West Ham want McClaren as new boss - Exclusive
Published 23:00 29/03/10 By Alan Nixon
West Ham want Steve McClaren to be their new boss next season - but need Gianfranco Zola to keep them up first.
Former England coach McClaren is willing to return to the Premier League, despite taking Twente Enschede to the brink of the Dutch title and with the prospect of Champions League football.
McClaren would return to take the Hammers job if the right conditions were right - with them staying in the Premier League and with him having a big budget to spend.
Co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold will dig deep to give the next manager a fighting chance in the transfer market, but the battle to keep them in the big-time will be led by ‘lame duck’ Zola.
The Italian has gone home for a couple of days and is prepared to carry on, despite a shocking run of results that leaves his team hovering just above the drop zone.
Zola also knows that Hammers have been sounding out potential short-term replacements for him, but few of them want the job on that basis - and others have yet to convince the Upton Park hierarchy that they are ideal.
Glenn Hoddle is still the likeliest candidate if there is an SOS call for a quick fix. The former England boss has been approached but astonishingly West Ham are not offering him a big enough deal.
Mark Hughes, Slaven Bilic and Graeme Souness have all already said ‘no thanks'.
The only encouragement West Ham have had is that McClaren, the former Middlesbrough chief, is in the mood to come back to England - but will not move until the summer.
It is a crazy scenario but one that was always likely to happen with the new regime in charge at West Ham, desperate to avoid the drop and meddling with Zola along the way.
Ironically McClaren was interviewed by West Ham when he first moved into the management game. He spoke to them before choosing Middlesbrough at the time when he left Manchester United as number two.