West Ham need Premier League boss, says Venables

FORMER England boss Terry Venables has urged West Ham to choose a manager with Premier League experience to fill the vacancy at Upton Park, despite their drop into the Championship.

The Hammers hope to recruit a permanent replacement for Avram Grant, who was sacked after Sunday’s 3-2 defeat at Wigan confirmed their relegation, by the end of the month.

Rising stars such as Norwich’s Paul Lambert have been touted as possible candidates, but Venables believes West Ham would be better served by a manager who knows the top flight, despite the club being doomed to the second tier next season.

“I would say there have got to be half a dozen I could choose who could do a good job – preferably with Premier League experience because it’s important,” Venables (inset) told City A.M. “There are lots of possibilities, and there are lots of managers in the Premier League who have done excellent jobs.”

Former Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce, ex-Newcastle boss Chris Hughton and QPR’s Neil Warnock are among the favourites and have the experience of mixing it with England’s elite that Venables says West Ham should target.

He added: “All those guys, all the guys in the Premier League, if they’ve been around four or five years you know they’re capable of doing better.”

Out-of-work former England head coach Steve McClaren and Brighton manager Gus Poyet, who has led the south coast club to the League One title in his first full season, have both been quick to distance themselves from a move to east London.

But West Ham co-owner David Sullivan yesterday mocked unnamed managers who he said had ruled themselves out when they were not ever being considered.

“We are amused by certain individuals saying they don’t want the job when they haven’t been considered for it,” said Sullivan. “We’ve had approaches by some good candidates but we treat all applications as confidential.”

Former Aston Villa and Celtic chief Martin O’Neill is thought to remain among the chief targets of the West Ham hierarchy, who made an unsuccessful attempt to lure him in January. Sullivan has declared the man they hire is likely to be British, appearing to rule out former Hammer Paolo di Canio, who has announced he is close to returning to England in a coaching role. Caretaker manager Kevin Keen is also interested in staying in the job permanently.

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Former Hammers suitor Cellino says he could buy out Gold and Sullivan

US-BASED Italian businessman Massimo Cellino has resurrected talk of buying into West Ham, 18 months after he failed in a bid to take over the recently relegated club.

Cellino, who owns Serie A side Cagliari, accused current owners David Gold and David Sullivan of letting Hammers supporters down and suggested he could return with a fresh offer if the Upton Park faithful welcomed the move.

“I am saddened for the West Ham fans. They did not deserve to be demoted. But if they want to I could take over the club even though they will be in the first division,” he said. “The current owners have speculated with the affection of the fans. The fans are exceptional. I started this project because I was attracted by the atmosphere of the Hammers. This is why I’m so disappointed for this relegation. But it was predictable.”

Cellino, who lives in Miami, was one of four parties who held talks about buying West Ham when previous owners CB Holding entertained bids in January 2010. Gold and Sullivan also saw off Malaysian tycoon Tony Fernandes and InterMarket, a consortium comprised of wealthy fans, to take control of their boyhood club.

Fernandes this week also reopened the possibility of investing in the Hammers, writing on micro-blogging site Twitter: “If the fans want me to get involved I will. It’s a great club and we fans have suffered too long.”

The prospect of an investor taking a minority stake appears more likely than a takeover, with Gold and Sullivan not thought to want to sell but ready to join forces with anyone willing to buy the remaining 35 per cent of shares still held by CB Holding.

CB Holding, which is comprised of five Icelandic banks, chiefly Straumur, acquired the club in October 2008 because of debts owed by former West Ham owner Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson.