When Gianfranco Zola took over as the boss of Birmingham City, their club director announced proudly that they had found the man who would bring them to the Premier League.
“His pedigree, philosophy and ambition fits with what we would like to achieve as we move in a new direction.”, Panos Pavlakis said.
Yet, after 124 days – the club and Zola have parted ways and Birmingham’s promotion dreams is in tatters.
Zola was appointed just days after the shock sacking of Gary Rowett – who had a respectable record at the club and had just taken the team up to seventh in the table.
The ex-Chelsea man’s third spell in charge of an English club didn’t get off to a great start – with 2-1 loss at home to Brighton and Hove Albion.
Brighton manager Chris Hughton, is the perfect example as a manager who has not received his job based upon his playing career – but rather his managerial one.
Hughton’s first full-time post came at Newcastle, where he won 39 of his 70 games in charge and boasted a 55.7 win percentage before moving on to coach Birmingham – who he guided to the group stages of the Europa League.
After a difficult run at Norwich, Hughton took charge Brighton and, after 43 games, he has taken them to the Premier League for the first time since 1983.
Zola, on the other hand, leaves with Birmingham sitting in 14th in the table and with a win percentage of 8.7%, the worst in the club’s history.
The Italian’s appointment sparks a stark resemblance to that of Tony Adams’ at Grenada. It shows that even if you have a poor history as a manager, being a legend at player level is enough to secure a high level job.
West Ham was Zola’s first taste at top-level management, and taking the reigns was something he struggled with.
Watford were the next to undergo a managerial change and they turned to the Italian who had only won 23 of his 81 games at his last club.
While his record improved with the Hornets, inconsistency plagued his side – losing 27 out of 75 games and drawing 15.
The biggest issues Zola faced as a manager was coming up with a set game-plan to implement on his sides’.
Many managers can be associated with a certain style of play – Mourinho is defensive, Guardiola likes possession – but Zola, it is unclear what he wants from his players.
Despite this, former players like Zola and Adams will continue to find positions based on their reputations as on the field.
This recent parting however, should be a reminder to clubs that not all great players make great managers.