Hammer blow for Big Sam
Sam Allardyce will leave West Ham United by mutual agreement immediately after today's final Premier League game of the season away to his former club, Newcastle United.
In a major twist, West Ham had expected to announce on Tuesday that Rafael Benitez would then take over as their manager. But it is understood that deal has broken down after a dramatic intervention by Real Madrid last week.
Real called Benitez, the former Liverpool manager who is leaving Napoli, last Monday to offer him the opportunity to succeed Carlo Ancelotti, who is expected to be sacked in the wake of last night's final La Liga match of the season against Getafe.
By last Tuesday, Benitez had told West Ham that he was not going to be joining them. The decision is a serious blow to West Ham, but there appears to be no chance that Allardyce will stay.
The 60-year-old, who is to fly out for a short holiday in Spain, has already received an intriguing offer to move into international management by taking over as the coach of Nigeria, even though the current coach, Stephen Keshi, who has endured a tumultuous time, recently signed a new contract.
There is also understood to be a Premier League club who are interested in Allardyce. Although he would be keen to remain in London he does not want to return to the Championship, which rules out Fulham, who have also shown an interest.
Having lined up a deal to bring in Benitez, West Ham are now considering their options.
On their list of candidates have been Real Sociedad coach David Moyes, Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe, former West Ham player Slaven Bilic, who is leaving Turkish club Besiktas, and former Swansea City manager Michael Laudrup, whose coaching contract in Qatar is also coming to an end.