new challenge in the game and returning to management as soon as possible,” he said.
Zola continued: “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.
“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.