Paolo's Plea

Paolo Di Canio has insisted he will not be putting himself in the frame for the vacant manager's position and has called on the Club to bring a strict disciplinarian to Upton Park.

He also says that he hopes West Ham can improve the quality of the squad and has urged the young star players to "stay calm" in the wake of Harry Redknapp's shock departure.

Amid speculation that Frank Lampard may be considering his future - fuelled by comments made by his agent Steve Kutner, who made similar statements when Rio Ferdinand departed the club - he says: "These players are professional and they have to stay calm, even though they are young.

"In football, there is always change, whether for better or worse, just as there is in one's private life.

"I know it is a difficult time for some people, and especially me, as I had a great friendship with Harry, but we have to look forward.

"We have a contract with this club and although we used to play also for Harry Redknapp, we have to realise we are playing for the Hammers crest, the supporters and the chairman."

One newspaper speculated that Paolo would be following Harry out of the door, but the Italian insists: "I will never leave this club, that is for sure.

"I don't think the club can sell me. I spoke to Paul Aldridge a few days ago and they want to keep me for a minimum of two years."

Paolo has been quoted at 16-1 with the bookmakers to take over from Harry, but says: "That is virtually impossible."

He explains: "I don't want to say no, but I don't think it is possible. I feel I can play for one or two more years at the top level and I want to concentrate on that.

"I don't think we could have a situation where I am sitting on the bench trying to organise the tactics."

But Paolo, with his European experience, says he will give any advice to the club they may require if he is asked about Harry's successor.

Speaking from Rome, where he is undergoing an operation on the sinus problem that has plagued him for some time, he says: "I want the best for this club and everybody knows that.

"I want big success for West Ham in the future and not to be battling a relegation place, so if they want to ask me something I will tell them what I think.

"I have all respect for Harry - he was my saviour - and that respect will never leave me.

"He has done a great job for this club in the last five years and maybe the next manager will have some of Harry's qualities.

"I think we need a stronger character and maybe someone who is tougher with the players; one who will let them know that no one has a regular place in the squad, and that they have to earn it day by day, week in, week out.

"Unfortunately this season we have had many injuries and a few players have had a regular place in the squad because there haven't been the substitutes to change it.

"But you have to deserve your place at West Ham, and can't profit from this idea of thinking you only have to train a little because there is no one else at the club to take your place.

"This is not possible at a professional club and we need the manager to tell them that if you do this, you will go on the bench or sit in the Bobby Moore stand and watch the game.

"We have to train harder; often we train without our brain and this is not possible because what you do during the week, you bring into the game.

"And we saw the results this year because we did not have a very good season."