Premier League - West Ham: The contenders

Mon, 16 May 11:18:00 2011

West Ham co-owner David Gold has said the club will make a swift appointment following the sacking of Avram Grant - we take a look at the candidates for the Upton Park hot seat.

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Grant oversaw a torturous campaign which ultimately saw the Hammers suffer relegation and finish bottom of the Premier League table.

He survived in the role despite strong rumours mid-season linking Martin O'Neill to the job, but was immediately dismissed in the wake of the club's 3-2 defeat at Wigan.

Gold told Sky Sports News: "This will be a very, very important appointment. We are choosing a manager capable of getting us out of the Championship and continuing once we've achieved that."

When pressed upon the planned timeframe of the appointment, he replied: "The sooner the better - that is important.

"But at the same time we mustn't be rushed."

With the likelihood of top players including Football Writers' Player of the Season Scott Parker making a fast exit, who will Gold and David Sullivan turn to next - and who will want the responsibility of securing a return to Premier League football?

Here are the bookies' favourites to take the job:

Steve McClaren (8/15)

McClaren has not managed in England since his ill-fated tenure as national team coach which ended with a failure to qualify for Euro 2008. He rebuilt his reputation with a two-year stint at FC Twente in Holland, winning the Dutch title along the way, before moving to Wolfsburg in Germany. That switch was less successful and ended with his departure midway through the season, but McClaren might view the move as just the opportunity to come back to English football. May not enjoy working under the demanding Gold and Sullivan as he has cited a lack of control as behind his struggles in Germany.

Alan Curbishley (9/1)

A former West Ham boss, Curbishley has not worked as a manager since his departure from Upton Park at the start of the 2008/09 season. During his tenure he oversaw a famous escape from relegation, with Carlos Tevez scoring the winner in a 1-0 triumph at Old Trafford on the final day of the season to keep West Ham in the top flight. Curbishley holds the club close to his heart but left on a point of principle on the club's transfer policy, and will want to know the situation has changed under the new owners - which is unlikely.

Chris Hughton (9/1)

Bringing a big club straight back up after a disastrous season is no easy task, but Hughton has precisely that on his CV after a successful spell at Newcastle. With a proven track record of uniting dressing rooms, making do with limited resources and coping admirably with boardroom difficulties, Hughton could be a common-sense appointment. The 52-year-old also had two seasons at Upton Park towards the end of his playing career.

Sam Allardyce (12/1)

Most believe Blackburn Rovers would not be teetering above the relegation zone had the Venky's Group opted for continuity and persisted with a manager who had led the club to a top-half finish last season. Allardyce is keen to get back into management, and reluctant to be portrayed as a boss who sticks solely to a pragmatic and rarely entertaining style of football. Could Allardyce and West Ham be a good fit?

Gus Poyet (14/1)

Poyet's star is rising all the time after Brighton swept all challengers aside and won the League One title. The Seagulls will now have the challenge of facing the Hammers in the Championship next season, but in which dugout would the Uruguayan prefer to be? The fact that Poyet has such close ties from his playing days to city rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea could count against him.

Neil Warnock (14/1)

Warnock is a surprising name on the list given that he has just led Queens Park Rangers to the Championship title. However there has been speculation that Rangers' wealthy owners are considering replacing him with a big name such as Marcello Lippi or Claudio Ranieri, something Warnock has refuted following meetings with Bernie Ecclestone, Flavio Briatore and Amit Bhatia. Should a U-turn materialise and the Sheffielder find himself out on his ear, there is no one more adept at achieving promotion.

Martin O'Neill (16/1)

Ulsterman O'Neill has been the most sought-after out-of-work boss on these shores since leaving Aston Villa just five days before the season started. He looked set to be reemployed with the goal of saving the Hammers in January but was reportedly unhappy that his impending arrival was leaked to the press with Grant still at the helm and pulled out. It is doubtful that he will be any more convinced that his future lies at Upton Park following the public criticism of the Israeli by Karren Brady et al. in the ensuing months.

Slaven Bilic (16/1)

Bilic would be a popular appointment due to his time as a player with the club in the Nineties: an uncompromising defender, he only spent a second and a half there but gained brownie points for putting off a move to Everton in order to help the club avoid relegation. Enjoyed a successful period as coach of Croatia, a role he has performed since 2006, notably beating England at Wembley to reach Euro 2008 and turning the side into contenders for the tournament before defeat to Turkey in the quarter-finals. He was set to step down after failure to qualify from England's group for the World Cup last summer, but was convinced to stay on until 2012. It is unlikely that he would now step aside to take charge of a Championship club.

Paolo Di Canio (16/1)

A West Ham legend following his four-year stint there as a player, during which he scored many incredible goals - including the 1999-2000 goal of the season - and caught the eye with displays of sportsmanship. In September a 'Paolo Di Canio Lounge' was even opened at the ground. The fiery Italian applied for the job, which he has described as a "dream", after Curbishley left, but has little coaching experience.


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