Opinion: Just why did Gianfranco Zola fail at Blues?
Monday 17th April 17:57 - Gianfranco Zola has this evening resigned as Birmingham City Manager.
For 99% of Blues fans, that was music to their ears. Two wins in 24 games in all competitions, 13 points out of a possible 66 in the league, reports of unease in the dressing room. There were many reasons as to why Zola had no choice but to walk away from the role as Blues manager, but many people will ask just what exactly went wrong during his time as manager.
Here, I point out three main reasons as to why Zola failed during his time at B9!
THE TASK IN HAND
Wednesday 14th December 2016 is a date that will live in the memory of Blues fans for a very long time.
Having come off the back of a gritty 2-1 win at home to Ipswich Town, Blues lay just outside the play off places and looked to put right the slight blip in form which seen them lose their previous two games convincingly.
All of a sudden, 13:29- 'Birmingham City Football Club has parted company with manager Gary Rowett.'
This came as a shock to almost every Blues fan on the planet.
We looked on course to be challenging for the play offs and had built a solid team with a very limited budget. Many could ask what Rowett actually did wrong? Considering he was a fan favourite and had the respect of his players.
Panos Pavlakis asked for the fans trust, but a lot of fans were seriously questioning as to why Rowett was dismissed. Then later that evening another statement - 'Gianfranco Zola has been appointed the new Birmingham City Manager.'
Most Blues fans were left confused and were wondering how Zola who, had an average managerial record at best prior to being appointed, could get any better out of the current players?
Zola promised exciting, attacking football but the results didn't come with it and as a consequence, Blues went from play-off contenders to relegation danger in little over four months.
The job quite simply was too big for Zola and this became clear within the first month of him being in charge
STYLE OF FOOTBALL
Zola promised exciting, attacking football from the beginning and yes you could see glimpses of that. Signings such as Emilio Nsue, Cheick Keita and Kerim Frei showed Zola's intent to play this free flowing style of football.
But it was evident in most games that we quite simply did not have the players to play this way. Our players were used to a very structured defence and catching teams on the break whilst not enjoying much possession, but under Zola the players were encouraged to keep the ball and play out from the defence which you could tell they were not used to his.
You could afford to get excited in games such as Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United where we dominated large parts of the match and although losing you could see that the players were warming to Zola's style of play, but then there were games where we looked clueless and had no team chemistry which showed that the players weren't quite sure of their position and role.
Ultimately Zola would have needed a big transfer budget to build a team around his style of play, unfortunately Birmingham City are not the type of team he can transform in the space of a few training sessions.
DRESSING ROOM UNREST/ LACK OF AUTHORITY
The one game in which I knew the team were on a downward spiral was the Wigan Athletic game.
The 4-1 defeat to QPR a few weeks prior was the last straw for a lot of Blues fans but then followed a priceless derby victory at Wolverhampton Wanderers, followed by a positive performance against Leeds in which gave some Blues fans food for thought and maybe gave Zola a chance to turn things round.
However the Wigan game just showed that Blues had gone two steps forward and three steps back.
The performance was lacklustre, the defence for the Wigan goal was abysmal and Blues showed no intent whatsoever of getting back into the game.
This was then followed by three valuable draws and an unlucky last minute defeat to a Derby County side under a certain Mr Rowett.
Then came the Rotherham United game.
For Blues, this Easter weekend was huge with an away trip to already relegated Rotherham and a home game against relegation rivals Burton Albion.
Six points were needed vitally. Yet an unconvincing 1-1 draw away at Rotherham happened. Outplayed for the majority of the game and tensions rising on and off the field, this was Blues' darkest day in a long long time.
Then it's Burton at home. Time to get a much needed three points which would all but assure championship football next season.
Fast forward to 16:55 on Monday 17th April and we have just been outplayed by an average Brewers team and for most Blues fans that was the last straw as the players were booed off followed by 'we want Zola out' chants from the disgruntled home support.
It was clear to myself and other Blues fans that Zola and his backroom staff did not have the authority of the players and this showed on the pitch. Not to mention when the Zola resignation was announced on Instagram, a certain Nsue had liked the post which showed that he and others did not want Zola at the helm.
I said from day one that Zola would be a disaster. He was bought in as he was a big name with a very successful playing career and Trillion Trophy Asia were impressed with his philosophy.
However I never thought it would get to the stage where we would be fighting to preserve our Championship status and under Zola we were most likely to be playing in the third tier of English football next season.