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Zola set for Hammers job, Donadoni pulls out

Gianfranco Zola is expected to be named West Ham boss on Thursday after the club's directors made him the favourite to take over from Alan Curbishley, who resigned last week.

West Ham hope they will unveil their first foreign manager at a news conference on Thursday, but may face a slight delay as the former Chelsea midfielder is joint coach of the Italy under-21 side and they are in action in Croatia on Tuesday night.

The club have also been in talks with fellow Italian Roberto Donadoni, but reports suggest that he is dismayed at the Hammers' handling of the recruitment process and has ruled himself out of the job.

The ex-Italy boss, who was sacked from his post with the Azzurri after a disappointing showing at Euro 2008, is unhappy that the Premier League club appear to favour Zola - Donadoni's former junior in the Italy set up - for the role.

Donadoni said in a statement: ''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.

''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.''

Donadoni has more managerial experience than Zola but he does not have the 42-year-old's long association with English football and another on the Hammers' radar to take himself out of the running is Croatian coach Slaven Bilic.

Bilic's hopes of succeeding Alan Curbishley floundered on the complications surrounding his release from his current job as coach of Croatia, though he was never top of West Ham's wish list.

The Hammers' chief executive Scott Duxbury and technical director Gianluca Nani have led the selection process and the pair provided a detailed report to a meeting of the club's board.

They outlined the merits of as many as 30 names who were initially considered and then the reasons why they were whittled down to a shortlist of six.

With Zola and Donadoni heading the list, it now appears Zola will take the job, especially as Michael Laudrup, the Danish former coach of Spanish side Getafe, was due to have an interview but was ruled out after it emerged he was set to accept an offer from Spartak Moscow.

Kia Joorabchian, who works as an advisor to West Ham, said both Zola and Donadoni had impressed.

He told Sky Sports News: ''Zola has a lot of experience in the Premier League, he was admired by every fan in the league irrespective of which club they supported.

''He has built a big reputation for himself in Italy. He hasn't Premier League experience as a manager but he understands the Premier League very much.

''They are moving fast. They would like to appoint a new manager before the weekend but it is a process they will consider carefully.

''It is a different system, a more European system of working and it will be a manager who will be working under that style in order to minimise and avoid errors which have occurred in the past.''

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