Sullivan refuses to join Gold in backing Zola
Gianfranco Zola's future is still in doubt at West Ham United despite co-owner David Gold's public backing on Monday.
David Sullivan, who owns West Ham along wth Gold, refused to join his partner in supporting Zola and calling for him to stay on at Upton Park next season. Instead, Sullivan insisted the club would sit down with Zola at the end of the campaign to decide what will happen for the 2010-11 season.
Sullivan told Soccernet: "Franco has indicated he doesn't want to discuss his position until the end of the season, and that's fine by us. We shall ask him what he has in mind, we will see what he wants to do."
There was no backing for Zola, no guarantees and a hint that the final decision might well be Zola's.
If Zola proves to Sullivan and Gold that he can bring a change of fortune to the club, he might surprise everyone and start the new season. However, that is far from certain.
Soccernet understands there is still a big chance that he will go despite Gold's apparent 'vote of confidence'.
"I would hope Franco stays," Gold said on Monday. "He has been through hell and back. It has been a very difficult season for him.
"I would have thought he deserves another crack but he's also a man who might feel it's time to take a sabbatical. I don't know, you would have to ask him, but I'm very optimistic that we can come together and go to the next step."
A close friend of Zola told Soccernet: "Franco doesn't want to leave, despite what has been said." Zola's friend added it was wrong to think the Italian was fed up and would walk away at the end of the season.
Gold's comment that Zola might fancy a "sabbatical" hinted that if the Italian felt like leaving, no one would stop him. Gold's comments are open to all sorts of interpretations.
However, another insider has told Soccernet: "David Gold's vote of confidence in the manager came after the win that virtually keeps them up, but a decision has not been finalised. Before the game it looked 100% that the manager was going, that minds were made up. Now it might still be 99%, so you never know."
The final two games might give Zola a far greater swing than just 1%, depending on the team's performances. While Gold might have gone public with his backing for Zola, it is highly significant that his co-owner David Sullivan has not. Sullivan's silence, for someone so outspoken, speaks volumes for the fact that Zola is far from safe.
Sullivan has had more of a personality conflict with Zola than Gold, and there is clearly a difference of opinion about who would be the best man to lead the Hammers next season.