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I’m desperate for Zola to stay with Hammers, claims Gold

WEST HAM co-chairman David Gold says he is “desperate” for under-fire manager Gianfranco Zola to stay with the club next season.

Saturday’s 3-2 victory over Wigan means the Hammers have secured their Premier League safety unless Hull can somehow pull off a six-point swing in the final two games, while overturning a goal difference of 23.

Yet, still it hasn’t stopped speculation surrounding Zola’s future with a number of managers, including Mark Hughes, Peter Reid, Avram Grant and Steve McLaren, all linked with the job.

Zola is contracted to West Ham until 2013, but a poor first half of the season, coupled with the arrival of new owners Gold and David Sullivan in January, led to suggestions he might not see the season through.

But with top-flight status secured, Gold insists the Italian’s job is safe at Upton Park, although he did admit the 43-year-old may decide to take time out of the game following a long and arduous season.

“I am desperately hoping he will stay but there is work to do,” Gold said. “He has been to hell and back these last 12 months. There is a possibility he might want to take a sabbatical.

“When we arrived the remit we gave Franco was to keep us up and he’s done that. We went through a difficult period when we lost six straight games but the draw at Everton turned this round and he has achieved what he was asked to do.”