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Monday 18 November 2019

Gianfranco Zola: 'I sacked myself - Birmingham City deserve better'

Gianfranco Zola Picture: PA
Gianfranco Zola Picture: PA Newsdesk Newsdesk

Gianfranco Zola took full responsibility for failing as Birmingham manager after resigning from his role following Monday's 2-0 home loss to Burton.

Goals in either half from Lloyd Dyer and Lucas Akins sealed a double for Albion over the Blues, with home fans chanting "we want Zola out" towards the end of the match as Birmingham slumped to within three points of the Championship relegation zone with three games left.

The 50-year-old Italian, who took up the reins in December following the controversial sacking of Gary Rowett, faced the media after the match to express his sorrow that he could not fulfil the club's expectations.

"I sacked myself," said Zola, who oversaw just two wins in 22 league games. "I decided to give in my resignation. I am sorry because I came to Birmingham with huge expectations.

"Unfortunately the results have not been good and I take full responsibility.

"It is not that I like quitting, but Birmingham deserves better. If I feel I cannot help the players, why stay? If I cannot help the team, it is better I leave and let someone else do that.

"I feel very bad and very sorry. We worked with a lot of meaning, but unfortunately it didn't produce the results. It is all very disappointing."

Zola insisted the reaction of the crowd did not have any bearing on his decision.

"I cannot blame the supporters," he said. "The club's position is not secure and they are frustrated and I can understand their feelings.

"They chant and say they want me out. It is a little harsh. We have made some mistakes, but we have worked hard for the club.

"I was totally convinced that what I was doing was right. Unfortunately the results were not good."

Zola was appointed by Birmingham's owners, Chinese firm Trillion Trophy Asia Limited, two days after the departure of Rowett, with the club lying seventh in the table.

TTAL had completed its takeover at St Andrew's the previous October, and club director Panos Pavlakis said at the time that Zola was a good fit as the Blues wanted to "move in a new direction".

But, since Zola's arrival, the club have maintained a steady slide down the table, winning only twice - against Fulham and at Wolves in February. Defeat to Burton extended their winless league run to nine matches.

Zola, sacked in his previous managerial job after just one season with Qatari side Al-Arabi, has also had spells in charge of West Ham, Serie A side Cagliari and Watford.

In contrast to Birmingham, fellow relegation-battlers Burton operated as a tight unit during Monday's match.

Albion boss Nigel Clough had nothing but admiration for his side after the Brewers chalked up their second win in four outings.

"It was a wonderful away performance in our situation after losing (2-1 at home to Ipswich) on Friday," Clough said.

"There was a lot of pressure. We knew we required a result and the way we went about it was full of character and honesty, which the players have in abundance.

"We were nervous going into the game and it was so important getting the first goal. We scored at good times near the end of the second and early in the second period.

"We said that we didn't want to sit back as we wanted to be a danger on the break. I thought the back three - John Brayford, Ben Turner and Kyle McFadden - were outstanding.

"Teams find it hard to break us down if we do not help them, and we did not do that against Birmingham.

"The main thing is not to go down, and there are a few teams below us, which is important.

"There are still nine points up for grabs and we have Leeds on Saturday. That is going to be a big match with their latest result (1-0 home loss to Wolves).

"We have had a good run, losing only three games in our last 12 games, which is good going when you are in the bottom six."

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