Is Gianfranco Zola the man to help Hull City survive the drop?
When Steve Bruce unexpectedly resigned just weeks from the start of the season, Hull City fans were rightly fearful of who would take over. With most of the bigger and more trusted names already in employment so close to the start of the new season, there seemed to be few options on the market. One such name to have been heavily linked, and the current favourite is Chelsea legend, Gianfranco Zola.
Other names, like Chris Coleman, Mick Phelan, Chris Hughton, and even Neil Warnock have been mentioned, but the Guardian claim that Zola is their number one target after being knocked back in approaches for Coleman. Zola has experience in the Premier League previously, but with a questionable record, it remains to be seen whether or not he is the man to lead Hull City to survival at the first time of asking.
Zola began his managerial career at West Ham, despite lacking the necessary qualifications when first appointed in 2008. At first, things went well, developing a side full of young local players playing attacking football with flair and fast flowing possession football, he was popular with fans despite his previous allegiance to Chelsea. It didn’t last long, though, and after a fall-out with David Sullivan and only just surviving relegation in 2010, he was sacked. His next role, at Watford, went in a similar way, just missing automatic promotion and losing a play-off final in his first season, before a two-month winless streak saw him resign with the side mid table in his second season.
Since then, Zola hasn’t really had much of a chance. A three-month spell in charge of Cagliari in Italy saw his side fail to escape the relegation zone at any point during his reign and he was shortly sacked. His only managerial role since then was in Qatar, where his side stuttered in mid-table throughout the season.
The Italian’s record is far from notable or impressive, and it’s unlikely that he would be considered if there were better candidates available. That said, when he has spent a prolonged time at a club, he has shown that he can develop a team full of young local talent that will play an attractive style of football. That will buoy Hull fans’ hopes, but they will remain concerned about his inability to remain at one club for a prolonged period, often struggling or falling out after more than one season. After the club had five managers in two years between Phil Brown’s sacking and Steve Bruce beginning his four-year spell at the helm, fans will be concerned about what the future will hold.
Another candidate was Wales’ boss Chris Coleman, who is said to be keen to talk to the club despite the Welsh FA refusing to allow talks to begin, claim Sky Sports. Coleman’s record at club level is far from exciting, having spent time at Fulham, Real Sociedad, Coventry City and AEL, but he shot to fame and gained plaudits for Wales’ outstanding performance at the Euros this summer.
It’s now believed that the Tigers have prioritised an approach for Zola, despite Coleman’s interest, simply because the FWAW would make life too difficult to pull off a deal, which would be costly in terms of compensation.
Fans are likely to hope that an agreement could be reached with Coleman, but Zola now seems the most likely option. Based on his history, there are reasons to be excited, with an exciting style of football likely. However, with few additions since promotion last season, promoted sides who do well often prioritise defensive strength over attacking flair, and whether Zola is capable of that is questionable at best. If Zola is approached, Hull fans will be in for the polar opposite of their former boss Steve Bruce.
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