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Donadoni exit Hammers out path for Zola

SoccerNews in English Premier League, Serie A 9 Sep 2008

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Roberto Donadoni pulled out Tuesday of the race to become the new manager of West Ham United – a move that appeared to clear the way for fellow Italian Gianfranco Zola to take charge of the London club.

The Premier League side were left without a manager after Alan Curbishley resigned in protest at the Hammers' transfer policy.

Former Italy boss Donadoni was in the running to take over at Upton Park but withdrew his application as it became increasingly clear that Zola was the preferred candidate.

“I would like to thank West Ham United Football Club for approaching and speaking with me in relation to the vacant manager's position at the club,” Donadoni said in a statement.

“I welcomed the opportunity of speaking with such a prominent Premiership club and of course, the opportunity of coming to the English Premiership.

“However, is does appear that the board have not yet, after some time, come to an agreement and a conclusion on who the successful candidate should be.

“It is important for me to feel that I have the full support of the club and I have therefore this morning taken the decision to withdraw myself from the candidate shortlist for the club.”

Zola, who became a popular figure in English football during his time as a striker with Chelsea in the 1990s, is currently in charge of the Italian Under-21 side.

Their match in Croatia on Tuesday appears to have delayed slightly any plans the Hammers may have had to announce him as their new manager, although this could still take place later this week.

Former West Ham defender Slaven Bilic had been linked with the vacancy but the Croatia manager on Monday was quoted as saying he did not want the job.

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