Carlo Ancelotti has emerged as an ambitious surprise candidate for the managerial vacancy at West Ham United after Sam Allardyce’s departure was confirmed within minutes of Sunday’s 2-0 defeat at Newcastle United.
West Ham had been expecting to announce the appointment of Rafael Benitez on Tuesday but the former Liverpool manager is now poised to replace Ancelotti at Real Madrid.
Ancelotti said on Saturday that he will take a year out if he loses his job at Real Madrid but West Ham are preparing to test that situation and it is understood that they have already made contact with intermediaries of the Italian.
The interest in Ancelotti, a former AC Milan and Chelsea manager, is a further sign of the sort of high-profile managers that have figured in West Ham’s thinking and they already have decided on a short-list of potential replacements for Allardyce.
The departure of Allardyce, by “mutual consent”, was announced on the club’s website immediate after the defeat against Newcastle, with the club adamant that the story was not published at half-time of the match. The story initially had a 15.52pm time on it but the club insist that the clock’s website was simply an hour out.
West Ham co-chairmen David Sullivan and David Gold have already drawn up a profile of their ideal candidate. They believe the manager should be aiming for trophies and ready to make the club regular contenders for European football when they move into their new 54,000-capacity Olympic Stadium home next year.
They also want academy players to get their chance and a passing style of football that is in keeping with what is known internally as ‘the West Ham way’.
After a deal to bring in Benítez was effectively derailed by the planned changes at Real Madrid, West Ham are now reconsidering their options. On their list of candidates has been Real Sociedad coach David Moyes, Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe, former player Slaven Bilic, who is leaving Turkish club Besiktas, former Swansea City manager Michael Laudrup whose coaching contract in Qatar is also coming to an end and Marseille manager Marcelo Bielsa.
Roberto di Matteo, who won the Champions League at Chelsea, may also come into contention after leaving Schalke. There have been a series of approaches to Moyes but he intends to stay in Spain. Bilic has not coached in England but is available and keen. It would clearly be quite a coup to entice Ancelotti.
His fate at Real Madrid is expected to be confirmed this week and he has said that he will take a year out if he does lose his job. Ancelotti, however, did love life in London while at Chelsea and will recognise West Ham’s longer-term potential in the Olympic Stadium, even if improving on Allardyce’s record will not be easy.
The obvious risk for West Ham is that they now unsuccessfully pursue a series of high-profile candidates and eventually appoint a manager less equipped than Allardyce to keep the club in the Premier League.
Allardyce has spent four seasons at West Ham, overseeing their promotion into the Premier League before then consolidating their position. He has already been offered the chance to coach Nigeria and will be among the candidates for the Sunderland job should Dick Advocaat leave this week. Allardyce has struggled to win the support of West Ham fans and was adamant yesterday that his departure was best for both him and the club.
“To stabilise the club for the big move to the new stadium is what I've done,” said Allardyce. “I've delivered everything that's been asked of me. We've built the team to get stronger and stronger. For me it's time to get out, get away, think about me and only me and the family for a chance. There's no desperate need for me to be jumping back into this game”
In a joint statement, Sullivan and Gold thanked Allardyce for his “valuable work” and promised “significant transfer funds” for his successor.