Zola tipped for return

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League Managers' Association chief executive Richard Bevan has backed Gianfranco Zola to bounce back from his sacking by West Ham and criticised the Barclays 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 on Tuesday as he paid the price for a dismal season that saw them 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.

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."

He added: "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 veiled reference to Sullivan's actions in a statement issued through the LMA.

"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 widely reported in the media.

"Despite what has been a very 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 continued support, hard work and commitment. I am extremely proud of their efforts, over a long and difficult season, in retaining West Ham's place in the Barclays Premier League."

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