Gianfranco Zola could be named Hull City manager this week, Chris Coleman in the frame too
The former Watford and West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola is a late contender to be appointed the new head coach of Hull City and has been interviewed by the club, who expect to make an announcement on their new manager within days.
The Hull vice-chairman Ehab Allam, son of long-term owner Assem, has been conducting interviews while on holiday in France and has narrowed the field to two, one of whom is believed to be the Italian, who last worked in England as manager of Watford. The other contender is thought to be Wales manager Chris Coleman who said at the end of his team’s run to the Euro 2016 semi-finals that he hoped to take the side to the 2018 World Cup finals.
Coleman signed a new contract in May to take him through to the 2018 tournament, and the Football Association of Wales president David Griffiths said that no permission had been given for Hull to speak to their manager.
As of Monday the Allams had not made up their minds who they were going to appoint. The former Everton manager Roberto Martinez was also interviewed for the job earlier in the process but has fallen back in the club’s thinking since the emergence of the more recent candidates. The club are eager to keep their options open until they have reached an agreement with their first-choice.
The Allam family want a manager in place by the end of the week so their new manager can start working on strengthening the squad left behind by Steve Bruce who resigned on July 22. The club have offered a new contract to the midfielder Mohamed Diame to try to counter an offer from Newcastle United who believe that they have paid the player’s buy-out clause. It is by no means certain that Hull will be able to keep the player.
The expectation is that by the end of September, the Allams will have sold the club for around £84 million, thus clearing the outstanding debts owed by Hull to the family and permit the new owners to take it on debt-free. They have put negotiations for the sale of the club on hold until the end of September in order that they can concentrate on preparing the squad for the start of the new Premier League season.
Zola has managed West Ham and Watford, the latter of whom he took to the Championship play-off final in 2013 where they lost to Crystal Palace. He resigned in December 2013 after a bad run of results, and since then has managed Cagliari where he lasted just three months. His last job was with Al-Arabi, who sacked him after the club finished eighth in the Qatar Stars League last season.
Bruce quit in frustration at the lack of signings by the club amid a bad injury crisis. As well as Bruce’s son Alex, who had surgery and is out for around four to six months, the club are also without Michael Dawson, Moses Odubajo and Allan McGregor. The club’s only signing this window has been Will Mannion, an 18-year-old goalkeeper from AFC Wimbledon for a compensation fee.
The club’s new manager is expected to be in place in time for Saturday, the second of two matches in Austria this week. Hull play Turkish side Caykur Rizespor on Wednesday in Kufstein and then Italian Serie A team Torino in Salzburg three days later. Zola took a big leap forward in the betting on Monday and was installed as the favourite by the end of the day.