Zola lands Birmingham job after shock Rowett axe
Gianfranco Zola was appointed as manager of Birmingham City just six hours after the shock dismissal of Gary Rowett.
Zola held successful talks with Birmingham's new board, Trillion Trophy Asia, yesterday afternoon. The former Chelsea and Italy attacker has been assured of significant funds for the January transfer window but his appointment is certain to polarise opinion among fans.
Rowett was controversially sacked yesterday morning, barely 12 hours after the 2-1 home win over Ipswich which lifted the Blues into seventh place in the Championship; he leaves after an impressive two-year period working on a limited budget.
The former Birmingham defender was the third-longest serving manager in the division but was told by the board they were keen to pursue a new direction. There have been suggestions that his style of football was not impressing TTA.
Zola is clearly seen as a more high-profile name than Rowett, after the TTA takeover was officially completed in October, and an agreement is likely to be made with Chelsea for the signing of loan players.
Rowett's surprise exit has stunned supporters, with the 42-year-old establishing a reputation as one of the most highly regarded British managers operating outside the top flight.
He had opportunities to take charge at Queens Park Rangers, Derby County, Wolves and Fulham over the past 12 months but his loyalty to Birmingham counted for nothing with the club's ambitious new board.
Panos Pavlakis, a Birmingham director, said: "Such a parting of the ways is always difficult. Our relationship was very strong but in football you can never stand still."
Zola (50) has been out of work since leaving Al-Arabi in June; his last post in England was with Watford three years ago. He will bring Pierluigi Casiraghi and Kevin Hitchcock with him. (© Daily Telegraph, London)