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Tuesday 21 November 2017

League boss Bevan insists sacked Zola will return to dugout

League Managers' Association chief executive Richard Bevan has backed Gianfranco Zola to bounce back from his sacking by West Ham and criticised the Premier League club for not providing the Italian with the right support at the top level.

Zola was dismissed by the club's co-owners David Gold and David Sullivan yesterday as he paid the price for a dismal season that saw the Hammers narrowly avoid relegation.

But as Zola attempted to steer the team out of danger at the foot of the table, his position was undermined by Sullivan, who took control of the club in January along with Gold.

Sullivan apologised to supporters via the club's official website for a "shambolic" and "pathetic" performance against Wolves in March as Zola became increasingly isolated.

There were also suggestions the 43-year-old was unaware of moves to make the entire first-team squad, except for Scott Parker, available for transfer and that he was kept in the dark over a bid for West Brom midfielder Graham Dorrans.

Hinting at the lack of support from the club's owners, Bevan said: "Clear communication and a supportive framework at the top of a football club are essential for stability and delivering results.

"Gianfranco has had to manage his team through a period of significant uncertainty at the club and has shown dedication, resilience and commitment to his players, staff and the fans.

"Without a doubt Gianfranco is a talented young manager and I am sure that in the fullness of time he will be back working in the game."

Zola made a reference to Sullivan's actions in a statement issued through the League Managers' Association.

"I am extremely disappointed to be leaving West Ham United," said Zola. "Over recent weeks, I have been the subject of various adverse comments, from within the club, which have been reported in the media.

"Despite what has been a difficult period for me, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at West Ham.

"I would like to sincerely thank the players and my staff for their support, hard work and commitment. I am proud of their efforts, over a long and difficult season, in retaining West Ham's place in the Premier League."

Zola was appointed as successor to Alan Curbishley in September 2008 and guided the club to ninth place in the league in his first season as boss. He was rewarded with a new four-year contract but it was never an easy ride for the Italian, who many critics claimed was too nice to cope with managing at the top level.

The success he enjoyed during that first season was overshadowed by financial problems off the pitch under the club's former Icelandic owners.

This season, while the Italian had the support of his squad, he had garnered little support upstairs.

Ex-West Ham defender Slaven Bilic is among the favourites to succeed Zola, along with ex-Manchester City boss Mark Hughes.

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