West Ham are targeting Gus Poyet to succeed Sam Allardyce as manager, Goal can reveal.
Allardyce faces a battle to cling on to his job in the early weeks of the season due to a deteriorating relationship with the club's board.
West Ham's owners are expected to give the manager, whose team suffered an opening-day 1-0 defeat to Tottenham, only until the end of September to demonstrate that he can improve the team's style of play as well as grind out results.
He avoided the sack at the end of last season but was ordered to produce slicker attacking football, with former England striker Teddy Sheringham joining the coaching staff.
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The Sunderland manager signed a new contract with the Wearside club in late May after overseeing a remarkable series of results to avoid relegation from the Premier League.
However, the deal is only for two years and does not totally allay fears that Poyet could be tempted into a return down south.
Any club who target the Uruguayan would now have to pay compensation to Sunderland. The original one-year contract which he signed when he replaced Paolo Di Canio had an exit clause enabling him to be poached without the payment of compensation.
Poyet is admired in the Upton Park boardroom for securing Premier League safety after inheriting a seemingly hopeless cause from Di Canio, as well as steering Sunderland to the Capital One Cup final.
He has also gained a reputation for producing teams who play the kind of progressive football which West Ham's owners and fans believe has been absent at the club in recent times.
Poyet, whose son, Diego, joined the Hammers' playing staff this summer, still has a home in London and has close links to the capital from his days with Chelsea and Tottenham.
West Ham make the short trip to London rivals Crystal Palace on Saturday ahead of fixtures against Hull City, Southampton, Liverpool and Manchester United.