The worst kept secret in football is finally out – Sam Allardyce will be leaving West Ham after four years in charge.
The manager had been hinting about his departure all week while the board have been looking for possible replacements for much longer.
In a statement, joint chairmen David Sullivan and David Gold said: “We would like to start by thanking Sam Allardyce for his valuable work since arriving at the Boleyn Ground four years ago.
“He leaves the club in a considerably better state then when he arrived and, for that, the board are truly grateful.”
“The board has already compiled a shortlist of replacements for Allardyce and will be making significant transfer funds available for the successful candidate.”
The statement was released just minutes after West Ham lost their final Premier League game of the season 2-0 at Newcastle in a toothless display.
Allardyce was not sacked – his contract was simply not renewed which was a fitting end for a manager who has endured his fair share of criticism with stoicism and grace.
The fact that he planned a holiday on Monday – when contract talks were meant to start – confirmed to most people the inevitable would happen sooner rather than later.
Allardyce said after the match. “There was not a contract talked about, but it is probably right for both of us to move on. I’ve enjoyed this opportunity, it’s been a great venture. I take great pride in what I have achieved.
“The team, the club is in a hugely more successful position than when I took over. Everything I was asked to do I’ve delivered. It’s probably the right time for us both to move on, I really enjoyed the ride.
“I think it is time for me to go, they said I was not going to get a new contract, but we just said ‘that’s it’, and I’m off. The relationship was mostly with David Sullivan on the football side of things, and I thanked him.
“I enjoyed it, four years is a long time in this game, and it is time for us to move on.
“When you get the chance for a break you don’t jump out of the of the frying pan into the fire. The club is in a fantastic position and I really enjoyed taking it there.
“Everything I was asked to do I’ve delivered. It’s probably the right time for us both to move on. I really enjoyed the ride.”
Allardyce oversaw Hammers’ promotion from the Championship in 2012 and kept the team safe while other promoted sides hit relegation woe.
His position was in doubt last summer when the board considered both the results and the performances below par for a team which will make the Olympic Park home in the 2016/17 season.
Allardyce was kept on, made important and often inspired signings, and saw the entertainment factor rise. At Christmas the team were fourth and seen as the surprise package of the Premier League.
But the results have fallen short of standard and a brief flirtation with the Europa League faded from view. The team finished in the bottom half, in 12th, with six defeats in the last 10 games.
The team lacked an upward trajectory towards the Olympic Park and names in the frame have included top class managers capable of moving on the east London club with the aim of filling the cavernous new stadium.
While top choices Rafa Benitez and David Moyes are likely to rule themselves out, a surprise late entry in the list is Andre Villas Boas.
Jose Mourinho’s protege endured a torrid time in the Premier League at both Chelsea and Spurs but he has restored his credentials, winning the Russian Premier League with Zenit St Petersburg.
The other name mentioned the most is former Hammer Slaven Bilic, manager of Besiktas in Turkey.
In a statement the club said: “West Ham United will begin the search for a new manager after the club decided not to renew the contract of Sam Allardyce.
“Joint-chairmen David Sullivan and David Gold will now oversee the recruitment process for a new manager to lead the club into one of the most exciting eras in its history.
“The Hammers will bid an emotional farewell to the Boleyn Ground, their home of more than 110 years, next season before the Club moves to London’s premier state-of-the-art 54,000 seater stadium on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in August 2016.”
Allardyce’s managerial career
West Ham (2011-15): 181 games, 68 wins, 67 defeats, 46 draws. Won promotion to the Premier League