GIANFRANCO ZOLA is set for a legal battle with West Ham after he was sacked as manager yesterday.
The Italian, who had three years left on his contract, was reportedly dismissed for a breach of contract for comments made towards co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold in response to their claims that the entire squad, except Scott Parker, were up for sale.
Zola hit back by saying if he was Mark Noble or Valon Behrami he wouldn’t be very happy to have heard the news – a comment which is said to have been the final straw in determining his future following a disappointing season on the field.
Asked to explain Zola’s dismissal, Sullivan said: “I can’t comment on what will be a legal dispute.”
Zola, meanwhile, fired a parting shot at Sullivan, claiming he was the victim of “adverse comments” in the final few weeks of his reign.
Sullivan famously described the performance against Wolves in March as “shambolic” and “pathetic” and Zola clearly felt isolated ever since.
“I am extremely disappointed to be leaving West Ham United,” Zola said in a statement issued through the League Managers’ Association.
“Over recent weeks, I have been the subject of various adverse comments, from within the club, which have been widely reported in the media.
“Despite what has been a very difficult period for me, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at West Ham.”
Zola was appointed as successor to Alan Curbishley in September 2008 and guided the club to a respectable ninth place in his first season. But the Italian’s plans were clearly hit by financial problems under the club’s former Icelandic regime and, as a result, saw his side struggle to 17th in the table, only avoiding relegation on the penultimate game.
Portsmouth boss Avram Grant heads a long list of candidates to replace Zola, although one-time favourite Steve McClaren has agreed to manage German side Wolfsburg.