Md Denies Reports

West Ham managing director Paul Aldridge has denied a report suggesting Paolo Di Canio could be leaving for Watford.

And he stresses that the only transfer activity that could possibly take place while West Ham remain managerless might be the eventual sale of Frank Lampard.

While a suggestion that new Hornets boss Gianluca Vialli met up with Di Canio in Italy is not inaccurate - the two are long standing friends - Paul insists he is not concerned and says: "I have spoken to Paolo in Italy and he is looking forward to next season and working with the new manager.

"He was very happy and recovering well from his sinus operation."

Suggestions, too, that David Ginola was being used by Aston Villa as part of a deal to take Frank Lampard to the Midlands have also been rejected by Paul, who says: "We have a firm valuation of Frank's worth in the market and we are not looking at a player exchange.

"We can't do anything about Frank's wish to move on but it would be rather strange to bring a player in when we haven't got a manager."

Steve McClaren has still not formally been announced as Middlesbrough manager, though that is not expected to be too far away from happening.

Ironically, reports linking Alex McLeish with West Ham are an echo of rumours in November suggesting the Hibs boss would be going to...Middlesbrough!

West Ham's average length of stewardship under a manager is 12.3 years but the last three managers - Lou Macari, Billy Bonds, and Harry Redknapp - have lasted a 'mere' 12 years between them, bringing down the average somewhat!

Apart from Ted Fenton (nine years) every other Hammers boss has lasted over a decade: Syd King (30 years), Charlie Paynter (18), Ron Greenwood (13), and John Lyall (15).